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Course Breakdown

Mid-Semester Test: 30%

Laboratories: 20%

Orion Online Feedback: 10%

Exam: 40%

Course Information


Prescribed Textbook:

  • Principles of Anatomy and Physiology (14th ed) - Tortora & Derrickson

UoA Course Website: link

Basic Information

BIOSCI 107 is the first university biology course that you are going to encounter and kind of chucks you in the deep end with its abundance of knowledge and heavily weighed lab work. The coordinator for BIOSCI107 is Dr Suzanne Reid (in 2019), who is fantastic at her job as she is always in the periphery of every lecture, supporting you, sending you emails to update you on your progress.


In BIOSCI107, most of the lecturers teach using lecture slides which makes revision relatively straightforward as these slides are uploaded online and generally contain most of the information needed. The course guide for 107 is filled with all of your prelab work and lecture content. The course guide perfectly aligns with the lecture structure and is filled with a combination of both diagrams to annotate, key information and spaces to write notes. Depending on the style of the lecturer, some lecturers focus on it more than others, but it is definitely the best way to go about your pre readings and revisions.

Laboratory Component

Most of the 6 labs were quite straightforward - requiring you to complete a pre-lab and an in-lab assessment. There are two labs which were quite memorable: the embryo lab and the blood and immune lab (usually Lab #3 and Lab #4). The embryo lab required you to make an embryo model out of polysterene clay. Some people found it extremely hard, but most found it very chill, fun and interactive lab, it was really a craft session! The blood and immune lab is technically difficult as you're trying to count blood cells whilst classifying them with a cow blood sample which you must mix yourself. In general, people always freak out about BIOSCI107 labs as it is one of the first BIOSCI courses that you will encounter. With that being said, my hot tip would be for you to calm down about the 107 labs, just do the pre-lab, pre-read the lab instructions and stay calm if you make a mistake!

Lecture Content

BIOSCI 107 consists of 7 Modules:

Cells and Tissues

This section was 4 lectures long and was taught by Dr Anthony Philips in 2019. Many people considered him to be very clear in his lecturing style. This part of the course was relatively 'easy' in the sense that the concepts were not overly complicated and all the information was found on the lecture slides. He consistently uploaded the slides after each lecture. 


During class, he would simply go through his lecture slides; of which most of the stuff would already be written in your course guides; but some extra things would be written in the lecture slides - so most people probably spent their time in lecture copying those details in. Otherwise, some people typed out most of the information into their laptop and went back to the slides to fill in anything missing. Just some things that caught people out were fine details e.g. in a sarcomere, it is the 'H zone' not the 'H band'. Another useful thing people did was to pay attention to certain diagrams that the lecturer placed emphasis on during lectures. The fine details in those diagrams proved important (i.e. came up in the test), which, well, is naturally expected. This section was not too hard; and simply involved being able to recall a lot of facts.


Handy hint; Suzanne had also mentioned (2018) that it would be more important to focus on what he SAYS, rather than what he PRESENTS, as that's where he quizzes from the most!  


SUPER handy hint; Be prepared for his second lecture! Do not feel too overwhelmed if you can not keep up with his slides. This can be combated with pre-reading his lecture slides, doing practice on various slides, and listening to what he says rather than copying down everything verbatim! You can do this! 


Topics Covered/Content to Expect:

  • Structural Organisation of the body

  • Human Body Systems 

  • Tissue Types + Histology (+ structure & function)

    • Epithelia

    • Connective

    • Muscle

    • Nervous

Cell Structure and Function

This section was 6 lectures long and taught by course coordinator Dr Suzanne Reid in 2019. This section was considered much harder - considering the test scores in this section were not particularly high. There was a lot of content to learn and the content tied into each other. For most people this topic would be their first encounter with inner/extracellular processes and metabolism so it's understandable if you get overwhelmed.  Ultimately, however, it is just very important that you grasp the concepts and processes and don't just rote learn everything. Again, most of the information was in the lecture slides thus a similar approach could be used as for cells and tissues. As for the cellular communication lecture, using sources such as youtube/khanacademy really helped and sitting down to slowly teach the steps to yourself out loud were really handy too!

Topics Covered/Content to Expect: 

  • Organelles of the cell

  • DNA structure and function 

  • Membrane proteins, ATP + Protein synthesis

  • Cell Signalling

  • Cell Division & Cancer  

Special Topics

A series of 5 lectures in which we had guest lecturers teaching about various topics. They were fun!


Human Development (embryology)

Taught by Dr Hilary Shepherd, this one lecture long topic was a crash course on early human development. Embryology used to be a whole topic in BIOSCI107 but in 2019, they only had it as one of the special topics. Therefore, if you look through previous papers and course resources, you are likely to find a lot of information on it. The topic itself was very interesting and there was definitely a fair amount of rote learning for tissue names and developmental stages. One down side about this topic is that the course guide did not contain as many diagrams as most would have hoped for, so definity print out some of the diagrams from the lecture slides.



Taught by Dr Jessie Jacobson, this topic really builds on a lot of high school biology, so if you thrived in genetics in High School, or if you just know a lot, then you are going to love Jessie’s crash course about genetics (geno/phenotypes, DNA mutations), types of inheritance and all the best of life. What is super exciting is that you will also be doing a genetics topic in  BIOSCI101 so you can really use these lectures as a warm up.



A topic which most would never imagine attending lectures for? But thank goodness for it! Dr Vaughan Fessit made the content very enjoyable and easy to understand. Therefore, these lectures almost became somewhat of a breather during the mid sem! 10/10.


Blood and Immune

This section was 5 lectures long and was taught by Assoc. Professor John Fraser in 2019. This part of the course was very content heavy. Most of the information was spoken by Professor John Fraser and you may feel overwhelmed with the pacing of the lectures. However, we found the test to be okay as he would mainly test on lecture slide content and course guide content! One thing that people noticed was that this lecturer especially liked to test numbers, names and facts - as evident in the past papers which you would be able to find on the University website.


Topics Covered/Content to Expect:

  • Main components of Blood + Function 

  • Oxygen Transport

  • Complement and Coagulation cascade

  • Infection

  • Innate and Adaptive Immunity

  • Antibodies

  • Cellular Immunity & Histocompatibility 

  • Allergies & Hypersensitivity


Cell Processes

This section was 5 lectures long and was taught by Professor Paul Donaldson in 2015. This section required a bit more conceptual understanding. Most things were on the slides, with some diagrams which you could fill in during lectures. Hot tip; be sure that you know the diagrams inside out; how to draw them and how they work as this is a key concept the lecturer places much emphasis on.


Topics Covered/Content to Expect:

  • Cell Membrane Structure & Function

  • Membrane Transport Methods: 

    • passive and active transport

    • channel and carrier mediated transport

    • Osmosis

  • Transport across cell membrane

  • Epithelial transport

  • Glucose transport

  • Chloride secretion 

Excitable Tissue (Nervous)

This section was 5 lectures long and was taught by Professor Janusz Lipski in 2019. This section had a lot of information of which some was in the course guide but most would be found on the lecture slides - so it was probably easier to study off the slides. This section had a lot of facts to recall. Therefore, I highly recommend you to review these lectures over and over until you have truly grasped the concept. What is really great about this topic is that it builds on the “Cell Processes” topic and so it becomes super interesting when you find yourself putting together all the puzzle pieces. Additionally, it would be useful to learn the Nernst Equation as it was often tested.


Topics Covered/Content to Expect:

  • Action potentials

  • Equilibrium potentials

  • Types of neurons

    • Resting membrane potential

    • Synaptic transmission

    • Neurotransmitters

    • Excitotoxicity

Excitable Tissue (Muscle)

This section was 5 lectures long and was taught by Dr Carolyn Barrett in 2019. For this section in 2019, most students found the lecture slides to be the most useful for learning content, and used the course guide just to clarify certain points or give alternative diagrams and descriptions. Similar to the Nerves topic, Muscles also build on previous topics, including “Cells and Tissues” , and “Excitable Tissue: Nerves”, which would allow you to understand it in more depth. Most people found this lecturer to be clear and concise on her delivery. She also gave hints as to what she would examine, and what was just "extra information". A big tip Dr Barrett would give is focus on the learning objectives as she would give one question to test each learning objective.


Topics Covered/Content to Expect:

  • Skeletal Muscle

    • Structure & Function 

    • Action Potentials 

    • Contraction Cycles

    • Anaerobic/aerobic respiration 

    • Excitation Contraction Coupling

  • Cardiac Muscle 

    • Structure of heart

    • Neurotransmitters

  • Smooth Muscle

    • Structure & Function 

    • Contraction Cycles contraction 

    • Contraction force regulation

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