ESSENTIAL BIOLOGY: FROM GENOMES TO ORGANISMS
Course Breakdown (2019)
Laboratories (x6): 28%
Mid-Semester Test: 20%
Mastering Assignments: 12%
Campbell's Biology (11th ed) - Reece et al. (2015)
UoA Course Website: link
The course guide for this paper did not contain very much text in some sections - some sections consisted entirely of diagrams which lecturers expected you to annotate during lectures. The 'Mastering' Assignments require you to log onto a website once a week or so and complete mini-assignments. Those assignments are just simple MCQs, SAQs or mix-'n-match questions. Each week's score contributes to 1%, and there are 12 weeks that totally contributes to 12% of your grade.
The MST which consists of multiple choice questions, covers materials in the lecture blocks : Cell and Molecular Biology and Bioenergetics. The final exams consist of multiple choice questions and short written answers. The 2-hour exam is based on material covered in all lectures, but the third section weighs more.
Each lecture also has a preparatory lecture video that is posted on Canvas, and students are expected to watch them before the lecture starts. This is crucial because not only the lecturers sometimes refer to information covered in those videos during the lecture, but also they are examined in MST and final exams.
BIOSCI101 consists of six laboratories that are attended every fortnight. Each lab has a short relatively straightforward prelab component which you do before attending the lab and hand in once you walk in, which also contributes to your final laboratory grade. Suggested readings are provided but are not necessary to do well in the laboratory. The way each lab is structured allows you to work at a reasonable pace, and in some labs, most students can finish early. Topics taught in lectures were reviewed that related to the lab during the lab so that you could answer the lab assignments.
The first laboratory is just an introduction and I promise you it’s super easy, and the following labs mostly involve data collection and then answer questions on assignment sheets. The topics covered from lab 2 to 5 included such concepts such as nucleic acids, gene expression, photosynthesis, and blood glucose.
Cellular and Molecular Biology
Taught by Dr Kate Angel in 8 lectures in 2019. A great lecturer to start the year off, her pace is slower than most other lecturers and most content required for the MST is on the slides. Sometimes she would go more in depth than her slides but as she will reiterate in reviews or FAQs, the content examined will be on the slides and in the course guide. About half way during her lectures, she would conduct an exercise to test on the knowledge taught in her preparatory lecture videos. Those exercises can be found in the course book, and are similar to the short answer questions in the final exam of her section. Therefore, I highly recommend you to review those questions before you sit the exam.
Her content mostly revolves around eukaryotic cells and their components and function, including a large focus in the latter half protein synthesis and gene expression.
Topics covered are as follows: cells and organelles, cell membranes, proteins, enzymes, nucleic acids (DNA & RNA), transcription and translation, genetic code, regulation of gene expression.
This lecture series is very intensive in that there are many notes in the course guide and lecture slides, which may seem overwhelming, but the main concepts are the most important, including substrates and products, as well as metabolic pathways and key organelle structures. Enzymes are not required to be memorised in BIOSCI101 (but is required in BIOSCI106!). Concepts are touched on in high school biology but are much more expanded in this series, including a large extent of vocabulary and numerical memorisation. Diagrams are quite useful for this topic, especially those in Campbell’s Biology, as the diagrams and visual representations in the lecture slides can be difficult to follow at times. The lecturer was very engaging and kept the topic interesting with the use of animations to show the processes, thus it is worth watching the lecture recording again to revise the content. Furthermore, it is also worth going over the video recording for tips on what is tested and extra detail on each process, especially with some lectures, what kind of experiments were done to discover the process.
Topics covered are as follows: beginnings of life, life's energy, metabolic pathways and glycolysis, the citric acid cycle, electrons, the squiggle, photosynthesis, glycogen and gluconeogenesis, and an extra online lecture to prepare you for the glucose laboratory.
Taught by Assoc. Professor Craig Miller and Dr Jessie Jacobsen in 8 lectures in 2019. A great lecturer, the pace picks up from here, particularly in that the course guide begins to contain large blocks of notes, unlike the previous sections which only contained diagrams. However it is important to note that the go to notes to study are from what he says in the lecture and the notes in his slides; the course guide is more there to reaffirm knowledge and to offer more support when confused. Like Dr Kate Angel's lecture series, the course guides also contain exercises that are conducted during the lectures, which are similar to the questions in the final exam.
Topics covered are as follows: the gene & the genetic basis of inheritance, inheritance patterns are a consequence of gene transmission, non-mendelian chromosomal inheritance, XY sex determination in humans, complex traits & polygenic inheritance, population genetics, comparative genomics, recombinant & DNA technologies, personalised medicine, gene therapy & ethics.