Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

Click on an offering mode for more details.

Unit Overview


This unit explores the origins and definitions of life, and the processes that led to today's incredibly diverse array of organisms, from viruses to vertebrates. Unifying patterns and concepts are demonstrated, such as the structure and function of cells, how cells reproduce, how traits particular to a species are passed to new generations, and how the inheritance of DNA is the basis of evolution and the formation of species. The unit appeals to students wishing to begin their training as a biological scientist and who are interested in learning about topics that are challenging and fascinating our leading researchers.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Semester 1OnlineOnline timetabled
Semester 1AlbanyFace to face

Students are able to (1) recall—(a) the current understanding of the origins and diversity of life; (b) the organisation and basic functioning of cells; and (c) basic evolutionary and genetic principles; (2) demonstrate understanding in the principles of experimental design and analysis for simple laboratory experiments; (3) demonstrate proficiency in the handling of biological material and in the use of equipment in a safe and responsible manner; (4) communicate the results of biological experiments in the form of a written report; and (5) apply critical thinking skills to the interpretation of results from biological experiments.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) exam; (2) lab quizzes; and (3) lab report. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Jennifer Kelley and Dr Matthew Navarro
Contact hours
lectures: 1 or 2 hours per week
practicals: up to 3 hours per week (8 per semester)

Raven PH, Johnson GB, Mason KA, Losos J, Duncan T, Biology edn 12E, McGraw-Hill 2020 

  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.