Introduction to Biology

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
BIOL 1310
Introduction to Biology
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
  • Lecture
  • Discussion groups and problem solving
  • Practical application in the laboratory
  • Field observation and/or video observation
  • Reading assignments and discussion groups via myDouglas
  • Instructor tutoring
Course Description
This course is an introduction to the biosphere, the diversity of life, biochemistry, cell biology and ecological interactions. Mechanisms of genetic inheritance and evolution are also studied.
Course Content
  1. Introduction to Evolution and Taxonomy
    • process and mechanisms of evolution
    • sources of heritable variation within a species
    • meaning and role of fitness in evolution
    • types of natural selection
    • levels of organization in the biosphere
    • principles of taxonomy
    • survey of major taxa, from viruses to animals
  2. Origins and Evolution of Life
    • theories regarding the origins of life
    • origin of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells
    • macroevolution, speciation and reproductive isolating mechanisms
  3. Introduction to Genetics
    • mitosis and meiosis
    • Mendelian Inheritance: theory and problems
    • Non-Mendelian Inheritance: multiple alleles, sex linkage and multigenic inheritance.
  4. Molecular and Cellular Basis of Life
    • chemistry of amino acids
    • formation of primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary structure of proteins.
    • functions and  mechanisms of action of enzymes
    • functions and structures of DNA and RNA
    • replication of DNA
    • protein synthesis
    • molecular and chromosomal basis of mutations
    • structure and function of cellular organelles
    • structure and function of biologically-important lipids & carbohydrates
    • models of membrane structure and membrane transport
  5. Conversion and Use of Energy by Cells
    • location and process of cellular respiration
    • catabolic pathways and interrelationships for carbohydrates, fats and proteins
    • significance of ATP
    • location and process of photosynthesis
    • light dependent reactions & light independent reaction
  6. Plant and Animal Growth and Development
    • mechanisms by which seed plants reproduce
    • process of double fertilization
    • results of fertilization and growth of seeds
    • role of soil in plant growth and development, including impact of acid rain
    • role of plant hormones and the photoreceptor phytochrome on plant growth and development
    • process of animal fertilization
    • embryological development following fertilization
    • significance of primary germ layers
  7. Introduction to Ecological Systems
    • organization of biomes
    • succession in terrestrial and aquatic habitats
    • population dynamics and community interactions
    • energy flow and nutrient cycling
  8. 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
    • development of dichotomous keys
    • preparation of plant tissue for microscopic chromosome analysis.
    • lab analysis of enzyme action and optimum pH
    • technique of paper chromatography for separation of leaf pigments.
    • measurement of fermentation rate in yeast
Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Understand and explain an understanding of the relationship between the biotic and abiotic components of the biosphere, their interactions and relationship to evolution.
  2. Use and demonstrate techniques for identifying plants and animals, including use of microscopes and dichotomous keys.
  3. Understand and explain the evolutionary relationships among major taxa.  
  4. Understand and explain the relationship between genetics and evolution.
  5. Appreciate the scientific process, including the use of testable hypotheses.
  6. Explain cell division in plants and animals, and describe the significance of mitosis and meiosis to growth, development and reproduction.
  7. Solve monohybrid and dihybrid problems, and problems involving multiple alleles and sex-linked genes.
  8. Explain the molecular basis and significance of proteins, nucleic acids, lipids and carbohydrates, and their relationships to cellular respiration, photosynthesis and general metabolism.
  9. Explain how DNA and RNA replicate and code for proteins, and analyse problems using the genetic code.
  10. Understand and explain how genes interact with the environment, and the role of mutations, meiosis and fertilization in changing the genetic composition of populations over time.
  11. Discuss the mechanisms of evolution, and apply evolutionary concepts to the analysis of current environmental problems.
  12. Demonstrate the use of common laboratory equipment.
  13. Conduct simple directed experiments and explain the procedures and results.
  14. Understand and use biological principles in the discussion of current topics in Biology.
Means of Assessment
Class Tests and Assignments 20%
Laboratory Reviews (see Note 1 below) up to 20%
Laboratory Examination - final 15%
Comprehensive Examination - midterm 30%
Comprehensive Examination - final 35%
Total 100%


1. Laboratory Reviews

Required laboratory reviews will be assigned most weeks and must be completed the week they are assigned. Laboratory reviews provide an opportunity to review material with each student. Completion of the review will result in a grade of P (Pass), or R (Review Recommended). If more than one review is not completed satisfactorily, (P or R), two marks will be deducted for each lab review (in excess of one) that is not completed. A student must complete 50% of the reviews to receive a P or better grade in the course.

2. Comprehensive Examinations

There will be one midterm worth 30 marks in week 7, which 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

Textbooks and Materials to be Purchased by Students

Will be decided by course instructors. Potential resources include:

Campbell, N. A., et al. (2005).  Biology, 7th Edition.  Benjamin Cummings, Pearson Education,

Newmarket, Ontario, Canada

Douglas College produced manualBiology 1310:  Introduction to Biology.


BIOL 1109 with C- or better AND BIOL 1209 with C- or better or permission of the instructor

Which Prerequisite