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Course Breakdown


Mid-Semester Test: 30%
Laboratory Component: 20%
Exam: 50%

Course Information


Course Textbook:
Molecular Cell Biology (7th ed) - Lodish et al.
Official UoA Website: link.

Basic Information

BIOSCI 201 covers quite a wide range of topics and does have quite a bit of content but is easily manageable if you stay on top of it. The textbook molecular cell biology is a good companion for this course and especially helped in the first two lecture series. In the test there is a multiple choice section and a short answer section. In the short answer section it asks for answers to two out of the four questions. There are two questions from each of the first two lecturers and one from each must be answered. This is similar to the exam as there is also a multi choice section but this time there are twelve questions, two from each lecturer and only three need to be answered. This gives a little bit of leeway for what needs to be studied as some students choose to focus on studying only a few topics instead of all of them but this could also prove to lead you into a trap so should be looked on with caution.

As usual, the course guide isn't very comprehensive and only contains pictures with a general lecture outline for each lecture. It's possible to just print off the lecture guide from CECIL and use it as you go. Also, as with most BIOSCI papers, they're pretty good with always having lecture recordings so reviewing the content with the lecture slides is always a great way to revise. But, be warned: there is quite a bit of content to learn for certain parts of this course!


Note the exam format:

"20 MCQs and a combination of 4 essay or long answer questions with an either/or option from each module. You will be required to answer questions from three of the four modules." (BIOSCI201 2018 Course Guide)


Laboratory Component

Labs are not too difficult as long as you listen to the lab tutor and ask the lab demonstrators for help – they are more than happy to answer your questions. The assessment for the labs is mainly through an answer sheet that is handed in up to one week after the lab so gives plenty of time to find the answers. The labs are also assessed through the multi choice questions in the test and exam and this I found to be the most difficult part of the labs. It is important to fully understand everything you are doing in the labs, ask lots of questions and revise the labs to ensure that you can answer these multi choice question. However, there are only a few lab multi choice questions in the test and exam.


Lecture Content

The Central Dogma of Molecular Biology

Dr David Goldstone
Lecture schedule: 6 lectures long, 1 tutorial
What is taught?: Up to lecture 4, the central dogma is explored in detail (i.e. what is DNA, what is the structure of DNA, how is each step of transcription, translation carried out). Due to Dr Goldstone's interest in x-ray crystallography (to see 3D protein structure), you will be able to see how the structure and precise positioning of amino acids has a huge impact on binding sites/active sites etc. The last lecture covers the mechanisms of DNA repair (due to mutations), and how they can be facilitated​


Regulation of Gene Expression

This section was 6 lectures long and was taught by Dr Augusto Barbosa in 2018. This content was conceptually hard in some parts. The best way to learn the content would definitely be to attend lectures, make the best out of the lecture, then followed closely by going through the lecture slides he uploads and trying to piece together what he explained in lecture. In lectures, you'll want to pay very close attention - it will require a lot of focus to keep up during the lecture. This is a hard section and can be time consuming. Most people, due to the exam format, simply did not bother to learn this section as well to save them large amounts of time (they might've lost a few marks in the MCQs, but didn't lose any marks in the essay questions because you could choose to write on the other sections). If you are going for high grades, remembering the names of the proteins, factors, and complexes is highly reccommended.

Developmental Biology

This section was 5 lectures long (with 1 tutorial) and was taught by Dr Hilary Sheppard in 2018. These were very interesting lectures and well worth going to. Dr Sheppard explains everything you need to know in a very straight forward way in her lectures making it easy to study for this section. In 2015 she also went through a past exam question explaining everything that she would expect to be in a perfect answer making it easier to know what she is expecting in the exam.


The Dynamic Cell

Dr Kathryn Jones

Lecture Schedule: 5 lectures, 1 tutorial
Essentially, this module is all about the movement of proteins; how and where they are synthesised, how they move through, in, and out of the cell, what components (i.e. channels, pores, vesicles, action potentials in a synapse) are required for their movement. There is a lot of protein names mentioned, and it takes a while to remember which proteins are associated with which direction of movement etc. Dr Kathryn Jones is an engaging, enthusiastic lecturer, and at the beginning of each lecture, she recaps the whole of the previous lecture to help us integrate knowledge and refresh our memories. Highly recommend attending the lectures, because in the lecture recordings, you (likely) can't see the exclusive web material she uses for her lecture recap that she does at the beginning.


Cell Proliferation and Cancer

This section was 3 lectures long (with 1 tutorial) and was taught by Professor Rod Dunbar in 2018. This section is really engaging and brilliantly taught. The lectures are helpful and there are some visual demonstrations in the class. These are helpful for understanding and involve class participation which is quite entertaining. To answer the exam questions, pretty much all the content taught is needed to answer the exam question fully, but this is manageable due to there only being 4 lectures in this section. 


Dr Julie McIntosh

Lecture Schedule: 5 lectures, 1 tutorial
The very basics of immunology are taught in a concise, easy to understand manner. Even if you haven't learnt any immunology, this module probably won't be hard to follow. If you have however, had many other immunology lectures (wink wink medsci202 and 203), you will find this module a breeze. Please note however, Dr McIntosh will cover some concepts not taught in the other papers in quite a lot of depth, so it is recommended to attend these lectures (mostly speaking about the last lecture).  

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