Introduction to Life Science

I.     Course Prefix/Number: BIO 101

       Course Name: Introduction to Life Science

       Credits: 4 (3 lecture; 3 lab)

II.    Prerequisite


III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Laboratory course introduces life science.  Content includes cell structure and function, cell division, nucleic acids and proteins, biodiversity and evolution, and selected human systems. Intended for non-science majors, and those who desire an understanding of fundamental life processes, or who intends to pursue higher biology courses.

IV.   Learning Objectives

  1. Distinguish between the characteristics of the three major types of chemical bonds that form between atoms.
  2. Compare and contrast the structures and functions of the four major types of biomolecules.
  3. Compare and contrast prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell structures and their functions.
  4. Distinguish between the types of passive and active transport mechanisms that occur through cell membranes.
  5. Compare and contrast cellular respiration, fermentation and photosynthesis with respect to overall reaction, stages, energy yield, and cellular location in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells.
  6. Compare and contrast the phases of cell cycle, mitosis, and meiosis including the role of mitosis and meiosis in cells.
  7. Apply Mendel’s Laws of Segregation and Independent Assortment to solve monohybrid and dihybrid crosses.
  8. Compare and contrast the mechanisms of DNA replication, transcription, translation.
  9. Explain Darwin’s theory of evolution based on evolutionary evidences that exist for evolution.
  10. Describe the mechanisms proposed for microevolution and macroevolution including mutations, natural selection, gene flow, genetic drift, continental drift and mass extinction.
  11. Distinguish between the three domains of life and the major kingdoms of living organisms based on their morphological and physiological characteristics.
  12. Analyze the relationship between form and function of specific human body systems such as circulation, digestion, excretion and respiration.


  1. Demonstrate responsibility by adhering to the laboratory safety guidelines while working with chemicals, biological specimens, body fluids and animal dissections.
  2. Communicate effectively in writing the results of laboratory investigations by completing lab reports.
  3. Apply the steps of the scientific method to experiments conducted in lab.
  4. Apply the metric system to make unit conversions and to measure sample parameters using different equipment.
  5. Describe the basic parts of a compound light microscope and their functions as biological specimens are observed.
  6. Interpret the results of laboratory experiments by graphing data.
  7. Analyze the effect of temperature and pH on enzyme activity in biochemical reactions.


By the completion of your biology courses at Oakton, you will have gained the experience to.....

  1. Think critically – identify, define, analyze, interpret, and evaluate ideas, concepts, information, problems, solutions, and consequences. This includes the ability to compute and comprehend quantitative information and to engage in the scientific process.
  2. Communicate – communicate ideas, concepts, and information through written and oral means. Collaborate with people of diverse backgrounds and abilities.
  3. Demonstrate literacy – demonstrate the ability to read critically within content areas. Use technology to locate, evaluate, and communicate data, information, ideas, and concepts. Assess, critique, and select from a variety of information resources.
  4. Demonstrate responsibility – demonstrate an understanding of personal responsibility and ethical behavior in one’s own academic and civic life.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics


Unit I – Life of the Cell

  1. Introduction: Classification, Characteristics of Life, Scientific Method
  2. Basic Chemistry: Atoms, Molecules, Chemical Bonds
  3. Molecules of Cells: Carbohydrates, Proteins, Nucleic Acids, Lipids
  4. Cell Structure and Function

Unit II – Cellular Reproduction and Molecular Genetics

  1. Cell Division and Inheritance
  2. Molecular Genetics: Replication, Transcription, and Translation

Unit III – Metabolic Processes

  1. Energy and Enzymes
  2. Respiration
  3. Photosynthesis

Unit IV – Evolution

  1. Population Genetics
  2. Mechanisms of Evolution
  3. Evidence for Evolution

Unit V – Biologic Diversity

  1. Prokaryotes
  2. Eukaryotes: Protists, Fungi, Plants, Animals

Unit VI – Animals: Form and Function

  1. Circulation
  2. Respiration
  3. Digestion
  4. Excretion
  5. Others


Laboratory investigations involve 2 ½ to 2 ¾ hours of time per week. For each lab, the students will work in groups to gather, analyze, and interpret data or to make observations. Students will communicate results through group discussion. Understanding of concepts will be evaluated through written reports and/or quizzes and tests. At least 14 of the following will be covered in the course of a semester.

  1. Scientific Method – steps of the scientific method and components and variables of an experiment.
  2. Metric System and Acid-Base Chemistry – Introduction to the metric system and metric conversions. Practice of basic chemistry principles by measuring pH of various substances.
  3. Biomolecules – structures and functions of the four major types of biomolecules including biochemical tests used for their identification.
  4. The compound Light Microscope – principles of microscopy and proper use and care of microscopes.
  5. Diversity: Observing prokaryotes – bacterial cell structures and functions, and staining and observing bacterial cell shapes.
  6. Diversity: Observing Eukaryotes – comparison of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, functions of eukaryotic organelles, comparison of plant and animal cells, and microscopic observation of animal cells, plant cells and members belonging to Kingdoms Protista and Fungi.
  7. Membrane Structure and Transport Mechanisms – structure of cell membrane, diffusion, osmosis, and effect of cell size on surface to volume ratio.
  8. Enzymes - effect of temperature and pH on enzyme function measured through spectrophotometric measurements.
  9. Diversity: Kingdom Plantae - Structure and function of plant roots, stems, and leaves.
  10.  Molecular Genetics – use of model kits to demonstrate DNA replication, transcription and translation.
  11. Molecular Genetics – Gel electrophoresis to separate DNA fragments and introduction to DNA fingerprinting.
  12. Cell division – stages of mitosis in plant and animal cells, stages of meiosis for production of gametes, and discussion of role of chromosomes in heredity.
  13. Mechanisms of evolution- using simulations to determine the impact of genetic drift and natural selection on evolution.
  14. Diversity: Kingdom Animalia – Dissection of fetal pig to demonstrate basic mammalian characteristics.
  15. Diversity: Human physiology - components of blood, blood typing, blood cells, measurement of heart rate, blood pressure, stroke volume, and cardiac output before and after exercise.

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Lectures are supplemented by audio-visuals and handouts.  Laboratory exercises include basic microscopic techniques and identification procedures, observation and/or assembly of models which demonstrate molecules and processes fundamental to life, and chemical analyses used to show processes occurring in living cells.

Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

May vary depending on instructor, but may include:

  • mandatory attendance during lectures and laboratories
  • active participation in supervised laboratory exercises
  • satisfactory performance in written lecture and laboratory tests or quizzes
  • Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

  1. Taylor, M., Simon, E., Dickey, J.,Hogan,K., and J. Reece Campbell Biology: Concepts and Connections (9th edition). Benjamin Cummings, 2017.

  2. Introduction to Life Science Laboratory Manual, Customized OCC manual

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

May vary depending on instructor, and may include:

  • objective and/or essay lecture exams
  • objective and/or essay lab exams
  • written laboratory reports
  • lecture or lab quizzes

XI.   Other Course Information

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.