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School of Biological Sciences

Stage Three courses

Stage Three courses are designed to give a more detailed and specific conclusion to your undergraduate majors and prepare you for possible postgraduate study.

You can take a wide range of specialist courses at Stage Three. Most courses have limited entry with acceptance based on the grade point average (GPA) calculated from your results in previous semesters.

BIOSCI 322 Evolution of Genes, Populations and Species

(15 points) Semester Two

Advanced concepts in evolutionary biology and their application to current research in molecular evolution, population genetics, phylogenetics and organismal evolution. Examples from animals, plants and microbes, as well as topical issues, including speciation, adaptation, co-evolution, sexual selection, conservation, biogeography, genomics, biotechnology and human disease. Recommended preparation: Prior or concurrent enrolment in BIOSCI 202.

Prerequisite: BIOSCI 210
Assessment: In-course 50% (test 20%, practical 30%); examination 50%
Prescribed Textbook: D.J. Futuyma, Evolutionary Biology, 3rd edition or D.J. Futuyma, Evolution, 2nd edition (2013), Sinauer.
Course Director and Coordinator: Dr Shane Lavery
Phone: +64 9 923 3764

BIOSCI 324 Plant Pathology and Symbiosis

(15 points) Semester One

Microorganisms and pests form symbioses with plants that are critically importance for horticulture and agriculture. This course examines the biology of plant pathogens, pests, and symbionts. It focuses on plant-microbe interactions at the cellular and molecular level, the epidemiology and control of plant diseases, and the mechanisms through which these interactions are mediated.

Prerequisite: BIOSCI 204 or 205
Restriction: BIOSCI 321
Assessment: In-course 60% (test 30%, practical 30%); examination 40%
Textbook: Agrios, G.N., Plant Pathology, 5th edition, AP.
Course Director and Coordinator: 
Dr Nijat Imin
Phone: +64 9 923 9061

BIOSCI 325 Plant Diversity and Function

(15 points) Semester Two

Plants form the basis of ecosystem food chains and are fundamental to life on Earth. The diversity in land plants from both phylogenetic and functional trait perspectives will be presented, exploring key steps in the evolution of plants and how they interact with their environment. It provides a framework of plant life focussing on the ecologically, economically and culturally important plants of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Prerequisites: BIOSCI 108, and BIOSCI 205 or BIOSCI 206
Restriction: BIOSCI 323
Assessment: In-course 65% (in-course test 15%, one essay 15%, practical activities 35%), examination: 35%
Field Trip: To be advised
Course Director and Coordinator: Associate Professor Cate Macinnis-Ng
Phone: +64 9 923 2343

BIOSCI 326 Plant Biotechnology for Crops and Health

(15 points) Semester Two

Plants are vital sources of food, health compounds and shelter. Students will learn how biotechnology is used to understand plant biology and discuss strategies for crop improvement. Topics include plant genomics, molecular breeding, genome editing, gene transfer, the regulatory framework and examples of applications in the food, health, environment and crop sectors.

Prerequisites: 15 points from BIOSCI 202, 203, 205
Restriction: BIOSCI 340
Assessment: In-course 60% (test 25%, essay 10%, practical 25%); examination 40%
Laboratory: Practical sessions including two consecutive days over a weekend in the first half of the semester.
Recommended textbook: Taiz, L. and Zeiger, E. Plant Physiology. 6th edition Sinauer.
Course Director and Coordinator: Professor Joanna Putterill
Phone: +64 9 923 6700

BIOSCI 328 Fisheries and Aquaculture

(15 points) Semester One

Harvest and capture of aquatic organisms and inter-relationships with aquaculture. Fisheries and aquaculture are treated not as distinct disciplines but in the context of integrating exploitation and sustainable environmental integrity. Case studies include deep sea and coastal fisheries, and shellfish culture.

Prerequisites: BIOSCI 207 or 208
Assessment: In-course 50% (field course assignment 30%, test 20%); examination 50%
Recommended textbook: Jennings, S, Kaiser, MJ, Reynolds, JD, Marine Fisheries Ecology, Blackwell Science, Carlton, Victoria, Australia.
Field trip: To be advised
Course Director and Coordinator: Dr Neill Herbert (Leigh Marine Laboratory)
Phone: +64 9 923 3604

BIOSCI 333 Marine Ecology and Conservation

(15 points) Semester Two

Patterns and processes in marine ecology and biodiversity are described; including predator-prey interactions, benthic and pelagic habitats, productivity and physiology. Applied aspects include movement ecology, dispersal related to resource availability, disturbance and impacts of resource use e.g. fisheries. Emerging technologies to understand resilience within ecosystems and dispersal will be included.

Prerequisite: BIOSCI 206 and 220, or 104 and 15 points from BIOSCI 205, 207, 208 and STATS 101 or 108
Assessment: In-course 45%, examination 55%
Recommended textbook: Kaiser M., et al., (2005) Marine Ecology: Processes, Systems and Impacts, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Field trip: To be advised
Course Director and Coordinator: Associate Professor Rochelle Constantine
Phone: +64 9 923 5093

BIOSCI 334 Biology of Marine Organisms

(15 points) Semester One 

Not only is the earth predominantly oceanic, but higher marine biodiversity occurs on the shallower continental shelf/coastal areas. Students will learn the key groups of marine organisms within New Zealand’s waters. Attention will be given to understanding their diversity, distribution and adaptations to thrive within the dynamic marine environment.

Prerequisite: BIOSCI 108, 109 and 15 points from BIOSCI 206, 207, 208
Assessment: TBC
Course Director and Coordinator: Dr Brendon Dunphy
Phone: +64 923 7583

BIOSCI 335 Ecological Physiology

(15 points) Semester Two

Focuses on the strategies used by animals to cope with physical and biological challenges in the environment. Accordingly, we work at the level of the individual and the interface between physiological, biochemical or molecular approaches on the one hand, and ecology on the other. The adaptive strategies employed by a range of species, with an emphasis on aquatic organisms, in response to physical factors such as temperature, oxygen and food availability, are considered. Energetics and nutrition are emphasised. The course aims to meet the needs of students with ecological interests wishing to recognise the experimental approach to solving problems in environmental biology. The practical work is project oriented rather than laboratory based.

Prerequisites: 15 points from BIOSCI 207, 208
Assessment: In-course 50% (practical 40%, theory test 10%); examination 50%
Recommended textbook: Animal Physiology, Second Edition. Richard W. Hill, Gordon A. Wyse, and Margaret Anderson. April 4, 2008, Sinauer Associates.
Course Director and Coordinator: Associate Professor Tony Hickey
Phone: +64 9 923 2615

BIOSCI 337 Animal Behaviour

(15 points) Semester Two

Proximate and ultimate causes of behaviour are investigated experimentally in the field and the laboratory. Responses by animals to variations in the physical environment and to other organisms are studied. The development and organisation of behaviour and the theoretical background to topics of current interest are covered, using both New Zealand and overseas examples. A knowledge of BIOSCI 206 is recommended.

Prerequisites: BIOSCI 220, or 209 and 15 points from BIOSCI 207, 208
Assessment: In-course 65% (practical 30%, theory test 35%); examination 35%
Recommended reading: Krebs, J., Davies, N. (1993). An Introduction to Behavioural Ecology. Third Edition. Blackwell.
Field Trip: To be advised
Course Director and Coordinator: Dr Kristal Cain
Phone: +64 9 923 5815

BIOSCI 338 Biology of Terrestrial Animals

(15 points) Semester One

The animals of Aotearoa and Tāmaki Makaurau are iconic. We explore the biology, diversity and whakapapa of our native invertebrate and vertebrate animals. Along with a detailed coverage of biology, we focus on practical techniques for sampling and identifying species. This course involves both fieldwork (with the option to conduct this either on campus, or on an overnight fieldtrip) and labwork and training in using biodiversity data for hypothesis testing and scientific communication.

Prerequisite: BIOSCI 207
Restriction: BIOSCI 320
Assessment: TBC
Course Director and Coordinator: Dr Anne Gaskett
Phone: +64 923 9509

BIOSCI 347 Environmental Microbiology and Biotechnology

(15 points) Semester Two

The ecology and physiology of micro-organisms in natural and engineered environments. Key themes include marine microbiology, the importance of microbial symbioses to life on Earth, and contemporary research methods in microbiology. Processes such as wastewater treatment and the production of bioactives are used to emphasise exploitation of microbial metabolism for environmental biotechnology purposes.

Prerequisites: BIOSCI 204 or MEDSCI 202
Assessment: In-course 50% (essay 10%, practicals 25%, terms test 15%); examination 50%
Recommended textbook: Prescott, L.M., Harley, J.P., and Klein, D.A., Microbiology, 6th (international) edition (2005), McGraw Hill.
Course Director and Coordinator: Professor Mike Taylor
Phone: +64 9 923 2280

BIOSCI 348 Food and Industrial Microbiology

(15 points) Semester Two

The use and scientific fundamentals of micro-organisms in the production of foods and food additives, nutriceuticals and probiotics. Molecular and applied aspects of the fermentation processes for beer and wine including aroma generation and analysis. Microbial food spoilage, pathogens involved, food safety and quality control.

Prerequisites: BIOSCI 106 and 15 points from BIOSCI 204, MEDSCI 202
Assessment: In-course 50% (lab report 15%, practical test 10%, terms test 20%, lab book 5%); examination 50%
Laboratory: Two consecutive days in the first week of mid-semester break. TBA.
Prescribed reading:
Bibek R., Bhunia A., Fundamental Food Microbiology, 4th edition, CRC Press (McMillan).
Course Director and Coordinator: Dr Sarah Knight
Phone: +64 9 923 1238

BIOSCI 349 Biomedical Microbiology

(15 points) Semester One

The molecular biology of micro-organisms affecting human health. The characteristics of microbial pathogens, the origins of virulence, and the development of infectious disease. Routes of infection, evasion of host immune responses, and host-pathogen interactions. The molecular basis for vaccination and anti-microbial therapy, and the development of resistance to treatment.

Prerequisites: BIOSCI 201 and either BIOSCI 204 or MEDSCI 202
Assessment: In-course 50% (theory 30%, practical 20%); examination 50%
Reference material will be recommended.
Course Director and Coordinator: Dr Richard Kingston
Phone: +64 9 923 4414

BIOSCI 350 Protein Structure and Function

(15 points) Semester One

The relationship of molecular structure to protein function will be emphasised. Techniques for the purification, characterisation, production of native and recombinant proteins and three-dimensional structure determination will be combined with a description of protein structure. Specific groups of proteins will be selected to illustrate structure/function relationships and protein evolution.

This course provides an excellent background for students who wish to take BIOSCI 353, “Molecular and Cellular Regulation” in Semester two. For reasons of health and safety, students must enrol in this course in time for the first lab in Week 1 of the semester.

Prerequisites: BIOSCI 201, 203
Assessment: In-course 50% (practical 20% from laboratory reports and theory, 30% from two tests); examination 50%
Recommended textbooks:
C. Branden, Tooze J., Introduction to Protein Structure, 2nd edition, Garland.
Berg, J.M., Tymoczko, J.L., Stryer, L., Biochemistry, 6th edition (2007).
Lehninger, Principles of Biochemistry, 2nd edition, Worth.
Matthews, Van Holde, Ahern, Biochemistry, 3rd edition.
Course Director and Coordinator: Associate Professor Shaun Lott
Phone: +64 9 923 7074

BIOSCI 351 Molecular Genetics

(15 points) Semester One

The analysis of genetic material in prokaryotes, viruses, yeast, plants and humans is addressed. The means by which genetic information is transferred and the mechanisms underlying genome diversity will be examined, together with the study of eukaryote genomes at the level of chromosome structure and organisation. The molecular mechanisms underpinning selected inherited human disorders will be discussed as well as the role of model species in understanding normal and perturbed biological pathways.

Prerequisites: BIOSCI 201, 202
Assessment: In-course 50% (theory 30% [two tests at 15% each], practical 20%); examination 50%
Recommended textbooks:
Griffiths, Miller et al., Introduction to Genetic Analysis, 8th or 9th edition, Freeman & Co.
Strachan T. & Reid, A.P., Human Molecular Genetics, 2nd or 3rd edition.
Watson et al., Recombinant DNA, 2nd edition.
Course Director: Dr Jessie Jacobsen
Course Coordinator: Professor Russell Snell

BIOSCI 353 Molecular and Cellular Regulation

(15 points) Semester Two

The molecular mechanisms which mediate intracellular sorting and targeting of biologically active molecules and the networks of intracellular and extracellular signals which regulate cell function form the focus of this course. The roles of growth factors, oncogenes, plasma membrane receptors, nuclear receptors, ion channels and membrane transporters are emphasised.

For reasons of health and safety, students enrolling in this course must enrol in time to attend the first lab in Week 1 of Semester.

Students who plan to take this course should consider enrolling in BIOSCI 350 (Protein Structure and Function) which provides an excellent background.

Prerequisites: BIOSCI 201, 203
Assessment: Laboratory 20%, essay 10%, in-course test 28% and examination 42%
Recommended textbook: Lodish et al, Molecular Cell Biology, 7th edition (2012) available on short loan.
Course Director and Coordinator: Associate Professor Christopher Squire
Phone: +64 9 923 7237

BIOSCI 355 Genomics and Genome Biology

(15 points) Semester Two

Biological information is coded in and expressed from genomes. This course explores methods for detecting structural and functional elements of genomes, plus the wider genome biology of eukaryotic and prokaryotic systems. Students will learn how genomic data is generated and analysed, how genomes evolve, and how genomic information is expressed and regulated.

Prerequisite: BIOSCI 202
Restriction: BIOINF 301, BIOSCI 354
Course Director and Coordinator: Professor Ant Poole
Phone:+64 9 923 6160

BIOSCI 356 Developmental Biology and Cancer

(15 points) Semester One

Molecular, cellular and genetic aspects of normal and abnormal development focusing on a variety of model systems including drosophila, the zebrafish and the mouse. Molecular events underlying the development of body form, the differentiation of specific tissues such as the blood, and abnormalities of development which contribute to diseases of the body such as cancer. Implications of transgenic techniques on development.

Prerequisites: BIOSCI 201 
Assessment: In-course 40% (two lab reports 10%, general performance 5%, one test 25%); examination 60%
Recommended textbooks:
Gilbert, S.F., Developmental Biology, 9th edition, Sinauer.
G. Davis and C. Tickle. Principles of Development. 4th Edn. OUP.
Tannock, I.F., Hill, R.P., The Basic Science of Oncology, 4th edition, MacGraw-Hill.
R.A. Weinberg, The Biology of Cancer, 1st edition, Garland.
Course Director and Coordinator: Dr Hilary Sheppard
Phone: +64 9 923 1194

BIOSCI 358 Nutritional Science

(15 points) Semester Two

The scientific basis of nutrition focusing on its biochemistry and physiology in health and disease. Nutritional aspects of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and trace nutrients are covered in an integrated manner. The methodologies which underpin nutritional science and its applications are included. Reference will be made to a broad range of examples, and a number of specific nutritional topics of current interest will also be included.

Prerequisites: BIOSCI 203
Assessment: In-course 50% (lab test 10%, theory test 20%, lab reports 10%, research essay 10%); examination 50%
Recommended textbook:
Zieglier, E.E., Filer, L.J. (eds), Present Knowledge in Nutrition, 7th edition, ILSI Press Washington DC.
Further information on journal articles of relevance will be provided during the course.
Course Director and Coordinator: Dr Jennifer Miles-Chan
Phone: +64 9 923 4322

BIOSCI 394 Terrestrial Ecology and Conservation

(15 points) Semester One

Conservation of species and ecosystems. Population ecology, population growth, harvesting and pest control, marine and terrestrial conservation practice, forest and fisheries management. Impacts and control of invasive species. Population viability analysis and case studies in the conservation of threatened species. International conservation.

Prerequisite: BIOSCI 206 and 220, or 104 and 30 points at Stage II in either Biological Sciences or Geography
Assessment: In-course 75% (terms test 25%, two assignments 15%, one assignment 20%); examination 25%
Field trips/labs: To be advised
Course Director and Coordinator: Associate Professor Margaret Stanley
Phone: +64 9 923 6819

BIOSCI 395 Pacific Biogeography and Biodiversity

(15 points) Semester Two

Island biogeography and insular biodiversity across the Pacific. A multi-disciplinary approach involving the study of both plant and animal systematics and biogeography.

Prerequisite: BIOSCI 109 or GEOG 101
Assessment: In-course 65% (one practical assignment 30%, theory test 35%) examination 35%
Recommended textbook: Keast, A., Miller, S.E. (eds), The Origin and Evolution of Pacific Island Biotas, S.E. Academic Publishing.
Course Director and Coordinator: Dr Shane Wright
Phone: +64 9 923 1775

BIOSCI 399 Capstone: Biological Science in a Post Truth World

(15 points) Semester Two

Enables students to engage in debate on contemporary issues in biology and how these are interpreted from a cultural, political and economic perspective. Equips students with the tools to counter misrepresentation of science, through evidence-based scientific reasoning. Offers students a perception of Western science through different lenses, including Vision Matauranga, economic, environmental and health policy and journalism in NZ and beyond.

Prerequisite: 30 points at Stage III in Biological Sciences
Course Director: Professor Allen Rodrigo
Course Coordinator: Dr Julie McIntosh

How to choose your Stage Three Biological Sciences courses

There are two programmes in Biological Sciences depending on what year you started your studies. Refer to the following two pages to make sure you choose the correct courses: