Courses & Programs

Courses & Programs

Incoming Biology students choose between two degrees: the Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) and the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.). They also must choose between two concentrations: Health Sciences, and Biodiversity and Ecology.  Upper-year B.Sc. students also have the opportunity to transfer into the Honours program in their final year if they meet certain requirements.

What is the difference between the B.Sc. and a B.A.?

The B.Sc. degree requires a strong grounding in the core sciences (math, physics, and chemistry). The B.Sc. is the best option if you intend to apply to graduate (M.Sc. or Ph.D.) or professional (e.g. medicine or physiotherapy) programs.

Students with a strong interest in biology but not a strong grounding in the basic sciences thrive in the B.A. Biology program.  The B.A is much more flexible than the B.Sc., and many students pair it with a second B.A. major.  For example, a student interested in governmental health policy might choose a B.A. in Biology (Health Science) and a B.A. in Political Science, whereas an environmentally-oriented student might pair a B.A. Biology (Biodiversity and Ecology) with a B.A. in Environmental Studies.

What is the difference between Health Sciences and Biodiversity and Ecology?

Health Science prepares students for graduate school in biomedical fields such as cell biology or physiology, and is usually the choice of students hoping to enter medicine, dentistry, or other health-related professional programs. Many of these students also enroll in the Pre-Medicine program.

Students interested in wildlife biology, ecology, zoology, plant science, and/or the environment should choose the Biodiversity and Ecology concentration. This degree prepares students for employment or graduate studies in these varied environmental and organismal fields.

What is a B.Sc. Honours Degree?

The Biology Honours B.Sc. prepares the student for graduate work in either the Life Sciences or the fields of Biodiversity and Ecology. Some professional schools also prefer that students have an Honours degree prior to entry. Honours students plan, execute, and report the findings of an independent research project conducted under the guidance of one or more faculty members. They also take additional Biology courses in the areas of experimental design and scientific writing (and correspondingly fewer electives).  Students apply for entry into this program in their U3 year (i.e. the year prior to their graduating year). Entry into the program is based on marks and the availability of an appropriate faculty supervisor. See the links below for more details about Honours.

What are the Required and Optional Courses for Each Program?

All Biology programs have a central core of courses that all students must take to graduate, plus a list of optional and required courses specific to their own concentration. All Biology students will start with a fixed series of core courses. After this, each student will then have a series “required concentration courses” that each student enrolled in that particular concentration must also take. Each concentration then has a further list of options from which students in that concentration can select so as to meet their requirement of “concentration options”. For more details about exactly what courses constitutes core and optional courses for each program, go to the relevant sections of the academic calendar.

Students during Fall Excursion