BIOS1101 – Evolutionary and Functional Biology

BIOS1101 – Evolutionary and Functional Biology examines the evolutionary history of life on earth from origins to humans and the relationship between environment, adaptation, form and function. Animal and plant physiology are covered with an emphasis placed on adaptation in the Australian context.

Term 2

Study level: Undergraduate

6 units of credit

Hours per week: 5 contact hours per week (2 x 1hr lectures and 1 x 3hr practical class)

Number of weeks: 12.


  Current handbook entry Current timetable   Course Outline

Who should I contact?

Coordinator: Stephen Bonser & Dr Teagan Gale

Where does this course fit into my degree?

This course can be taken as an elective or as a core subject for majors in biological sciences. It is a foundational stage 1 course. The course is designed to cover the introductory concepts of evolutionary and functional biology which are required for higher level courses in biological studies. 

Course Aims:

• To engender an appreciation of the processes and causes of evolution.

• To stimulate an appreciation of the spectacular diversity of living organisms on the planet; a diversity underpinned by a surprising degree of unity.

• To provide students with a strong understanding of foundation level animal and plant physiology (form and function)

• To identify patterns of structure, organisation, development and reproduction in higher level organisms.

• To provide students with a strong repertoire of (foundation level) applied practical biological skills (for example; classification, identification of form and function, dissection, microscope use, slide preparation, stem sectioning and experimental design) required for future studies in higher level biological science subjects.

At the successful completion of this course, the student should be able to:

1. Explain the concept of evolution and the evolutionary processes responsible for the past and present diversity of life on Earth using evidence from the fossil record and living world.

2. Identify and classify living organisms into higher order evolutionary groupings.

3. Relate plant and animal anatomy, physiology and reproduction to function, adaptation and environment.

4. Demonstrate proficiency in fundamental biological laboratory skills (such as microscopy, biological drawing, dissection, tissue sectioning and staining, and microscope slide preparation) through first-hand scientific investigations.

5. Gather, analyse and interpret data from first-hand scientific investigations to draw valid conclusions.

Is there assumed prior knowledge or a co-requisite?

No requirements.

Are there mandatory activities for this course?

Practicals are mandatory - an attendance record of above 80% for practical classes is required to pass this course.

Is there anything else I should know?

Most assessments take place during the practical classes (35%). There is a practical exam in week 13 (15%) and a final theory multiple choice exam (50%) scheduled for the exam period.

Archived Course Outlines

2017 course outline

2016 course outline

Student feedback comments (from the MyExperience UNSW Course Review 2014-2017):

“I am studying Advanced Science/ Arts and was inspired by many of the lectures in BIOS1101 this semester. I am currently deciding on a major to head towards and am considering archaeology and palaeo-environments and/or biological science (focusing on botany)”- BIOS1101 student 2014.

“Thanks so much for running a great subject - I learnt a lot, not only about the subject matter but also about myself” - BIOS1101 student 2015.

“So interesting! All the lectures where really interesting and all very approachable! Best course I have done so far!!”- BIOS1101 student 2016.

“The huge amount of effort and passion put into the lectures by all of the lecturers. The amount of effort put into revision sessions etc. was immense. It made me feel like the lecturers really cared about our progress which is very important to me. Even technical aspects such as notes being put up before lectures was great”- BIOS1101 student 2016.

“Really interesting content! Genuinely enjoyed learning about this stuff. Lab instructors were really helpful and friendly, gave lots of 1 to 1 advice. Lab revision sessions were a fantastic idea, really appreciate them :)”- BIOS1101 student 2017.

NB: All information provided on this page is superseded by information provided by the course coordinator or lecturer(s).