General Biology

General Course Information


Course Director Name: Ms. Atoum Abdullah

Course Lecturer Name(s): Ms. Atoum Abdullah, Ms. Kafi James, Dr. Felicia Ikolo

Course Director Contact Information: (1473- 439 2000. Ext. 3451)

Course Lecturer(s) Contact Information:,

Course Director Office Hours: by email appointment.

Course Management tool: 

  • Sakai (MyCourses) – Course material
  • Exemplify (exam soft) – Quizzes and Exams
  • Turning Point App for your smartphone – in-class participation
  • ZOOM for live streamed lectures 
  • Panopto for recorded lectures
Course Description

General Biology introduces students to the fundamental principles of biology and examines life processes at the molecular, cellular and organismal levels. Macromolecules and their role in cellular structure; cell organization and communication; metabolism and harvesting of energy through cellular respiration; the cell cycle; meiosis; mitosis; genetics; evolution and the origin of species will all be explored.

Course Objectives:
  1. To understand the chemical basis of life. 
  2. To understand the structure and functions of cells.
  3. To be able to describe how biological systems process energy.
  4. To understand the importance and cellular functions of DNA RNA and proteins.
  5. To gain a basic understanding of the mechanisms of inheritance. 
  6. To gain a basic understanding of the structure, physiology and importance of bacteria, viruses and fungi.
  7. To understand macro and micro evolution, speciation and interaction between species.
Student Learning Outcomes
  1. To understand the importance of water to biological systems and relate its structure to its function.
  2. Describe the structure and functions of macromolecules.
  3. Describe the structure of the cell and differentiate between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells.
  4. To describe the functions of the individual constituents of cells and understand how they coordinate their activities.
  5. To understand the importance of enzymes, describe their structure and predict the outcome of different factors on enzyme activity.
  6. Understand and describe the process of cellular respiration.
  7. Recall the stages of cell cycle and describe the differences between normal and cancer cells.
  8. Distinguish between meiosis and mitosis. 
  9. Predict the genotype and phenotype of genetic crosses and perform pedigree analysis.
  10. Understand basic concepts in replication, transcription and translation.
  11. Briefly describe the structures, physiology and genetics of bacteria, viruses and fungi. 
  12. To discuss the origin of life, evolution of populations and the origin or species.
  13. To learn to think critically and communicate appropriately about the processes and concepts studied.
  14. Write and discuss about important biology related topics individually or in groups.
SAS Grading Scale

Grades will be assigned as follows:

A  = 89.5% or better

B+ = 84.5 - 89.4%

B  = 79.5 - 84.4%

C+ = 74.5 - 79.4%

C = 69.5 - 74.4%

D = 64.5 - 69.4%

F = 64.4% or less 

Course Materials:
  • Lecture Notes
  • NEW Recommended Text: Campbell Biology, 12th edition Urry, Cain, Wasserman, Minorsky, Orr.
Course Requirements and Percent of Grade:

All quizzes will be computer bases online quizzes using ExamSoft, all quizzes will be open on Friday and closed on Monday midnight-Grenada time (No extension will be given to the deadline).

All exams will be computer based using ExamSoft software with exam monitor and exam ID required. 

Quiz-1 covers lecture 1 – 6

Quiz-2 covers lecture 7 – 11

Midterm exam covers lecture 1 – 11

Quiz-3 covers lecture 12 – 18

Quiz-4 covers lecture 19 – 24

Final exam covers lecture 12 – 24

Grade distribution:

Quizzes: There will be four quizzes (each worth 10% of your final grade*,**,***)


Exams: There will be two major exams, (each worth 25% of your final grade)        


Labs: A total of four labs (each lab worth 3% of your final grade)                           


Presentation: Oral presentation worth 4% of your final grade                                  


iMCQs: There will be two iMCQ sessions (each worth 1% of your final grade)      


Attendance: worth 2% of your final grade                                                                 


* The quiz with your lowest mark will be dropped  

** There will be no make-up quizzes offered

*** No extension will be given to the quiz submission deadline  

BIOL 220 Lab


  • Four labs in total.
    • Lab# 1 Food Test o Lab# 2 Light Microscopy- Observing cheek cells o Lab# 3 DNA Extraction – Isolating and observing DNA o Lab# 4 Light Microscopy- Observing prokaryotic cells
  • Each lab worth 3% of your final grade.
  • A pre-lab recording will be posted ahead of each lab session along with lab report worksheet.
  • Live lab discussion will take place in the lab on the designated Wednesdays 

As a student of this course you are required to:

  1. Read and be prepared for each laboratory session by reading the Pre-Lab instructions.
  2. Watch the recorded lab / videos / simulation / animations and follow any guided instructions indicated for that lab. 
  3. Attend the live lab session and participate in the discussion.
  4. A lab worksheet will be provided on SAKAI and students are required to complete and submit your lab report for each experiment on the designated due date indicated in the schedule. 
  5. A drop box under Assignments will be provided on Sakai for this purpose.
Presentation Guidelines


All students are required to prepare a presentation on a topic of current or personal interest. 

  • Students will present this information to their colleagues in the lecture hall or on Zoom on the designated day in the schedule.
  • Presentations will be followed by a discussion for clarification or airing of divergent views. 
  • Students should appropriately cite and use information from scientific journals or from RELIABLE internet sites. 
  • It is recommended that the presentation be done in PowerPoint.
  • Oral presentation is worth 4% of your final grade.

Some suggested topics

  • Cancer
  • Genetic Disorders: Cystic Fibrosis, Sickle Cell Anemia, Tay Sacs 
  • Hypertension and Diabetes
  • Cloning (ethical issues)  
  • Genetic Reprogramming 
  • Euthanasia
  • Global warming- what can we do?
  • Increased prevalence of obesity, asthma, diabetes, stroke…why? 
  • Most prevalent diseases in your country…. why? Genetics, bad habits, both? Options for reducing the risk?
  • Current ecological problems/solutions in your country
  • Stem cells-latest research claims

Grading Rubric for Oral Presentation  (4% of final grade)

        I.     Oral Presentation Rubric: 

Please pay attention to every item below while preparing and presenting your presentation

  • Oral presentation is presented live or live on Zoom. Sign-up sheet will be sent to you to sign up for a time slot. 
  • No limit to the number of slides but anything between 8 and 15 is acceptable.
  • A copy of the personation PowerPoint must be submitted to the Assignment folder on


Scoring Criteria



Presents information in logical sequence


Clearly states significance 


Appropriately cites at least three references



Identifies research question/states thesis & Discuss topic- 


Evaluates results, methodology and conclusions



Speaks in clear, loud voice 


Length of presentation is within assigned time-10mins


Use of Visual Aids

Describes and positions images and figures well 


Summarizes data and/or conclusions in charts


Presentation is effortlessly viewed by audience


Ability to answer questions

Anticipates, understands, and responds to audience questions 


Integrates knowledge to answer questions


SAKAI on the due date designated in the schedule.

Lectures Objectives:

Lecture # 1 Chemical Principles

  1. Describe the components of an atom.
  2. Differentiate between an element, a molecule and a compound.
  3. List the elements of life: CHON, KCaPS.
  4. Define an isotope.
  5. Differentiate between covalent bond and non-covalent bonds.  
  6. Differentiate between polar and non-polar bonds.
  7. Describe Ionic bonds.
  8. Define a hydrogen bond.

Lecture # 2 Water Properties

  1. Discuss how the polarity of water molecules results in hydrogen bonding.
  2. Explain why water clings to polar molecules, and why it repels non-polar molecules.
  3. Discuss how the four emergent properties of water contribute to Earth’s sustainability for life.
  4. Explain what pH is in relation to H+ and OH- ions.  
  5. Explain why organisms are sensitive to changes in pH and temperature.
  6. Discuss the role of buffers in maintaining pH.

Lecture # 3 Carbohydrates and Lipids

  1. Define hydrocarbons.
  2. Define structural isomers, cis and trans, define enantiomers.
  3. Recall and recognize the different types of functional groups.
  4. Describe the basic structures of carbohydrates including mono- di and poly saccharides.
  5. Discuss the roles of carbohydrates.
  6. Describe the basic structures lipids including (fats/oils, phospholipids, steroids).
  7. Discuss why fats are non-polar.
  8. Discuss the roles of lipids.
  9. Explain why sugar dissolves in water, but fats do not.
  10. Distinguish between saturated and unsaturated fatty acids.

Lecture # 4 Protein and Nucleic Acids

  1. Describe the structure of protein
  2. Describe the structure of an amino acid and a peptide bond.
  3. Discuss the biological roles of proteins.
  4. Discuss and differentiate between the different levels of protein structure.
  5. Discuss factors affecting protein structure.
  6. Describe the structure of a nucleotide: nitrogenous bases, pentose sugars, phosphate group.
  7. Distinguish between a nucleotide and a nucleic acid.
  8. Discuss the structure of DNA and RNA.
  9. Distinguish between the structures of DNA vs RNA.

Lecture # 5 The Cell - Nucleus & Endomembrane

  1. List all the organelles of a cell and describe their general structure and their function.  
  2. Identify the organelles containing DNA.
  3. Explain the endosymbiont theory.
  4. Identify the organelles that are part of the endomembranous system.
  5. Discuss the functions of the endo-membrane system.

Lecture # 6 The Cell - Cytoskeleton & Endosymbiosis

  1. Understand the components and the function of the cytoskeleton.
  2. Identify the structure and the function of microtubules found in centrioles, cilia and flagella.
  3. Identify the structure and the function of microfilaments including Actin filament and Microvilli.
  4. Identify the structure and the function of intermediate filaments including nuclear lamina.
  5. Discuss the function of extracellular components and connection between cells including cell walls and cell junctions.

Lecture # 7 Plasma Membrane

  1. Describe the structure of the plasma membrane. 
  2. Discuss the role of proteins and carbohydrates in membranes.
  3. Discuss membrane fluidity: role of fatty acids and cholesterol.
  4. Discuss the selective nature of the plasma membrane.
  5. Describe the various ways substances can be transported across the plasma membrane: diffusion, active transport, bulk transport.

Lecture # 8 Cellular Signaling

  1. List and discuss the various types of cell signaling.
  2. Discuss intracellular receptors, particularly those involved in gene regulation.
  3. List and describe the various cell surface receptors, differentiating between ion channels, enzymatic receptors, and G-protein linked receptors.
  4. Describe the stages of cell signaling. 
  5. Understand and describe the role of second messengers.
  6. Discuss different aspects of fine-tuning of cellular responses.

Lecture # 9 Introduction to Metabolism

  1. Differentiate between kinetic and potential energy.
  2. Discuss the laws of thermodynamics.
  3. Differentiate between catabolic and anabolic reactions.
  4. Define free energy.
  5. Differentiate between exergonic and endergonic reactions.
  6. Understand the role of energy coupling in cells.
  7. Discuss the structure of ATP and its role in energy transfer. 
  8. Recall the ATP cycle.

Lecture # 10 Enzymes

  1. Understand the role of enzymes as biological catalysts.
  2. Define activation energy.
  3. Explain the impact of enzymes on activation energy. 
  4. Recall the stages of the catalytic cycle of an enzyme.
  5. Discuss the impact of substrate concentration, temperature and pH on enzyme activity. 
  6. Discuss the importance of cofactors.
  7. Discuss competitive, non-competitive and allosteric enzyme inhibition.
  8. Discuss enzyme cooperativity.
  9. Discuss the role of feedback inhibition and compartmentalization on metabolism.

Lecture # 11 Cellular Respiration

  1. List the major types of enzymes involved in glucose breakdown, and the function of each. 
  2. In the presence of partial diagrams of glycolysis, pyruvate oxidation and the citric acid cycle, explain what action has been mediated by the enzyme, identify the substrates, the products and the steps which make ATP.
  3. Discuss the difference between substrate level and oxidative phosphorylation.
  4. Identify the location in the cell where each phase occurs.
  5. Discuss the electron transport chain and Chemiosmosis.

Lecture # 12 Mitosis

  1. Discuss the cell cycle and the importance of cell division.
  2. Describe the changes that occur in chromosomes prior to mitosis.
  3. List the stages and the events that occur in each mitotic stage. 
  4. Visually identify the stages of mitosis.
  5. Explain the role of cyclins and cyclin dependent kinases in cell division.
  6. Explain why regulation of cell growth is important.
  7. Differentiate between internal and external cell division signals.
  8. Differentiate between an oncogene and a proto-oncogene.
  9. Explain the modus operandi for tumor suppression genes.
  10. Discuss the ways in which cancer cells are different from normal cells.

Lecture # 13 Meiosis

  1. Define meiosis.
  2. Explain why the reduction in chromosome number in germ cells is important.
  3. Differentiate between sister chromatids and homologous chromosomes.
  4. List the stages of meiosis. 
  5. Describe synapsis in Prophase I.
  6. Distinguish between mitotic prophase, meiotic prophase I, and meiotic prophase II.
  7. Differentiate between metaphase of meiosis and mitosis, and between metaphase I and ll.
  8. Differentiate between anaphase of meiosis and mitosis, and between anaphase I and II.
  9. Differentiate between asexual reproduction, such as binary fission and meiosis.
  10. Explain how independent assortment, random fertilization and crossing over contribute to population variability. 

Lecture # 14 DNA Structure and Topology

  1. Describe the classical experiments involved in the determination of DNA as the genetic material.
  2. List the components of nucleotide in DNA/RNA.
  3. Distinguish between deoxyribose and ribose.
  4. Describe how nucleotides are linked together to form DNA.
  5. Explain the characteristics of the DNA double helix.
  6. Describe the packaging and organization of the secondary structures of DNA in prokaryotes and eukaryotes.
  7. Describe the structure and function of DNA.

Lecture # 15 Gene to Protein

  1. Distinguish between DNA and RNA.
  2. Given a DNA template for RNA, be able to predict the complementary bases on RNA.
  3. Describe RNA transcription.
  4. Describe the changes that occur between the initial mRNA and the mature mRNA molecule. 
  5. Discuss mutations. Distinguish between substitutions and additions/subtractions (frameshifts)
  6. Identify which mutation is more consistently damaging and explain why.
  7. Explain why mutations of DNA have a greater impact than copying errors in RNA. 
  8. Distinguish between replication, transcription and translation.
  9. Define a codon.
  10. Discuss the roles of mRNA, tRNA and rRNA in protein manufacturing. 
  11. Discuss the components of a ribosome
  12. Describe the interaction of activating enzymes with tRNA and amino acids. 
  13. Discuss the role of initiation factors and release factors in translation.

Lecture # 16 Genetics I

  1. Explain, referring to meiosis, how gametes are formed.
  2. Solve problems involving a monohybrid cross
  3. Explain what “true breeding” means, and how a test cross could determine this. 
  4. Solve problems with a dihybrid cross.
  5. Explain Mendel’s principles of segregation and independent assortment, relating them to chromosomal behavior during meiosis.

Lecture # 17 Genetics II

  1. Distinguish between incomplete dominance and codominance and be able to solve problems involving these factors. 
  2. Discuss characteristics that are governed by multiple genes. 
  3. Distinguish between pleiotropy and epistasis. 
  4. Distinguish between autosomal dominant and autosomal recessive characteristics, and solve problems involving each. 

Lecture # 18 Genetics III

  1. Define carrier. Does this term apply to both autosomal dominants and recessives?
  2. Explain what a sex chromosome is.  
  3. Define SRY and explain its function in determining sex. 
  4. Explain how a person who is XX can be male, and XY be female, based on SRY.
  5. Explain what a sex-linked characteristic is. 
  6. Discuss why females, but not males, can be carriers for sex-linked characteristics. 

Lecture # 19 Genetics IV

  1. Define linked genes and explain how crossing over between homologous chromosomes in meiosis relates to crossing over in linked genes. 
  2. Discuss how the frequency of cross over between linked genes is used to map the location of genes on a chromosome. 
  3. Define monosomy and trisomy and explain how chromosomal behavior during meiosis may result in monosomy or trisomy. 
  4. Give an example of autosomal trisomy. 
  5. Discuss monosomy and trisomy of sex chromosomes. 
  6. Be able to work out genetics' problems.

Lecture # 20 Prokaryotes – Bacteria

  1. Describe the general features of prokaryotic cells.
  2. Identify the different morphological forms of bacteria.
  3. Distinguish between gram positive and gram negative bacteria.
  4. Describe the growth and physiology of prokaryotes.
  5. Understand the importance of plasmids.
  6. Describe the different types of horizontal gene transfer: transformation, conjugation, transduction.

Lecture # 21 Prokaryotes – Viruses

  1. Describe and identify the general structural characteristics of viruses.
  2. Understand the differences between viruses, viroids and prions.
  3. Describe genomic content of different viruses (RNA or DNA).
  4. Understand viral tropism.
  5. Describe the life cycles of bacteriophages and animal viruses (HIV).
  6. Describe the stages in transduction: transfer of genetic material by viruses.

Lecture # 22 Prokaryotes – Fungi

  1. Understand the general characteristics of fungi: nutrition, structure.
  2. Be able to recall the different names and function of fungi.
  3. Understand the general aspects of life cycle: Sexual and Asexual.
  4. Be able to recognize the general classification of fungi: Zygomycetes and Ascomycetes.
  5. Be able to follow the reproduction cycles of fungi.  

Lecture # 23 Evolution

  1. Discuss Darwin’s theory and Lamarck’s hypothesis.
  2. Explain that some variable traits can improve survival and it is heritable.
  3. Describe Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest.
  4. Define evolutionary adaptation providing examples. 
  5. Give an example of artificial selection in farm practice. 
  6. Explain what is meant by descent with modification
  7. Differentiate between convergent and divergent evolution. 
  8. Discuss evidence of common ancestry from fossils, vestigial structures, comparative Anatomy, embryology and comparative biochemistry.

Lecture # 24 Population Dynamics

  1. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Define a population, and a gene pool. 
  2. List factors affecting genetic variability.
  3. Define genetic drift, founders’ effect and bottle-neck effect.
  4. Define gen flow.
  5. Explain how the variability of species in isolated locations supports evolution.
  6. Discuss the role of natural selection in adaptive evolution.
  7. Explain what is meant by differential reproduction and how this affects evolution.
  8. Differentiate between directional, stabilizing and disruptive selection. 
  9. Describe co-evolution and give an example.
  10. Explain the Hardy-Weinberg principle and its use in testing whether a population is evolving.

Lecture # 25 Speciation and Interaction between Species

  1. Specify criteria to recognize that specimens are the same vs related species.
  2. Distinguish between pre-zygotic and post zygotic barriers.
  3. Distinguish allopatric and sympatric speciation. 
  4. Understand phylogenetic species concept.
  5. Describe the different relationships between species and give examples.
  6. Understand different predator-prey interactions.

Note: Any modification or additions to the course syllabus will be posted on SAKAI and override the printed course syllabus. It is the student’s responsibility to take note of them.

School of Arts and Sciences Master Syllabi — Info for All Sections

Plagiarism Policy

Academic Integrity

The St. George’s University Student Manual (2019/2020) states as follows:

Plagiarism is regarded as a cardinal offense in academia because it constitutes theft of the work of someone else, which is then purported as the original work of the plagiarist. Plagiarism draws into disrepute the credibility of the Institution, its faculty, and students; therefore, it is not tolerated” (p. 48).

Plagiarism also includes the unintentional copying or false accreditation of work, so double check your assignments BEFORE you hand them in.

Be sure to do good, honest work, credit your sources and reference accordingly and adhere to the University’s Honor Code. Plagiarism and cheating will be dealt with very seriously following the university’s policies on Plagiarism as outlined in the Student Manual.

Your work may be subject to submission to plagiarism detection software, submission to this system means that your work automatically becomes part of that database and can be compared with the work of your classmates.

Attendance Requirement

The St. George’s University Student Manual (2019/2020) states as follows:

Students are expected to attend all classes and or clinical rotations for which they have registered. Although attendance may not be recorded at every academic activity, attendance may be taken randomly. Students’ absence may adversely affect their academic status as specified in the grading policy. If absence from individual classes, examinations, and activities, or from the University itself is anticipated, or occurs spontaneously due to illness or other extenuating circumstances, proper notification procedures must be followed. A particular course may define additional policies regarding specific attendance or participation” (p. 9).

Examination Attendance

The St. George’s University Student Manual (2019/2020) states as follows:

All matriculated students are expected to attend all assigned academic activities for each course currently registered. Medical excuses will be based on self-reporting by students. Students who feel they are too sick to take an examination or other required activity on a specific day must submit the online SAS medical excuse, which is available on Carenage. Students are only allowed two such excuses a year. Upon consultation with the Director of University Health Service, the third excuse will result in a mandatory medical leave of absence. The policies regarding make-up examinations are at the option of the Course Director” (p.46).

For additional specific examination policies and procedures, refer to the St. George’s University Student Manual (2019/2020), pages 31 through 37.

Student Accessibility and Accommodation Services Policy

The St. George’s University Student Manual (2019/2020) states as follows:

A student with a disability or disabling condition that affects one or more major life activities, who would like to request an accommodation, must submit a completed application form and supporting documentation to the Student Accessibility and Accommodation Services (SAAS) located in the Dean of Students Office. It is highly recommended that students applying for accommodations do so at least one month before classes begin to allow for a more efficient and timely consideration of the request. If a fully completed application is not submitted in a timely fashion, an eligibility determination may not be made, and accommodations, where applicable, may not be granted prior to the commencement of classes and/or examinations” (p. 8).


It is the responsibility of the student to read and understand the policies, laws, rules and procedures that while they could affect your grade for a course, have not been specifically outlined in the course syllabus. These are contained in the St. George’s University Student Manual.