Fall 2018:

Biology Placement Exams

The Biology Placement Exams have been scheduled for Thursday, August 30th from 6pm to 8pm in the Levin Auditorium. Students may sit for only 1 exam. To register, please email the undergraduate coordintaor ( with your PennID number. Please remember to bring your PennID to the exam.  

Fall 2017:

Biology Submatriculation Master's Program: A research-intensive program for Biology majors interested in combining classroom knowledge with a comprehensive and rigorous lab experience.

For more information on this new program, students are encouraged to attend a brief information session to be held in the Tedori Family Auditorium (Levin Building) at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 19th. Dr. Dustin Brisson is the faculty Director for the Submatricualtion Program.  

Biology placement exams being offered for incoming students:

Commencing in Fall 2017, the Biology Department will begin offering placement exams for BIOL 101, BIOL 102, and BIOL 121 to incoming students only. Going forward, these placement exams will be offered annually at the start of the Fall semester. Students can download the syllabus for each course by clicking the respective course links above. 

The Fall 2017 Placement exams are scheduled to be held on Tuesday, August 29th, from 6:00p.m. to 8:00p.m. in Leidy, Room 10. Incoming students will be allowed to sit for one examination; please download the course syllabi to determine which exam best fits your background. If you do intend to sit for one of the exams, email the Undergraduate Coordinator at to be placed on the list. 

Fall 2015:

Change in introductory biology courses:
Beginning in the 2015-2016 academic year, BIOL 121/123 will be offered in the fall semester only.
BIOL 101 will be offered in both Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 and BIOL 102 will be offered in Spring 2016.

In subsequent years, we will continue to offer BIOL 121 only in the fall and BIOL 101 and 102 will be offered in both semesters.

For information on selecting the right introductory course for you, contact your pre-major advisor or the Biology Undergraduate Coordinator.

Spring 2015:

The Biology Department announces a new concentration option, Mechanisms of Disease. This concentration is available to the Class of 2017 and later.

The concentration in Molecular Biology has been modified and is now the concentration in Molecular and Cell Biology. Students currently in the Molecular Biology concentration can follow the old requirements or they can choose to switch to the Molecular and Cell Biology requirements. Students declaring the concentration in Spring 2015 and later must follow the new requirements.

Change in Track 1 requirements for the general major: BIOL 124 Introductory Organismal Biology Lab is no longer required for Biology majors. For the Class of 2016 and later, Biology majors following Track 1 are no longer required to take BIOL 124 as part of their introductory requirements. BIOL 124 is recommended for those students who need a second semester of Biology laboratory to meet pre-medical and other pre-professional requirements. The number of intermediate level courses for Track 1 students remains at 4; Track 1 students are required to complete a total of 15.5 credits for the major.

Fall 2014:

BIOL 204 Biochemistry, in the Spring 2015 semester  

BIOL 204 examines the basic principles of protein structure, protein purification and characterization, proteomics, enzyme kinetics and mechanism, membrane structure and function, metabolism, and cellular energy transduction.  The primary objective is to provide life scientists with an appreciation of basic principles of modern biochemistry, and of how the current conceptual and technical framework arose.  Emphasis is placed on the experimental approaches and reasoning behind the dissection and reconstitution of these processes in a biological and, in some cases, clinical context.  Discussions directed at biochemical problem solving, experimental design and the application of quantitative methods are integral to the course.

BIOL 205 Cell Biology, in the Fall 2014 semester

A conceptual view of cell structure and function including membrane structure, intracellular organelles, membrane trafficking, surface receptors and signal transduction, the cytoskeleton, cell motility and communication, and the cell cycle.  Cell biology is a dynamic field and recent research discoveries will be included in the lectures.

These courses are independent and can be taken in either order.  Each course is 1 cu and is a lecture course with no lab component. 

We will no longer be offering BIOL 202.  

For the Biology major either BIOL 204 or BIOL 205 can fulfill the 'group I' intermediate level course requirement.  The other course, if chosen, can count as one of the "four additional courses" required in the major.

The new Cell Biology BIOL 205 course will offer a more complete analysis of the major currents in cell biology than has been possible in BIOL 202.  

BIOL 204 will have BIOL 101 or BIOL 121 as a prerequisite and also the first semester of organic chemistry (CHEM 241) as a co-requisite. However, it is probably better if students already have had CHEM 241 and are taking CHEM 242 concurrently.

  • Students wishing to take a full semester of Biochemistry now will have two options: CHEM 251 and BIOL 204. Our BIOL 204 will be more oriented to biological problems and applications than CHEM 251.  
  • Students should take either CHEM 251 or BIOL 204, but not both, as there will be substantial overlap despite the different emphasis. For Biology majors, we will accept either of these Biochemistry courses (but not both) for credit towards the major. 
  • We will no longer be offering BIOL 402, which was our more advanced Biochemistry course. Dr. Rea will be incorporating much of the material he covered in BIOL 402 into our new BIOL 204 course.

For students who have taken BIOL 202: 

  • If you desire additional Biochemistry and have not taken CHEM 251, you will be permitted to take BIOL 204 in the spring of 2015.
  • If you desire additional Cell Biology, you should enroll in BIOL 480 (Advanced Cell Biology) in the spring 2015 semester, or in one of our advanced cell biology seminar courses. We will continue offering BIOL 480 in future years.