Introduction to Biology

The details
Essex Pathways
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Foundation/Year Zero: Level 3
Thursday 08 October 2020
Friday 02 July 2021
29 May 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BSC CR00 Biochemistry (Including Foundation Year),
BSC CD00 Biological Sciences (Including Foundation Year),
BSC BD00 Biomedical Science (Including Foundation Year),
BSC CK00 Genetics (Including Foundation Year),
BSC C161 Marine Biology (Including Foundation Year)

Module description

The module aims to provide students with a general understanding and curiosity about biology with a balance of plant biology, animal biology and microbiology. This involves an understanding of the diversity, lifecycles and evolution of life on Earth, together with the biological processes that enable organisms to live, sense and adapt to the ecosystems that they inhabit. It will develop an appreciation of the relevance of sustainability to all aspects of scientific developments relating to biological sciences.

Module aims

The aims of the module are:

- To ensure that students obtain a broad understanding of basic concepts and terminology relating to the biology of living organisms and the ecosystems they inhabit
- To enable students to develop their knowledge and understanding by conducting practical experiments
- To enable students to describe, explain and analyse at the entry level fundamental concepts relating to biology of plants, animals and microbes in an exam situation
- To enhance students' knowledge of and interest in biology by preparing them for undergraduate study of the subject.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module a student will be able to:

1-Demonstrate knowledge of the fundamental principles of biology of plants, animals and microbes;
2-Synthesize, interpret and present biological information from a range of sources;
3-Record, analyse, interpret and present scientific data relating to biological sciences;
4-Demonstrate understanding and knowledge of the fundamental principles of biology by clearly communicating ideas in writing;
5-Express complex concepts using accurate terminology in an appropriate academic style;
6-Demonstrate competence in (a) the analysis and interpretation of data and (b) written and verbal communication of experimental results.

Module information

- Biological molecules
- Cell Biology
- Genetics
- Evolution
- Exchange and transport
- Control systems
- Ecology

Formative assessment
Moodle quiz in week 2, essay under examination conditions in summer term.

Summative assessment
Four online Moodle assessments (4 x 10% each, 40% in total). These will consist of approximately 50 questions (or questions totaling 50 marks) that will test the students grasp of material covered during lectures.

Participation mark (Labster simulation marks during classes 10%). Within the Labster platform (an online virtual laboratory simulation) there are a number of multiple-choice questions that are given. These are adaptive, with students gaining full marks for the correct answer on the first attempt, and reduced marks if it takes them multiple attempts. The marks from this are integrated into the Gradebook function of Moodle. These marks will only be given to students who have attended the class and attempted the simulation. The simulations may then be finished in student's own time, and the Labster simulations for each term must be completed before the beginning of the following term.

Virtual lab mark (5%). This will consist of marks gained during the Labster simulations which are set in the virtual lab sessions in the Autumn term. These marks will only be given to students who have attended the virtual lab sessions and attempted the simulations. The simulations may then be finished in student's own time, and all virtual lab simulations must be completed before the end of week 9.

One post-lab Moodle quiz (5%). This will consist of approximately 20 questions (or questions totaling 20 marks) that will test the students grasp of the experiments performed in the Spring term.

Two scientific paper format (SPF) lab reports to assess scientific writing ability, data analysis and presentation skills (both worth 20%; 40% in total).

Timed exam – to include short answer and essay style questions.

Reassessment strategy
Failed Timed Exam:
Resit the exam which is re-aggregated with existing coursework mark to create a new module aggregate.

Failed Coursework:
Resubmit a lab report (1,500 words) and resit a Moodle quiz which will be re-aggregated with existing exam mark to create a new module aggregate. The lab report involves real data from an experiment (provided by the Module Leader).

The reassessment task will replace the coursework component and will enable the relevant learning outcomes to be met.

Failed Timed Exam and Coursework:
Resit the exam, resubmit a lab report (1,500 words) and resit a Moodle quiz which are aggregated to create a new module aggregate.

Learning and teaching methods

Teaching and learning methods This module will be delivered as follows: one week via 2 x 50-minute lectures and 2 x 1-hour lab, and the following week via 2 x 50-minute lectures, a one-hour class and a one-hour seminar. Learning support There are web, Moodle and library resources for the various topics covered in biology. Summarized lecture material is provided using PowerPoint presentations and practical sessions allow the students to better understand the concepts discussed in lectures with experiments covering those specific topics. Information on each practical is provided in a lab brief (which students will be instructed to have read prior to attending the lab). This ensures that students are appropriately prepared for the practical.


  • Sadava, David E.; Hillis, David M.; Heller, H. Craig; Hacker, Sally D. (©2017) Life: the science of biology, Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, Inc.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Moodle Quiz    0% 
Coursework   Moodle Quiz 1     
Coursework   Post-lab moodle quiz 1     
Coursework   Moodle Quiz 2     
Coursework   Moodle Quiz 3     
Coursework   Post-lab moodle quiz 2    7.5% 
Coursework   Moodle Quiz 4    5% 
Coursework   Participation    7.5% 
Coursework   Post-lab assignment 1     
Coursework   Post-lab assignment 2     
Written Exam  Short answer exam conditions    20% 
Exam  180 minutes during Summer (Main Period) (Main) 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
50% 50%


Coursework Exam
50% 50%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Caroline Howlett, email: c.howlett@essex.ac.uk.
Helen Hearn (hhearn@essex.ac.uk or 01206 872842)



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
Of 327 hours, 45 (13.8%) hours available to students:
282 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information
Essex Pathways

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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