- I’m interested in biology – what courses should I take in my first year?
If you know that you like biology, then you don’t have too many decisions to make in the first year. Your course selection would probably, look like this:
(a) BIOL 1152 and 1153, Introductory Biology I and II respectively, with labs. These courses are prerequisites for most other biology courses. That’s one unit.
(b) CHEM 1011 and 1012 General Chemistry I and II, respectively, with labs. These courses are required in the biology major programs. That’s another unit.
(c) One unit of introductory courses in a subject you wish to develop as a minor. A minor is required for a biology major – an acceptable minor would be three units of either applied human nutrition, chemistry, physics, psychology, mathematics or computer science. A good choice would be MATH 1113 Introductory Calculus I, since this course is required for a biology major. If you know your major will be chemistry then you already have a start with (b) above, and you will have an extra unit of elective courses to choose in (e) below. Make sure the courses you choose for your minor are eligible! Each department defines eligible courses for its minor, so check the specific departmental requirements in the academic calendar. That’s three units so far.
(d) A unit of courses in subject(s) in which writing skills are intensively developed (e.g., WRIT 1120 Writing Theory and Practice). Success in science requires proficiency in writing! That’s four units!
(e) A unit of elective courses. Examine the list of subject groups B and C given under Bachelor of Arts – General Studies in the descriptions of programs in the calendar (section 4). For a B.Sc. General Studies, two units must be completed from subjects listed in B and C. For a B.Sc. with a major (20 units) and a B.Sc. with honours (20 units), graduation requires that one unit be obtained in each of subject groups B and C. Your first year is a good time to start working on these subjects. That’s five units – a normal full course load.
- What are the sizes of classes and labs in first-year and upper level biology courses?
In first year biology (BIOL 1152 and 1153), classes consist of not more than 100 students. Labs have maximums of 25 students. Upper level classes vary in size, but are usually much smaller than the introductory level classes.
- How many courses should I take when I’m working full-time or part-time?
Studying with a full course-load (five courses per term) is a full-time job, and university life is demanding in your first year. This is especially true for science students, since many science courses include laboratory work. Also, you need time for writing lab reports. If you can, you should give your studies your full attention.
If you’re working or volunteering part-time or participating in extra curricular activities, adjust your course-load appropriately. A good rule-of-thumb for estimating the time needed for course-work: multiply the time spent in scheduled lectures, labs and tutorials by three. Include that time in your weekly schedule. For example, someone working 15-20 hours per week should take no more than a half-load of courses, perhaps two science courses with labs or three non-science courses. And that would be demanding! Don’t forget about family life, recreation, community service, friends, etc.
- What is a unit? What is a half-unit?
A course valued at one unit lasts for two academic terms (or the equivalent in summer session or other academic work). Nearly all of the courses we offer are half unit courses, that is, they last only one academic term. A full load of five courses for a term is therefore worth 2.5 units. A full load of five courses over two terms, that is a typical an academic year, is worth 5.0 units. Three years of successful full-time study will yield 15 units. Four years of the same will yield 20 units.
- How many biology units are required for the 20-unit biology major? Are there any maximums on the number of biology courses I can take?
A minimum of eight biology units (16 one-term courses) are required for the 20 unit major. A maximum of ten biology units (20 one-term courses) are allowed. Three of the eight biology units must be at the 3000 level (third-year) or above.
Note that your overall GPA (Grade Point Average; see Grading and Examinations under Academic Regulations section 2, in the calendar) for required biology credits must be 2.0 or greater.
BIOL 1114 Human Development and Genetics and BIOL 2202 General Microbiology are intended for non-science students and cannot be counted towards a major in biology.
- I have taken biology courses at another university. What credit can I get for this at the Mount?
If you are asking for credit for work completed at another university, then you are a “transfer student”. Transfer students must work out their “transfer credits” with the Registrar’s Office. The Registrar’s Office has information on the equivalency of courses given at other institutions and Mount courses. If assistance is needed in assigning credit, the Registrar’s Office will contact the appropriate professor. Once the analysis is completed, the student will be issued a Statement of Standing, listing the credits granted. Note that transfer students must complete at least 50% of their course work (overall, and also for the major and minor requirements) at the Mount. If you have more units from another university than can be accommodated within these limits, then you should ask the Registrar’s Office to consider only those units that will be most valuable in your intended Mount program. Biology faculty and the assistant to the Deans for Academic Advising can help you make these decisions.
For more information, see Admission Requirements for Transfer Students under Academic Regulations in the calendar (Section 2).
- What is required for a minor in biology?
The requirements for a minor in biology are BIOL 1152 and BIOL 1153 (Introductory Biology I and II) plus two additional units of biology for a total of three units of biology.
- What is a concentration in biology?
If you are not a biology major but have a significant interest in biology, you may wish to add a concentration in biology to your B.Sc. or even B.A. degree. In fact a 15-unit Bachelor’s degree General Studies requires that you have a concentration. A concentration in biology is four units of biology. Please consult the department for more information on the required courses.
- What is an “honours” degree?
A B.Sc. with a major in Biology and honours has the same basic requirements as the 20 unit B.Sc. Biology major described above (5), and includes BIOL 4499 Honours Thesis (one unit). The honours program requires that you conduct independent research (with a supervising professor), and write and defend a thesis. You will receive training in writing, poster-making, verbal presentation, literature research and laboratory/field techniques. You will attend a weekly departmental seminar series and critique visiting speakers. You will participate in student research conferences. An honours degree prepares you to consider graduate (M.Sc./Ph.D.) school. If you are not sure about graduate school, the honours program will help you decide.
- What kinds of opportunities are there for independent research?
There are some research jobs available during the summer, when senior students work in a lab or in the field under the supervision of a professor. Consult with a professor who is working in a field that interests you.
Outstanding students can apply to NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council) for an Undergraduate Student Research Assistantship. Applications are made in January or February for award in the spring. Ask a professor or the departmental chairperson about the application procedure.
We offer Directed Research courses (BIOL 4460 and BIOL 4461) in which students complete a research project for academic credit (one half unit per course). Talk this over with a professor.
We offer the Honours Thesis (BIOL 4499) in which students perform independent research and write and defend a thesis for academic credit (one unit). This course gives you an idea of the type of work you would do as a graduate (M.Sc. or Ph.D.) student. If you are interested in a particular subject, talk over an honours thesis with the appropriate professor.
- Are there any part-time job opportunities?
Yes, the department hires students to be teaching assistants in labs, and to mark lab reports and assignments. Also, there are a number of programs (e.g. Student Works) that provide funds during the academic term for part-time assistance to professors in their research. Ask a professor whether he/she knows of any such opportunities.
- Are there any social clubs/activities for biology students?
Yes. The Science Society is a great way to get involved and to meet new people, with activities like potlucks, movie nights, pizza parties, dinner theatre, fundraisers and lots more! The Science Society is always open to suggestions, so feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- What chemistry courses are required for a major in biology?
Students doing the major must complete CHEM 1011 and 1012 (General Chemistry I and II) and CHEM 2401 and 2402 (Organic Chemistry I and II). Students taking the B.Sc. Honours must also take BIOL/CHEM 3501 (Introductory Biochemistry) and BIOL/CHEM 3502 (Intermediary Metabolism).
- Which math courses would be best for biology?
To major in biology, the following courses are required: MATH 1113 Introductory Calculus I, MATH 2208 and 2209 Introduction to Probability and Statistics I and II. Of course, these courses are also required for the Honours degree. You would likely take these courses in your first and second years.
- Can BIOL 2205 and 2206 Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II be counted towards a biology major or minor?
- Can BIOL 1114 Human Development and Genetics be counted towards a biology major, concentration or minor?
BIOL 1114 is intended for non-science students. This course may not be counted as credit for a biology major; however, it may be counted for a minor in biology. To determine whether this course can be counted towards a concentration. Contact the Biology department.
- Can BIOL 2202, General Microbiology be counted towards a biology major, concentration or minor?
See above for BIOL 1114.
Updated July 20th 2009