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Biology Modules

Macro view of a beetle head

The Department of Biology offers a total of 12 different modules spread among 4 major areas of study.  

By clicking on one of the titles below you will find a description of the area of study followed by a link to the Academic Calendar for each module offered in that area.  As well, a handy checklist PDF is provided to help you navigate the module requirements.

You may enter into a module following satisfactory completion of first year. The required first-year courses as well as the grade requirements to gain admission are not the same for each module. The link to the Academic calendar provides the admission and progression requirements.

Animal Behaviour

Understanding how animals navigate their physical and social environments and process information to maximize survival and reproductive success constitutes the subject of behaviour. The Animal Behaviour module takes a scientific approach to understanding what animals, including humans, do and why they do it. This module will explore behaviours at both the proximate and ultimate levels of analysis. Proximate analysis involves the mechanism underlying a behaviour such as hormonal controls and gene expression, while ultimate analysis involves understanding the evolutionary origin and reproductive consequences of a behaviour. The module draws on teaching and research expertise in the Departments of Psychology and Biology.

Biodiversity and Conservation

This module develops scientific understanding of global biological diversity, the threats to its existence, and methods for its conservation. Solid grounding in systematics, genetics, ecology, and field biology provides a foundation for advanced courses and hands-on experiences in conservation and restoration.


Biology can be studied at the level of molecules, cells, organisms and populations. Selecting a Biology module affords you the opportunity to study at all of these different scales or to focus in upper year courses on only one or two. Another reason the Biology modules are a popular choice is it allows you to study a wide range of organisms from microbes to humans. Students interested in the area of ecology will find that the Biology modules will allow them to take a wide range of engaging courses covering aspects of community, population, molecular and chemical ecology. Similarly, students interested in evolutionary biology can be engaged by courses on more quantitative aspects of evolution to evolutionary genetics. Both plant and animal physiology courses are also popular choices of students in these modules built on a strong cohort of research faculty in these areas.

Ecosystem Health

The increase in human population is placing greater demands on the capacity of our planet and is altering terrestrial and marine ecosystems on a global scale. These changes are already having serious effects on ecosystem and human health. The Major in Ecosystem Health will allow students to explore the relationships between ecosystem and human health and our global environment. Drawing upon expertise from the Departments of Biology, Geography and Political Science, students will be exposed to experimental and theoretical approaches to ecosystem health as well as to the economic factors and the policies that impact how humans interact with their environment.


Genetics is the study of the process and implications of trait inheritance which is linked explicitly to the concept of the gene and the molecule DNA. The Department offers four modules in this foundational area of biology that are built upon its research and teaching strengths. In the area of molecular genetics students will be able to take a range of courses focused on gene structure, function and regulation that introduce modern 'omic' approaches (e.g. genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics) that are taught using a range of animal, plant and microbial systems. Related topics such as genetic engineering and developmental genetics form the basis of additional courses. Building on research expertise in other subdiscipline there are courses in behavioural genetics, and evolutionary genetics.

Genetics & Biochemistry

The disciplines of Genetics and Biochemistry have been in a powerful alliance for over a century and have given rise to the modern research discipline of molecular biology. Scientists studying patterns of inheritance have worked together with those studying the structure and interaction of cellular components in order to elucidate the structure of DNA, the basic mechanisms of gene structure and expression, intricate developmental pathways, evolutionary histories, disease pathologies and now, the complete spectrum of genes, transcripts or proteins used by an organism. The Honors Specialization in Genetics and Biochemistry offers an opportunity to bring these two disciplines together and is jointly coordinated by the Departments of Biology and Biochemistry.

Synthetic Biology

Synthetic Biology is an interdisciplinary field that involves use of genetic and biochemical approaches to design and construct novel biological systems with user defined characteristics.  The Honours Specialization in Synthetic Biology draws on teaching and research expertise in the Departments of Biochemistry and Biology.  This module is jointly coordinated by the Departments of Biology and Biochemisty.

Interdisciplinary Modules

  • Honours Specialization in Geology and Biology. For complete information, see the Academic Calendar.
  • Specialization in Geology and Biology.  For complete information, see the Academic Calendar.
  • Honours Specialization in Integrated Science with Biology. For complete information, see the Academic Calendar.
  • Honours Specialization in Integrated Science with Genetics.  For complete information, see the Academic Calendar.