Introduction to Biology - 1st year

Provides an introduction into the study of general biology, starting from basic scientific concepts and processing to chemistry, physics and the natural laws that govern life and all living things. The course continues with studies of living creatures, from the tiny and simple through to the complexities of plants and animals, ending with a basic understanding of ecology and the study of population dynamism.

The purpose of this course is to provide the students with:

1. An introduction to the scientific method of knowledge acquisition;

2. Experience using logic and sound deduction/induction for the critical evaluation of information;

3. A basic understanding of biological process common to life;

4. An introduction to Classification and taxonomy – comparing fundamental differences in the forms and how they may differ;

5. An introduction to genetics, heredity and evolution – thus explaining how present-day organisms may have arisen;

6. An introduction to ecology and an understanding of how different life forms, including humans, interact wit each other and with the physical, chemical and biological world around them.


By the end of this course, students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate an understanding of how to design a simple scientific experiment.

2. Read a passage of scientific test, identify the main point, and evaluate the relevance and reliability of the supporting material. Orally present this evaluation to other students in the class in a clear and understandable manner.

3. Explain the types of molecules necessary for life and how living cells convert these molecules into energy.

4. Demonstrate understanding of the “currency of energy” in the living cell and how this is utilized and converted in other forms of energy.

5. Explain the concept of genetics, character traits, and hot natural variation have occurred.

6. Outline Mendel’s work with pea plants in order to explain dominant and recessive characteristics and how they can affect offspring.

7. Describe the identifying characteristics of organisms the main phyla within the six-kingdom classification of life.

8. Explain how these characteristics are adaptations and limitations for each group and how they relate to the organism’s environment.

9. Explain the concept of evolution, natural selection and the factors that may have influenced the arising of these characteristics in the organisms concerned.

10. Use a functional approach to the understanding of ecology and the adaptations in various organisms and how these have allowed such organisms to interact with each other and their world.


Course topics will include the following:

A. The scientific method. Hypothesis and theory

B. What is biology?

1. The nature of living mater
2. Molecules – simple and complex
3. Bonding

C. Life

1. Living matter
2. Levels of organization
3. Biochemistry
4. The cell – animal and plant
5. Cell communication
6. Membranes and their importance

D. Energy

1. Types of energy
2. Thermodynamics
3. Redox reactions
5. Enzymes
6. Internal respiration
7. Photosynthesis

E. Genetics

1. DNA and its replication
2. Chromosomes
3. Mitosis and Meiosis
4. Egg and sperm formation
5. Mendel and his pea
6. Multiple alleles
7. Genes and environment

F. Evolution

1. Darwin and his theories
2. Natural selection
3. Evidence for evolution
4. Speciation

G. The Diversity of Life

1. Viruses
2. Bacteria
3. Archaea
4. Eukaryotes
5. Protista
6. Fungi

H. Plants

1. Plant structure
2. Plant physiology
3. Plant cell types
4. Primary and secondary growth
5. Plant reproduction

I. Animal Anatomy & Physiology

1. Tissue types
2. Organ systems
3. CNS & PNS
4. The brain
5. Endocrine system
6. Immune system
7. Blood, respiration, digestion
8. Renal system
9. Human reproduction

J. Ecology

1. Population size and dynamics
2. Biodiversity
3. Competition
4. Predator/Prey interactions
5. Symbiosis

Method of Instruction:

1. Lectures/directed discussions

2. Overhead projections

Types of Assignments:

1. Research project

2. Scientific report

3. Oral presentation

Sample Text:

1. Marine Biology by Peter Castro and Michael Huber. McGraw Hill, 2003.

2. The Living Planet video series by David Attenborough. Artisan, 2000.

3. Videos including Beyond Darwin (New Video 1998), Seashore. BBC, 1996.