Nuffield Biology 1962

Organisers: WH Dowdeswell (1960s) and Grace Monger (1970s) 

Like Physics and Chemistry, the Biology project was as much about teaching approaches as about content. The content of the course ranged from physiology to fieldwork and the variety of life. Students were to develop an understanding of humans as living organisms and of their place in nature. They were also to develop a critical approach to evidence.

The emphasis on student practical work allowed students to work with living things at first hand rather than just reading about them, and encouraged a spirit of inquiry. Open-ended discussion was encouraged. Students either used information, techniques and concepts in their practical work, or worked them out with teacher assistance.


Professional development for teachers

New styles of hands-on professional development for teachers were supported by the Inspectorate and local education authority advisers.

Assessment in the spirit of the course

New approaches to assessment in the spirit of the new course were developed in partnership with the examining boards.


The course was taken up by about 20% of British secondary schools. The books were widely translated so that the approach could be adopted overseas, with editions in Italian, Spanish, Dutch, and Japanese.

Detailed instructions about how to carry out biology experiments live on in the Practical Biology website


Resources included teachers’ guides and students’ books – the biologists had student books from the beginning. The resources were revised in the 1970s.

Also on the web

Download from the STEM centre website. See the preface to Teachers' guide 1 (both editions)

Nuffield Biology

Revised Nuffield Biology

Entry in the King's College London archive

Nuffield O level Biology papers