Course Breakdown


Mid-Semester Test: 37.5%
Laboratory Component: 25%
Exam: 37.5%

Course Information


Recommended textbooks:
An Introduction to Genetic Analysis (10th ed) - Griffiths et al.
Genetics: A Conceptual Approach (5th ed) -  Pierce
Official UoA Website: link.

Basic Information

BIOSCI 202 was held four times a week at 8am smack bang in the middle of the winter season, however, thankfully all lectures were video-recorded and uploaded onto CECIL.

The great news about BIOSCI 202 is that like your other stage 1 BIOSCI papers, the content you are taught in the first two blocks during the first half of the semester are not re-examined during the end of semester examination meaning you will have a 37.5% Incourse Test and a 37.5% Exam. This paper does have quite a reputation as being one of the harder, if not the hardest stage II BIOSCI paper and in my personal opinion it is mainly because this is probably the first BIOSCI paper you encounter where pure rote memorisation of content will no longer guarantee you good marks even if you can reproduce the lecture slide notes perfectly. The lecturers WILL emphasise in their lectures that they will examine you on particular genetics problems and you MUST practice these to become confident in the test and exam. For those who are good with mathematical problems, the problems sections should come easier to you, but I will emphasise this again: simply rote learning the slides will do you no good if you do not understand the underlying genetic concept behind it. 

Also, it helps to think critically about what you are being taught - it can be very easy to fool yourself into thinking that you understand a concept(s) after watching the lecture recordings when in fact you actually do not and this is what can catch you out during the exam.

​Practicing past exam questions and those given to you in the prescribed textbook which is available at Short Loan will serve you immensely well towards getting that much coveted A+.


Laboratory Component

Fortunately or unfortunately, there are no after-lab assessments for BIOSCI 202 so everything, including your experiments and hand-in sheets must be completed within the laboratory session.

In 2014, the first two labs were taken by Dr. Craig Millar, where you will do a microscopy analysis of chromosomes. In the second lab you will do a tetrad analysis of meiotic chromosomes. These experiments are not difficult to do, and please do ask for help when you need it - he and the demonstrators are very friendly people - but do move at a steady pace as you don't want to find yourself running out of time at the end!

In Dr. Gavin Lear's labs you will perform a one-step growth experiment and then carry out a deletion mapping analysis at the end of the second lab. He will spend some of his lecture time going over the lab content so please do revise them before going in to your lab. Time management is vital as there are a lot to do during these two labs!! Thankfully the first lab is only necessary for performing the experiments to generate the data you need for analysis, so do take advantage during this lab in between waiting times to ask lots of questions!!

​Professor Russell Snell led the two remaining labs. Like Dr. Lear's labs they consisted of performing experiments first to generate the data followed by an analysis - personally I ran out of time to complete the worksheet properly so please please please ensure you know what you are doing in your experiments and exactly what the questions are asking you to do - you do not have the luxury of asking your friends and taking a week to complete the hand-in worksheet!!


Lecture Content

Evolution, ancient DNA & conservation genetics

Dr. Craig Millar, who is a top bloke and also your course co-ordinator kicked off BIOSCI 202 with a 12 lecture + tutorial block which included content on:

  • Chromosomal structure

  • Eukaryotic sequence organisation

  • Meiosis and Linkage

  • Recombination and Chromosome mapping

  • Tetrad analysis and the nature of crossing over

  • Mapping human chromosomes and chromosomal mutations

  • Sex determination and sex-linked characteristics

  • Organelle DNA

​His content and lecturing style is much like what you have already encountered in BIOSCI 101: very clear, thorough descriptions of exactly what you need to know and how to go about approaching the genetics problems which, as mentioned above, (and he will state this during his lectures to do pay attention) WILL be tested in the midsemester test, worth a whopping 37.5%. His slides, as well as the slides given out by all the other lecturers in this course like first year also contain extremely good notes to study from.


Microbial Genetics

Dr. Gavin Lear took over from Dr. Millar with his block of ten lectures + tutorial, covering the following content:

  • Nucleic Acid structure and replication

  • Gene concepts and mutation 

  • Regulation of Gene expression

  • Microbial gene mapping

  • Gene modification and exploitation

  • Gene mining

Dr. Lear is a microbiologist, so he will draw examples of genetics from microbes but this will not be a disadvantage for any of you. Like Dr. Millar he is also an extremely patient and great lecturer, however the content he introduces personally I found to be much more difficult conceptually than Dr. Millar's earlier lecture blocks so if you do not understand something please do not be shy to approach him and ask. Dr Lear is a fairly new lecturer for BIOSCI 202, starting in 2014. This means there should be 2 past papers for the 2016 Sem2 BIOSCI 202 class to practice from.

Dr. Millar and Dr. Lear even held a tutorial during the end of the midsemester break where they answered sent-in questions and re-covered their more difficult content taught so contact your class rep if you believe that may be of help. You guys are in for a real treat!


Plant and Yeast Molecular Genetics

Professor Russell Snell taught this section for the first time in 2015, however, the content (10 lectures + tutorial) taught have not changed much since the last lecturer, Professor Richard Gardner. They are:

  • Recombinant DNA technology: The key enzymes, vectors, libraries & screening processes and DNA sequencing

  • Applications of recombinant DNA technology

  • Prokaryotic and eukaryotic transposable elements

  • Molecular markers in genetic analysis

  • Types of DNA - based markers

His content moved away from the emphasis of learning about the molecular side of genetics which Dr. Millar and Dr. Lear taught you and more towards a focus on how genetics can be used and manipulated in the industry to achieve a variety of aims. Personally, I found his content confusing and difficult to understand despite going over his notes and lecture recordings several times, and was only able to achieve a better understanding through peer-collaboration so working with your fellow classmates is highly recommended here should you find yourself stuck. The positive side, in my opinion, is that he had written notes attached to each slide telling you which parts he wanted you to learn, and further expanded on the context of diagrams in the slides as well.


Genetic Basis and Evolution of Quantitative traits; genome imprinting

Like Dr. Lear, 2014 was the first year that Dr. Anna Santure taught this final block of lectures for BIOSCI 202. Fear not, however, - she is an extremely friendly, approachable and passionate lecturer and like all the other lecturers in this course has extremely well-detailed lecture slides and she will often post additional slides with her answers to student questions she received via email so do check frequently on CECIL for those.  Her content (9 lectures + tutorial) covered the following:

  • Genomics and bioinformatics

  • Genetic structure of populations

  • Quantitative genetics - heritability and association mapping

  • The molecular archive

  • Molecular systematics of gene trees through time and gene trees and species trees

  • Evolution of traits

As you can probably tell, Dr. Santure's focus is more on the genetics of populations and evolution. I found her section to be conceptually easier than Professor Gardner's, although again it is easy to fool yourself into believing you understand a particular concept so please practice questions thoroughly to cement your knowledge. Her emailed answer replies to student questions are also extremely detailed and thorough so don't be afraid to get in touch should you encounter difficulty in your content. Calculations are also required for her questions but they will be nothing more than high school arithmetic. It would be a good idea to bring your calculator along to her lectures so you can follow along as she explains the steps during lectures, and also keep in mind you will need to know the formulae for the calculations in the exam.