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Introduction to biology

General data

Course ID: 1400-111WDB Erasmus code / ISCED: 13.1 / (0511) Biology
Course title: Introduction to biology Name in Polish: Wstęp do biologii
Organizational unit: Faculty of Biology
Course groups:
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ECTS credit allocation (and other scores): (not available)
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Language: Polish
Type of course:

obligatory courses



Short description:

A lecture course for the first year biology students. Its aim is to organize information that students obtained at high school and to prepare them to university studies by showing connections between particular branches of biology and its place within science.

Full description:

Lecture 1. The nature of life (what is life?)

Contents: basic features of living beings, mechanism of Darwinian evolution, definition of life with and without theory of evolution, life without proteins and genes, the RNA World; Wächtershäuser's concept of 'primeval pizza'.

Lecture 2. Theory of cell (why individuals exist?)

Contents: consequences of delimitation of life processes with lipid membrane, functional meaning of transport across membrane, transformation of chemical energy into mechanical with ATPases, profits from having the cell wall, antibiotics.

Lecture 3. Physiology of organellae (how the cell works?)

Contents: internal organization of bacterial cell; relationships within bacteria, origin of the eukaryotic cell and physiological processes inside it, possible symbiotic origin of chloroplasts and mitochondria, structure of the cytoskeleton.

Lecture 4. Effects of having nucleus (how genome works?)

Contents: compartments within the cell and cytoskeleton, separation of transcription from translation, introns and nuclear membrane, segregation of chromosomes and structure of flagellum, meiosis, functioning of the cell in environment.

Lecture 5. Individuals in ecosystems (why they are so diverse?)

Contents: limitations for size of individuals, population dynamics, heterogeneity of the environment, theory of island biogeography, necessity of predation and parasitism, trophic pyramid, energy flow across ecosystems.

Lecture 6. Consequences of sex (why some individuals are similar to each other?)

Contents: determination of sex, concept of biological species and speciation, measures of biodiversity, taxonomy, systematics and evolutionary phylogenetics, principles of taxonomic nomenclature.

Lecture 7. Regulation of development (how genetic information is used?)

Contents: purpose of multicellularity, genetic clone, mechanisms of regulation of development, expression of homeotic genes, morphogenetic factors, hormones, pheromones.

Lecture 8. Organization of plants (what makes plants different from animals?)

Contents: meaning of alternation of gametophyte and sporophyte phases, adaptation of vascular plants to life on lands, regulation of development of flower and its function, evolutionary meaning of biogenic toxins.

Lecture 9. Exploration of space (what is an animal?)

Contents: homology of segmental homeotic genes; function of collagen and basement membrane, hydraulic skeleton and body cavities, chitinous and keratinous body covers, phosphatic skeleton, sense organs and nervous system.

Lecture 10. Defence of integrality (how to fight parasites?)

Contents: protection against environmental threats, mechanism of immunological reactions, evolution of their specificity, post-meiotic recombination as the source of diversity of lymphocyte receptors and clonal selection of immunoglobulins.

Lecture 11. Causes of convergence (where leads evolution?)

Contents: engineering constraints on evolutionary convergences, aerodynamic properties of flying and hydrodynamic of swimming animals, increase of complexity in evolution of brain, transition from instincts to learning.

Lecture 12. Symbiosis and altruism (who deserves to be supported?)

Contents: kin selection and game theory in explaining cooperation of organisms, evolution of clonal organisms, mechanisms of diversification in superorganisms, evolution of behavior in the fossil record.

Lecture 13. Changing Earth (how natural environment is transformed?)

Contents: factors controlling climate, Coriolis force and Milanković cyclicity, history and prehistory of climate transformations, difficulties with estimating human influence on the natural environment.

Lecture 14. Humans as a product of nature in opposition to it (are we animals?)

Contents: man as an animal species, biogeographic context of its evolution, evolutionary explanation of human behavior and social structure, separating culture from biology, social evolution.


Solomon, E. P., Berg, L.R., Martin D.W. & Villee, C. 2000. Biologia. 1334 pp. MULTICO, Warszawa.

Urbanek, A. 2007. Jedno istnieje tylko zwierzę... Myśli przewodnie biologii porównawczej. 260 pp. Muzeum i Instytut Zoologii PAN, Warszawa.

Learning outcomes:

The course enables understanding of relationships among particular branches of biological sciences; provides feeling of how the basic questions of biology can be answered.

Assessment methods and assessment criteria:

Written examination requiring answers to 20 questions concerning general problems presented in the lecture and and explicitly indicated in presentations that are made accessible to students.

This course is not currently offered.
Course descriptions are protected by copyright.
Copyright by University of Warsaw.