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Principles of Biology: the Biosphere

Course Code: BIOL 1110
Faculty: Science & Technology
Department: Biology
Credits: 5.0
Semester: 15 weeks
Learning Format: Lecture, Lab, Tutorial
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

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

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.

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy. The instructor will present a written course outline with specific evaluation criteria at the beginning of the semester. Evaluation will be based on the following:

Evaluation Marks
Class tests and assignments   15-25
Laboratory assignments and quizzes  5-15
Laboratory examination - final 10-15
Comprehensive examination - midterm  25-35
Comprehensive examination - final 25-35


1. Laboratory Experiments and Activities

Laboratory work will be assigned each week. The laboratory work must be completed in the week it is assigned. 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 in the course.

2. Examinations

There will be one midterm and one final examination. 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 of the final examination.

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.

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.