What are core courses?

Core courses are those courses that you must take as part of your B.Sc. (Biology) degree. You can take these at any point in your program, but because these are often prerequisites for other courses, it is important to take them in the years that have been suggested.

Molecular & Cell Biology I (BIOL 1101): First Year Course

You, and all other living things, are composed of cells – cells that perform a variety of functions associated with growing, moving, getting rid of waste, repairing damage, and reproducing. Did you ever wonder what holds your cells together? What keeps you from being a mass of goo on the floor? In this course you will learn not only about the structure and function of cells, but you’ll also find out what makes cells stick together to make multi-cellular organisms composed of many different kinds of cells. You will learn about the magical molecules that allow primary producers to take energy from sunlight and transform it into food for consumers, and the chemical reactions that allow consumers, like us, to take food energy and convert it into a form that is useful for doing the work of the cell. Jobs carried out at the cellular level translate into functionality of the organism. It is cells doing their jobs that make it possible for you to wink and walk and wonder. In BIOL 1101 labs you will have fun designing and running experiments to back up some of the theory that you learn in lecture.

Organismal & Evolutionary Biology (BIOL 1601): First Year Course

Have you ever wondered what an aardvark and an apple have in common? How about your relationship to sea stars or protozoans for that matter? To get the low-down on how organisms on Earth are connected to each other, take BIOL 1601! Not only will you learn the fundamentals of evolution, the mechanism by which it happens and how to tell when it’s happening, you’ll also come out of this course knowing a whole lot more about the organisms that have populated our planet over the last few billion years. Since you will be introduced to many of the terms that scientists use when they talk about organisms, this is a course where you’ll learn to communicate like a biologist. You can put your new-found information to use in future biology courses AND you’ll be able to impress your friends and family with your vast knowledge about the natural world.

Molecular & Cell Biology II (BIOL 2101): Second Year Course

“DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software ever created.” – Bill Gates. The main focus of this course is on the central dogma of modern biology, the idea that directional flow of genetic information occurs from DNA to RNA to protein in biological systems. Along with the Theory of Evolution, this dogma forms the foundation of modern biology. Other lecture topics include a discussion of how various proteins are targeted to different cellular locations, the effects of different types of mutations, and basic genetics. In lab, follow in the footsteps of Franklin, Watson, and Crick to discover the “secret of life” using molecular techniques to perform experiments involving DNA extraction and transformation, and gene expression.

Principles of Ecology (BIOL 2503): Second Year Course

Is there order in the natural world? Are there rules that govern how organisms interact with each other and their environment? Can we predict how populations will respond to changing resource levels, the presence of competitors or predators, or a changing climate? Huh? If you have trouble answering these questions, you will undoubtedly be able to provide a more informed response when you complete this course. The goals of Principles of Ecology are to seek to understand the complex relationships between organisms and their environment, to describe the patterns of these relationships, and to illuminate the underlying mechanisms for these patterns. We will accomplish this by highlighting the role that observation, experimentation, and simulation modelling have played in interpreting the diverse and complex natural world around us, as well as our relationship to it. While lectures will use case studies to provide you with the background theory, principles, and concepts you will need to become an ecologist, laboratory sessions will focus on hands-on activities “doing” ecology. Take this course and be prepared to view the natural world with a different set of eyes.

Genetics (BIOL 2211): Second Year Course

Welcome to Genetics!  As a core course in the biology program, students will embark on a scientific journey to discover the hidden code of life. Students will engage in the genetic analysis of experimental crosses, human pedigrees, quantitative body traits, and variation in populations of organisms and will also learn about the hereditary undercurrents of diseases in humans. The course will also highlight the economic significance of genetic research as well as the need to conserve gene resources in populations of plant and animal species. In lab you will have fun performing experiments to apply the theory that you learn in lecture.

Evolution (BIOL 3601): Third Year Course

Evolution connects to many themes presented in other biology course because, as Theodosius Dobzhansky once stated: “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”. This course will help to reinforce the importance of identifying and interpreting evolutionary patterns and processes in our daily lives: from understanding how viruses such as HIV have evolved and can lead to AIDS, to exploring the evolutionary history of species that inhabit the world around us and our relationship to them. The subject coverage in this course is broad, so hang on to your hats! There is something to interest everybody – from documenting the development of evolutionary thought and Darwin’s legacy, to exploring the conservation genetics of species in peril. This may be a core course in Biology, but it is not restricted to just Biology students, we all should understand evolution!