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Biological Sciences

Biological Sciences

We host a series of year-round events, talks and activities for students considering studying Biological Sciences at university.

Undergraduates from our Biological Sciences department have been helping local schools to make the most of their green spaces by monitoring and fostering local wildlife.

The Schools’ Biodiversity Project helps schools to learn about the surrounding wildlife, from beetles to birds, as well as create places for them to live. This includes introducing light boxes to monitor moths, pond dipping and setting camera traps. When needed, students are paired with trained undergraduates to help run curriculum-based projects.

Find out more about our Schools’ Biodiversity Project

We’re a leading institution in the development of novel therapies for rare diseases. Our Rare Disease Day - running alongside the international event - is an opportunity for students to attend lectures and get hands-on experience in our lab practicals.

We are delighted to announce that we will be running our annual Rare Disease Day event in 2023, the exact date is to be confirmed but it will likely be towards the end of February. The event is directed to secondary school years 10, 11 and 12. We will very much maintain the format from previous years, with live talks, live exhibition, speed-dating and hands-on activities. The event will touch on medicine, genetics, genomics, biomedical research, societal aspects of rare diseases, as well as university life and other general topics. It will be of particular interest to students considering health-related and science careers.

You can watch previous talks and find out more about the international day by visiting Rare Disease Day at Royal Holloway.

Our academics have created short films based on their research, to give A level teachers valuable classroom resources, including learning outcomes and discussion points to raise and engage with their students.

We organise frequent visits to local schools and museums to talk about our work. We also welcome visiting groups to our department.

Suggested talks:

Understanding the brain and its role in memory formation

Dr Philip Chen

A Zoologist in Tasmania

Professor Dave Morritt

TB or not TB: Diagnosing a deadly disease

Dr Shobana Dissanayeke

Chloroplasts, the (green) stuff of life

Dr Enrique Lopez

The origin of our crops: 10,000 years of genetic engineering

Dr Enrique Lopez

Where’s the buzz? Bumblebee decline and conservation

Professor Mark Brown

Urban bees: life in the city for the UK’s threatened pollinators

Dr Elli Leadbeater

Antibiotic resistance, past, present and future

Dr James McEvoy

Suggested topics:

Chinese mitten crabs/ invasive species                                                                 

Professor Dave Morritt

General marine biology/ life on the shore

Professor Dave Morritt

Plastic pollution (either generally or in the River Thames)

Professor Dave Morritt

Beetle species– linked with conservation and biochemistry

Dr Deborah Harvey

Boosting biodiversity in your own school grounds

Dr Deborah Harvey

To find out more email our outreach officer, Prof Lazlo Bogre

We have prepared a range of videos and resources for students that are applicable to several year groups.

Dr James McEvoy’s presentation looks at infectious disease through the lens of surgical infections. It describes the history of the problem, our modern success in reducing it, and the problems posed by antibiotic resistance. It ends with some questions for you to go away and think about.

For further reading, the video links well with our paper Titanium Kirschner Wires Resist Biofilms Better Than Stainless Steel and Hydroxyapatite-coated Wires: An In Vitro Study which was recently published in collaboration


Dr Walter Lucchesi welcomes you all while he explains the content of his course on Immunology and Infection. This second-year course is student centred and is based on active learning; with every lecture followed by the analysis of clinical case studies and relative assessment.

You will learn to integrate complex material and to focus on processes rather than facts.

A great guide on how to brush up on your field techniques in your garden or outside space. You don’t need any state-of-the-art equipment – just enthusiasm!

To coincide with British Science Week (6-15 March 2020), Royal Holloway has launched a free, four-week online course; Understanding Biological Energy - on the leading social learning platform,

A new research paper by Professor Gerhard Leubner and Dr Jake Chandler from the Department of Biological Sciences shows that seeds can grow in space. Check out this interview about Rocket Science featuring Tim Peake and Dr Jake Chandler to find out more.

Finally, even if at home, students can take part in this years BioBlitz! Spend an hour or two searching for plants and animals in your garden or safe space and record your findings on the free app – it’s great fun!


Our annual Jack Pridham lecture deals with current topics in the Biological Sciences. Information about last year’s talk can be found below. The date of the 2022 talk will be on 19th October at 18.00.

Event – Jack Pridham Lecture - Is climate change fruitful for fungi?

Speaker – Prof. Alan Gange

Venue – Shilling Auditorium

Parking is limited at RHUL and we recommend that you arrive by public transport. However, if it is necessary please contact with the details of your vehicle including colour, make and model and registration number. Parking cannot be guaranteed.

Date and Time – 19th October 2022 at 18.00

Is climate change fruitful for fungi?

Alan Gange worked at Royal Holloway for 30 years until his retirement in 2021. He is now Emeritus Professor of Microbial Ecology in the Department of Biological Sciences. He was introduced to natural history by his father, who was an amateur mycologist. Alan’s research has involved the study of the interactions between insects, plants and fungi, searching for ways to use the natural fungal associates of plants in the control of insect pests. He is particularly interested in how climate change may affect these interactions, and has been studying how mushroom fruiting has changed in the UK over the last 65 years, using historical records kept by his father and those within the Fungal Records Database of Britain and Ireland. Here he will describe how these databases have provided information to examine changes in phenology and spatial distributions, enabling us to understand the biology of fungi and their host trees, and ultimately the functioning of forest ecosystems.

Schools and individuals can register to attend the event HERE

Dr Liz Whittaker, an expert in paediatric infectious diseases and immunology at Imperial College, delivered our annual Jack Pridham Lecture in October 2020 on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on child health.

Watch this fascinating and informative talk on our YouTube channel


The Queens Green Canopy is a unique tree-planting initiative to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022. Groups across the UK will be encouraged to enhance our environment by planting trees from October. Schools can get involved and are provided with free trees to plant via the Woodland’s trust

To celebrate this unique scheme Royal Holloway, University of London, will be delivering activities designed to engage pupils with trees in their grounds and ecosystems. Dr Deborah Harvey (Lecturer, Biological Department and leader of the Schools Biodiversity Project) will deliver sessions in school or on-campus with interactive, outdoor activities exploring areas within the KS4 & KS5 biology curriculum. 

Activities can include

Activity Brief Description Curriculum Link
Tree identification survey Multi-session with surveys carried out in autumn repeated in spring/ summer Identification
Leaf miners and galls Identifying leaves affected by leaf miners and galls and the larval stages and mine patterns Predation, parasitism adaptations, surveying techniques, statistical analysis, data presentation
Lichens Species present distribution on trees links to pollution, sun screening effect Symbiosis, photosynthesis, adaptations to environment, chromatography
Wet holes Exploring wet holes in trees as a habitat Identification, trophic levels, adaptations to the environment
Decomposers Exploring the fungi structure and structure and associated species Nutrient recyclers, carbon and nitrogen cycling, food chains, global warming, fruiting times
Leaf litter Examining for invertebrates

Identification of invertebrates, food chains, classification

Additionally, activities are available depending on the locations habitats. 

This is an excellent opportunity to bring Biology to life. Sessions can be delivered as a 1-off session or repeated to include long-term research and analysis. Suitable for students in Y10-Y13. 

To discuss activities available and to book a visit, please get in touch with

Each week your students will receive a University style lecture on current topics that are relevant to solving challenges in the 21st century. Each lecture will be delivered from one Royal Holloway's expert academics. We aim to provide an interactive and participatory forum that will enthuse and stimulate students and encourage them to further read and research into these fields.

For more information please visit the Biology Masterclass webpage.

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