Introduction to Biology

Welcome to Introduction to Biology

The TEL Library Introduction to Biology course provides a comprehensive introduction to the major concepts of biological sciences and the characteristics of life. The course is designed to engage students in understanding the major processes of cells including cell structure, growth, and reproduction. The course provides the student with an in-depth understanding of genetics and heredity as well as the role it plays in the overall function and continued growth of a population. Other topics include ecology and biodiversity. This is a three credit hour course, satisfactory completion of the course requires passing a mid-term and a final exam.

This is a self-paced online course. It contains 10 modules, each with multiple lessons that support varied approaches to help a student learn and engage with the topic, including readings, video, and a knowledge-check quiz. This is a graded course, each student will receive a course transcript that reflects a final grade based on 10 module quizzes,10 module evidence activities, a mid-term exam, and a final exam.


Before you start the course

  • Review the Course Learning Outcomes, located in the the tab above
  • Download and review the Course Requirements Document, located in the Documents tab above.
  • Review the Technology Requirements, located in the Technology tab above.

To complete this course and receive a final grade

  • Study all of the lessons within each module and complete the Check Your Knowledge activity at the bottom of each Lesson to receive participation credit.
  • Complete each module quiz.
  • Complete each module evidence activity.
  • Complete the mid-term examination.
  • Complete the final examination.


If you have a technical issue or feedback for this course, please use the contact form at the bottom of the page.

Ready to learn more about Introduction to Biology?

To enroll in this course, click “Take this Course” below, or click on the Modules below to get started.

This course focuses on the following learning outcomes. By the end of the course you will be able to:

  • Analyze and evaluate the structure and processes of living things at a micro (cellular) and macro level; including the aquisition and use of energy.
  • Analyze and evaluate the interactions and dynamics of the characteristics of ecosystems.
  • Identify and apply the characteristics and mechanisms of genetics as they relate to heredity and inherited traits.
  • Evaluate and apply the characteristics of genetics and adaptation as they apply to population, biodiversity, and ecosystems.


You can download a readable PDF of the Course Syllabus and Schedule.

Course Requirements

You can download a readable PDF of the Course Requirements.

Getting Started Guide

You can download a readable PDF of the Getting Started Guide.

Course Outline


Module 1 – The Study of Life

The Science of Biology

  • Introduction to Biology
  • The Science of Biology
  • Natural Sciences
  • Two Types of Science: Basic Science and Applied Science
  • Relationship Between Basic and Applied Science
  • Luck? The Discovery of Penicillin
  • The Process of Science

The Process of Science

  • Scientific Reasoning
  • The Scientific Method
  • Proposing a Hypothesis
  • Testing a Hypothesis
  • Reporting Scientific Work
  • What is an Experiment?

The Branches of Biology

  • Branches of Biological Study
  • Forensic Scientist

Characteristics of Living Things

  • Properties of Life
  • Order
  • Sensitivity or Response to Stimuli
  • Reproduction
  • Adaptation
  • Growth and Development
  • Regulation
  • Homeostasis
  • Energy Processing
  • Levels of Organization of Living Things
  • The Diversity of Life

Module 2 – The Cell

How Cells Are Studied

  • Microscopy
  • Light Microscopes
  • Electron Microscopes
  • Cell Theory
  • Cell Size

Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic Cells

  • Components of prokaryotic cells
  • The plasma membrane
  • The Cytoplasm
  • The Nucleus
  • The Nuclear envelope
  • Chromosomes
  • The Nucleolus
  • Mitochondria
  • Ribosomes
  • Peroxisomes
  • Microfilaments
  • Microtubules

The Endomembrane

  • The Nuclear Envelope
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum
  • Rough ER
  • Smooth ER
  • The Golgi Apparatus
  • Vesicles and Vacuoles
  • Lysosomes
  • The Plasma Membrane
  • Cardiologist
  • Geneticist

Plant Cell vs. Animal Cell

  • The Centrosome
  • Lysosomes
  • The Cell Wall
  • Chloroplasts
  • The Central Vacuole
  • Extracellular Matrix of Animal Cells
  • Intercellular Junctions
  • Plasmodesmata
  • Tight Junctions
  • Desmosomes
  • Gap Junctions

Passive Transport

  • Selectively permeable
  • Concentration gradient
  • Diffusion
  • Facilitated transport
  • Osmosis
  • Hypotonic
  • Hypertonic
  • Isotonic

Active Transport

  • Electrochemical Gradient
  • Moving Against a Gradient
  • Carrier Proteins for Active Transport
  • Primary Active Transport
  • Secondary Active Transport (Co-transport)
  • Endocytosis
  • Phagocytosis
  • Pinocytosis
  • Receptor-mediated Endocytosis
  • Exocytosis

Module 3 – Capturing and Converting Energy

Energy and Metabolism

  • Carbohydrate Metabolism
  • Metabolic Pathways
  • Anabolic and Catabolic Pathways
  • Energy Types
  • Endergonic Reactions and Exergonic Reactions


  • First Half of Glycolysis (Energy-Requiring Steps)
  • Second Half of Glycolysis (Energy-Releasing Steps)
  • Outcomes of Glycolysis
  • Adenosine Triphosphate

Citric Acid Cycle and Oxidative Phosphorylation

  • CAC-pyruvate molecules

Anaerobic Respiration

  • Anaerobic Cellular Respiration
  • Lactic Acid Fermentation
  • Alcohol Fermentation
  • Other Types of Fermentation
  • Control of Catabolic Pathways


  • Importance of Photosynthesis
  • Main Structures and Summary of Photosynthesis
  • The Two Parts of Photosynthesis

Light-Dependent Reactions

  • How Light-Dependent Reactions Work
  • Generating an Energy Carrier: ATP
  • Chlorophylls
  • Carotenoids
  • Absorption of Pigments
  • Photosynthetic Organisms

Light-Independent Reactions

  • The Calvin Cycle
  • The Energy Cycle

Module 4 – Cell Growth, Reproduction and Heredity

Cell Division

  • Genomic DNA
  • Eukaryotic Chromosomal Structure and Compaction
  • Binary Fission

Cell Cycle

  • Interphase
  • The Mitotic Phase
  • Cytokinesis
  • G0 Phase
  • G1 Phase (First Gap)
  • S Phase (Synthesis of DNA)
  • G2 Phase (Second Gap)

Control of the Cell Cycle

  • Regulation of the Cell Cycle by External Events
  • Regulation at Internal Checkpoints
  • Regulator Molecules of the Cell Cycle
  • Proto-oncogenes
  • Tumor Suppressor Genes

Meiosis I

  • Meiosis I
  • Meiosis II
  • Chromosome Identification
  • Chromosome Number Disorders
  • Aneuploidy
  • Polyploidy

Meiosis II

  • Sexual Reproduction
  • Meiosis II
  • Geneticists Use Karyograms to Identify Chromosomal Aberrations

Sexual Reproduction

  • Gametes
  • Zygote
  • Diploid
  • Homologous chromosomes
  • Meiosis
  • Life cycles
  • Germ cells
  • Gametophytes
  • Sporophyte
  • Haploid

Errors in Meiosis

  • Karotype
  • Disorders in chromosome number

Module 5 – Patterns of Inheritance

Mendel’s Experiments and Punnett Squares

  • Mendel’s Model System
  • Mendelian Crosses
  • Garden Pea Characteristics Revealed the Basics of Heredity
  • Creating a Punnett Square

Characteristics and Traits

  • Alleles
  • Phenotype
  • Genotype
  • Homozygous
  • Heterozygous
  • Punnett square
  • Monohybrid
  • Test cross

Laws of Inheritance

  • Equal Segregation of Alleles
  • Independent Assortment
  • Probability Method

Chromosomal Theory and Genetic Linkage

  • Chromosomal Theory of Inheritance
  • Genetic Linkage and Distances
  • Homologous Recombination
  • Epistasis
  • Human Sex-Linked Disorders
  • Lethality

Module 6 – Genetics

Structure of DNA

  • Deoxyribose
  • Phosphate group
  • Nitrogenous base
  • Double helix
  • How DNA is arranged in the cell
  • Watson & Crick and Franklin

DNA Replication

  • Occurs during S phase
  • DNA repair-proof reading


  • DNA
  • RNA
  • Three main stages


  • Ribosomal RNA (rRNA)
  • Transfer RNA ( tRNA)

Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology

  • Biotechnology
  • Manipulation of genetic material
  • Gel electrophoresis
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction

Module 7 – Evolutionary Processes

Understanding Evolution

  • Charles Darwin and Natural Selection
  • Processes and Patterns of Evolution

Formation of New Species

  • Species and the Ability to Reproduce
  • Speciation
  • Reproductive Isolation
  • Allopatric Speciation
  • Adaptive Radiation
  • Sympatric Speciation

Population Genetics

  • Genetic Variance
  • Genetic Drift
  • Gene Flow
  • Mutation
  • Nonrandom Mating
  • No Perfect Organism

Biological Evidence

  • Fossils
  • Anatomy and Embryology
  • Biogeography
  • Molecular Biology
  • Two Options for Similarity
  • Misleading Appearances
  • Building Phylogenetic Trees

Common Misconceptions about Evolution

  • Evolution Is Just a Theory
  • Individuals Evolve
  • Evolution Explains the Origin of Life
  • Organisms Evolve on Purpose
  • Other Theories Should Be Taught
  • Is Evolution Controversial among Scientists?

Organizing Life on Earth

  • Taxonomy
  • 6 kingdom system
  • Taxon
  • Binomial nomenclature
  • Phylogenetic tree
  • Phylogeny
  • Domains

Module 8 – Populations and Communities

Population Demographics and Dynamics

  • Population Size and Density
  • Estimating Population Size
  • Species Distribution
  • Life Tables
  • Survivorship Curves

Population Growth and Control

  • Exponential and logistic growth
  • Carrying capacity
  • Intraspecific competition
  • Density dependent and independent limiting factors

Interactions Within and Between Communities

  • Competition
  • Predation
  • Parasitism
  • Crowding and stress
  • Symbiosis
  • Commensalism
  • Mutualism
  • Foundation species
  • Keystone species
  • Environmental disturbances
  • Primary and secondary succession
  • Pioneer species

Human Population Growth

  • Growing rapidly
  • Exponential growth and consequences
  • Overcoming density-dependent regulation
  • Age structure
  • One child policy

Module 9 – Ecology and the Biosphere

Energy Flow Through an Ecosystem

  • Ecosystem
  • Ecology of ecosystems
  • Biome
  • Ecosystem disturbances
  • Food chains and webs
  • Trophic level
  • Producers
  • Primary, secondary and teriary comsumers
  • Apex consumers

Biogeochemical Cycles: Water, Nitrogen, and Sulfur

  • Hydrosphere
  • The Water Cycle
  • The Nitrogen Cycle

Biogeochemical Cycles: Carbon and Phosphorus

  • Hydrosphere
  • Water cycle
  • Carbon cycle
  • Nitrogen cycle
  • Phosphorus cycle and dead zone
  • Sulfur cycle

Terrestrial Biomes

  • Tropical rainforest
  • Savannas
  • Deserts
  • Chaparral
  • Temperate grasslands
  • Temperate forests
  • Boreal forests
  • Arctic tundra

Aquatic Biomes: Marine

  • Marine Biomes
  • Ocean
  • Coral Reefs

Aquatic Biomes: Freshwater

  • Ocean
  • Zones
  • Coral reefs
  • Estuaries
  • Freshwater
  • Wetlands

Module 10 – Conservation Biology and Biodiversity

The Biodiversity Crisis

  • Mass extinction
  • Types of biodiversity
  • Current and patterns of biodiversity
  • Extinction rates

The Importance of Biodiversity to Human Life

  • Human health
  • Agricultural diversity
  • Wild food sources
  • Psychological and moral value

Threats to Biodiversity

  • Habitat loss
  • Overharvesting
  • Exotic species
  • Climate change

Preserving Biodiversity

  • Changing human behavior
  • Habitat restoration
  • The role of zoos and captive breeding

This course is delivered fully online and you will be required to have access to a computer, laptop, or web-capable mobile device – along with consistent access to the internet – to access course material and complete assignments. You may use your school-issued Chromebook to access the course content and complete all of the assignments. If you would like to use a PC or a Mac, please see the minimum requirements below.

PC Requirements


  • Intel Core 2 Duo (or AMD 64×2 Dual-Core) processor
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 80 GB hard drive
  • 1024×768 resolution monitor
  • Soundcard with microphone and speakers
  • Built-in or external webcam
  • Broadband internet connection with speeds of  at least 2 Mbps download and 2 Mbps upload. Hot spots are not recommended. Test internet speed at:
  • Browser with pop-up blocker disabled


  • Windows 7 or above

Macintosh Requirements


  • Intel Core 2 Duo (or AMD 64×2 Dual-Core) processor
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 80 GB hard drive
  • 1024×768 resolution monitor
  • Soundcard with microphone and speakers
  • Built-in or external webcam
  • Broadband internet connection with speeds of  at least 2 Mbps download and 2 Mbps upload. Hot spots are not recommended. Test internet speed at:
  • Browser with pop-up blocker disabled


  • Mac OS 10.6 “Snow Leopard” or above

In this class, you will take your midterm and final examinations online and they will be proctored by a service called ProctorExam from MonitorEDU.  This service uses a Chrome browser extension to record your computer webcam, speakers, and desktop during the exam.

You must have a photo id to take a proctored examination.  You will show this ID before taking any proctored exam.  You can use your school issued ID card.  You can also use a government issued ID, for example a driver license or a passport.

A Student Quick-Guide will be provided on how to use this service in the exam modules.

Technical Requirements:

Thank you for your participation in this TEL Library Pre-Course Survey. All course surveys are used to improve the quality of our course offerings and to gain insight into the trends and needs of online students. All data is automatically set up to omit personally-identifiable information as required by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and other federal and state law. It should take less than 10 minutes to complete this survey.

Please answer each question as honestly as possible, we use your responses to make our courses better. We value your opinion and input!

This survey is only available to students who have enrolled in this course.

This section contains PDF versions of each of the lessons from within the course.  The lessons are available as PDFs and are accessible for most screen readers.

The downloadable lessons are only available to students who have enrolled in this course.

If you have any issues accessing the documents, please contact







Module 0 – College Success – 3 Lessons

Module 1 – The Study of Life – 4 Lessons

Module 2 – The Cell – 6 Lessons

Module 3 – Capturing and Converting Energy – 7 Lessons

Module 4 – Cell Growth, Reproduction and Heredity – 7 Lessons

Module 5 – Patterns of Inheritance – 4 Lessons

Module 6 – Genetics – 5 Lessons

Module 7 – Evolutionary Processes – 6 Lessons

Module 8 – Populations and Communities – 4 Lessons

Module 9 – Ecology and the Biosphere – 6 Lessons

Module 10 – Conservation Biology and Biodiversity – 4 Lessons


Course Content

Modules Status

Module 0 - College Success


Module 1 - The Study of Life


Module 2 - The Cell


Module 3 - Capturing and Converting Energy


Module 4 - Cell Growth, Reproduction and Heredity


Introduction to Biology - Mid-Term Examination


Module 5 - Patterns of Inheritance


Module 6 - Genetics


Module 7 - Evolutionary Processes


Module 8 - Populations and Communities


Module 9 - Ecology and the Biosphere


Module 10 - Conservation Biology and Biodiversity


Introduction to Biology - Final Examination