Spring 2021 - BISC 102 D100

General Biology (4)

Class Number: 7977

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 12:30 PM – 1:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    High school biology 12 (or equivalent) with a C grade or better, or BISC 100 with C- or better, or BISC 113 with C+ or better, or HSCI 100 with C+ or better.



Survey of the diversity of life, and its evolutionary history on earth. The student is introduced to the study of genetics, development, and evolution, giving an overview of how these processes interact to produce form and function. Also included are principles of behavior and ecological relationships of organisms to each other and their environment. Breadth-Science.


Lectures (synchronous and asynchronous): Lectures on Tuesdays (12:30-13:20) will be synchronous via Zoom, and the remaining weekly lecture material will be recorded and posted. The lecture material follows a logical progression, but you have considerable freedom to watch, listen and read when you want, and in any order.

Laboratory (asynchronous): All lab activities will be asynchronous (delivered via Canvas). We designed our remote labs to provide you with foundational skills and qualities needed to understand science as a process, such as curiosity about the natural world, observation and documentation of natural phenomena, hypothesis development, graphic communication, quantitative reasoning, and written communication. Even though labs will be delivered asynchronously, you will have to progress week-by-week, as there are graded lab worksheets and activities to complete for each week. For each lab, you will have 1 week to complete the activities in the worksheet and submit on Canvas for grading. Graded lab worksheets will become available on Canvas on a Thursday at 8:30 of each week and will be due by Wednesday at 16:30 in the following week. Lab worksheets are worth 20% of your final grade.

Tutorials (synchronous): All tutorials will be synchronous, during registered time (e.g., D101 lab) using Zoom. Tutorial participation is worth 5% of your grade. 'Participation' means that you attend the synchronous meeting, with camera on. (Microphones are better kept switched off. Turn your mic on only when you want to speak.)

Midterm exam (synchronous): The midterm will be held on Canvas on Thursday, February 25, 12:30-13:30.

Final exam (synchronous). The final exam will be scheduled during the exam period. This will be a 2h exam, held synchronously during the scheduled time. It is cumulative and worth 20% of your grade.

Assignments: There are two course assignments.

1) In the 'Inquiry Figure’ assignment you will read, understand, and write about a scientific article. It is worth 15% of your final grade. It is due in week 8 of the course.

2) The 'Selected Learning Activity' assignment will ask you to apply one of the course concepts in your life. It is worth 10% of your final grade. The assignment is due in week 10 of the course.

You will have two types of lecture quizzes: 1) eleven start-of-week quizzes and 2) ten end-of-week quizzes.

  1. Start-of-week quizzes will ask questions based on current week's readings. They will open on Mondays at 8:30 each week and will be due by Wednesdays at 16:30 in the same week.
  2. End-of-week quizzes will ask questions based on current week's topics. They will open on Fridays at 8:30 of each week, and will be due by Mondays at 16:30 in the following week.
Lecture quizzes are worth 20% of your final grade.



Lecture topics 

Lab topics 


Adaptation by natural selection 

The origin of life 

No lab 

Sexual selection 

Natural selection and Experimental design (SimUText access required) 

Kin selection 

Animal behavior 

Ecology (intro and populations) 

Ecology I 

Ecology (communities and ecosystems) 

Ecology II 


No lab 

Midterm exam 

No lab 




Mechanisms of evolutionary change (via Virtual Biology Lab) 





Speciation and macroevolution 

Speciation, major patterns of evolution 


Diversity of life and colonization of land 

Case study (via HHMI Biointeractive) 


Human evolution 

No lab 


  • Start-of-week quizzes 10%
  • End-of-week quizzes 10%
  • Lecture midterm exam 10%
  • Lecture final exam 20%
  • Lab Worksheets 20%
  • Tutorial Participation 5%
  • Inquiry Figure Assignment 15%
  • Selected Learning Activity Assignment 10%



Technical requirements
Because the course is fully online, you will need access to a reliable computer or tablet (not just a phone), and Wi-Fi. You can use a tablet for most activities, but for the SimUText access, you need a computer. You will be using this equipment to watch lectures, participate in online tutorials and lectures, complete online lab activities, complete your writing assignments, and communicate with your Instructors and TAs. For online meetings via Zoom, you should have a webcam and mic (built-in or external) for your computer/tablet, and you will need access to reliable Wi-Fi especially for the synchronous portions of the course (weekly tutorial, consultation hours, lectures, and exams). If you don’t have access to Word, you will need a program that allows you to convert your files to a PDF or other easily readable format.

Access to SimUText is required for two labs in this course
Visit https://simutext.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/categories/200170134-Check-Your-Tech- (Links to an external site.) to confirm that the SimUText application will work on your computer.

Course fees
The course fee is $12. This fee covers your access to SimUText simulations.

Mode of Teaching
Please see course details section


Freeman S., et al. (2019) Biological Science, 3rd Canadian edition, Pearson. Since this book is also used for BISC 101, you might find used copies. You can use previous editions of the textbook, but we do not cross reference the assigned readings. Only e-book versions will be available for purchase through the SFU bookstore. You will not need access to Mastering Biology for this course.

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 spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges 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. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).