Master of Science in Biology

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  • Objectives
    The Master of/Magisteriate in Science program in Biology is research intensive and integrates various disciplines of molecular, cellular and organismal biology. The principal fields of research include animal biology, cell biology and biochemistry, ecology and behaviour, microbiology and molecular biology, plant biochemistry and biotechnology. Students are trained in the methodology of conducting experiments and are given the opportunity to carry out in-depth research work in any of the department's areas of specialization. In addition to advancing the frontiers of knowledge, these research orientations give students the opportunity to prepare themselves for a wide variety of careers in the life sciences.
  • Academic title
    Master of Science in Biology
  • Course description
    The content of the following courses will vary from year to year and will reflect the interests of the department and the instructor in the course. Not all courses will be offered in any given academic year. Details of the courses to be given together with their respective course contents will be available at the beginning of the academic year. All are one-term 3-credit courses.

    The following reading courses are designed to meet special needs of students in their areas of research, and involve the presentation, discussion and critical analysis of information from current journal articles.
    BIOL 601 Readings in Ecology and Behaviour I
    BIOL 602 Readings in Cell and Molecular Biology I
    BIOL 606 Readings in Organismal Biology I
    BIOL 607 Readings in Ecology and Behaviour II
    BIOL 608 Readings in Cell and Molecular Biology II
    BIOL 609 Readings in Organismal Biology II
    BIOL 612 Advanced Topics in Evolution
    BIOL 613 Advanced Topics in Behavioural Ecology
    BIOL 614 Advanced Topics in Ecology
    BIOL 615 Advanced Topics in Animal Biology
    BIOL 630 Advanced Topics in Bioinformatics
    BIOL 631 Advanced Topics in Biotechnology
    BIOL 632 Advanced Topics in Cell Biology
    BIOL 635 Advanced Topics in Molecular Genetics
    BIOL 640 Advanced Topics in Plant Biology
    BIOL 680 Advanced Topics in Biology
    BIOL 685 Advanced Topics in Microbiology
    BIOL 696 Master's Research and Thesis (36 credits)

    The following courses in Biochemistry may be taken for credit in the program.
    CHEM 670 Selected Topics in Biochemistry and Biophysics
    CHEM 671 Structure and Function of Biomembranes
    CHEM 673 Neurochemistry
    CHEM 677 Enzyme Kinetics and Mechanism
    CHEM 678 Protein Engineering and Design

    BIOL 616 Current Advances in Ecological Research

    This course is given in alternate years and reviews selected areas of current research in ecology, evolution and behaviour through critical analysis of recent publications. Topics vary from year to year, and are determined in part by the interests of the students. Material covered may include papers published in refereed journals, monographs or books on specialized topics, or new textbooks covering advanced topics in a relevant area. Students are responsible for giving class presentations of selected material, leading class discussions, and submitting critiques and answers to assigned essay questions. Grading is based upon class participation, oral presentations and written work. Lectures only. (No laboratory component).

    BIOL 622 Advanced Techniques in Ecology *

    This course introduces students to a variety of techniques of experimental design, data collection, and quantitative analysis. Students participate in a series of modules, each of which presents experimental and analytical techniques appropriate for one area of modern research in ecology, behaviour, or evolution. Some modules require students to collect and subsequently analyze original data from field or laboratory settings. Modules and their contents may vary from year to year. Tutorials and laboratory.

    BIOL 623 Advanced Applied Ecology and Conservation *

    This course applies principles of ecology at the individual, population, community and ecosystem level to identify and solve practical environmental
    problems. Topics include pollution, climate change, and farming, harvesting renewable resources, designing nature reserves and conserving bio-diversity. Lectures and tutorials.

    BIOL 624 Advances in Decomposer Communities and Nutrient Cycling *

    This course examines the role of the microbial community in the fundamental processes of decomposition and nutrient cycling. We discuss the role of microbes in the breakdown of organic molecules and the release and transformation of mineral elements. Emphasis is placed on the interactions between decomposition and on the interactions between bacteria, fungi, and the microbes in the maintenance of nutrient cycles. Lectures and laboratory.

    BIOL 633 Advanced Immunology *

    The role of the immune system in maintenance of body homeostasis will be presented with particular reference to cells and tissues of the immune system, their organization as well as their structural and functional relationships. Topics include: maturation and differentiation of B and T lymphocytes; structure and properties of antibodies; immune responses to antigens; genetic aspects of antibody synthesis; immunological considerations in AIDS, cancer, and autoimmune diseases. Lectures and seminars.

    BIOL 634 Advanced Cell Biology *

    Lectures dealing with selected topics in mammalian cell biology. These include introduction to the elements of cell biology. Introduction to the elements of cell culture with reference to the growth and function of non-differentiated and
    differentiated cells. Control of cell cycling under normal and abnormal states, mechanisms of peptide and steroid hormone action with emphasis on intracellular signaling pathways. The control of gene transcription and detailed analysis of the effect of host cell factors on virus replication. Lectures only.

    BIOL 660 Advanced Plant Biochemistry *

    Biochemical study of the natural constituents and secondary metabolites unique to plants. Their biosynthesis, biotransformations, and functions in plants, as well as their economic and pharmacologic importance are stressed. Lectures only.

    BIOL 661 Advanced Tissue Culture *

    This course looks at plant-growth regulators, nutritional requirements, and other factors necessary for in-vitro culturing of plant cells and tissues. The course also discusses methods available for nuclear transfers and the propagation of transformed plants. Lectures only.

    BIOL 670 Scientific Communication
    This course is offered every other year and is open to all graduate students in Biology or by special permission from the instructor. It is designed to present the requirements for publishable scientific writing, successful research proposals and the presentation of oral papers at scientific meetings. The course emphasizes good writing habits, focuses on the importance of thought, the conciseness of statements and clarity of exposition. The course combines lectures, group discussions, workshops and oral presentations. Marks are based on a number of written assignments, oral presentations as well as participation in class.

    BIOL 671 Scanning Electron Microscopy *
    This course is given alternate years in the Summer session and explains both the theory and practice of instrumentation and methodology. Students learn to operate the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) and ancillary equipment such as sputter-coater and the critical point drier. Hands-on learning experience is stressed to acquire familiarity with special techniques. Instructions cover three aspects: instrumentation, specimen preparation (fixation and drying), and specimen mounting and coating. Tutorials and laboratory.

    BIOL 687 Advanced Molecular Genetics *
    This course concentrates on basic microbial and molecular genetics, introducing isolation and characterization of mutants, methods of mapping mutants, transposons, episomes, and recombinant DNA techniques. Lectures and conferences.

    BIOL 688 Advances in Biological Regulatory Mechanisms *

    This course examines the molecular basis of the control of metabolic pathways with an emphasis on procaryote systems. The course concentrates on the analysis of the rationale of experimentation used to elucidate these regulatory mechanisms. Lectures and conferences.

    BIOL 689 Advanced Techniques in Molecular Biology *

    Theory and practice of modern experimental procedures of molecular biology, including use of restriction enzymes, gene cloning, and hybridizations, DNA sequencing, site-directed mutagenesis, and the use of bacteria and phage in biotechnology. Laboratory and tutorials.

    BIO 690 Advanced Gene Structure *

    This course deals with gene regulation in eukaryotes. Topics covered include transcription, transcript processing, translation, and post-translational processes. Lectures only.

    * Course descriptions listed here correspond to undergraduate course descriptions except for BIOL 616 and 670 which are not available to undergraduate students. It is understood that an instructor who grants written permission to register in the course as a graduate student will require extra work from the students for graduate credit. These courses are open to doctoral students only under exceptional circumstances.

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