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School of Biological Sciences

Stage 1 courses

Your first-year undergraduate courses will give you a broad understanding of Biological Sciences.

It is important to gain further information from sources listed below when planning your degree programme, as entry to second- and third-year courses is based both on academic merit and successful completion of specified first-year courses.

Check the schedule for prerequisites in the Calendar.

We strongly advise all Biological Sciences students to take at least one Stage I Chemistry course. Preferably students should have taken Biology at least to NCEA Level 2 and have a background in other science subjects.

Please note there is now two programmes available in Biological Sciences depending on what year you started your studies. Please refer to the following two pages to ensure that you are reading the correct information.

BIOSCI 100/BIOSCI 100G Antarctica: The Frozen Continent

(15 Points) Semester Two

A general introduction to Antarctica and its environs including the Southern Ocean and the sub-Antarctic islands. Emphasis will be placed on the evolution of Antarctica and how resident plants, animals and micro-organisms have adapted to cope with the extreme environment. Specific topics to be addressed include: the history of Antarctic exploration and its impact on the development of Antarctic science, Antarctic ecosystems, Antarctica as a wilderness region, and the impact of humans including the exploitation of resources and the effects of pollution. This course is suitable for students with both science and non-science backgrounds.

Assessment: Incourse 60% (Test 20%, Assignments 40%, Examination 40%)
Coordinator: Caroline Aspden
Phone: +64 9 923 9711



BIOSCI 101 Life! Origins and Mechanisms

(15 Points) (City) Semester Two

Questions what Life is and explores its machinery. Speculates on how Life arose from the flow and capture of solar energy, to power growth, movement, replication and storage of generic information. Then, describes how genes interact with environments, and how mutations can be catastrophic or transformational. These processes underpin life as we know it.

Assessment: Incourse 60%, Examination 40%
Prescribed textbook: Campbell Biology, Urry et al. (2017) 11th Edn., Australia and New Zealand version. (Pearson Education Australia).
Coordinator: Dr Amanda Harper
Phone: +64 9 923 7794


BIOSCI 106 Foundations of Biochemistry

(15 Points) (City) Semester Two

An introduction to the core elements of biochemistry, investigating biological processes at the chemical and molecular level. Key themes include the molecular structure of proteins, enzyme kinetics, biochemical energetics, carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, nutrition, cell signalling, vision and aspects of plant biochemistry including world food production. These themes provide a framework for discussion of mechanisms underpinning human disease including diabetes and obesity, antibiotic resistance, drug development and plant medicinals.

Assessment: Incourse 60%, examination 40%
Recommended textbook: Biochemistry: concepts and connections, Appling et al. (2019).
Coordinator: Dr Julie Mcintosh
Phone: +64 9 923 4023



BIOSCI 107 Biology for Biomedical Science: Cellular Processes

(15 Points) (City) Semester One

The cellular basis of mammalian form and function. Particular emphasis will be placed on cellular components and processes of blood, neural, muscular, reproductive, immune and supporting systems and how they contribute to the structure and function of the body as a whole.

This is a limited-entry course that assumes knowledge of NCEA Level 2 Biology and Chemistry.

Assessment: Incourse 60%, Examination: 40%
Prescribed textbook: Principles of Anatomy and Physiology, Tortora et al. (2018), 2nd Asia-Pacific Edition, (Wiley Publishing). This text is also prescribed for MEDSCI 142.
Recommended textbook: Campbell's Biology, Reece et al. (2017) 11th Edn., Australia and New Zealand version. (Pearson Benjamin Cummings). This text is particularly recommended for those students who do not have a strong background in biology, it is also the prescribed text for BIOSCI 101.
Coordinator: Dr Suzanne Reid
Phone: +64 9 923 9066


BIOSCI 108 Biodiversity: Patterns of Life

(15 Points) (City) Semester One

Knowledge of biodiversity is fundamental to understanding our world. Students will become familiar with biological diversity and whakapapa beginning with viruses and leading through to microbes, plants, fungi and animals. Defining characteristics of major organismal groupings will be highlighted so as to provide students with an overview of the diversity of life on Earth, and the critical role that maintaining biodiversity has for kaitiakitanga and the future.

Assessment: Incourse 60%, Exam 40% (includes a field trip as part of the practical).
Recommended textbook: Campbell Biology, Urry et al. (2017) 11th Edn., Australia and New Zealand version. (Pearson Education Australia).
Coordinator: David Seldon
Phone: +64 9 923 4929


BIOSCI 109 Ecology and Evolution: The Continuum of Life

(15 Points) (City) Semester One

Life is hard, thus responding to variation in biotic and abiotic variables is crucial for survival at all levels of biological hierarchy. Ko ahau te taiao, ko te taiao, ko ahau (I am the land, and the land is me) – the ecosystem defines quality of life. Develops an understanding of the evolutionary mechanisms through which life has evolved to cope with change over time, and the ecological mechanisms that determine the distribution and abundance of organisms today; how populations and communities adapted to change in the past, how they respond to environmental challenges today, and how they are likely to respond to change in the future as the climate changes.

Restriction: BIOSCI 104
: Incourse 60%, Exam 40% (includes a field trip as part of the practical)
Recommended textbook: Campbell Biology, Urry et al. (2017) 11th Edn., Australia and New Zealand version. (Pearson Education Australia).
CoordinatorCaroline Aspden
Phone: +64 9 373 7599 ext 89711