Starting your BSc in Biology 2012
Biological Sciences Major
The Bachelor of Science, or BSc degree, is a three-year undergraduate degree requiring 360 points. The School offers a single undergraduate major in Biological Sciences (BIOL).
Our three core 100 level courses provide a comprehensive overview of biology, from which our 200- and 300-level courses provide advanced training in specialised areas.
We believe that this broad approach in curriculum delivery is of great benefit to student learning.
To major in BIOL, students must have BIOL 111, 112, 113 and 209 (or equivalent background, e.g. STAT201 or PSYC206).
To gain a pass a student must do satisfactory practical work in laboratory classes and in field courses as well as performing satisfactorily in written tests and examinations.
Students who have not taken Chemistry to Year 13 or Scholarship level should take 15 points of CHEM (e.g. CHEM 114) before enrolling in 200 level courses.
Students who have not taken Maths (with Calculus) to Year 13 or Scholarship level should strongly consider taking 15 points of MATH (e.g. MATH 101) before enrolling in 200 level courses.
BIOL 309 cannot be used as part of the minimum 60 points needed at 300 level to major in Biological Sciences.
Students intending to enrol for fourth year courses should have gained the equivalent of at least 90 points in 300 level BIOL courses.
Students admitted to an Honours or Masters Degree in Ecology must include BIOL 309, or an equivalent course, in their undergraduate degree.
BIOL 309 is strongly recommended for ALL intending postgraduate students.
Choosing your courses in first year
Starting your BSc in Biology is straightforward. Biological Sciences offers a range of streams to make planning your degree easy and still allows you to create a personalised degree that suits your interests.
Most students begin by taking the core biology courses during their first year at Canterbury, but students who discover an interest in biology later can also take the core courses during their second year. The three core courses are:
The three core courses are:
BIOL 111 Cellular Biology and Biochemistry
BIOL 112 Ecology, Evolution and Conservation
BIOL 113 Diversity of Life
[BIOL 111 is required for Biochemistry majors, BIOL 112 and 113 are recommended.]
Two additional first year courses are also offered for students.
These courses cannot be substituted for the core biology courses and should be taken as additional courses.
BIOL 116 Human Biology
SCIM 101 Science, Maori and Indigenous Knowledge
Designing your Degree
Students who enrolled prior to 2010
Students who enrolled in the BSc prior to 2010 must pass courses with a minimum total value of 360 points, including:
(a) at least 254 points from the BSc schedule; and
(b) the remaining 106 points from any degree of the University, subject to the regulations of the other degree.
The programme of study must include at least 216 points from above 100-level, including at least 84 points from 300-level, of which at least 56 points must be at 300-level in a single subject from the BSc schedule. In addition, students must also complete major subject requirements.
What other courses should I take?
Modern biological research is undergoing some exciting changes.
The barriers between traditionally separate areas of biology are breaking down, and at the same time researchers trained in mathematics, statistics, chemistry, physics, geology, geography and computer science are collaborating with biologists in new and exciting ways.
This doesn’t mean you need to be an expert in everything, but the more you are comfortable talking with and working with scientists from other fields, the better prepared you will be for the job market, whether you wish to work in industry, a research university or institute, or even science journalism.
Have a close look at the recommended additional courses you might take in the detailed course advice above.
Do I need Chemistry, Maths, Physics or Stats?
More and more areas of biology require a basic knowledge of statistics, mathematics, chemistry and physics.
To give you some examples, molecular biology and biochemistry both require a working knowledge of chemistry, the study of populations requires some understanding of basic algebra and statistics, the mathematics of networks applies to areas as diverse as biochemistry and ecological food webs, and to analyse biological data, statistics is a must.
It is also worth keeping in mind that areas of biology which as recently as 10 years ago did not require maths, stats, physics or chemistry have now embraced these disciplines.
There are many niches in biological and ecological sciences for those that are not chemically or mathematically inclined, but background in these areas may expand your options.
Because statistical analysis and experimental design is such a fundamental aspect of all biological research, all Biology majors are required to take BIOL 209 Introduction to Biological Data Analysis (or equivalent preparation e.g. STAT 201, PSYC 206). Entry to this course does not require STAT 101, but if you haven’t done maths or stats at level 12 or 13, then think about doing STAT 101.
Find maths or chemistry intimidating?
Mathematics and chemistry can seem intimidating to many - if you lack confidence in these (or haven’t done them to year 13) but want to expand your background, don’t worry! UC provides plenty of support. This includes introductory courses at 1st year that are specifically tailored to biologists needs – Methods of Mathematics (MATH 101) and Introductory Chemistry (CHEM 114). There is also the Science Headstart summer programme to help you up-skill if you have no background in a range of science subjects, see www.uco.canterbury.ac.nz/bridging/headstart/courses.shtml. If in doubt, talk to one of our academic advisors!
Love maths or computers?
If you enjoy mathematics or computing, and are interested in biology, UC is well suited to cater for your needs. There are mathematicians on campus who work closely with biologists, and UC is home to the BlueFern Supercomputer. Combining biology with computing and/or mathematics will give you plenty of options in the future. Some papers you could do at first year to complement your interest in biology include MATH 120/170 and COSC 121/122.
An endorsement can be added to your BIOL major in recognition of the fact that your studies have had a particular focus.
The biology endorsments reflect the three strengths of the School: Biodiversity (ecology), biosecurity and biotechnology.
Biotechnology covers many aspects. We focus on two key areas of biotechnology – environmental biotechnology and plant biotechnology.
Environmental biotechnology includes fundamental research contributing knowledge about ecological and evolutionary processes; research underpinning biodiversity and biosecurity management in New Zealand; and research directed towards technology development with dual economic and environmental outcomes
Biotechnology research has key roles to play in helping us characterise New Zealand’s indigenous genetic heritage through biosystematics, to protect New Zealand’s indigenous genetic heritage through the provision of tools to identify biosecurity threats, and, through research, to help counter the environmental impacts of farming.
It is important to recognise, in addition to the overlap with environmental biotechnology, that plant biotechnology goes beyond genetic modification and includes a range of laboratory based plant tissue culture and plant breeding techniques.
Universities have access to unique germplasm collections and genomics databases for research and much research focused on plant breeding is now regarded as ‘biotechnology-assisted’ and has developed beyond the need to genetically modify crop plants.
Biosecurity is an emerging issue of both national and international importance. New Zealand is particularly well suited for studies related to Biosecurity as it is a small island nation vulnerable to exotic invasions. Furthermore, on-going global climate change and its effects on ecosystems make understanding Biosecurity issues crucial.
The School of Biological Sciences has identified Biosecurity as a major theme in many of its courses and believes that an endorsement to its undergraduate major will help students choose a course of study that will allow flexibility, but will provide these students with a core understanding of Biosecurity issues.
Ecology is a broad topic encompassing studies on individuals, species, populations, communities and ecosystems, and including behaviour, evolution, physiology and increasingly, molecular biology.
In New Zealand, the study of ecology is especially important. As a small group of islands separated from larger land masses, the New Zealand flora and fauna evolved unique characteristics in the absence of mammals.
The invasion of New Zealand by humans, and the organisms that they introduced has drastically altered its ecology, leading to drastic reductions in numbers, or even extinctions of the original animals and plants.
In addition, global climate change is affecting the ecology of New Zealand, altering the distribution of both native and introduced organisms. In this rapidly changing environment it is vital that we continue to train competent and capable ecologists.
Ecology is a major part of the School of Biological Sciences reflecting its importance in New Zealand, and indeed in the world.
An endorsement in ecology gives guidance to our students as they progress through their undergraduate courses and it sends a clear signal to potential employers that they have a thorough grounding in this subject.
Our Undergraduate Supervisors are here to help you design your degree to suit your interests. Please feel free to contact them for advice at any stage of your degree.