BSc Biology students in the research lab of their department

BSc Biology


  • Program Length 
    4 Years
  • Credential 
    Bachelor Degree
  • Options 
    Honours, Major, Minor
  • Location Offered 
    Nanaimo

Find inspiration in the wild and wonderful – immerse yourself in the study of life at all levels. Whether you are fascinated by cellular biology, microbiology or the interactions between organisms and their environments, VIU’s Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Biology program has something to offer you. Designed to be experiential, our biology degree programs invite you to study local and global biological phenomena while contributing to research that has meaningful, real-world applications.

Take advantage of our small class sizes and learn and discover alongside your professor in the classroom, the lab and the field. Many of our graduates have continued on to further research and graduate studies, while others have entered successful careers in medicine, health sciences, natural sciences, teaching, physiotherapy, conservation, marine biology, and more.

The BSc Biology Program

The Bachelor of Science, Major and Minor in Biology emphasize a “hands-on,” integrative approach to learning. Smaller class sizes allow one-on-one interaction, fostering development of the student-mentor relationship. Versatility is a key feature of the Biology program.

Whereas the Major has a traditional core program, which all students must take, students can also select courses to suit their interests. For example, strong faculty expertise in Organismal Biology, Ecology, Molecular/Cellular Biology and Microbiology/Virology enables students to emphasize one of these directions. Students can also select electives from other departments (e.g., Fisheries, Forestry, Geography, Anthropology) to satisfy their degree requirements. In the final year, students have the option, depending on availability, to complete a comprehensive undergraduate research project, under the supervision of a Biology faculty member.

The Major will be of interest to those looking towards teaching, graduate school, professional schools such as Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Veterinary Medicine and Law, or employment as scientists in the Biological and Environmental Sciences.

The Minor will be of particular interest to students proceeding towards a career in Primary and Secondary Education, with plans for teaching a science curriculum.

For additional information on the program, faculty, and undergraduate research, please visit the VIU Biology website.

All B.Sc. students interested in the Biology Major or Minor must contact the Biology Degree Advisor.

Program Outline

Requirements for a Major

See Institutional B.Sc. Degree Requirements. The 126 credits required for graduation are as follows:

Program Component Credits

Core courses

72

Upper-level Biology electives (including specialization courses)

21

Non-science electives

6

Upper-level electives

12

General electives

15

Note: Most core, specialization, and elective courses have prerequisites. Students should check prerequisites carefully, and consult the Biology Degree Advisor when planning their program.

Core Courses

The Core component of the degree, combined with appropriate electives, gives students sufficient knowledge and experience in their field to facilitate entry into graduate or professional schools, or into employment in their field.

Note: Students are strongly encouraged to complete all Year 1 and Year 2 core requirements in the order listed to minimize potential scheduling conflicts later in their degree.

Year 1

Credits

BIOL 121 - (Introductory Zoology)

4

BIOL 123 - (Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology)

4

Select one of the following pairs: 
CHEM 140 - (Chemistry Fundamentals I) and,
CHEM 141 - (Chemistry Fundamentals II) or 
CHEM 142 - (Chemistry Fundamentals II)

8

MATH 121 - (Calculus I) and,
MATH 122 - (Calculus II)

6

PHYS 111 - (Physics for the Life Sciences I) and,
PHYS 112 - (Physics for the Life Sciences II)

8

Degree English Requirements

6

Note: At the end of first year or after completing a minimum of 24 credits, students need to declare their educational goals in consultation with the B.Sc. Advisor.

Year 2

Credits

BIOL 200 - (Principles of Cell Biology)

3

BIOL 201 - (Principles of Biochemistry I)

3

BIOL 202 - (Ecology)

3

BIOL 210 - (Microbiology I)

3

BIOL 212 - (Genetics)

3

BIOL 223 - (Botany)

3

CHEM 231 - (Organic Chemistry I)
CHEM 232 - (Organic Chemistry II)

6

MATH 203 - (Biometrics)

3

Note: Students planning to transfer to Microbiology programs at UBC or UVic should also consider taking BIOL 211 - (Microbiology II).

Years 3 and 4

Credits

BIOL 305 - (Animal Physiology)

3

BIOL 402 - (Evolution)

3

BIOL 403 - (Current Topics in Biology)

3

Select twelve upper–level BIOL credits numbered 300* and above.

12

Specialization Options

Students must complete at least one of the following specialization options:

Microbial Biology

Select nine credits chosen from:
BIOL 332 - (Microbial Ecology)
BIOL 334 - (Virology)
BIOL 336 - (Bacterial Genetics)
BIOL 337 - (Biochemistry and Physiology of Microbes)
BIOL 432 - (Applied Microbiology)
BIOL 436 - (Pathogenic Microbiology)

9

Molecular and Cellular Biology

Select nine credits chosen from: 
BIOL 341 - (Molecular Cell Biology)
BIOL 342 - (Advanced Biochemistry)
BIOL 435 - (Immunology)
BIOL 443 - (Developmental Biology) 
BIOL 445 - (Molecular Genetics)
BIOL 465 - (Endocrinology)

9

Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecology

Select nine credits chosen from:
BIOL 310 - (Invertebrate Zoology)
BIOL 315 - (Parasitology) 
BIOL 320 - (Aquatic Ecosystems)
BIOL 322 - (Terrestrial Ecosystems)
BIOL 351 - (Population and Community Ecology)
BIOL 360 - (Intro to Animal Behaviour)

9

* Check individual course prerequisites.

Undergraduate Research Project

The Biology Department encourages education gained by participating in active research. Students have the option to complete a research project (BIOL 490 or 491) in their final year. For these courses, students carry out their research under the direction of a Research Advisor from the Biology Department (in some cases, faculty may be from another Department). Students interested in taking BIOL 490 or 491 should consult a faculty member as early as possible in their academic career. Details of the special registration process required for BIOL 490 and 491 may be obtained from the Biology Chair or B.Sc. Degree Advisor.

Further information on previous research projects performed by VIU Biology graduates is available at VIU Biology.

Requirements for a Minor

Students must fulfill all Institutional B.Sc. Degree Requirements, including Degree English Requirements and courses listed below:

Years 1 and 2

Credits

BIOL 121 - (Introductory Zoology)

4

BIOL 123 - (Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology)

4

Select one of the following pairs: 
CHEM 140 - (Chemistry Fundamentals I) and,
CHEM 141 - (Chemistry Fundamentals II) or 
CHEM 142 - (Chemistry Fundamentals II)

8

Select one of:
MATH 203 - (Biometrics)
MATH 211 - (Fundamentals of Statistics I)
MATH 254 - (Statistics I)

3

BIOL 201 - (Principles of Biochemistry I)

3

Select two* courses from the following:
BIOL 200 - (Introduction to Cell Biology)
BIOL 202 - (Ecology)
BIOL 210 - (Microbiology I)
BIOL 212 - (Genetics)
BIOL 223 - (Botany)

6

CHEM 231 - (Organic Chemistry I)

3

* Students should check upper-level course prerequisites to guide second year course choices.

Years 3 and 4

Credits

Minimum of eighteen credits of Biology courses numbered 300 or above.*

18

* Check individual course prerequisites.

Updated 
Thursday, April 25, 2019

Admission Requirements

Notes on Admission

  • Courses in first year have different prerequisites. To satisfy all first year course prerequisites, students must complete all of the following B.C. Secondary School course requirements:
    • A minimum grade of "C" in English 12;
    • A minimum grade of "C+" in each of Biology 11 or 12, Chemistry 11 and 12 and Physics 11 (Principles of Physics 11); and,
    • A minimum grade of "B" in Mathematics 12 (Pre-calculus 12 or Principles of Mathematics 12).
    • Physics 12 is recommended but not required.
    • Some seats are available for students who have only completed Chemistry 11 with a minimum "C+".
  • Students who do not satisfy all of the first year course prerequisites will not likely be able to complete the full degree program in four years. Students who are lacking any or all of the first year course prerequisites should speak with a VIU Advisor about upgrading courses.
  • Students with a two-year diploma in a field related to the Biological Sciences may receive advanced standing, depending upon their program.
  • Students are encouraged to become computer literate in word processing, spreadsheets and databases by second year.
  • Transcripts from other institutions for courses used towards the B.Sc., Major in Biology degree must be received by VIU’s Records office by August 15 for the Fall semester, and November 30 for the Spring semester.

Work Placement Opportunities

Research and Teaching Interactions

VIU Faculty and students enjoy interaction with two renowned marine facilities: the Pacific Biological Station (PBS) and the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre. Both are among the most prominent, prestigious marine facilities on the west coast of North America and offer exciting experiences for students. Several VIU Faculty are engaged in collaborative research with scientists at PBS, located in Nanaimo. VIU Biology students are often involved in research projects, or are employed during summers for field and/or laboratory work at PBS. Several VIU Biology faculty are also involved with the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre, situated on the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island. This remote, yet modern, field station is used by faculty members engaged in marine biological research who may either teach courses there, or use the excellent facilities for field trips to supplement courses. In addition, students may take advanced, field-oriented summer courses at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre. For details of course offerings, visit the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre website.

Tropical Biology Field School in Belize

Belize, in Central America, has the largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere, and about 70% of its rainforest remains intact. VIU’s 6-week Tropical Biology Field School studies coral reef and rainforest ecosystems of Belize.

  • Spend 2 of the 6 weeks on the Cayes to study fish, invertebrates, plankton, and water quality of coral reefs, mangrove forests, and sea grass meadows.
  • Investigate the relationships among water, soil, plants and animals in three different habitats of the Sibun River watershed.
  • Learn about the past and present cultures of this region.
Domestic Fees | International Fees

Domestic Fees

Tuition Fee Schedule

When applying to the program, applicants will be charged a non-refundable application fee.

When applying to graduate, students will be charged a non-refundable graduation and alumni fee.

Some courses have additional fees to pay for extraordinary class–related expenses.

Fees for One Year

Amount

Tuition (30 credits x $150.71 per credit)

4,521.30

Student Activity fee (4% of tuition)

180.85

Student Services fee (30 credits x $6.66 per credit)

199.80

VIU Students' Union fee (8 months x $19.43 per month)

155.44

Health and Dental Plan fee ($275 per year)

275.00

Approximate cost for books and supplies for one year (Note: Books and supply costs vary depending on course load and course type.)

1,500.00

Total

6,832.39

Notes

*  The above table is based on ten 3-credit courses taken over two semesters. For programs that require 4-credit courses, students should adjust the fee totals accordingly.

The Health and Dental Plan fee is in effect only for full-time students at the Nanaimo Campus.

Science and Technology courses with a compulsory lab have a lab fee of $20.81 per course.

All fees are subject to change without prior notice.

International Fees

Tuition Fee Schedule

When applying to the program, applicants will be charged a non-refundable application fee.

When applying to graduate, students will be charged a non-refundable graduation and alumni fee.

Some courses have additional fees to pay for extraordinary class–related expenses.

Fees for One Year

Amount

Tuition (2 semesters x $7620 per semester)

15,240.00

Ancillary Fee (2 semesters x $374.4 per semester)

748.80

VIU Students' Union fee (8 months x $19.43 per month)

155.44

Health and Dental Plan fee ($275 per year)

275.00

Approximate cost for books and supplies for one year (Note: Books and supply costs vary depending on course load and course type.)

1,500.00

Total

17,919.24

Notes

The above table is based on 15 credits or less per semester. Additional fees of $635.00 per credit will be applied if taking more than 15 credits per semester.

The Health and Dental Plan fee is in effect only for full-time students at the Nanaimo Campus.

Science and Technology courses with a compulsory lab have a lab fee of $20.81 per course.

All fees are subject to change without prior notice.

Updated
Monday, April 1, 2019

The Program

The Bachelor of Science, Biology Honours emphasizes a "hands-on," integrative approach to learning. Smaller class sizes allow one-on-one interaction, fostering development of the student-mentor relationship. In addition, students in the Biology Honours program complete a comprehensive undergraduate research project, under the supervision of a Biology faculty member. Students expand their research skills through deep engagement in their chosen project.

The Biology Honours will be of interest to students looking towards careers in the biological and environmental sciences, in K-12 education, or in health sciences (e.g., Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Veterinary Medicine).

Program Outline

Requirements for an Honours

To obtain an honours biology degree, students must complete all the Institutional B.Sc. degree requirements, including Degree English Requirements, and the courses listed below.

Year 1

Credits

BIOL 121 - (Introductory Zoology)

4

BIOL 123 - (Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology)

4

Select one of the following pairs: 
CHEM 140* - (Chemistry Fundamentals I) and,
CHEM 141* - (Chemistry Fundamentals II) or 
CHEM 142* - (Chemistry Fundamentals II)

8

MATH 121 - (Calculus I) and,
MATH 122 - (Calculus II)

6

PHYS 111 - (Physics for the Life Sciences I) and,
PHYS 112 - (Physics for the Life Sciences II)

8

Degree English Requirements

6

Year 2

Credits

BIOL 200 - (Principles of Cell Biology)

3

BIOL 201 - (Principles of Biochemistry I)

3

BIOL 202 - (Ecology)

3

BIOL 210 - (Microbiology I)

3

BIOL 212 - (Genetics)

3

BIOL 223 - (Botany)

3

CHEM 231 - (Organic Chemistry I)
CHEM 232 - (Organic Chemistry II)

6

MATH 203 - (Biometrics)

3

Years 3 and 4

Credits

BIOL 305 - (Animal Physiology)

3

BIOL 402 - (Evolution)

3

BIOL 403 - (Current Topics in Biology)

3

BIOL 491 - (Undergraduate Research Project)

6

Select eighteen upper–level BIOL credits numbered 300 and above.

18

Specialization Options

Nine credits from one of the following specialization options:

Microbial Biology

BIOL 332 - (Microbial Ecology)
BIOL 334 - (Virology)
BIOL 336 - (Bacterial Genetics)
BIOL 337 - (Biochemistry and Physiology of Microbes)
BIOL 432 - (Applied Microbiology)
BIOL 436 - (Pathogenic Microbiology)

9

Molecular and Cellular Biology

BIOL 341 - (Molecular Cell Biology)
BIOL 342 - (Advanced Biochemistry)
BIOL 435 - (Immunology)
BIOL 443 - (Developmental Biology) 
BIOL 445 - (Molecular Genetics)
BIOL 465 - (Endocrinology)

9

Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecology

BIOL 310 - (Invertebrate Zoology)
BIOL 315 - (Parasitology) 
BIOL 320 - (Aquatic Ecosystems)
BIOL 322 - (Terrestrial Ecosystems)
BIOL 351 - (Population and Community Ecology)
BIOL 360 - (Intro to Animal Behaviour)

9

The following elective requirements may be taken in Years 1-4:

  • Six credits of Non-Science Electives
  • Fifteen credits of General Electives

Completion Requirements

  • Honours students need a minimum GPA of 3.67 ("A-") on all 3rd and 4th year courses taken within the discipline in order to graduate from an Honours program.
  • Honours students must achieve a minimum grade of "A-" in BIOL 491 - (Undergraduate Research Project).
  • Students who complete the Honours requirements but do not meet these grade requirements will graduate with the Major in Biology.

Admission Requirements

  • Minimum GPA of 3.67 (A-) on the most recent 45 credits of study.
  • All core 100-level courses and at least 21 credits of core 200-level courses including MATH 203 (Biometrics) must be completed before the start of BIOL 491.
  • Students must identify a faculty advisor who is willing to supervise the research project.
  • Students who meet the minimum requirements are not guaranteed admission in the program and space may be limited.

Start Date and Application Deadline

Students will be required to submit an application form (available from the Chair of the Biology Department) by February 15 of the third year of studies. Application forms will be submitted to the Chair of the Biology Department. Upon approval by the Biology Department, the B.Sc. Degree Advisor will be notified.

Career Opportunities

The Biology Honours will be of interest to students interested in pursuing graduate school in the biological sciences (Master's, Doctorate).

Program Start Date Accepting Applications Campus
Application Fee
$40.10
Testing Required
No
Admissions Assistant

Name: Admissions & Registrations Assistants
Phone: 250-740-6400
Email: registration@viu.ca

Chair Contact

Name: Consult Vancouver Island University Calendar

Eric Friesen, a Bachelor of Science degree student, on a field trip

Eric Friesen

“All the professors in my department know me by name and have shown a genuine interest in not only teaching me, but helping me succeed. I would say that the teachers I’ve had have been more mentors than professors. It feels like everyone is there because they love science and it creates a wonderful atmosphere that makes good academic communication so incredibly easy. The professors taking a personal interest in the students, being approachable, and most importantly being passionate about biology has truly made me feel like my education matters to them.”


Bachelor of Science, Biology


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