Biological Sciences


Our history can be traced back as far as the eighteenth century.

Edinburgh's skyline


The earliest study of biological sciences at Edinburgh is the establishment of a Chair of Botany (now the Regius Chair of Plant Sciences) in 1738, followed by the Chair of Natural History in 1767.

Various University departments grew up over time, including Departments of:

  • Agriculture
  • Botany
  • Forestry and Natural Resources
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Zoology

Some of these earlier departments date from the 1890s, while others were created in the 1920s when the King’s Buildings campus was first opened.

1990s - the Division of Biological Sciences

The Division of Biological Sciences was created in 1990. At that time, the new Division was the largest in the University.

It incorporated:

  • Biology Teaching Organisation
  • Institute of Cell, Animal and Population Biology
  • Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Institute of Ecology and Resource Management

21st century - formation of the School of Biological Sciences

The School in its current form was created between 2002 and 2004. The components of the former Division were reorganised into the six Research Institutes that currently make up the School, along with the Biology Teaching Organisation and the central School support services.

The School is still one of the largest in the University and forms one of the largest academic groupings of biological scientists in the UK.

Our achievements

The School offers a dynamic and stimulating environment for research which has resulted in global recognition of our research, for example:

  • The world’s first artificial vaccine against Hepatitis B was developed here by Professor Sir Kenneth Murray.
  • Forty years of malaria research at Edinburgh has lead to the development of an array of novel and robust technologies to study the disease both in the laboratory and in the field.
  • Recent breakthrough discoveries in the stem cell research arena will pave the way for stem cells made from skin cells to be safely transplanted into humans.

Related Links

Our notable alumni