Course Syllabus

Course heading with the words, "GESCI 101," and "From Atoms To Humans."

Course Introduction

This course explores how nature came to be the way it is—how the universe, galaxies, stars, planets, and organisms were organized. It also provides students with the opportunity to develop themselves as disciple scholars as they explore scientific and religious worldviews.

Course Outcomes

  • Illustrate the relationship between observation and interpretation.
  • Assess the strengths and limitations of science as a method for discovering truth.
  • Analyze and synthesize the similarities and differences between discovered and revealed truth.
  • Explain the role of natural law in producing complex order in chaotic natural systems, e.g., galaxies, stars, planets, Earth's climate system, organisms, and living systems.
  • Describe the basic nature and development of the universe, Earth, and life.
  • Demonstrate a sense of curiosity and awe about nature and the Creator.

Course Materials

No additional supplies or text materials are required for this course. The required materials are located in I-Learn or provided online. However, if you would like to purchase a printed version of the textbook instead of using the textbook provided online, you can do so here: . There is also a PDF ebook available here: 

Required for Exams

  • A webcam.
  • Microphone (most webcams have a microphone built-in).
  • Google Chrome as your internet browser is required to take your proctored exams.
  • Proctorio's Google Chrome plug-in. (See W01 Instructions under the heading, "Do this now" or refer to this "Getting Started with Proctorio" guide.)

How the Course Works

This syllabus is our course contract. Students that elect not to learn what lies below usually regret it. Don't do it.

Course Structure

  • Four Units. Each unit consists of 5–12 topics.
  • Weekly Instruction Pages. These pages contain everything you'll need to be able to complete each week's coursework. We keep these pages short by using links to related pages and activities. Use these pages to navigate the course.
  • Unit Study Guides. Each unit study guide identifies every term, concept, and learning objective you need to master. In addition, the study guides describe the nature of each exam. We invite you to use these aids to guide your study and mastery of key terms, concepts, and skills.
  • Reading. The course readings are designed to help students begin to explore course topics, learn definitions for new terms, and think about basic concepts.
  • Exploration Activities. These activities deepen understanding of the material presented in the reading material and include learning from images, text, video, and interactive activities.
    • Online and remote students complete these activities in place of participating in a classroom experience. Exploration Activities are designed to enhance your learning from the reading. The goal of these activities is to help students master the material, not simply be introduced to it.
    • Campus face-to-face students do not normally complete these exploration activities. Instead, they attend class. Exploration Activities can be completed by campus students when they are unable to attend class.
  • Quizzes. Quizzes are multiple-choice and include three types of questions, Terms and Concepts, Concept Application, and Reading Comprehension. Quizzes are meant to be completed after the Reading and Exploration Activities are finished. You have unlimited attempts on the quizzes.
  • Deepen Your Learning Activities: Deepen Your Learning Activities consist of a video that has been recorded by your instructor and a short quiz that corresponds to the video. These videos are about topics that have already been introduced but many students have found more challenging so additional time is spent focusing on these topics.
  • Enrichment Activities (Essays & Discussion Boards): These activities are designed to extend your learning or provide you with learning experiences we hope will enrich your life. Each non-exam week contains an enrichment essay activity. Online students and most remote students complete associated discussion board assignments that span two weeks during a unit. These discussions happen in the classroom for most campus students.
  • Exams. Each unit ends with an exam. The final exam covers material from all units. All exams are taken using Proctorio.

Weekly Pattern

  • Each week, students complete Reading and Exploration/Classroom Activities by the due dates noted on the Weekly Instruction Pages. Each Reading & Exploration/Classroom Activity focuses on a specific topic. After you complete the Reading and Exploration Activities, you will complete a multiple-choice quiz. Expect to spend 2-3 hours learning the material for each topic. In most weeks, we cover three topics.
  • Each week students watch the Deepen Your Learning video made by their instructor and complete the corresponding quiz, due on Saturday. Expect to spend 15 minutes on this activity.
  • Each non-exam week contains an Enrichment Essay Activity due on Saturday. As part of the Enrichment section, students participate in an associated discussion board. The Enrichment discussion boards span two weeks during a unit and require students to post at least once a week, completing a total of three posts per discussion board. Please note discussion boards close at the end of the second week and cannot be turned in late. Expect to spend 2-3 hours a week completing these Enrichment Activities. 

In addition, each unit ends with a unit exam. Expect to spend 1-1.5 hours on the exams. Due dates for Unit exams are noted on the Weekly Instruction Pages. We follow this simple pattern through the first 12 weeks. During week 13, students integrate their learning and prepare for the final exam, and week 14 consists mostly of the final exam. The first and last weeks contain a few additional activities, such as short surveys.

This simple pattern is easy to follow, and each Weekly Instruction Page provides you with a sequential list of assignments and identifies associated due dates. Due dates can also be found in the course calendar.

We Expect You to:

  • Be a serious, engaged learner
  • Act professionally
  • Follow the course and university policies


Academic Honesty

Students are expected to adhere to the BYU-Idaho Honor Code, including academic honesty. As a safeguard against academic dishonesty, this course utilizes tools to aid instructors in assessing whether a student’s work is original or not.

Turnitin is a common tool used to evaluate student writing submissions for plagiarism. It works by cross checking individual submissions against a repository of published sources and other student submissions from Turnitin’s own database.

Turnitin is enabled for several assignments in this course. Your instructor will view the report indicating how similar your submission is to other sources. Be sure to use your own original thoughts and words when composing any writing assignments. Always cite any sources you quote in your work.

You also have access to viewing the Turnitin Report for your submission in the Submission Details page of Canvas.

Grading Breakdown

  • Exams: 34%
    Breakdown of Exam Percentages
    • Unit 01 Exam: 4%
    • Unit 02 Exam: 7%
    • Unit 03 Exam: 6%
    • Unit 4A Exam: 4.5%
    • Unit 4B Exam: 4.5%
    • Final Exam: 8%
  • Quizzes 33%
  • Enrichment Activity 33%
     Breakdown of Enrichment Percentages
    • Enrichment Activity (Essay): 24%
    • Enrichment Discussion Boards: 9%

Letter grades are determined by the standard BYU-Idaho grading scale, as follows.

Grading Scale
93–100% A 90–92.9% A- 87–89.9% B+
83–86.9% B 80–82.9% B- 77–79.9% C+
73–76.9% C 70–72.9% C- 67–69.9% D+
63–66.9% D 60–62.9% D- Below 60% F

Students often ask these Questions

Is late work allowed? All quizzes and assignments, except for the discussion boards and exams, can be completed late. There is a 7.5 percent deduction per day, with a maximum deduction of 50 percent.

Is extra credit allowed? Focus your efforts to earn the grade you would like by learning the material, performing well on exams, and completing all assignments

Is the final exam comprehensive? Yes. There are 5 unit exams, unit 4 contains 2 exams, and 1 comprehensive final exam.

I'm struggling to adjust to college or for some other reason. What can I do? This is common. Don't feel like you're broken or alone. Do reach out for help. For support, click on the "Help!" button on our course home page, find the university resources that can help, and use the contact information to access the support. Also, immediately reach out to your professor.

Will the syllabus change? It can. In order to better serve students or react to an emerging issue, mid-semester adjustments will sometimes be made. Course participants will always be notified of any changes.

University Policies

Students with Disabilities

Brigham Young University-Idaho is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere that accommodates qualified persons with disabilities. If you have a disability and require accommodations, please contact the Disability Services Office at (208) 496-9210 or visit their website and follow the Steps for Receiving Accommodations. Reasonable academic accommodations are reviewed for all students who have qualified documented disabilities. Services are coordinated with students and instructors by the Disability Services Office.

This course may require synchronous meetings. If you are currently registered with the Disability Services Office and need an interpreter or transcriber for these meetings, please contact the deaf and hard of hearing coordinator at (208) 496-9219.

Other University Policies

Go to the Student Resources module to review the university policies regarding honesty, online etiquette, communication expectations, etc.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due