Prepare Yourself

Pedagogical approaches in Biology

Peer Feedback and Grading A key goal of the Biology curriculum is to help students develop excellent oral and written communication skills.  Beginning in first year, students are encouraged to gain experience in presenting small group seminars and writing short reports and articles.  Depending on the course, you may be required to provide peer feedback to your fellow students. In providing peer feedback, students are expected to offer fair, constructive comments.  The feedback from your peers can contribute to your grade, in combination with grading from the instructor.  In turn, the peer comments that you provide may also be evaluated.

Apart from formal peer evaluation, working together with your peers can be a valuable experience that enhances your learning beyond the classroom.  Consider getting involved with a group, whether you are working through an assignment or prepping for a test or exam.


Student resources

Computers Queen’s Information Technology Services (ITS) based in Dupuis Hall provides a one-stop locale for all your computing needs, with reasonable pricing and helpful service. Typically the two most common problems that students encounter in completing course assignments are (1) failing to back up their work, and (2) leaving things to the last minute.  The latter can be especially challenging if you need to learn new programs to complete assignments. Don’t wait to ask for help from your Instructor or TA! 

If you have a technical query within Biology, you can approach an IT Admin Rep for advice: Rachel Batson  (Admin), Katherine Peter (Admin/PC). Alternatively, you can contact Queen's ITS directly via this ITS Help Form.

Academic Advising The Calendar is the ultimate source of information for all courses, academic programs and regulations in the Faculty of Arts and Science. We have also compiled a list of Fequently Asked Questions that can be helpful. If after consulting these resources you still have a question, please feel free to contact Rachel Batson, the Undergraduate Assistant. 

Exam conflicts Students may apply to write a make-up or deferred exam if: 1) they have an exam conflict due to scheduling as defined in the Academic Regulations of the Faculty (see Calendar ) , 2)  if the regularly scheduled exam conflicts with a legitimate request to observe a designated religious holiday, or 3) if they have an exam conflict with off-campus travel associated with a field course (e.g BIOL-307/3.0 or 317/3.0) that is held during the fall or winter terms.

In case (1), the student should report to the Exams Office first to verify that there is a genuine scheduling conflict. Biology professors will not consider your situation to be a conflict unless it meets the criteria set out by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Depending on the circumstances, the instructor may require you to submit your assignments or write your exam prior to the regularly scheduled date. Students are expected to be available to write scheduled exams at any time during the December examination period. Applications to write a make-up exam because of conflicting holiday plans plans will not be considered except under extraordinary circumstances. Students are advised to wait until the final December exam schedule is posted before making any holiday travel arrangements.

Extenuating Circumstances
Can’t Write an Exam or Meet a Deadline? To ensure that guidelines for extenuating circumstances are applied equally to all students, the Faculty of Arts and Science has developed a new process that must be completed by any student who experiences a situation that causes/will cause them to miss an exam, presentation or assignment. The protocol for short-term academic consideration and accommodation can be found at: Requests for short-term academic consideration for all courses in Biology must be processed through this portal.  


Sources for Academic, Career and Personal Support

Accessibility Hub You can find out information about services, support and spaces for persons with disabilities at the Accessibility Hub.                         

Queen's Learning Commons (Stauffer Library) The Learning Commons houses the Adaptive Technology Centre, IT Services, Student Academic Success Services and the Writing Centre.

Career Services (Gordon Hall) A wide range of careers events, workshops and advice can be found at Career Services.

Q-Success is a transitional program for first year undergraduates in fall term, run by upper year peers, to help students engage successfully in their programs. See here for more information.

Q-Thrive offers videos and tips on residence life.

Bounce Back Is an individualized, peer-focused support program in winter term, for any first year undergrad Arts & Science student with a GPA of < 1.6 in first term.  See here for more information.                                          

Tutors The Arts & Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS) offers Peer Tutoring for one-on-one help.


Getting Help in Serious Situations

Some students will encounter serious challenges during their undergraduate experience.  Queen’s provides a number of places to turn for both urgent situations and for those instances where your personal or academic situation is affecting your ability to fulfill course obligations. Some of the key point-contacts are listed below.

Health, Counselling & Disability Services Offers a full suite of services. See here for general information, or call 613 533 6000 ext 78264. AFTER HOURS EMERG  613 533 6111 (Campus Security)

Crisis Counselling Services          

Sexual Assault Centre 24 hr                  613 544 6424

AMS Peer Support                                    613 533 6000 ext 75111


Academic Integrity and Code of Conduct

What is Academic Integrity? As laid out by Queen’s Senate, academic integrity is based on five fundamental values: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility. Academic integrity is essential to the entire core educational mission of the University, which is based on the free exchange of ideas among individuals in a respectful manner. Departures from academic integrity include plagiarism (see below), use of unauthorized materials, facilitation (enabling others to commit a breach of integrity), and falsification.  As a Biology student, you are expected to become familiar with the regulations supporting academic integrity (see “Academic Integrity” on masthead section in the Arts and Sciences calendar ). Consistent with the principles of academic integrity, students are also responsible for adhering to the Queen’s Code of Conduct.

Code of Conduct Broadly speaking, acceptable conduct does not infringe upon the rights of other members of the University community. For example, during instructional sessions (eg lectures, tutorials, labs), disruptive conversations or other excessive noise from cell phones, computers or other sources unrelated to class, infringe on others’ rights and are therefore unacceptable.  Students are also expected to remain in lectures and labs for the duration of instruction except in the case of medical or security emergencies.  In cases where a student knows they must leave a lecture early, they are expected to inform the course lecturer ahead of time, and sit where they may depart without disturbing the on-going class. Penalties for non-compliance to the Code of Conduct are outlined in the Faculty of  Arts and Sciences calendar  under Academic Regulation 17.

Plagiarism Plagiarism is the act of passing off someone else’s ideas, writings, etc as one’s own. Plagiarism constitutes a very serious breach of academic integrity.  To help you avoid this mistake, your introductory Biology courses provide extensive information on how to make sure you give credit appropriately for others’ work. Penalties for plagiarism and other breaches of academic integrity are outlined in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences calendar  under Academic Regulation 1.  Students against whom there has been an allegation of plagiarism will be notified in writing and will be given an opportunity to respond. The penalty for a finding of plagiarism on assignments, reports or examinations will normally result in a grade of zero, often additional grade penalties, and will go on record in the Faculty of Arts and Science office.   

Common examples of plagiarism in assignments and reports include:

  1. Identical word-for-word sections from two or more students. The penalty in this case will normally be applied to all of the students involved.  Unless otherwise instructed, each student is expected to write his/her own assignments / reports in his / her own writing.  Do not allow other students to copy your assignment or report.
  2. Taking credit for written material obtained from the internet.
  3. Failing to cite the original source of information or ideas from the published literature used in your assignment or report. By citing the source, you are acknowledging that the material is not your own and you are giving credit to the original author(s).   
  4. Copying sections, word-for-word, from the published literature without indicating quotation. Regardless of what you may have learned before starting University, it is not acceptable to copy paragraphs, whole sentences or even long strings of words directly from any publication.  Even if you cite the article at the end of the text that you have copied, this is still a form of plagiarism because you would be giving the false impression that you had constructed these sentences / paragraphs yourself.  Make the point you want to make in your own words using the cited work as the source of support for your argument.  If you have any questions about how to credit the work of others correctly, ask your TA or Instructor.



I've spent more time than many will believe [making microscopic observations], but I've done them with joy, and I've taken no notice those who have said why take so much trouble and what good is it?

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

It's a parts list... If I gave you the parts list for the Boeing 777 and it had 100,000 parts, I don't think you could screw it together and you certainly wouldn't understand why it flew

Eric Lander

What is true for E. coli is also true for the elephant

Jacques Monod

The world becomes full of organisms that have what it takes to become ancestors. That, in a sentence, is Darwinism

Richard Dawkins

Shall we conjecture that one and the same kind of living filaments is and has been the cause of all organic life?

Erasmus Darwin

Nature proceeds little by little from things lifeless to animal life in such a way that it's impossible to determine the line of demarcation


Cells let us walk, talk, think, make love, and realize the bath water is cold

Lorraine Lee Cudmore

In the distant future I see open fields for far more important researches. Psychology will be based on a new foundation, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation. Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history

Charles Darwin

It is my belief that the basic knowledge that we're providing to the world will have a profound impact on the human condition and the treatments for disease and our view of our place on the biological continuum

J. Craig Venter

Imagine a house coming together spontaneously from all the information contained in the bricks: that is how animal bodies are made

Neil Shubin

A grain in the balance will determine which individual shall live and which shall die - which variety or species shall increase in number, and which shall decrease, or finally become extinct

Charles Darwin

The stuff of life turned out to be not a quivering, glowing, wondrous gel but a contraption of tiny jigs, springs, hinges, rods, sheets, magnets, zippers, and trapdoors, assembled by a data tape whose information is copied, downloaded and scanned

Steven Pinker

We wish to discuss a structure for the salt of deoxyribose nucleic acid. (D.N.A.). This structure has novel features which are of considerable biologic interest

Rosalind Franklin

We are biology. We are reminded of this at the beginning and the end, at birth and at death. In between we do what we can to forget

Mary Roach

The systems approach to biology will be the dominant theme in medicine

Leroy Hood

I've always been interested in animal behavior, and I keep reading about it because it's so surprising all the time - so many things are happening around us that we neglect to look at. Part of the passion I have for biology is based on this wonderment"

Isabella Rossellini

Because all of biology is connected, one can often make a breakthrough with an organism that exaggerates a particular phenomenon, and later explore the generality

Thomas Cech

Nothing in Biology makes sense except in the light of evolution

Theodosius Dobzhansky

Biology is now bigger than physics, as measured by the size of budgets, by the size of the workforce, or by the output of major discoveries; and biology is likely to remain the biggest part of science through the twenty-first century

- Freeman Dyson

Nothing can be more incorrect than the assumption one sometimes meets with, that physics has one method, chemistry another, and biology a third

- Thomas Huxley