Principles of Biology: the Biosphere

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
BIOL 1110
Principles of Biology: the Biosphere
Science & Technology
Start Date
End Term
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
Lecture/Tutorial 4 hours/week Laboratory 3 hours/week
Method Of Instruction
Methods Of Instruction

There are four hours of lecture or tutorials per week, and three hours of laboratory work.  The information content is integrated with laboratory experiments, problem sets, journal articles and textbook readings.

Course Description
This course is an introduction to the biosphere, the diversity of life and biotic interactions. The anatomy and physiology of organisms are also studied. With Biology 1210, this course fulfills the requirements of a first year university Biology course.
Course Content

1. Introduction to Evolution and Taxonomy  

  • theory of evolution
  • introduction to components of the biosphere:  levels of organization (from cells to biosphere)
  • principles of taxonomy – binomial system of nomenclature
  • construction of dichotomous keys, and use of the microscope to examine cells, organisms
  • survey of major taxa, from viruses to animals

2. Introduction to Ecological Systems

  • organization of biomes
  • succession in terrestrial and aquatic habitats
  • population dynamics and community interactions
  • energy flow and nutrient cycling
  • analysis of experimental design in energy flow

3. Introduction to how various organisms accomplish:

  • support and movement
  • nutrition and digestion
  • respiration
  • circulation of gases, fluids and materials
  • reproduction
  • excretion of wastes
  • sensory perception and nervous condition

4. Laboratory techniques

  • techniques required for the use of common laboratory equipment
  • use of compound and stereomicroscopes
  • preparation of various wet mounts for microscope work
  • introduction to experimental methods
  • various plant and animal dissections
  • development of dichotomous keys
Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, students will:

  1. Understand and be able to demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the biotic and abiotic components of the biosphere, their interactions and relationship to evolution.  
  2. Be capable of using and demonstrating techniques for identifying plants and animals, including use of the microscope and dichotomous keys.
  3. Understand and be able to explain the evolutionary relationships among major taxa.
  4. Understand and be able to explain the anatomy, physiology and functional relationships of certain organisms within each major group.
  5. Appreciate the scientific process, including the use of testable hypotheses.
  6. Be able to demonstrate the use of common laboratory equipment.
  7. Appreciate the study of Biology as a multidisciplinary activity.
Means of Assessment
Class Tests and Assignments 20%
Laboratory Activities (see Note 1 below) up to 22%
Laboratory Examination - final 15%
Comprehensive Examination - midterm 30%
Comprehensive Examination - final 35%
Total 100%


1. Laboratory Activities

Laboratory work will be assigned each week. The laboratory work must be completed in the week it is assigned. If more than one lab assignment is not completed, two percentage points will be deducted for each lab assignment (in excess of the one permitted without penalty). Laboratory experiments and assignments are a compulsory component of this course. A minimum of 50% of the laboratory experiments and assignments must be completed to receive a P or better grade in the course.

2. Comprehensive Examinations

There will be one midterm worth 30 marks in week 7 that will cover the course content to that point. The final examination will cover the entire course. If the student achieves a better grade on the final exam than on the midterm examination, the midterm grade will be raised to equal that achieved on the final examination.      

Textbook Materials

Campbell, Neil A., and Jane B. Reece. Biology. (Current Edition).  Benjamin Cummings

Douglas College produced manual. Biology 1110: the Biosphere.  

Which Prerequisite

BIOL 2300, 2301, 2302, 2321, 2400, 2421, 3205, 3305, 3500, 3600 and 3700