Introductory Biology of Organisms

BIOL 103/3.0

An introduction to the basic themes and concepts of modern biology spanning organizational levels from organisms to ecosystems in an evolutionary context.


This course is intended primarily for students in biological and life sciences, for those considering pursuing careers in the health sciences/medical sector, and those with a general interest in Biology and plans to take further Biology courses. The Biology Department at Queen’s has two other courses, BIOL110 and BIOL111, that are intended for students who plan to take only one or two Biology courses.

This course may be used by Queen’s students towards the degree requirements of programs in the biological and life sciences. Students from other institutions pursuing chemistry, biochemistry, or similar programs should check with their home institution regarding the suitability of this course towards their degree programs.

BIOL 103 Online has a significant level of interaction with the instructor and TAs to help students master the course material.


Two Virtual Labs20%
One Group Assignment20%
Two Quizzes15%
Three RoundTable Assignments15%
Proctored Final Exam30%


Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this course, students will have learned to:

  • Identify and describe the major physiological systems of animals
  • Describe diversity in physiological processes between animals
  • Describe how animals control the exchange of ions, water, nutrients and gases with the environment
  • Describe the structure and role of nerves and muscles in animal function 
  • Describe how chemical and electrical signals control physiological function
  • Describe how animals reproduce
  • Describe the basis of immunity
  • Describe the basis of animal behaviour
  • Discuss the nature of interactions between organisms at level of the population, the community and the ecosystem
  • Discuss the importance of biological diversity in ecosystem dynamics


Topics covered in this course include

  • Animal Form and Function
  • Ion, Water and Nutrient Balance – Water and electrolyte balance in animals and animal nutrition
  • Gas Exchange and Circulation
  • Nerves and Muscles
  • Endocrine Signalling
  • Reproduction
  • Immune System
  • Evolutionary Processes and Patterns
  • Evolutionary Processes
  • Speciation and the History of Life
  • Animal Behaviour
  • Population and Community Ecology
  • Ecosystems
  • Biodiversity and Conservation Biology

Time Commitment

To complete the readings, assignments, and course activities, students can expect to spend on average, about 125 hours on the course.

Course Resources


SOLUS is Queen’s Student On-Line University System. You’ll have access to a SOLUS account once you become a Queen’s student. You’ll use SOLUS to register for courses, add and drop courses, update your contact information, view financial and academic information, and pay your tuition.


Moodle is Queen's online learning platform. You'll log into Moodle to access your course. All materials related to your course—notes, readings, videos, recordings, discussion forums, assignments, quizzes, groupwork, tutorials, and help—will be on the Moodle site.

About Credit Units

Queen’s courses are weighted in credit units. A typical one-term course is worth 3.0 units, and a typical two-term course is worth 6.0 units. You combine these units to create your degree. A general (three-year) BA requires a total of 90 credit units.

Computer Requirements

To take an online course, you’ll need a good-quality computer (Windows XP/Vista/7, Pentium III, or Mac OS X 10.5, G4 or G5 processor, 256 MB RAM) with a high-speed internet connection, soundcard, speakers, and microphone, and up-to-date versions of free software (Explorer/Firefox, Java, Flash, Adobe Reader). See also Preparing For Your Course.


The deadlines for new applications to Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are in our Dates and Deadlines section.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees vary depending when you start, your year, faculty, and program. Fees for 2014-15 first-year Distance Career Arts & Science Canadian students are as follows: for a 3.0-unit course, $605.31; for a 6.0-unit course, $1210.62. See also Tuition and Payment.

Grading Scheme

The information below is intended for undergraduate students in the Faculty of Arts and Science. Academic Regulations in other Faculties may differ.

Letter Grade Grade Point

GPA Calculators
Have your SOLUS grade report handy and then follow the link to the Arts and Science GPA calculators.

How does this affect my academics?
See the GPA and Academic Standing page.

Follow the link above for an explanation of how the GPA system affects such things as the Dean’s Honour List, requirements to graduate, and academic progression.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Grading Scheme
Please follow this link to the FAQ's

Campus Bookstore

All textbooks can be purchased at Queen’s Campus Bookstore.

Non-Queen’s Students

All Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are open to students at other universities. Before applying as a visiting student, request a Letter of Permission from your home university that states that you have permission to take the course and apply it to your degree. See also Apply.

Academic Integrity

Please see Queen’s policy statement on academic integrity for information on how to complete an online course honestly.