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BIOL 205 is the second introductory course in the field of biology, and is designed to prepare students for senior-level biology courses. BIOL 205 is designed to teach students “about the nature of life. The main topics of this course include the diversity of organisms, including fungi, plants, protists, animals, and bacteria.” It is important to note that for AU Biology students, BIOL 207 is mandatory and cannot be substituted with BIOL 205. The only exception is for students in the Biology Minor program and post-diploma route with previous biology lab components can take BIOL 205 in replacement of BIOL 207. This course does require BIOL 204 as a pre-requisite or equivalent and professor approval. There is no in person lab component for this course, and all labs can be done at home.
Why You Should Take This Course
This course is designed for those interested in expanding their understand of biology or science in general and potentially taking senior level biology courses in the near future. The course emphasizes on the evolution of the overriding biological principles and diversity of organisms.
A few years back, I did a Biology major at the University of Calgary and really enjoyed learning about organisms and cells. If you are interested in pursuing a graduate program in the near future in Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy or Masters/PhD in Research, you should consider taking this course or other BIOL related courses as many students who end up in this fields start with undergraduate degrees in Biology or general sciences/health sciences/kinesiology.
Course, Assignment, Midterm and Final Exam Details
The course itself covers two main topics: Evolution and Diversity, which are divided into six units. The six units include Principle of Evolution (exploring the Evolution theory, natural, artificial and sexual selection, microevolution, population genetics, macroevolution), Evolutionary History (chemical evolution, evolution of cells, history of life, human evolution), Diversity of Life I (Prokaryotes, viruses, prions), Diversity of Life II (Protists, fungi, plants), Diversity of Life III (Animals) and the final unit, Conserving and Utilizing Biodiversity (Conservation of biodiversity, domestication).
The course includes two assignments each worth 10%, lab and exercises that are worth 40%. A midterm and final exam that are worth 15% and 25% respectively and must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator. For the laboratory component, there are a total of eight mandatory labs including: Hardy Weinberg calculations, cladistics, sickle cell population simulations (using a program called SimBio), dog domestication (also using SimBio), flowers and trees (in SimBio), pig dissection (virtual), conservation biology, and cod biology, all of which can be done at home.
How to Be Successful in the Course
From all the Biology, Chemistry, and Physics courses I have taken during my first degree as a Biology major, students will find Biology courses are typically content heavy and require lots of memorization. For biology courses, understanding the content and building the big picture (along with memorizing) is key to being successful. One thing I found incredibly useful during my Biology degree was to use the course objectives when studying.
Often, students will find biology courses overwhelming with information (and may not know which concepts are important for the exams), use the course objectives/study guides to help pull information key concepts and then using the key concepts to ensure you understand all the details connected to those key concepts. Drawing diagrams are also extremely helpful to help understand the big picture. As students’ progress toward senior biology courses, content typically gets more detailed and drawing diagrams make it very helpful to see the big picture. Using Quizlet or cue cards is also helpful to test yourself on definitions. Do not shy away from testing yourself, or even speaking out loud to explain a concept. If you can explain a concept to someone that means you understand the concept. Many professors in university recommend students to use a sibling/friend/partner or even a stuffed animal and explain to them specific definitions and concepts in your own words.
For labs, if you are confused, I highly recommend going to the “Discussion” parts of the Moodle forum to look for comments by other students. Often, you are not the only student with that question. Of course, if that does not work out, do not hesitate to approach your TA.
When preparing for midterms or final exams, make sure to study ahead of time. I personally found studying 30 minutes a day a few weeks ahead of the exam very helpful in science courses as there is a lot of content to cover. Since science courses contain lots of details, cramming is the least ideal and practical solution. I recommend students to spread out studying, doing perhaps 30 minutes – 1 hour a day. Students will find doing a little bit a day significantly more helpful, effective, and productive than cramming one or two days before the exams.
If you have any further questions regarding the course, please do not hesitate to contact the Course Coordinator at Fst_success@athabascau.ca. Happy studying!