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Aims of the British Biology Olympiad (BBO)


The BBO challenges and stimulates students with an interest in biology to expand and extend their talents. In offering a wider syllabus than A level, it allows students to demonstrate their knowledge and to be suitably rewarded and publicly recognised by the award of certificates. It is hoped that competing in the Olympiad will encourage students already interested in this valuable, wide-ranging and rewarding subject to continue their study beyond A level.

In addition to encouraging and rewarding pupils in their studies the BBO provides a means of selecting a team to represent the UK at the International Biology Olympiad (IBO). The IBO seeks to challenge students by both theory and practical tests. Some of the top pre-university biology students from 60 countries will be taking part. The UK teams have had considerable success at IBO and we are very grateful to BBSRC for its continued support of the UK team's participation.

2017 Competition

Round 1 will take place from 20th - 27th January 2017 and will consist of two, one hour multiple choice tests taken online in schools, taken as two, one hour sessions or together as one, two hour session, as convenient to schools. The paper tests the majority of UK specifications and contains a few questions on topics beyond. Top winning students will be offered the opportunity to attend an award ceremony in London.

Registration for the 2017 BBO will open in October.

2016 Competition
More than 7200 students took part in the BBO this year. The top 150 were invited to take part in a more demanding exam paper at the beginning of March. This was used to select the top 16 students who competed at the BBO finals at the University of Warwick in April. At the finals a team of four students were selected to represent the UK at the International Biology Olympiad in July 2016 in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Congratulations to this year’s UK team:
Matthew Bagley - Charterhouse - bronze medal
Salvador Buse - The Perse School - silver medal
Mark Thornton - Royal Grammar School Guildford - silver medal
Sam Turner - St Paul's School - silver medal

Participation fees

Each school is eligible for two free places in the competition. Stepped fees are applied for each additional student entered, up to a maximum of £150:

  • 1-2 students from a school = free
  • Students number 3-12 from a school = £10 each (max cost for 12 students = £100)
  • Students number 13- 22 from a school = £5 per additional student (max cost for 22 students = £150)
  • Unlimited additional students from a school after the first 22 = £150 total entry fee (e.g. 22 students = £150; 30 students = £150; 150 students from the same school/college = £150)

For more information about the competition, please visit the British Biology Olympiad website.

News update

This year the Royal Society of Biology’s UK Biology Competitions are working with ASDAN China to enable schools throughout China to take part in round one of the 2017 BBO. Schools in China will need to register to take part in the next BBO via ASDAN China.

Please note: the website information and resources, including the BBO syllabus and past papers, are available in both English and Welsh. The Welsh translations were made possible through generous support from the Welsh Government's National Science Academy.

Volunteers wanted

Are you a school biology teacher, retired biology teacher or biologist interested in education? Would you like to inform and contribute to our work on the British Biology Olympiad (BBO), Biology Challenge (BC) and other schools competitions? Could you commit a significant amount of time (ideally five or more days each year) to helping the committee to drive the British Biology Olympiad and Biology Challenge and other schools competitions forward? Would you like to be part of the team bringing the 2017 International Biology Olympiad to the UK?

If you answered yes to the above questions please read on for more details. We are currently seeking new members for our UK Biology Competitions (UKBC) Committee. Please email Amanda Hardy for further information.