Course Exam—BIOL 320 (Comparative Anatomy of the Vertebrates)

Course Exam—BIOL 320 (Comparative Anatomy of the Vertebrates)

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BIOL 320 is a three-credit senior level biology course that “covers all major aspects of the anatomy of the vertebrates, including basic comparative anatomy.” The course is delivered online, however, it does include a mandatory four-day supervised lab componentStudents who wished to be considered exempt from the lab may check if they are qualifiedIt is also highly recommended for students to check the lab schedule dates and locations before enrolling into the course

Who Should Take This Course and Why

For this course we had the opportunity to interview Sean, who is currently a student from a different university, taking this course at AU during the spring and summer.

When we asked Sean why he took this course, he stated, “this course was a mandatory class for my major and over the spring, this course wasn’t offered at my local University, and I found out that I could take it with AU and transfer over which is awesome.  I took this course not only as a requirement, but also because I enjoy learning about vertebrates.  I hope to do research in this field in the future.” When we asked Sean who he would recommend this course to, he mentioned, “I would say, science majors or those who are interested in vertebrates and looking for a science elective.  The course can be quite heavy especially with the labs, so if you are not particularly interested in it, it can be a challenging course.”

Course, Assignments and Final Exam Details

The course consists of twelve units covering the topics of comparative anatomy and vertebrate relationships, craniate types, phylogeny, morphogenesis, skeleton, the various systems, and the sensory and endocrine organs.  The course consists of a laboratory evaluation that is worth 20%, two assignments each worth 10% and a midterm that is worth 20% along with a final exam worth 40%.

Sean recommended that students “do not worry about how much exams are worth.  Many universities have midterms and final exams, it can be a bit scary seeing the combined total of 60% for just exams, but most times, the reason there are midterms and final exams is so you can check to make sure you get the material.  For science courses specifically, content is heavy, having the midterm exams help us know whether we really know our stuff or more importantly, if we’re on track on the course.  I usually like to think of the midterm as the mini practice exam for the final exam.”

How to Be Successful in the Course

Student’s Advice for the Course

When we asked Sean for his advice for the course, he stated, “for science courses, it is very important to read the objectives from the Study Guide before doing readings.  Students will find that there is a lot of material to grasp, the objectives help to figure out what you need to get out of each unit.  I personally read the text at least two times.  It is normal to not understand the material the first time, don’t be discouraged and do your best to get through it.  Things will come together during the next read.  I also recommend to study regularly, that makes remembering all the information much easier.  Even if it is 30 minutes a day just to review the material.  It really helps in the long run.”


If you have any further questions regarding the course, please do not hesitate to contact the Course Coordinator at  Happy learning!