Department of Biology
Merger ofDepartment of Zoology
Department of Plant Sciences
HeadquartersDepartment of Biology, 11a Mansfield Road
Parent organization
University of Oxford

The Department of Biology, established in 2022, is a science department in the University of Oxford's Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division.[1] It was formed on 1 August 2022[2] after a merger between the Department of Plant Sciences and Department of Zoology.[3]

The department has two main buildings: Department of Biology (Mansfield Road) and Department of Biology (South Parks Road).[4] It also has an additional field station, The John Krebs Field Station, based in Wytham.[5]


The Department's research spans levels from molecules to ecosystems in order to address fundamental questions relating to food security, plant molecular biology, disease biology, evolutionary mechanisms, conservation biology, biodiversity, evolutionary developmental biology, climate change and animal behaviour. This department also delivers the teaching of an undergraduate MBiol degree in biology.[6][7] Within its research portfolio, the department incorporates several research institutes such as the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology (EGI), the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU); as well as housing the Oxford University Herbaria. Several members of academic staff work within the Peter Medawar Building for Pathogen Research[8] and were involved in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.[9][10]

Additional partnerships and resources of the Department include the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, the Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum, the John Krebs Field Station and Wytham Woods.

Research themes

Research at the Department of Biology is grouped into five broad and cross-cutting themes:[11]

Notable staff

The following people of note are or have been associated with the Department:


The Department of Biology was formed from the merging of the former Departments of Plant Sciences and Zoology on the 1 August 2022.[3]

The former Department of Zoology, founded in 1860, was housed in the Tinbergen Building until it was demolished in Spring 2022.[12] Designed in 1965 by Sir Leslie Martin (who also designed the Royal Festival Hall) and opened in 1971, the Tinbergen Building was a large Modernist building housing over 1,600 staff and students.[13] It was Oxford University's largest building at the time. In February 2017, university officials announced that the Tinbergen Building would be closed for two years and all research and teaching activities of the Department would be moved elsewhere. This was due to the discovery of more asbestos than had been previously known; too much than could be removed during necessary maintenance with the building remaining occupied.[14][12]

The former Department of Plant Sciences was formed from the Imperial Forestry Institute. The 'Imperial Forestry Institute' was formed from in 1924,[15][16]; later it became the Commonwealth Forestry Institute from 1939.[17][18] The Oxford Forestry Institute was incorporated and became the Department of Plant Sciences in 2002.[19]

In January 2021, the Oxford City Council approved the £200m construction of the Life and Mind Building, which will be the university's largest building project and house the Departments of Experimental Psychology and Biology.[20][21] It will replace the Tinbergen Building on South Parks Road. The building will feature multiple laboratories, teaching and testing spaces providing research facilities for 800 students and 1200 researchers. Work started in 2021, with the building expected to open in 2025.[22][23]


  1. ^ "Divisions and Departments | University of Oxford". Retrieved 2022-07-27.
  2. ^ Admin, India Education Diary Bureau. "Oxford launches new department to further bioscience teaching and research | India Education | Latest Education News | Global Educational News | Recent Educational News". Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  3. ^ a b "Oxford launches new department to further bioscience teaching and research | University of Oxford". Retrieved 2022-08-01.
  4. ^ "Contact Us". Retrieved 2022-07-28.
  5. ^ "The John Krebs Field Station, Oxford University · The John Krebs Field Station, Wytham, Oxford OX2 8QJ, United Kingdom". The John Krebs Field Station, Oxford University · The John Krebs Field Station, Wytham, Oxford OX2 8QJ, United Kingdom. Retrieved 2022-07-28.
  6. ^ "Biology | University of Oxford". Retrieved 2022-07-28.
  7. ^ "Undergraduate Study". Retrieved 2022-07-27.
  8. ^ "People". Retrieved 2022-07-28.
  9. ^ "COVID-19 Research". Retrieved 2022-07-29.
  10. ^ Riley, Duncan (28 February 2021). "Oxford University lab studying COVID-19 targeted by cyberattack". SiliconANGLE. Retrieved 15 August 2022.
  11. ^ "Research Sections". Retrieved 2022-07-27.
  12. ^ a b "Asbestos find closes Oxford University building for two years". BBC News. 2017-02-10. Retrieved 2022-07-28.
  13. ^ "The Tinbergen Building — Department of Experimental Psychology". Retrieved 2022-07-28.
  14. ^ "Oxford University buildings to close for two years due to asbestos". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 2022-07-28.
  15. ^ "Imperial Forestry Institute, Oxford". Nature. 137 (3466): 573. 1936-04-01. doi:10.1038/137573a0. ISSN 1476-4687. S2CID 46407833.
  16. ^ "The Imperial Forestry Institute, Oxford". Nature. 139 (3522): 731–732. 1937-05-01. doi:10.1038/139731a0. ISSN 1476-4687. S2CID 4070262.
  17. ^ Harrison, Brian Howard, ed. (1994). The History of the University of Oxford. Vol. VIII: The Twentieth Century. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 260. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198229742.001.0001. ISBN 9780198229742.
  18. ^ United States Department for Agriculture Making Our Forests and Rangelands More Productive: 1985 Research Accomplishments, p. 149, at Google Books
  19. ^ Burley, Jeffery; Mills, Roger A; Plumptre, Robert A; Savill, Peter S; Wood, Peter J; Wright, Howard L (March 2009). "A History of Forestry at Oxford University". British Scholar. 1 (2): 236–261. doi:10.3366/brs.2009.0007. ISSN 1941-6105.
  20. ^ "Life and Mind Building | University of Oxford". Retrieved 2022-07-28.
  21. ^ Marshall, Jordan (15 January 2020). "O'Rourke joins chase for Oxford university's largest ever building project". Building. Retrieved 15 August 2022.
  22. ^ "University of Oxford's £200m life sciences building plan approved". BBC News. 2021-01-21. Retrieved 2022-07-28.
  23. ^ "Current Progress". Retrieved 2022-07-29.