Course Syllabus

Course Description

Welcome to BIO 180, the first semester of a two-part introduction into the basics of biology and learning at a university level.

In this course, students will study topics in the following areas:

  • Biological chemistry
  • Cellular structure and function
  • Metabolism

This course is a prerequisite for most other upper-division courses in biology. If students are planning on taking more courses in biology, they will most likely be required to also take the BIO 180 Lab (currently only available on campus). Refer to the Accompanying Lab section below for more information.

Please Be Aware

BIO 180 is part of a two-semester series designed for biology majors and for students pursuing entrance into medical or dental school (or some other health profession's graduate programs). Topics include introductory chemistry, biochemistry, and molecular and cellular biology.

BIO 180 is a rigorous course of study that typically requires extra time and new study methods and strategies for mastering the material. If taking this course, students should meet the following guidelines:

  • Be prepared to devote more than the recommended 3–4 hours per credit.
  • Expect to attend at least one of the offered "study session" hours with the instructor or teaching assistant (TA) each week.
  • Be willing to learn new study skills that support deeper learning and longer retention.

Each semester, some students start in this course and then discover, after the semester drop date, that they do not actually need BIO 180, and have placed themselves under additional stress and anxiety for no reason. For example, some students take BIO 180 to fulfill foundations requirements; however, BIO 180 actually only works for students in science majors that require BIO 180 and another course, such as CHEM 105.

All other majors would be much better off fulfilling science foundations requirements with one of the following classes:

  • GESCI 110: Sustaining Human Life 
  • GESCI 205 DNA: Identity, Disease, Design

In most cases, nursing, exercise physiology, and public health students do not need to take BIO 180 unless they are preparing for medicine, dentistry, or a similar field of study.

While all BIO 180 students are loved and appreciated, it is most important that students are entered into the right courses to advance their graduation.

Accompanying Lab

If students are planning on taking more courses in biology, they will most likely be required to take the BIO 180 Lab (an additional course currently only available on campus). Students can take the lab portion either during this course or after completing it. However, if students are taking this course as a prerequisite for certain programs (such as dental programs or certain master's programs), they may or may not be required to take the BIO 180 Lab.

Learning In This Course

To enable students to take control of their learning, this course is set up a little differently. Each of the biology topics (2–4 each week) have the following resources to help students learn about the topic:

  • Readings
  • Preparation quizzes
  • Study sessions
  • Help central discussion boards
  • Videos
  • Worksheets
  • Study guides
  • Concept mapping/design modeling
  • Group/class members
  • Instructor

Watch the short video below titled "Madison's Journey" to learn more about how to take responsibility for mastering the concepts taught in this course. Madison's new learning strategy, once mastered, will help students in every course they take. There is an activity in W01 to help students understand how Madison's technique works.

Madison's Journey

(05:12 mins, "Madison's Journey" Transcript)

Note: This video may need to be opened in full-screen for it to play.

Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to do the following:

  1. Explain the principles of bond formation, identify different types of strong and weak bonds, and identify their application in biological settings.
  2. Identify the four major biological molecule classes, recognize their structural features, identify their location and function in cellular processes, and explain how their structural features (form) relate to their function.
  3. Identify the form and function of cellular structures in both eukaryotic, prokaryotic, and viral systems, and identify how these structures interact to carry out important cell functions.
  4. Explain the basic principles of thermodynamics and kinetics, and explain the role that enzymes play in energy transformations.
  5. Read and dissect various biochemical pathways, identify the role of important cofactors (i.e., ATP, NADH), and describe the transfer of energy through the process.
  6. Compare and contrast different methods of membrane transport and cell signaling, and describe the role that proteins play in each process.
  7. Identify important structures in a dividing cell, describe the process of mitotic cell division, and discuss its implications in the development of cancer.
  8. Improve study skills through the application of the university's Learning Model and other evidence-based learning practices.
  9. Appropriately apply quantitative concepts and formulas to solve biological problems.



Course Materials

This course uses the following textbook:

  1. OpenStax Biology (1st edition), ISBN 13: 978-1-938168-09-3. This textbook is about $50 when new. There is an app which contains this book in the Apple store for $6.99, and it is free for Android. If students don't want to pay anything, then there is a downloadable PDF for free on the OpenStax website. This can either be downloaded as a PDF or used via free online access.
    • Throughout the course, links are provided to the free online version.

Learning Model Architecture

This course is focused on helping students to not only become familiar with biology and recognize the concepts covered this semester, but also to help students truly master the material and understand how it all connects together. To succeed in this course, students will need to master the material.


  • Each week, students will prepare for and become familiar with the material by doing the following:
    • Reading from the textbook(s) and/or watching videos.
    • Using the additional learning resources to understand each of the 33 course topics.


  • Students will also need to attend a weekly study session, hosted by their instructor or section TA, throughout the semester.
    • These study sessions will require participation. Students should come prepared to learn and teach together.
  • Students will truly master the material by doing the following:
    • Using the course resources, such as worksheets, concept mapping, diagramming, etc.
    • Teaching one another in weekly study sessions.
    • Taking preparation quizzes and unit exams to evaluate and prove mastery.

Teach One Another Study Sessions

Students have the opportunity to help each other succeed in this class through the following:

  • A help central discussion board
  • An accompanying weekly study session with the instructor or class TA

Each unit (comprising of two to four weeks of related material) will have a help central discussion board where students can post their questions and answer questions for classmates. Students should use this board often to ask questions and help teach others. Teachers and classmates will provide answers and assist in mastering the material.

Each week (W02–W13), the instructor and TA will offer several help labs. They will use the help central discussion board to determine what to talk about during the labs. When students attend, the instructor or TA will help them master the material by asking them to teach what they know and then helping them learn what they don't, similar to Madison's experience with Brother Bailey.

Students should put these details on their weekly page for this activity:

  • The instructor and TA will offer six study session times during the week.
    • Students need only attend once each week, although there is no penalty for attending more often.
      • Students should choose the time that works best for them.
      • Students may attend at the same time or at different times each week.
      • Students who put forth the effort and attend each week, tend to excel in this course.

Weekly Due Dates

All activities and assignments are due at the end of the week. It is recommended that you diligently study throughout the week and do not put off all the work until the end of the week. 

  • Preparation quizzes
  • Unit Exams 
  • Teaching Sheet Self-Reports 

Grading Policies

Grades for the course will be based on the four areas described below. Relative contributions to the overall grade are shown in parentheses. In calculating final grades, the following grade scale will be used for the points earned.

Grading Policies
Grade Grade Percentage
A 93.0%–100%
A- 90.0%–92.9%
B+ 87.0%–89.9%
B 83.0%–86.9%
B- 80.0%–82.9%
C+ 77.0%–79.9%
C 73.0%–76.9%
C- 70.0%–72.9%
D+ 67.0%–69.9%
D 63.0%–66.9%
D- 60.0%–62.9%
F 00.0%–59.9%


Study Session & Teaching Sheets Self-Reports (120 points)

Each week (starting in Week 02), the instructor and TA will offer several study session times. During these study sessions, you are highly encouraged to complete your weekly Teaching Sheet Assignment. Remember, attendance at one of these sessions is expected.

One of the most powerful ways to learn is to teach. Each week will have a corresponding teaching sheet that you are expected to use as your teach others what you have learned. Each time you teach, give your sheet to whomever you are teaching and try to teach as much as you can from memory without help. Having a whiteboard or a blank sheet of paper helps. Each time you teach, you should teach for a minimum 10 minutes. 

Attending the study session is worth 5 points each week and completing the Teaching Sheet is also worth 5 points. Some weeks will have two Teaching Sheets , therefore, these quizzes will be either 10-15 points each week. 

When students attend, the instructor or TA will help them master the material by asking students to teach what they know and then helping them learn what they don't, similar to Madison's experience with Brother Bailey. At the end of the semester, the instructor will drop the lowest grade from these self-reports.

Lecture and Study Guide Completion (90 points)

Each topic of study has a corresponding video lecture and study guide. That video lecture is found as a link on the topic study page. On average, these lectures are about an hour and there are normally three topics per week. Therefore, expect to spend about 3-4 hours each week watching the lectures and completing the study guides. For watching the lecture and completing the study guide, you will earn three (3) points. Those points are earned by self-reporting on if you completed the assignment or not. The three lowest scores will be dropped, totaling 90 points. 

Preparation Quizzes (105 points)

Students will need to complete a preparation quiz covering the topics they study each week. This quiz is due on Due Date #2 (end of the week), but students may take it anytime they are ready. There will be five questions about each topic covered that week. Each question in the quiz is worth 1 point, so some weeks the quiz will be worth more points if more topics were covered that week.

Note: On the weeks of unit exams, these preparation quizzes will serve as a practice exam and are optional but highly suggested. They will include questions from each topic in that unit. Data strongly suggests that participating in these practice exams improves student performance on the actual exams, so be sure to take advantage of this opportunity.

Other Activities (9 points)

Students will receive a few points for completing additional activities such as course and instructor evaluations.

Unit Exams (500 points)

There will be a unit exam at the end of each of the five units, and a comprehensive final (six exams total).

Each exam is to be taken under the following conditions:

  • Closed notes, closed book, closed everything—no notes, books, peers, or internet searching
  • Multiple choice questions
  • Timed
    • Students will have 75 minutes to complete each one.
    • If students need extra time, they should contact the instructor before the exam opens up to see what accommodations can be made.
  • Must be taken using an online proctoring software program

Final Exam (100 points)

There will be a comprehensive final in Week 14. Just like the other exams, the final will be administered under the following circumstances:

  • Closed notes, closed book, closed everything—no notes, books, peers, or internet searching
  • Multiple choice questions
  • Timed
    • Students will have 75 minutes to complete each one.
    • If students need extra time, they should contact the instructor before the exam opens up to see what accommodations can be made.
  • Must be taken using an online proctoring software program

Relative Weight for Assignments

Unit Exams (5 x 100 points) 500 pts
Final Exam 100 pts
Preparation Quizzes (23 topics x 5 points) 105 pts
Teaching Sheet Assignments 120 pts
Lecture and Study Guides

90 pts

Other Activities

9 pts

Total 924 pts

Late Work Policy

As a sign of professionalism and respect, students should complete their work on time. Students should contact the instructor ahead of time to work out any exceptions to this policy. In case of emergency (accident, hospital stay, natural disaster, etc.), students should let the instructor know about the situation as soon as possible. The instructor will help students understand any options they may have.

Extra Credit

You instructor can elect to give up to 15 points of extra credit at their discretion.  

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

Student Honor and Other Policies

Please read through the document called University Policies. It gives important information about the following topics:

  • Student Honor
    • Academic Honesty
    • Student Conduct
      • Sexual Harassment
  • Student with Disabilities
  • Complaints and Grievances
  • Copyright Notice

Go to the Student Resources module to review further resources and information.


The instructor reserves the right to change any part of this syllabus at any time during the semester in order to adapt to changing course needs. Students will be notified prior to any changes that may take place.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due