Biology is the study of life. It is an immensely diverse science, ranging from the study of molecules and their modes of action, through to understanding complex communities and their relationship with the environment. We are living in a most exciting time for studying and working in biology as the new technologies, such as recombinant DNA, genomics and proteomics, place powerful tools in the hands of biologists. These advances, along with our ability to process and interpret large volumes of complex data, have generated a gigantic leap in our understanding of the fundamental molecular mechanisms and processes controlling life.
School of Biological Sciences website
What do biologists do?
As a biology graduate, you can expect an exciting and rewarding career, contributing to your community in numerous ways through opportunities in business, research, training, education and government. The employment record of students who have taken biology at the University of Sydney is exciting and diverse as illustrated in the sample appearing on the accompanying page. Even in areas where specific biological knowledge has no direct input, a wide biological knowledge and advanced analytical skills allow biology graduates to play a leading role in local and global events. A career in biology provides challenging opportunities to combine laboratory and fieldwork often with collaborating scientists and institutions. Thus, there is frequently an opportunity to study biological systems in many of the world’s remote and fascinating ecosystems.
The biology bridging course is strongly recommended if you are starting university but have not completed HSC Biology, need to refresh your knowledge after a break from study or have found it difficult to comprehend biological principles.
What will you study?
Biology units of study are offered in a number of ways. If you are interested in the applications of computer technology and mathematics to analyse complex biological data, you might consider the bioinformatics major.
In first year, all of the fundamental areas of biology are structured into semester-based units of study. In semester one, you can study Concepts in Biology and/or Human Biology. In semester two, you can study Living Systems and/or Molecular Biology and Genetics (introduction). The topics covered during the year range from the ecology of whole organisms to the cellular interactions and molecular networks that underpin structure and function. Similarly, you will examine how the various life forms have evolved on this planet, their modes of reproduction and the transfer of genetic information from one generation to the next, through lectures and laboratory exercises.
In second year, you can choose from units covering the biology of animals (invertebrate and vertebrate zoology), the biology of plants (botany and plant sciences), genetics, cell biology and conservation biology. These units of study are presented as lectures and laboratory classes, and many will get you involved in fieldwork activities. Advanced units of study provide an opportunity to research an area of your special interest, working with research scientists and other professionals.
Units of study in third year provide a deeper scientific understanding in a number of areas including molecular biology and genetics, bioinformatics, fungal biology, cell biology, physiology, ecology, marine biology, plant science, evolution and biodiversity. The latest technologies and research outcomes are integrated into the teaching resources, which are presented through lecture and laboratory sessions, fieldwork and, in some units, specialised projects. Each unit is structured to provide you with the essential skills and knowledge required by a professional biologist.
Advanced units of study
The advanced options are available each year. These advanced units offer you a more challenging route if you are highly motivated or have a proven record of high academic achievement. Entry into these advanced units is very competitive and you will undertake a project of your choice working closely with your academic supervisors.
The fourth year is an honours year and, if you choose to continue to this level of study, you get to refine your scientific and analytical skills, which are essential for independent biological research. In conjunction with the structured course material, you will undertake a research project of your choice, submitted as a thesis for assessment.
If you intend to pursue a career in leading biological research or to engage in biology at a high level, you may wish to consider a higher degree, such as a master’s course by research or Phd or a graduate diploma or master’s by coursework (which may include a short research project). At present, there are over 50 postgraduate students in the school.