Fundamentals of Biology: Organisms to Ecosystems - Online biology courses | Arts and Science ONLINE

Fundamentals of Biology: Organisms to Ecosystems

BIOL 103/3.0

The origins and diversification of multicellular organisms, their form, function and adaptation to stress and a changing world. Themes and case studies include energy flow from molecules to ecosystems, organismal interactions including parasitism and disease dynamics, and the impacts of human activity. 

Please note: This course is typically offered in the fall and/or summer term 

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Identify the roles of the major physiological systems in diverse animals and how they are regulated through electrical and chemical signals to achieve change or maintain homeostasis
  2. Describe the structure and function of nerves and muscles and explain how they contribute to physiological and behavioural processes.
  3. Apply knowledge of tissue and organ system functioning and integration to diagnose or predict common diseases and organismal dysfunctions.
  4. Discuss the mechanisms by which evolution shapes biological diversity, citing examples from the history of life captured in the fossil record, in extant diversity, or through direct observation of evolution in action.
  5. Compare the nature of interactions between organisms at the level of the population, the community and the ecosystem.
  6. Describe the main cycles governing the flow of nutrients and energy through communities and ecosystems and recognize the importance of ecological interactions and biodiversity in building a sustainable future.


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


The origins and diversification of multicellular organisms, their form, function and adaptation to stress and a changing world. Themes and case studies include energy flow from molecules to ecosystems, organismal interactions including parasitism and disease dynamics, and the impacts of human activity.


Fall 2022
Course Dates: 
Sept. 6 - Dec. 5, 2022
Exam Dates: 
Dec. 8 - Dec. 22, 2022


20% - Unit Quizzes
44% - Virtual Labs
8% - Dynamic Study Modules
12% - Essay
16% - Proctored Final Exam

*Evaluation Subject to Change*


  1. You may choose to write your exam(s) online using Examity proctoring services where you will be charged the additional $100 exam fee; or
  2. You may choose to write your exam(s) in-person on Queen's campus in Kingston where you will NOT be charged the additional $100 exam fee.


Once the exam schedule has been finalized the exam date will be posted on your SOLUS account. The exam dates for each Term are listed on the Faculty of Arts and Science webpage under "Important Dates." Student exam schedules for the Fall Term are posted via SOLUS immediately prior to the Thanksgiving holiday; for the Winter Term they are posted on the Friday before Reading Week, and for the Summer Term they are individually noted on the Arts and Science Online syllabi. Students should delay finalizing any travel plans until after the examination schedule has been posted. Exams will not be moved or deferred to accommodate employment, travel/holiday plans or flight reservations.



Time Commitment

To complete the readings, assignments, and course activities, students can expect to spend on average, about 123 hours on the course.

Additional Information

NOTE Also offered online. Consult Arts and Science Online. NOTE Also offered at the Bader International Study Centre, Herstmonceux. Learning Hours may vary.

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.

About OnQ

onQ is Queen's online learning platform. You'll log into onQ 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 onQ 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 or BSc requires a total of 90 credit units.

Computer Requirements

To take an online course, you’ll need a high speed internet connection as well as a microphone and speakers to be able to watch videos, hear sounds, and participate in interactive online activities. A webcam is recommended but not necessary.

System Requirements:

Computer Specifications

  • Windows 8.1 or newer
  • OSX 10.13 (High Sierra) or newer
  • Dual Core 2 GHz processor
  • 4 GB RAM
  • Soundcard
  • USB Headset
  • Webcam

Supported Browsers

  • Chrome (preferred - latest version)
  • Firefox (latest version)
  • Safari is not recommended as it causes several known issues in onQ
  • Edge is not recommended as it causes several known issues in onQ

Internet Connection

  • Wired high speed access: Cable or better
  • Wifi is not recommended


  • Latest version

Media Player

  • Flash (latest version)

Adobe Reader

  • Latest Version


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

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

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees vary depending when you start, your year, faculty, and program. Fees for Summer Term 2018 first-year Distance Career Arts & Science Domestic students are as follows: for a 3.0-unit course, $685.90; for a 6.0-unit course, $1371.80 See also Tuition and Fees.

Campus Bookstore

All textbooks, if required, 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.