Biology 132

Biology 132: Biology of Cells and Microorganisms

Credit Hours: (4) Three hours lecture; three hours laboratory

A study of life at the molecular and cellular level.  Topics include the chemistry of life, metabolism, cell structure, cell membranes, cell communication, the basis of multicellularity, and a survey of unicellular organisms.  The laboratory component will teach basic laboratory skills while enhancing students' ability to plan experiments.  This is the second course in a four-course core sequence intended for biology, medical technology, and other science majors.  This core sequence serves as a foundation and prerequisite for further study in biology.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

Chemical bonds and the structure of molecules

Molecules of the cell

Cell structure

Cell Membranes and transport across membranes



Cellular respiration


Cell communication and multicellularity

Cell division, the cell cycle and cancer

The origin of life

The three domains of living organisms

A survey of the prokaryote domains

The origin of eukaryotes

Unicellular eukaryotes


The Immune system


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The course will be taught in classroom and laboratory sessions.  Classroom instruction will include a combination of lecture, discussion, group work, team learning, and case studies as determined by the instructor, in coordination with instructors of the other core courses.

The course will include a component in reading published biological literature, and applying and analyzing the concepts and information therein.  This will be coordinated among the instructors of all four core courses.

The laboratory meetings will be coordinated with other courses in the core sequence to provide the students with the skills to design experiments, test hypotheses, troubleshoot experiments as they go along, and to report their results in the format of the biological literature.  This course will focus particularly on the following basic laboratory skills:

    • Using the metric system

    • Weighing

    • Measuring liquids, pipeting, micropipetting

    • Making solutions

    • Measuring pH, making buffers

    • Dilutions

    • Spectrophotometry, measuring concentration

    • Effectively using and caring for microscopes


Goals and Objectives of Course

Students successfully completing this course will be able to:

    • Describe the major biomolecules making up living organisms.

    • Describe the difference between eukaryotes and prokaryotes.

    • Describe the structure of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells and name their organelles.

    • Describe the structure and function of cellular membranes.

    • Explain osmosis and its effects on cells.

    • Explain how cells transport molecules across their membranes.

    • Describe how the principles of Thermodynamics explain the limits of cell function.

    • Describe the process of respiration, what it provides to cells, and where it is carried out in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells.

    • Describe the process of photosynthesis, what it provides to cells, and where it is carried out in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells.

    • Explain how cells communicate to one another and maintain multicellularity.

    • Explain the stages of the cell cycle.

    • Explain the stages of cell division and the overall result of the process.   

    • Describe how cancer happens.   

    • Describe current theories of life's origin.

    • Describe the three domains, their evolutionary relationships to each other, and the kinds of cells that occur in them.

    • Describe the major groups of prokaryotes.

    • Describe the major groups of unicellular protists.

    • Describe the molecular and cellular players in the immune system and how they protect us.

    • Accurately weigh samples.

    • Accurately measure liquids with cylinders, pipets, and micropipettors.

    • Calculate and prepare solutions and buffers.

    • Measure pH.

    • Calculate and perform dilutions.

    • Use a spectrophotometer to obtain spectra and to measure concentration.

    • Use a microscope effectively.

    • Properly care for a microscope.


Assessment Measures

Understanding of the course material will be assessed by exams, quizzes and/or writings as appropriate.  Laboratory skills will be assessed by practical (skills-based) exams and instructor observations.  Reading and writing skills will be assessed by written assignments and/or discussions.  Quantitative and statistical skills will be assessed by examining laboratory write-ups and/or problem solving on exams and quizzes.

The success of the course as an integrated unit within the four-course core sequence will be assessed through feedback from instructors teaching the later courses and suggestions from instructors teaching the earlier course.  Pre- and post-testing will be used in the core courses to evaluate retention of concepts, information and skills.  Student writing will be compared between courses to assess improvement in reading and writing.


Other Course Information



Approval and Approval

New Course October 16, 2007

Revised    2/6/09    Gary Coté

April, 2011

Revised: March 20, 2012