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School of Biological Sciences Bioscience Olympiad




Winners of Bioscience Olympiad 2014 

Award ceremony Winners of Bioscience Olympiad 2014, Biochemical Society, Banbridge Academy, Thornhill College, biological Olympiad, Northern Ireland, Queens University Belfast, Alexander Galkin

Congratulations to the pupils of Banbridge Academy (left) and  Thornhill College (right) who came first and second respectively in the Bioscience Olympiad competition 2014. In the middle Professor Christine Maggs, Head of School of Biological Science.


2014 Bioscience Olympiad WINNERS

Dear All

First, let me to apologize for the delay in sending you results of the Olympiad. 

Thank you all again for participation. There were 26 teams in total. All teams showed substantial knowledge of biology and I hope it would make these students interested in this subject.

As last year, each of seven questions marked as percentage and the total maximal score for a team could be 700%. Individual scores for each school is followed. In comparison with the last years it was a significant progress. More versions were suggested and more experimental approaches were discussed. Also, taking into account that in the previous year only one school scored above 350% (half of the max total) and won the 1st prize, this year there were nine schools which got over this threshold. Also the distribution of the scores was relatively even, indicating that all schools went beyond of more or less obvious hypothesises and gave some original thoughts. The mean value for all the schools was 320%. Please find answers below. 

  The winners of 2014 Olympiad are:

1st prize - Banbridge Academy (475%)

2nd prize - Thornhill College, (443%) 

3rd prize  - St Patrick's Dungannon, (430%) 

Congratulations! The Champion cup  2014 is going to Banbridge Academy. We invited  these teams or their representatives to the Medical Biology Centre, Queen's University for prize awards 19 December 2014.  As usual it will be £50, £25 and £15 Amazon vouchers for every member of 1st, 2nd and 3rd team respectively.

I would like to thank all the teachers who contributed to the Olympiad and hopefully if funds are still available we can continue next year with questions and practical tour at Queen’s University.


Dr Alexander Galkin

Click here to upload pdf file with Answers to Olympiad Questions 2014


2014 Bioscience Olympiad QUESTIONS RELEASED !

download PDF file with questions

Winners  of Bioscience Olympiad 2013

Queens University Bioscience Olympiad, Belfast Royal Academy, 2013, Dr Alexander Galkin
Winners of Bioscience Olympiad 2013

Congratulations to the pupils of Belfast Royal Academy who came first in the Bioscience Olympiad competition and received the Champion Cup 2013. 

L-R: Dr Andrew Bell, Head of Biology, Belfast Royal Academy; Mr Trevor Hughes, Biology Teacher, Belfast Royal Academy; Angela Cao; Christopher Turnbull; Professor Christine Maggs, Head of School, School of Biological Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast; Suraj Tirupati; Mimi Joffroy; Dr Alexander Galkin, Lecturer in Biochemistry, Queen’s University Belfast.





The award ceremony for 2013 Bioscience Opympiad will take place in 18 December 2013,  Lecture Theatre 2, Medical Biology Centre, School of Biologica Sciences, Queen's University, 97 Lisburn Road, BT9 7BL

12:00 Welcome and presentation of certificates

12:20 Photographer

12:45 Lunch in MBC Foyer


2013 Olympiad winners

18 schools participated this year. Some teams came up with elaborated and original ideas in answers to certain questions (for example St Louis Grammar did the most systematic and logical answer to Question 2, St. Columbs College to Question 4). The winners are:

1st prize -  Belfast Royal Academy (won by wide margin, total score is  450%)

2nd prize -  St Patricks Academy, Dungannon (363%)

3rd prize  - Down High School, Downpatrick (337%)

Congratulations! The Champion cup  2013  is going to Belfast Royal Academy. We will invite these teams or their representatives to the Medical Biology Centre, Queen's University for prize awards in due time.



Click to download PDF file .

N.B. One mark was awarded for each point and each question was given a score based on 100% of the total number of possibilities/explanations. Final team scores are simply the sum of all individual question scores i.e. a team can get a maximal total score out of 700%. The brief list of possible answers in the pdf document is not necessarily a complete list of points and sometimes additional point was given for a very original idea.




Click here for HTML version  or download PDF file.



First Invitation Letter for 2013 Bioscience Olympiad


I would like to cordially invite all Northern Ireland secondary and grammar schools for participation in the 3rd Queen’s University Belfast School of Biological Sciences Bioscience Olympiad!

In the last two years secondary and grammar schools from Northern Ireland were invited to send a team of their most outstanding young scientists, 5 students aged 14-17 years, to put their knowledge to the test in a theory and practical-based competition. The team representing St Mary’s Grammar School won last year, taking home the Champions’ Cup, Amazon vouchers and bragging rights for the year.

Following the success of last years competition, we have experienced growing support with which we intend to expand the event. However, due to financial constraints this year’s competition will be held in one round only. It will be held in-school in the form of written questions (please find examples below) which will be sent out September 16th. Each school is advised to form a team of 4-5 students 15-17 years old to compile their answers for the given questions and return them no later than midnight September 23rd in Word format to Questions and instructions will be emailed out to each school as well as posted on this website allowing the participation of any NI school regardless of background. Team members can use any material for answer preparation.

Your work will be judged by a jury made up of QUB academic staff members. Answers to all questions will be published together with the results in the beginning of October. Following this, the three best teams will be prized based on their performance and Champions’ Cup will go to the first place winner.

Further information, examples with model answers and last years questions are available below. We welcome your participation and wish you the best of luck in the competition.


Dr. Alexander Galkin

Lecturer in Biochemistry





2013 Olympiad will take place in September 2013. Schools will be notified in advance.


Results of the selection for International Biology Olympiad.


Selection of two candidates for the Irish team for International Olympiad took place at QUB on 24 March 2012. Six final year pupils from the teams scored the best in the second tour were given 58 multiple choice question similar to actual question of theoretical tour at IBO. Based on the scores Lucie Litvack (Methodist College) and Maeve McCarney (St Mary’s Grammar) were chosen to represent Ireland at the International Biology Olympiad in Singapore 8-15 July 2012.  Congratulations!



 Second tour is finished.


The winner of 2011 Queen's University Bioscience Olympiad is

St Mary's Grammar School




The winner team with organisers


List of 2011 First Tour winners (in alphabetical order):

+Assumption Grammar
+Down High School
+Lurgan College
+Methodist College
+Our Lady and St Patrick’s College
+Royal Belfast Academical Institution
+Royal School Armagh
+St Mary Grammar
+St Patric;s Academy, Dungannon
+St Patrick’s Grammar

Congratulations! We invite these teams for the Second tour 3 November  9.00, Medical Biology Centre, Queen's University, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast, BT9 7BL



Click here to view HTML version or download PDF file.

The list of winners invited for a second tour on 4 November will be announced shortly.



Click here to view HTML version or download PDF file.



Nothern Ireland

Year 2011

 At present, biological education in secondary schools makes biology a collection of facts and answering a question is usually limited to finding the right page in a textbook. The goal of the Bioscience Olympiad is to develop bioscience-oriented “academic thinking” and a creative approach to problem solving in school children. We aim to make the event not a contest of factual knowledge (with questions such as how many vertebras does a frog have or what is the name of an enzyme which cuts proteins) but one of intuitive and creative thinking. Answering the questions requires some basic textbook knowledge, but participants are invited to suggest as many "hypotheses" or "explanations" as they can, invent experiments to test their hypotheses and create a new classification of biological objects/processes (see Examples section).


In November 2010 the first pilot Olympiad was successfully carried out in the Medical Biology Building at Queen’s University and a team from Antrim Grammar School won the Champions’ cup. The contest consisted of a practical with theoretical components where participants had to do some experimental problem solving as well as answer questions.


Due to the success of the last year we decided to do it in two steps this year. The goal of the first tour is to allow the participation of any school regardless of the background. Each school is advised to form a team (4-5 members 14-17 yo) which, if successful, will represent the school in a second, practical competition. The list of questions for the first tour will be available from the Queen’s webpage and will be open to the public on 12th September 2011. Teams will be given at least two weeks to compile written answers and the finished PDF file or Word document should be uploaded or sent via email to Results as well as model answers will be available online following the submission date.


Around ten of the best teams will be invited to compete at the second tour of teh Olympiad held at the MBC (school of Biological Sciences, Medical Biology Centre) during the first week of November. The layout will be similar to last year, consisting of a practical section requiring hands on experimentation and problem solving and theoretical questions requiring creative thinking based on previously held knowledge of the subject. Outstanding individuals will receive prizes along with the winning team who will also take home the Champions’ cup for their school to display until next year’s competition.


The event will be covered by the QUB media office as well as by local media outlets. During the problem solving part teachers will be given a talk from the QUB Careers Adviser and School representatives on research within the School and educational issues.


Participation in the Olympiad is free for any NI schools.


Unlike many similar contests our Olympiad is not focused on “knowledge-testing,” but rather the provision of alternative waysstudents to understanding natural sciences for the students (see our Practical Tips section). Another main goal is career-guidance for talented and capable school children and improvement of the quality of their education.


The use of materials of Moscow State University High School Biology Olympiad  is greatly appreciated.





Please send your answers as a Word document. It must be submitted in Verdana or Arial Type Face size 10. There is no size limit, but please keep it appropriate. Answers should be clearly numbered and each answer has to be started on a new page.  Pages in the document should be numbered. Figures and pictures can also be attached or included in the document (however check the printing resolution of the images and teh size of resulting file prior to sending).


Regarding teams: we are looking for mixed teams containing at least one GCSE student, one lower 6th/AS-level student and one upper 6th/A2 student. Schools have free choice on the other team members (maximum team size is 5). One team per school.



Important Days and Deadlines


29 August – Memo will be sent to Schools NI

12 September - Release of the first tour questions

26 September - Deadline for answers submission

Middle of October - Announcements of results of the first tour and review of the answers

3 November – Second Tour at the MBC building, Queen’s University Belfast (97 Lisburn road, BT9 7BL, Belfast)






or contact  Dr Alexander Galkin (




Biochemical Society

Irish Section of Biochemical Society