University of Sydney Handbooks - 2019 Archive

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Biological Science is offered by the School of Life and Environmental Sciences in the Faculty of Science. Units of study in this major are available at standard and advanced level.

About the major

Biology is the study of living organisms, whether single-celled or multi-cellular, as individuals or in groups, and their interaction with their environment and with each other. It is concerned with all levels of biological complexity from the molecular level through to cells and tissues, to organisms, their populations and the ecosystems of which they form part. Biologists seek to understand the structure and function of the living world. Biologists investigate how organisms access and use energy and the processes by which they develop and replicate. Evolution provides an overarching framework for understanding changes that have occurred in groups of organisms over time.

The major will initially cover fundamental concepts in biology, such as life, the structure and function of molecules, cells and organisms and processes including metabolism and respiration.

As a broad and interconnecting major, it is characterised by integrating 'biology' sub-disciplines which are distinguished by:

  • their subject matter
  • the scale of the subject matter
  • the suite of tools used for investigation.

This major has been structured in this way because biology is now moving into a phase of rapid expansion and discovery that places biologists at the forefront of current scientific research.

Requirements for completion

A major in Biology requires 48 credit points, consisting of:

(i) 12 credit points of 1000-level core units
(ii) 6 credit points of 2000-level experimental design units
(iii) 6 credit points of 2000-level taxonomy units
(iv) 6 credit points of 2000-level breadth units
(v) 6 credit points of 3000-level field units
(vi) 6 credit points of 3000-level selective units
(vii) 6 credit points of 3000-level interdisciplinary projects units

A minor in Biology and a minor in Plant Science are available and articulate to this major.

First year

Core: BIOL1XX6 Life and Evolution and BIOL1XX7 From Molecules to Ecosystems.

Second year

BIOL2X22 Biology Experimental Design and Analysis
and 6 credit points from:
BIOL2X30 Botany or BIOL2X21 Zoology,
and 6 credit points from:
ANAT2009 Comparative Primate Anatomy,
IMMU2X11 Immunobiology,
GEGE2X01 Genetics and Genomics,
MICR2X31 Microbiology,
BIOL2X21 Zoology,
BIOL2X30 Botany,
BIOL2032 Australian Wildlife Biology,
BIOL2X29 Cells,
BIOL2033 Entomology,
BIOL2031 Plants and Environment

Third year

6 credit points from selective field work units, and 12 credit points from a large selection of Biology units.

In your third year you must take at least one designated project unit.

Fourth year

The fourth year is only offered within the combined Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Advanced Studies course.

Advanced coursework
The Bachelor of Advanced Studies advanced coursework option consists of 48 credit points, with a minimum of 24 credit points at 4000-level or above. Of these 24 credit points, you must complete a project unit of study worth at least 12 credit points. Advanced coursework will be included in the table for 2020.

Meritorious students in the Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Advanced Studies may apply for admission to Honours within a subject area of the Bachelor of Advanced Studies. Admission to Honours requires the prior completion of all requirements of the Bachelor of Science, including Open Learning Environment (OLE) units. If you are considering applying for admission to Honours, ensure your degree planning takes into account the completion of a second major and all OLE requirements prior to Honours commencement.

Unit of study requirements for Honours in the area of Biology: completion of 36 credit points of project work and 12 credit points of coursework. Honours units of study will be available in 2020.

Contact and further information

Professor Pauline Ross

T +61 2 9351 5026

Dr Thomas Newsome
T +61 2 9351 4473

School of Life and Environmental Sciences
Level 5, Carslaw Building (F07)
Eastern Avenue
The University of Sydney NSW 2006

Learning Outcomes

Students who graduate from Biology will be able to:

  1. Exhibit a broad and coherent body of knowledge by articulating the methods of biology and explaining why current biological knowledge is both contestable and testable through further inquiry.
  2. Evaluate the importance of biological processes to our society and recognise and appreciate the role of biodiversity in sustaining life on our planet.
  3. Exhibit deep knowledge of identified core concepts in biology and related subdisciplines and recognise the interdisciplinary connections of biology with other sciences.
  4. Source, collate, synthesise and critically evaluate biological information from a range of relevant sources to further their understanding in biology.
  5. Work competently safely and responsibly in the field and laboratory, using a variety of practical and analytical techniques.
  6. Deploy skills in numeracy and data analysis to analyse experimental outcomes and obtain answers to biological questions.
  7. Communicate biological concepts and findings through a range of modes for a variety of purposes and audiences, using evidence-based arguments that are robust to critique.
  8. Design, plan and carry out field, laboratory-based, or virtual experiments in biology. Collect, accurately record, interpret, analyse, and draw conclusions from collected data.
  9. Recognise that biological knowledge has been acquired by curiosity and creativity and demonstrate creativity in thinking and problem solving.
  10. Critically analyse observations of biological phenomena by creating and developing models and/or proposing and testing hypotheses.
  11. Address authentic problems in biology, working responsibly and professionally within collaborative, interdisciplinary teams.
  12. Examine and evaluate contemporary issues in biology from a range of ethical and cross-cultural perspectives.