ESSENTIAL BIOLOGY: FROM GENOMES TO ORGANISMS
Course Breakdown (2021)
Practical assessments: Labs(6x) + Prelabs(6x) = 28%
Incourse Test = 20%
Exam = 40%
Campbell's Biology (11th ed) - Reece et al. (2015)
UoA Course Website: link
The entirety of the course guide for this paper contained miniscule amount of text in some sections whereas in others it consisted entirely of diagrams which lecturers expected the students to annotate during lectures.
Mastering Biology Assignments
The Mastering Biology Assignments required the students 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. They are EASY marks, but please keep in mind the deadlines and don't miss it.
Incourse Test/ Mid-Semester Test (MST)
The BIOSCI 101 In course Test was online in the form of a Canvas quiz. The online quiz was a 90 minute (1.5 hour) online assessment. It contributed 20% to the final grade. The extra 30 minutes was for technical issues. The in-course test covered the theory in the first two lecture blocks and related theory from the first five laboratories (Bioenergetics and Cell & Molecular Biology). The test consisted of 50 Multi Choice Questions (50 marks).
-Bioenergetics has 25 multiple choice questions.
-Cell and Molecular Biology has 25 multiple choice questions
All topics are examined and all questions are multiple-choice (70 in total):
-Bioenergetics = 15 mcqs
-Cell & Molecular Biology = 15 mcqs
-Genetics = 40 mcqs
The exam was two hours and delivered via Inspera. An additional 30 minutes was added to allow for the complexity of online modes of completing and submitting examination answers. Therefore the total time was 2 and half hours. The exam was open book so students were allowed to use all of their course material notes and preparation material. The theory and concepts from Lab sessions were relevant to the exam.
Each lecture also had a preparatory lecture video that was posted on Canvas, and students were expected to watch them before the lecture started. This is crucial because not only do the lecturers sometimes refer to information covered in those videos during the lecture, but also they are examined in MST and final exams.
There was a change to the requirements for passing BIOSCI 101 in 2021. The students were no longer required to pass theory and practical separately.
To pass BIOSCI 101, students were required to get an overall 50% in the final grade, that is 50% from the combination of all of the theory and practical assessments.
BIOSCI101 consisted of six laboratories that are attended every fortnight. Each lab has a short relatively straightforward prelab component in the form of a quiz on Canvas which was to be completed before the due date prior to its corresponding lab. It contributed to the final laboratory grade. Suggested readings are provided but are not necessary to do well in the laboratory. The way each lab is structured allows the students 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 students could answer the lab assignments.
The first laboratory is just an introduction and it’s extremely straight forward, 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.
Due to the lockdown only Labs 1 and 2 were conducted on campus whereas 3,4 (*PeerWise + preparation for in course test), 5 and 6 were completed online. They were done in the form of Canvas quizzes structured as worksheets that had MCQs and short answer questions.
*PeerWise is a website where students login using their UID (eg: abcd123) and password. Where students can ask and answer questions posted by each other regarding the topics covered in the in course test and exam.
Cellular and Molecular Biology
Taught by Dr Kate Angel in 8 lectures in 2021. 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 can be a part of the questions in the final exam of her section. Therefore, I suggest you review those questions before the exam.
Her content mostly revolves around different types of microscopes used to view 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 wherein 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 memorized in BIOSCI101 (but are 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 memorization. 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 2021. 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, personalized medicine, gene therapy & ethics.