Southwestern

Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives

Biology

Curriculum

Below you will find a list of our current or recent offerings.  See the course catalog for descriptions and updated information or check out an overview of our degree plans.

Introductory courses in the Biology Department can serve either as prerequisites for further study for the biology major/minor or satisfy the Life Science component of The Natural World in the Perspectives on Knowledge area of the General Education Requirements.

Non-introductory courses are designed for students seeking more in-depth information on cellular and molecular, organismal, and population biology and for students with specific vocational aims. The department also offers several non-majors courses as part of the Perspectives on Knowledge curriculum.

NOTE: Successful completion of any two of the following mini-courses (half semester, 7-week courses) will yield credit for the Area Two: Division of Natural Sciences experimental laboratory course requirement - BIO50-102, 112, 122, 162, 222, 232.

  • 50-102 CELL BIOLOGY (3-3; half-semester)
    This course introduces biologically important molecules, cell structure and function, cellular bioenergetics (cellular respiration and photosynthesis) and cellular reproduction with an emphasis on animal and plant cells. The course includes a weekly laboratory session and night exams. The course is a foundation-building course required of students majoring in Biology. Not intended for students solely seeking to fulfill general education requirements. (Fall) (NSL)
  • 50-112 BIODIVERSITY (3-3; half-semester)
    Following a review of evolution and natural selection, this course surveys all domains of life. Emphasis is placed on how different organisms interact with their environment and with each other. The course includes a weekly laboratory session and night exams. The course is a foundation-building course required of students majoring in Biology. Not intended for students solely seeking to fulfill general education requirements. Also Environmental Studies 49-112. (Fall) (NSL)
  • 50-114 HUMAN BIOLOGY TODAY (2-2)
    A natural science lecture/laboratory course designed for students who do not intend to major in Biology. The content of this course varies according to the specialization of the instructor. Topics may include the function of selected organ systems within the body and how they are altered by various disease processes, the human genome project, cancer, stem cell research and whole organism cloning. Laboratory exercises reinforce lecture material and promote observation, experimentation and analytical skills. (NSL)
  • 50-122 GENETICS AND EVOLUTION (3-3; half-semester)
    This course introduces the basic principles of genetics. Classical genetics topics include: cell division, sexual reproduction, Mendelian genetics, genetic maps and polygenic inheritance. Population genetics topics include: Hardy-Weinberg Law, changes in allelic frequencies and mechanisms of microevolution. The course includes a weekly laboratory session and night exams. The course is a foundation-building course required of students majoring in Biology. Not intended for students solely seeking to fulfill general education requirements. (Spring) (NSL)
  • 50-124 BIOLOGY OF FOOD (2-2)
    A natural science lecture/laboratory course designed for students who do not intend to major in Biology. This course focuses on understanding the food plants and animals that humans eat as living organisms. Topics covered include food plant anatomy and physiology, alternative crops, nutritional biochemistry and the genetic modification of crop plants. (NSL)
  • 50-144 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE (2-2)
    A natural science lecture/laboratory course designed for students who do not intend to major in Biology. This course emphasizes the interactions of organisms with their environment. In addition to this introductory survey of ecology, current applied ecological issues such as species diversity, conservation biology, greenhouse effects, acid rain and biological control are studied. Also Environmental Studies 49-144. (NSL)
  • 50-162 GENES AND MOLECULES (3-3; half-semester)
    This course focuses upon the molecular basis of inheritance and gene expression. Topics covered include DNA structure, replication and repair, transcription and translation, regulation of gene expression, mitosis and meiosis and regulation of the cell cycle. The course includes a weekly lab session and night exams. The course is a foundation-building course required of students majoring in Biology. Not intended for students solely seeking to fulfill general education requirements. (Spring) (NSL)
  • 50-164 BIOLOGY OF PERCEPTION (2-2)
    A natural science lecture/laboratory course designed for students who do not intend to major in Biology. This course presents current theories on how humans perceive light, sounds, smells, taste and touch. Various properties of these modalities in our environment and their transduction into neural signals are described. Experimental design, execution, analyses and presentation are included in the laboratory component of the course. (NSL)
  • 50-184 FORENSIC BIOLOGY (2-2)
    A natural science lecture/laboratory course designed for students who do not intend to major in Biology. This course focuses on a variety of biological techniques and theories used in examining evidence from a crime scene. The laboratory component will involve molecular biology techniques in DNA analysis, blood typing and blood spatter analysis, anatomy including the bones of the body, and microscopy of hair, fibers and fingerprints. (NSL)
  • 50-222 METHODS IN ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY (3-3; half semester)
    This lecture/laboratory course is a foundation-building course that contains instruction on reading the primary literature in ecology and evolutionary biology, conducting literature searches, designing experiments, writing scientific papers, using quantitative methods, exercising critical thinking skills for data analyses, creating graphs, and developing specific laboratory and field research skills for ecology and evolutionary biology. Prerequisite: Biology 50-102, 50-112, 50-122, 50-162 and Mathematics 52-114. (Fall and Spring) (NSL) (WA)
  • 50-232 METHODS IN CELLULAR/MOLECULAR BIOLOGY (3-3; half-semester)
    This lecture/laboratory course is a foundation-building course that contains instruction on reading the primary literature in cellular/molecular biology, conducting literature searches, designing experiments, writing scientific papers, using quantitative methods, exercising critical thinking skills for data analyses, creating graphs and developing specific laboratory skills for cellular/molecular biology. Prerequisites: Biology 50-102, 50-112, 50-122, 50-162. (Fall and Spring) (NSL) (WA)
  • 50-244 HUMAN ANATOMY (3-3)
    See Kinesiology 48-244. (NSL). This course does not count towards the Biology major in the BA or BS degrees.
  • 50-314 GENETICS (3-3)
    An introduction to the study of genetics, including the principles of heredity, structure and variation of chromosomes, the molecular nature of genetic information, DNA replication, transcription, translation, control of gene expression, genomics, quantitative genetics and population genetics. The course includes discussion of current findings of genetic research. Laboratory exercises emphasize hypothesis testing and the analysis of genetic crosses, along with techniques and concepts of genetics. Prerequisites: Biology 50-102, 50-112, 50-122, 50-162 and Biology 50-222 or 50-232 or Kinesiology 48-314 or Psychology 33-204. (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) (NSL)
  • 50-324 BOTANY (3-3)
    This course explores the life histories and adaptations of terrestrial plants, with an emphasis on plant evolutionary biology, ecology and physiology. The laboratory explores these same themes, and additionally emphasizes plant identification skills and knowledge of the local woody flora. Prerequisite: Biology 50-102, 50-112, 50-122, 50-162 and Biology 50-222 or Kinesiology 48-314 or Psychology 33-204. (Organismal Biology) (NSL)
  • 50-334 EVOLUTION (3-3)
    An exploration of the possible mechanisms of evolution. Topics to be discussed include natural selection, punctuated evolution, population genetics, adaptation, units of selection, speciation, evolutionary biogeography and macroevolution. Prerequisite: Biology 50-102, 50-112, 50-122, 50-162 and Biology 50-222 or Kinesiology 48-314 or Psychology 33-204. (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) (NSL)
  • 50-344 PLANT PHYSIOLOGY (3-3)
    An exploration of plant diversity, architecture, and function. Topics include the roles of plants in global ecology, special features of plant cells, root and shoot development, plant hormones and signaling, the genetics of crop plant domestication, plant symbioses and pathogens, and agricultural biotechnology. The lab focuses on the uses of mutant and recombinant plants to understand plant development and cellular function. Prerequisite: Biology 50-222 or 232. (Organismal Biology) (NSL)
  • 50-354 NEUROBIOLOGY (3-0)
    The anatomy, physiology, biochemistry and pharmacology of nervous systems are studied; the human nervous system is emphasized. Half of the course is cellular neurobiology and half is organismal neurobiology. Specific topics include resting potentials, action potentials, synapses, neurotransmitters, sensory and motor processing, nerve regeneration, vision, audition, development and memory/learning. Prerequisite: Biology 50-102, 50-112, 50-122, 50-162 and Biology 50-232 or Kinesiology 48-314 or Psychology 33-204. (Organismal Biology) (NS)
  • 50-364 COMPARATIVE VERTEBRATE MORPHOLOGY (3-3)
    After a brief consideration of the lower chordates, this course deals with the functional anatomy of the vertebrates. Although there is some study of vertebrates in natural environments, primary emphasis is on laboratory dissections of preserved specimens. Prerequisite: Biology 50-222. (Organismal Biology) (NSL)
  • 50-404 CANCER BIOLOGY (3-4)
    A "bench-to-bedside" approach to the study of human cancer, including in-depth analysis of the variety of molecular mechanisms that contribute to cancer development and progression, examination of how biomedical research findings are "translated" into clinical practice and issues related to patient care. In the lab, current techniques in molecular biology will be used to characterize genetic aberrations in tumor cells. Prerequisite: Biology 50-232 and Chemistry 51-543/541. (Cellular and Molecular Biology) (NSL)
  • 50-414 GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY (3-0)
    A survey of the biological implications of anthropogenic changes to the geosphere/biosphere, with an emphasis on plants. Topics include rising atmospheric CO2, depletion of stratospheric ozone, alterations to the global nitrogen cycle and global climate change. The course includes discussion of major biotic changes with a global dimension, including worldwide declines in amphibian populations and shifts in the geographic distributions of species. Also Environmental Studies 49-414. Prerequisite: Biology 50-102, 112, 122, 162 and Biology 50-222 or Kinesiology 48-314 or Psychology 33-204. (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) (NS)
  • 50-424 ORGAN PHYSIOLOGY (3-3)
    Processes/functions of organ systems: nervous, muscular, cardiac, circulatory, respiratory, renal, digestive and endocrine. Human physiology is emphasized. Prerequisite: Biology 50-102, 50-112, 50-122, 50-162 and Biology 50-232 or Kinesiology 48-314 or Psychology 33-204, and Chemistry 51-543/541, or permission of instructor. (Organismal Biology) (NSL)
  • 50-434 ECOLOGY (3-3)
    This class explores the interactions of organisms with their biotic and abiotic environment. In particular, the course looks at the influence of nutrients, climate, competition, predation and symbiotic relationships on individuals, populations and communities. This course includes a mandatory weekend field trip. Also Environmental Studies 49-434. Prerequisite: Biology 50-102, 50-112, 50-122, 50-162 and Biology 50-222 or Kinesiology 48-314 or Psychology 33-204. (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) (NSL)
  • 50-444 INVERTEBRATE ECOLOGY (3-3)
    This class explores the amazing diversity found across marine, terrestrial and aquatic habitats. The lecture component involves taxonomic descriptors of different groups, but more specifically focuses on the ecology of these organisms through critical reading of the primary literature. Through the semester, the course confronts topics that impact many invertebrates, such as exotic species, habitat degradation, chemical communication, predator-prey interactions and competition. In weekly lab sessions, special emphasis is placed on conducting experiments, learning to identify organisms, and investigating the role of aquatic insects in ponds and streams through field work. Prerequisite: Biology 50-102, 50-112, 50-122, 50-162 and Biology 50-222 or Kinesiology 48-314 or Psychology 33-204. Biology 50-434 is recommended but not required. (Organismal Biology) (NSL)
  • 50-454 TISSUE MECHANICS (3-0)
    See Kinesiology 48-754. (Organismal Biology) (NS)
  • 50-464 MOLECULAR BIOLOGY (3-3)
    This course focuses on the molecular aspects of genetic systems in prokaryotes, eukaryotes and viruses. Topics include: molecular methods and their applications, cell cycle control, gene expression, regulation of gene expression, gene arrangement, DNA mutagenesis and repair, mobile genetic elements and viral replication. Laboratory includes independent projects using molecular biology techniques. Prerequisites: Biology 50-232 and Chemistry 51-543/541. (Cellular and Molecular Biology) (NSL)
  • 50-484 MICROBIOLOGY (3-3)
    An introduction to the study of microbes. This course is not strictly a bacteriology course as some attention is given to fungi and viruses. This course includes microbial cell structure and function, growth, metabolism and genetics. Microbial diversity is a recurring theme throughout the course. The course includes a weekly laboratory session. Prerequisites: Biology 50-232 and Chemistry 51-543/541, or permission of instructor. (Cellular and Molecular Biology) (NSL)
  • 50-494 BIOLOGY OF REPRODUCTION (3-0)
    This course takes a comprehensive look at the process of reproduction by examining the role of hormones, developmental and genetic sex, the process of puberty, and the production of offspring. Emphasis is given to human reproduction, although other species are studied to assist in the understanding of reproduction. Prerequisites: Biology 50-232 and Chemistry 51-543/541. (Cellular and Molecular Biology) (NS)
  • 50-514 CELLULAR PHYSIOLOGY (3-3)
    The general functions of eukaryotic cells are studied primarily in animal cells. Topics include transcription, translation, protein functions, cell motility, secretion and endocytosis, cell signaling and cell cycling. Laboratory experiments teach techniques and concepts of cellular physiology. Prerequisites: Biology 50-232 and Chemistry 51-553/551. (Cellular and Molecular Biology) (NSL)
  • 50-524 ENDOCRINOLOGY (3-3)
    This course undertakes a detailed exposure to the structure and function of the endocrine system. The course emphasizes the biosynthesis, mechanism of action and homeostatic function of hormones. Topics demonstrate the chemical and physiological principles of hormonal integration with emphasis on humans. Prerequisite: Biology 50-232 and either Chemistry 51-553/551 or 51-553/561. Chemistry 51-574 is recommended but not required; or permission of the instructor. (Organismal Biology) (NSL)
  • 50-534 FUNDAMENTALS OF IMMUNOLOGY (3-0)
    An introduction to the immune system as studied in mammals. Emphasis is placed on acquired immunity, specifically as it pertains to the humoral and cell-mediated immune responses. This course deals with the cellular and biochemical mechanisms involved in the education and regulation of both the humoral and cell-mediated immune responses. Prerequisites: Biology 50-474. Chemistry 51-574 is recommended but not required; or permission of instructor. (Cellular and Molecular Biology) (NS)
  • 50-574 GENERAL BIOCHEMISTRY I (3-4)
    Prerequisites: Chemistry 51-553/551 or 553/561. See Chemistry 51-574. (Cellular and Molecular Biology) (NSL)
  • 50-584 GENERAL BIOCHEMISTRY II (3-0)
    Prerequisites: Biology 50-574 or Chemistry 51-574. See Chemistry 51-584. (Cellular and Molecular Biology) (NS)
  • 50-001 SELECTED TOPICS
    May be repeated with change in topic.
  • 50-002 SELECTED TOPICS
    May be repeated with change in topic.
  • 50-003 SELECTED TOPICS
    May be repeated with change in topic.
  • 50-004 SELECTED TOPICS
    May be repeated with change in topic.
  • 50-301 SELECTED TOPICS
    May be repeated with change in topic.
  • 50-302 SELECTED TOPICS
    May be repeated with change in topic.
  • 50-303 SELECTED TOPICS
    May be repeated with change in topic.
  • 50-304 SELECTED TOPICS
    May be repeated with change in topic.
  • 50-901 TUTORIAL
  • 50-902 TUTORIAL
  • 50-903 TUTORIAL
  • 50-904 TUTORIAL
  • 50-941 ACADEMIC INTERNSHIP
    Must be taken Pass/D/F. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.
  • 50-942 ACADEMIC INTERNSHIP
    Must be taken Pass/D/F. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.
  • 50-943 ACADEMIC INTERNSHIP
    Must be taken Pass/D/F. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.
  • 50-944 ACADEMIC INTERNSHIP
    Must be taken Pass/D/F. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.
  • 50-951 INDEPENDENT STUDY
    Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor and a completed course description report. May be repeated with changed content.
  • 50-952 INDEPENDENT STUDY
    Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor and a completed course description report. May be repeated with changed content.
  • 50-953 INDEPENDENT STUDY
    Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor and a completed course description report. May be repeated with changed content.
  • 50-954 INDEPENDENT STUDY
    Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor and a completed course description report. May be repeated with changed content.
  • 50-971 INTRODUCTION TO INDEPENDENT RESEARCH
    Students must make arrangements with a faculty member in the Biology Department prior to enrolling in this course. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor and a completed course description report. May be repeated with changed content. Also Animal Behavior 09-971, 09-972, 09-973, 09-974.
  • 50-972 INTRODUCTION TO INDEPENDENT RESEARCH
    Students must make arrangements with a faculty member in the Biology Department prior to enrolling in this course. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor and a completed course description report. May be repeated with changed content. Also Animal Behavior 09-971, 09-972, 09-973, 09-974.
  • 50-973 INTRODUCTION TO INDEPENDENT RESEARCH
    Students must make arrangements with a faculty member in the Biology Department prior to enrolling in this course. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor and a completed course description report. May be repeated with changed content. Also Animal Behavior 09-971, 09-972, 09-973, 09-974.
  • 50-974 INTRODUCTION TO INDEPENDENT RESEARCH
    Students must make arrangements with a faculty member in the Biology Department prior to enrolling in this course. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor and a completed course description report. May be repeated with changed content. Also Animal Behavior 09-971, 09-972, 09-973, 09-974.
  • 50-984 HONORS
    By invitation only.