Fall 2021 - MATH 154 D100

Calculus I for the Biological Sciences (3)

Class Number: 1211

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo, We, Fr 8:30 AM – 9:20 AM

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 19, 2021
    3:30 PM – 6:30 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    Pre-Calculus 12 (or equivalent) with a grade of at least B, or MATH 100 with a grade of at least C, or achieving a satisfactory grade on the Simon Fraser University Calculus Readiness Test.



Designed for students specializing in the biological and medical sciences. Topics include: limits, growth rate and the derivative; elementary functions, optimization and approximation methods, and their applications; mathematical models of biological processes. Students with credit for either MATH 150, 151 or 157 may not take MATH 154 for further credit. Quantitative.


Welcome to Math 154. Using mathematics and statistics to describe and analyze the living world is incredibly important now. However, you may  or may not think of yourself as "liking" mathematics. Usually if you don't like math it is due to past frustrations, to not understanding, or to thinking that the material is tedious and pointless. If you are not a "math fan", with your help and participation we hope to change that. And if you already like math, well, we will try to make it even more interesting by the examples and by showing  the  kinds of things that even relatively simple math can tell you.

The course is offered via Zoom [FULLY REMOTE]; the SFU zoom should be used. Lectures are synchronous and there is a participation component.

Outline: The course is intended as an applications-oriented introduction to the use of calculus in the life sciences. After an initial discussion of mathematical functions and their uses in life science modelling, derivatives and their relevant applications will be covered, and integrals will be introduced. The course aims more at interpretation and understanding than at building calculation skills. Details of subject matter are in the schedule.

Exam Dates: There is no retesting and there are no alternative dates/times.Final exam date and time will be announced in the course of the term by the registrar. The time will be in Pacific Standard Time. Exams will be open book and open notes. You  may use whatever calculation tools you wish.

How the course will run: There is a Canvas page for the course which is where you will receive announcements, get assignments, keep track of grades, etc.

  • Each lecture will be accompanied by a 10-minute video introducing the topic which is intended to be watched before the class.
  • Lectures will be online, live, with the instructors talking and writing on a tablet. Key elements (mostly notes) will be posted afterwards.
  • A portion of your grade is based on zoom polls, with marks both for participation and for correct answers. You should use the SFU zoom.

Assignments: There will be frequent assignments which include

  • computer homework from the book,
  • instructor questions, and
  • assignments involving computational tools. We will provide the code, which you will edit a little and run -- this is not a programming course. The basic tool will be the Jupyter notebook together with the Python language. You do not need any background in computing to do this.

Support: In addition to doing grading, TAs will be available online in the  following ways:

  • chat response during lectures
  • discussion group monitoring (probably Piazza - to be confirmed)
  • workshop/open lab help -- students may ask about anything on the course (times will be posted)
  • specific topics with TAs preparing examples and taking questions (times will be posted)

Communication with the Professors: The professors will also have office hours.

If you need to get in touch with the professor for administrative reasons, use the Canvas email. Do not phone or use their professional email. Remember that the class is large. This means that questions do not always get answered at once. Please be patient and polite.

  • Questions about the content of the course should come to our office hours, to Canvas discussion, or to the workshop TAs.
  • Questions about grading should be taken first to the workshop, where a TA will forward your request to the prof after checking.

Planning for success: For many of you this is one of your first university courses. D100, in particular, is a Very Big Class, and there are also a lot of different elements. However there are lots of ways to get support. Here are some suggestions for doing well.

  • Work on the course at least 5 days a week, and in particular try hard to watch the minilectures and attend the classes. We usually say that you need 2 hours outside class for one inside; for some people it will be more. Studying for tests will be added to that.
  • Expect to do work on paper. You may feel it is a waste of paper, but if you are learning, that tree did not die in vain. Keep notes in a binder and keep rough work separate from actual good notes.
  • Do the assignments! Try to work first on your own, and get help after trying things.
  • If you miss a class, look at any posted materials about it (notes) as soon as you can.
  • Try to schedule regular attendance at workshop/open lab support.
  • Ask questions! It is OK not to know how to ask properly - that is one of the things you are learning to do.
  • If something is confusing for you, you can be sure that there are 100 others who are also confused and another 100 who don't even realize they are confused!
  • Do the assignments! Yes, we repeated that.
  • When you get behind, do NOT think you will catch up with that material later. Do it as soon as you can. You are  going to be very busy all term.

Academic Integrity and Student Conduct: This course is built on a foundation of mutual respect of students for one another, for the professors and TAs; and likewise respect for the students from those doing the teaching and help. There is a Code of Student Conduct at SFU that you are expected to follow both in the letter and in the intent, see http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-05.html.

SFUs policies on Academic Integrity will be followed strictly and those who contravene them by presenting work as their own that is  taken from non-authorized sources will be subject to Academic Discipline.

Religious Accommodation: If midterms or the final exam conflict with religious holidays, we will accommodate this. Please advise your professor during the first week of classes in case of the midterms and as soon as the exam date is announced for the final.

Drop Date: The final date to drop the course with a WD noted on your record is Nov. 2, 2021.


  • Zoom Polling (in class) 10%
  • Final Exam 20%
  • Midterms (3 in total, in class) 30%
  • Assignments (mixture of online from book; instructor assignments; computing assignments) 40%



Students should be aware that they have certain rights to confidentiality concerning the return of course papers and the posting of marks.
Please pay careful attention to the options discussed in class at the beginning of the semester.



You will be downloading and uploading exams in a timed way and this means it is important to have access to a reliable internet connection.


Textbook: Calculus for Biology and Medicine, 4th ed. Claudia Neuhauser and Marcus Roper. Pearson 2018. Online exercises are from this edition.

SFU Bookstore direct link (click here)

ISBN: 978-0-13-407004-9

Course Notes: Differential Calculus for the Life Sciences by Leah Edelstein-Keshet available as a downloadable version from the Canvas MATH 154 course container in full format or section by section. If a student is enrolled in the course, this Canvas MATH 154 course container opens at the start of the term and can be accessed through https://canvas.sfu.ca/.

A Math XL access code for Math 154 must be purchased only through SFU bookstore either in person or online: sfu.collegestoreonline.com > Course Materials > Find eBooks and Access Codes. We have secured the best possible price, which comes with a 3-term access, but it is ONLY available through the SFU bookstore. 

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.