BIOL 121

Genetics, Evolution and Ecology

University of British Columbia

An intensive introduction to the fundamental physiology and molecular biology of bacteria and viruses. Covers evolutionary origins of metabolic diversity, bacterial and viral molecular genetics, and an introduction to microbial pathogenesis. Cross-listed with MCBL 121.
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24HR Notes for BIOL 121

Available 24 hours after each lecture

Lam, Vivienne

BIOL 121 Syllabus for Lam, Vivienne — Winter 2019

BIOL121 Section 226 Term 2Course Syllabus
BIOL 121 Section 226 - Term 2
M/W/F 9:00-9:50am, West Mall Swing Space Rm 222
Teaching Team
Instructor: Dr. Vivienne Lam Office: COPP Rm 3604, office hours
TA: Ana Radojicic by appointment
Peer Mentor: Nafeesa Alibhai
Overall Course Objectives
In Biology 121 we encourage and direct students to begin thinking like biologists. The goals of the course are to use
the three main disciplines of Genetics, Evolution and Ecology in order to:
1. achieve an understanding of the core topics and concepts in biology that are required for upper-level
2. acquire lasting knowledge and appreciation for living organisms and their connections to the world in which
we live.
3. connect concepts from various sub-disciplines of biology.
4. appreciate how biologists, as scientists, understand the world.
By the end of the course, we expect you to be able to apply knowledge of the disciplines of biology to new
situations and integrate concepts from multiple sub-disciplines to solve problems or make predictions about
biological systems.
Required Course Materials
Biological Science: Custom Edition for UBC (2015/2016) by Freeman, Harrington and Sharp
Any Custom Edition for UBC or Canadian Edition of the text is usable, but finding the correct pages is up to
the student. Please note that the years on the current cover do not say 2018 but are still fine to use
Copies of this text are available from the UBC Bookstore or for short-term loan from the Biology Office
(COPP Rm 2604)
A good alternative is the Biological Science UBC Custom Edition (2014/2015) OR Second/Third Canadian
Editions (Note: page numbers for readings are the same, but not be in numerical order)
iClicker Remote OR REEF Polling App
iClicker remotes are available for purchase at the UBC Bookstore (recommended)
REEF Polling app can be used with iOS, Android, or through a web browser on your laptop/tablet
Canvas Website
You will need regular and reliable access to the 2018W2-BIOL121-226 Canvas site in order to complete
required pre-readings and pre-quizzes, and to access other important course materials and information
Login at using your Campus Wide Login (CWL)
Pre-Reading Quizzes (on Canvas) 5%
In-class Participation 5%
iClicker Questions & Group work
Weekly homework 2%
Community Based Education trip (CBEL) 3%
Midterm 1 (Feb 1st ) 15%
Midterm 2 (Mar 8th) 20%
Final Exam (TBD) 50%
In order to pass the course, you must achieve a minimum of 50% based on the individual portion of the
exams (midterms and final) alone.
BIOL121 Section 226 Term 2Course Syllabus
Class participation: There will be clicker questions and active group assignments during most classes.
Your lowest class worth of clicker marks will be dropped (to account for illness or a missing clicker).
Group work Assignments: You will be required to form groups of 4 or 5 students for in-class group
assignments. Of the 8-12 group assignments, up to three will be graded for marks.
CBEL Assignment: You will be required to attend a Community-Based Educational Learning field trip and
complete an individual written assignment and reflection afterwards.
Exam marks: To demonstrate your individual achievement in the course, in order to pass the course, you
must receive a cumulative grade of 50% or greater your combined, weighted exam marks. This does not
mean that you must pass all of the exams; it is possible to fail an exam but still receive a cumulative grade
of 50% for combined exam scores.
For other issues with regard to Academic Regulations, please refer to the UBC Calendar,
Chapter V, Student Conduct and Discipline.
Canvas Course Website
Use of the Canvas website is required and can be accessed at by using your Campus Wide
Login (CWL) name and password.
You will have reading quizzes on Canvas to test your reading of material for upcoming lectures. These
quizzes should be completed before lecture, on the due dates specified.
You will have two chances to take each quiz, the higher of the two counting, but the order of the answers
to choose from will be randomized. The lowest quiz mark during the semester will be dropped.
iClickers (aka Personal Response Systems):
I use iClickers to help you stay focused, encourage attendance and active learning in class
These short questions will provide you with a low-stakes opportunity to see if you understand the
Answering iClicker questions in class will count towards your participation grade (5%).
You can miss up to two classes worth of clicker questions without an effect on your final mark.
You are responsible for registering your clicker on the Canvas website. Ask for help if you are having
trouble with this. If you have purchased an older iClicker and the ID has rubbed off, you can visit the
bookstore or Chapman Learning Commons to get the ID number for your unit.
Suggested Study Routine (How to Succeed in BIOL 121)
1) Pre-lecture
Pre-readings & Quizzes
The purpose of the pre-class
readings and quizzes is to “warm
you up” for class; what we do in-
class will make more sense and be
easier to follow if you’re already
somewhat familiar with the
background material.
Access pre-reading quizzes via the
course site on Canvas (2018W2-
BIOL121-226). Weekly pre-reading
quizzes and associated pre-
readings (i.e., specific textbook
passages) will be posted in the
Canvas folder for the relevant week
You are allowed two attempts for the pre-quiz; your highest score is the one you keep
You must complete the quiz prior to the due date; after the due date, the quizzes will no longer be
accessible. Consult Canvas for the most up-to-date due dates
BIOL121 Section 226 Term 2Course Syllabus
Quick Learning Tip: First attempt the quiz once, then do the pre-reading that way you know what
information to focus on while reading!
Lecture Slides
It is recommended that you download and/or print off the pre-class lecture slides from Canvas and bring
them to class to assist you in taking notes. Post-class lecture slides (containing useful notes) will also be
posted for each lecture.
2) During lecture
Note: The course is designed to encourage you to attend class as much as possible. No late or make up
work will be allowed in any case; this includes in-class clicker questions and worksheets. However, we
acknowledge that you may have to miss class for valid reasons. If you complete at least 95% of all
participation-related activities, you will receive full participation marks for the course. There will also be
multiple opportunities for bonus participation marks throughout the term.
Clicker Questions: The purpose of the clicker questions is to motivate you to come to class, to stay
awake, and to follow along. I also use clicker questions so I can quickly check whether things make sense,
or whether a large number of students are confused.
o Clicker questions will be graded for participation only. Selecting a non-response (e.g., your
answer options are AD, and you select “E) is considered non-participation.
o Correct answers to clicker questions will be posted on Canvas after class
Group Activities: You will be required to form groups of 34 students for in-class group activities, which
will occur regularly throughout the term
o The purpose of group work is to encourage you to take an active part in your own learning, and
to overcome the challenges of learning in a large class. In a large lecture hall, it is impossible for
members of the teaching team to interact with everyone. Discussing and problem solving with
your group members will give you on-the-spot, one-on-one feedback regarding whether or not
you understand what’s going on. Also, it is often easier to learn something from someone else
who has just learned it (e.g., a classmate), because they understand where you are coming from.
If you already understand something and the rest of your group doesn’t, explaining and teaching
things to your group members will help to solidify and deepen your understanding of the
o In some cases, worksheets associated with in-class activities will be handed in at the end of class
and graded for participation. Answers to in-class worksheets will be discussed in class, and/or
posted on Canvas after class.
3) Post-lecture
The purpose of the weekly homework assignments is to motivate you to regularly practice answering
exam-style questions.
Most weeks, you will be assigned a homework assignment that is due the following week; consult Canvas
for the most up-to-date due dates. Instructions regarding the due date of the assignment and how to
submit your assignment online will be included with each assignment. No late assignments will be
All homework assignments will be posted on Canvas; answers to homework assignments will be made
available on Canvas after the due date.
Review assignments/notes if concepts are still unclear, either post them on Piazza or contact your
instructor/TA/peer mentor for help. It’s much better to clarify concepts early on in the term as you will
find that any concepts will overlap between the lectures and units.
Try the following:
Writing summaries: this will help you understand the main ‘big’ concepts of each lecture
Flashcards: If you are visual learner, this will help you memorize terminology/definitions. Works especially
well if you transit to UBC
BIOL121 Section 226 Term 2Course Syllabus
Concept maps: there many overlapping ideas in BIOL 121. It might help to piece them together to see
how they interact. Some examples can be found here:
Reading aloud: for aural learners, this practice may be especially beneficial
Working in groups: form a study group see if you can clearly explain your solution to quiz/test questions
to your peers. This can help you form thorough and concise answers to exam questions.
Mastering Biology
Absolutely optional there are no grades associated with completing problems on Mastering Biology,
they are simply provided as an additional resource. If you choose, you may visit to
use their online resources (videos, diagrams, practice problems, etc.).
Study Tip: typically, the questions on Mastering Biology are lower-level questions (recall, comprehension);
midterms and final exams are higher-level questions (apply, analyze, synthesize, evaluate). Don’t use the
Mastering Biology questions to study for exams! Instead, use the provided practice exam problems.
Academic Honesty
Plagiarism or any form of cheating is not tolerated in this course. Please see the UBC rules on Academic Honesty
and Standards at
These rules apply to all exams and assignments (including in class clicker questions, note that it is academic
dishonesty to use a clicker that is registered to someone else).
Copyright of course materials
A great deal of material will be provided to you in this course: reading assignments, videos, class lecture slides,
worksheets, homework and practice problems. According to BIOL 121 and UBC copyright laws, it is illegal for
anyone to post or distribute any course materials (e.g., practice exam questions) on other websites or to other
groups. Please refrain from distributing course materials in any way. Only students registered in BIOL 121 Section
226 in Winter 2018 Term 2 have legal access to these course materials.
For other issues regarding Academic Regulations, please refer to the UBC’s Calendar (Chapter V, Student Conduct
and Discipline) found here.
Missed Midterm Exams
Missed midterm exams can be substituted with valid excuse (other midterms the same day is not a valid excuse).
Email Dr. Lam immediately when the exam is missed. Your grade will be replaced with questions on final for that
section that was missed and will count for the additional 15-20% of the final mark.
Resources & Contacts
Biology Learning Centre: Wesbrook Rm 200, see schedule on Canvas
The Learning Centre has tables and white boards that you can use for studying alone or with a group.
This is also where the BIOL121 TAs and peer tutors will be holding their office hours; a schedule of
these office hours will be posted on Canvas.
Biology Program Office: COPP 2604, phone 604-822-4260
Biology program web site: (for those planning to go on in Biology):
Comprehensive learning support
AMS tutoring services

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