In the British radio comedy show, Cabin Pressure, the following exchange of dialogue occurs:

Martin: Your doctor? What doctor do you know?

Simon: Good old Doc Smiley, of course.

Martin: What, Nathan Smiley from school?

Simon: That’s right! Remember him, do you?

Martin: Of course I remember him, he threw my briefcase on the science block - and he’s a podiatrist!

Simon: And a bloody good one.

What does "science block" mean in this context? It seems to be some Britishicism, but I'm not entirely sure of the meaning.

  • Any chance it simply refers to a building that hosts the science department? Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 5:25

2 Answers 2


As a British English speaker, I would use "science block" to mean "the science labs and classrooms in a secondary school" rather than a college or university (those I'd be more likely to call the "science department").

In this context it definitely refers to secondary school (that's ages 11 - 16).

Further, a "science block" has connotations of being in some way separated from the main school buildings (off to one side or a separate structure entirely) and I would picture a single storey building from that. Whilst it's not easy to throw a briefcase on top of a single storey building it's not impossible. And indeed, half the joke comes from the image - it takes a determined and/or a large and strong bully to do so.


Here it means 'science wing' or the part where they study 'science' in a college or university.

A building or part of a complex used for a particular purpose. For example, a shower block

More examples from Oxford Dictionaries:

  • The completion of the science block is not the end of developments at the School.
  • But the school burned down and many classrooms and hostel blocks were completely destroyed.
  • A women's centre and an urban prayer garden complete the Cathedral block.
  • 1
    But how do you throw a briefcase onto a building? Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 6:35
  • @curiousdannii Yes it seems interesting! (May be he threw it from a floor of some other block).
    – user73373
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 6:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.