Dec 10, 2019  
Course Catalog 2005-2006 
Course Catalog 2005-2006 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]


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The biology major consists of a minimum of 27 hours of coursework in categories I through IV and additional cognate coursework in category V. A minimum of nine hours of advanced coursework (defined as courses in categories II, III and IV) must be completed at Oberlin. No more than seven hours of the advanced coursework may be transfer credits. Courses in which a student has earned a letter grade lower than a C– cannot be used to fulfill the requirements of the Biology major.

Requirements for the Biology Major

  1. Core Biology Courses:
    1. Biology 118 (Organismal Biology, lecture) and Biology 119 (Organismal Biology, lab)
    2. Biology 120 (Genetics, Evolution and Ecology, lecture, and lab)
    3. Biology 213 (Cell and Molecular Biology, lecture)
  2. Upper-level Biology Courses Taken at Oberlin College:
    1. At least two 200- or 300-level Biology lecture courses (exclusive of Biology 213)
    2. At least one 200- or 300-level Biology lab experience (exclusive of Biology 214)
  3. Additional Laboratory Courses:
    Two laboratory experiences, one of which may be replaced by a semester of research taken for credit. (Each lab course or course that includes a lab counts as a single lab course regardless of the number of lab meetings per week.)
  4. Additional Upper-Level Courses to bring the total number of hours to at least 27: Requirements in categories III and IV above may be fulfilled by taking 200- or 300-level courses in Biology; 200- or 300-level courses in Neuroscience; Environmental Studies 316 (Systems Ecology) and 340 Environmental Systems Modeling); Chemistry 374 (Biochemistry); and Geology 320 (Paleontology). Up to three credit hours of a 400-level Biology or Neuroscience seminar course and up to three credit hours of research may be counted toward the major. Honors candidates completing two full semesters of research may count up to four credit hours toward the major. Private readings do not count for major credit.
  5. Cognate Course Requirements:
    1. Chemistry 101 and 102 (or 103 may replace 101 and 102)
    2. Chemistry 205
    3. Four additional hours selected from the following: Calculus (Math 131, 132 or 133), Chemistry (Chem 254), Physics (103), Statistics (Math 113 or 114).


There is no minor offered in Biology.


Candidates for Honors in biology enroll as seniors in BIOL 501 and 502, carry out a research project in consultation with a faculty committee, write and defend a thesis based on completed work, and give a required research seminar. Students interested in this program should initiate a discussion of research possibilities with any member of the staff during the junior year. Students are not accepted formally into the Honors Program until their proposed research is reviewed by the department at the beginning of their first semester of research.

Off-Campus or Summer Study

The department offers limited scholarships for summer course work at approved field (inland and marine) stations in the United States. Applications for these scholarships are invited early in the Spring Semester; awards are made in May. In general, students planning off-campus study are advised to consult first with their advisor, and then the Chairman to determine acceptability of courses to the major.

Transfer of Credit

Credits in biology earned elsewhere may be applied to the Oberlin biology major with the approval of the department chair, as long as 14 of the 27 hour minimum in biology, including nine hours of advanced course work (defined above, under ‘major’), are completed at Oberlin.

Winter Term

Among the topics for Winter Term projects that members of the Biology Department are willing to sponsor are the following: Mr. Allen: projects relying upon genetic, molecular biological, and biophysical techniques to address cell physiological questions. Readings in the physiology of muscle and motile cells. Instruction and readings in Old Icelandic and Old English literature. Ms. Bennett: intensive science review; pre-medical internship. Mr. Benzing: the technology of winemaking and viticulture; tropical biology. Mr. Braford: laboratory research in comparative neuroanatomy for students who have had Biology 320; neurobiology; evolution; systematics. Ms. Cruz: projects involving comparative embryology, developmental biology, marsupial biology. Readings in the history of biology, philosophy of science, evolution. Ms. Garvin: projects and readings in parasitology, entomology, ornithology, epidemiology, and ecology. Ms. Laskowski: projects involving plant physiology, plant molecular biology. Mr.Laushman: projects involving conservation biology, population genetics, and aquatic vascular plants. Ms. McCormick: projects on the evolution of vertebrate auditory and lateral line systems; topics on the evolution of vertebrate structure. Mr. Miller: holistic health; new age/transformational subjects; psychic healing group project; new paradigms in science; noetic sciences. Ms. Salter: projects involving immunology, virology, or cancer; health career internships. Mr. Tarvin: projects and readings in vertebrate evolutionary and behavioral ecology, ornithology, avian blood parasites, molecular genetic tools for evolutionary analyses and readings in human behavioral ecology and evolutionary biology. Ms. Thornton: projects involving neuroendocrinology and behavioral neuroendocrinology.

Preparation for Post-Graduate Education

Medical School, Dental and Veterinary Medicine. Most medical, dental, and veterinary schools require:

  1. One year of General Biology with laboratory.
  2. Two years of Chemistry with laboratory.
  3. One year of Mathematics.
  4. One year of Physics with laboratory.
  5. One year of English.

Students planning careers in medicine should consult the Health Career Advisors, the Office of Career Services, and references in the Science Library for details.

Graduate Schools. Most graduate schools in biology expect a major in the biological sciences to include:

  1. Two years of Chemistry with laboratory.
  2. One year of Physics with laboratory.
  3. College-level Mathematics (Calculus and Statistics).
  4. Courses in Computer Science.

Certain deficiencies in course work may be made up in graduate school but generally not for graduate credit. Students planning to pursue an advanced degree should consult individual admission requirements of the schools and graduate departments in which they are interested. The qualifying examination for most graduate schools is the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) which consists of two parts, the General Examination and an Advanced component in biology. The majority of graduate schools require the General Examination for admission but there is variation with respect to the Advanced requirement. Students are strongly urged to consult with members of the Biology Department in preparing for graduate work.

Introductory Courses for Non-majors and Prospective Majors

Intermediate and Advanced Courses

Independent Work

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