Spring 2019 - BISC 112 D100

Special Topics: Current Topics in Biology II (3)

Sexual Reproduction on Earth

Class Number: 5991

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 2:30 PM – 4:20 PM
    SWH 10061, Burnaby

    Th 2:30 PM – 3:20 PM
    AQ 5030, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 11, 2019
    3:30 PM – 6:30 PM
    AQ 5037, Burnaby



Selected topics in biology intended to fulfil breadth requirements for non-majors Topics will vary depending on instructor. Breadth-Science.


Course description and outline:

This course is designed for non-majors who wish to fulfill their Breadth-Science (B-Sci) requirements. Students with credit for BISC 101, 102 or subsequent biology courses may not take BISC 112 for further credit.

Reproduction is a fundamental feature of all known life, but not all organisms use sex to reproduce. Sex also has lots of disadvantages, yet sexual reproduction is the most common form of reproduction in plants and animals. The simple question “Why?” has a surprisingly complex answer. Sex has been described as “an enigma within a mystery” and one of the “major unexplained phenomena in biology”. This course will take a broad, comparative (i.e. human and non-human) approach to the mystery of sex and show-case the extraordinary diversity of life which has evolved because of sex. Some of the specific topics we will cover will include:

To have sex or not (sexual versus asexual reproduction)
The HOW of sex (mitosis, meiosis, recombination)
Costs, benefits and the WHY of sex (two-fold cost, Red Queen hypothesis)
Having sex with yourself (hermaphrodites, self-fertilisation)
Many ways to become male or female (sex determination and sexual differentiation)
Sex doesn’t always involve one male and one female (mating systems, sexual conflict)
Sex and cooperation between the sexes (parental care)
How much effort should you put into sex? (costs and trade-offs)
How do you know when to have sex? (seasonal reproduction)


  • 1st Lecture Midterm 15%
  • 2nd Lecture Midterm 15%
  • Lecture final 30%
  • 1 Powerpoint slide sex story, 3 minute classroom presentation 15%
  • 1 Powerpoint slide sex story, written summary 10%
  • Two-page popular media story/blog on a scientific issue in reproduction 15%



No textbook is required 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