The School's Role and Objectives

The Biological Sciences has over 30 academic staff members who are active in teaching, research, and have outstanding international reputations. The interests of the academic staff span molecular biology; genetics; cell biology; physiology; behaviour; biodiversity; ecology and evolution of Australian plants and animals; and student-learning in biology. The practical applications of this expertise include conservation and management of natural resources; biotechnology; bioinformatics; disease control; and teaching and learning procedures and resources.

Students from the Faculties of Science, Arts, Education, Engineering, Economics, Pharmacy and Agriculture study biology in first year. In later years the cohort becomes more specialised with 350 students in second year and approximately 150 students in third year. By third year our students have developed comprehensive biological knowledge and have the opportunity for a place in our highly competitive Honours year. The School has an active postgraduate student body, with more than 50 postgraduate students completing research degrees and strong participation in postgraduate coursework programs in Molecular Biotechnology, Bioinformatics, Environmental Science, and Wildlife Health and Population Management.

The Role of the School

The Biological Sciences is one of the largest units in the Faculty of Science. The School has approximately 1,100, 350 and 150 undergraduate students in first, second and third years respectively. It has up to 30 Honours and Graduate Diploma students and over 90 Postgraduate research students. Its undergraduate teaching and postgraduate research have an emphasis on physiology, ecology, evolution, taxonomy, cell biology, molecular biology and genetics. The range of environmental (marine, freshwater, terrestrial) and taxonomic (protistan, plant, fungal and animal) diversity within these fields is one of the strengths of the School. It complements other biologically-based but more narrowly-focussed departments within the University (Biochemistry, Microbiology, Histology and Embryology, Physiology, Crop Sciences) that provide additional study options for undergraduates and co-supervision opportunities (among others) for postgraduates (see later).

Research activities are well-funded. Staff obtain currently over $3,000,000 in competitive research grants per annum.

The School's Objectives

  • To attract highly talented and committed students to both its undergraduate and postgraduate programs. To create further opportunities for undergraduate and postgraduate training for international students in the Biological Sciences both at the University of Sydney and in their home countries.
  • Through its diverse undergraduate teaching programs to prepare professional biologists in the skills of the discipline and to equip graduates to contribute to rational debate and planning in society on the many aspects of biology and the natural environment.
  • To equip other professionals with a basic understanding of biology.
  • Through its postgraduate teaching and research programs to provide students with the intellectual and physical environment in which to produce world-class research in biology, and hence to produce leaders in the scientific community.
  • Consistent with University policy, to expand the postgraduate programs so that postgraduate EFTSU will become a greater proportion of the School's student profile.
  • To produce research in Biology of the highest calibre, recognised internationally and nationally.
  • To attract and appoint academic staff of the highest possible calibre in terms of quality of performance, and to encourage the setting and achievement of personal goals consistent with the School's mission. To ensure that academic staff maintain and improve their teaching, research and supervisory skills.
  • To attract and retain general staff of the highest quality. To ensure that general staff maintain and improve their specific skills.
  • To maximise productivity of all staff by streamlining management structure within both the School and the Faculty, and to ensure representation at all levels on Faculty and University Committees.
  • To work towards changing the School's budgetary profile to increase flexibility in utilisation of recurrent funds.
  • To foster and increase public esteem and awareness of the excellence in the School and the University in general.
  • To work towards improving all aspects of the physical facilities of the School, and to incorporate in those facilities the latest technologies for teaching, research and communication. To improve workshop facilities for the School. To continue to request a single new building to house together all activities of the School.