Module details

The biology module is developmental; i.e. each topic prepares students for subsequent topics. In the first semester topics include: Life (What is Biology?, and What is Life?); The Science of Biology; Ecology; Life's Diversity; Taxonomy; The History of Life (including the fossil record, evolution and natural selection); Basic Cell Features and Cell Size; and the Continuity of Life.

Module outlineAt first, the theoretical component predominantly takes the form of tutorials, although some contact sessions are lectures. During the latter, students are introduced to aspects of biology they are unfamiliar with and given a grounding for the follow-up tutorials. Students are expected to prepare for these tutorials by reading the relevant material, and answering structured questions. During the tutorials, tutor-led group discussion is used to summarize the material and ensure understanding. Lectures and tutorials are followed up with written exercises to encourage independent thinking. Selected exercises contribute to a continuous assessment mark.

In practical exercises the emphasis is on students acquiring skills, by working in small groups with knowledgeablemodule outline 2 demonstrators.

Skills include collection, interpretation and presentation of data, scientific report writing, microscope use, observation and recording of biological material, reading and comprehension and classification.
A field trip to the rocky shores and Ushaka Marine World gives students an opportunity to put some of their skills into practice, while stimulating an appreciation for an aspect of biology that is new to them.
In the second semester students are helped to adjust to the teaching style of many first-year courses, and at least half of contact sessions are lectures rather than tutorials. These lectures are supported by an almost complete set of notes, overhead transparencies, and audio-visual material. Students are expected to supplement this material with their own notes taken in lectures. Tutorials provide the opportunity to discuss interesting aspects associated with the concurrent lecture material.

Second semester topics include: Evolutionary trends in Plants, various aspects of Angiosperm Structure and Function, The "Muthi Market", Feeding a Hungry World- Advances in Plant Technology, Animal Histology and basic Embryology (including advances in stem cell research) and Thermoregulation. Throughout the whole of second semester, much time is dedicated in the laboratory sessions to experimental method and the associated report writing skills.

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