We offer students a range of courses that span from the subcellular to the ecosystem levels. There are a variety of options for beginning the study of Biology at Dartmouth and the Department offers a placement/advisory test to help students choose the appropriate starting point. The placement/advisory test will be available to members of the Class of 2027 over the summer via Canvas (please see details below). Areas of faculty research are diverse, ranging from cell signaling to neurobiology to animal behavior, utilizing a wide range of organisms including bats, rice, worms, flies, and algae. We welcome undergraduate researchers as active contributors to our faculty research programs. We also offer an extraordinary foreign study program in tropical ecology in Costa Rica and the Caribbean each Winter term.
Please click HERE for information about our 2023 Fall term course offerings.
Please click HERE for a list of the Biology 11 and Foundation Courses for the 2023-2024 winter and spring terms.
We also have prepared a series of short videos to help you learn about biology courses and the path to a biology major or minor as well as how to get involved in life sciences research.
Links to Videos:
Beginning Your Study in Biology at Dartmouth:
Prof. Tom Jack talks about how to decide which biology course to take first, including information about the Biology Advisory/Placement test.
Biology 11 – Fall offering: Major Events in the History of Life and the Human Genome:
Prof. Kevin Peterson gives an overview of the Biology 11 offering that he will teach in the fall of 2023.
Biology 11 – Winter offering: Emerging Infectious Diseases:
Prof. Mary Lou Guerinot gives an overview of this Biology 11 offering. Prof. Guerinot teach will this this course in winter 2024.
The Foundation Courses:
Prof. Natasha Grotz talks about the topics covered by the foundation courses, the role of these courses in the major.
Biology 19 - Honors Cell Structure and Function:
Prof. Magdalena Bezanilla gives an overview of her course. It will be offered in the fall of 2023.
Majoring in Biology at Dartmouth:
Prof. Sharon Bickel gives an overview of the structure of the major, including prerequisites, areas of concentration and introductory, intermediate and upper level courses.
The Biology Foreign Study Program:
FSP faculty give a history and overview of the program that give students the opportunity to conduct original ecological research at field stations in Costa Rica and the Caribbean.
Alana Bernys '20 talks about finding a lab, research for credit and completing an honors thesis.
How to Choose Your First Biology Course at Dartmouth
The Biology curriculum is designed with numerous points of entry. We encourage students to choose their first Biology class to match their interests and background. For the 2023 Fall term, there are several choices: Biology 11 (introductory course for majors), or one of four foundation courses: Biology 12 (Cell Structure and Function), Biology 14 (Physiology), Biology 16 (Ecology), or Biology 19 (Honors Cell Structure and Function for first term students). For many, the decision will be to whether to take Biology 11, or a foundation course.
Here are some considerations regarding these choices.
Biology 11 versus a Foundation Course
1. Subject matter. Choose a course that is of high intellectual interest to you. Nothing begets academic success like being genuinely interested in the subject matter. Read the course descriptions for Biology 11; each offering has a different intellectual theme customized by individual faculty to be timely and engaging. Biology 11 generally spans a broader spectrum of the science of biology than individual foundation courses. The content of the foundation courses is designed to cover core knowledge within specific topic areas.
2. Workload. Both Biology 11 and the foundation courses have rigorous fast-moving lectures associated with technical readings and problem solving. The foundation courses also have a laboratory component, which substantially increases the contact hours and makes the foundation courses considerably more demanding than Biology 11.
3. Probability of scholastic success. Biology 11, by virtue of not having a laboratory component, permits students to spend more hours per week gaining a mastery of material covered during class sessions.
This honors introduction to cell biology is for students with a strong background in biology and chemistry who are interested in majoring in Biology. This course will discuss fundamental topics, including protein targeting, the cytoskeleton, membrane transport, cellular energetics, the cell cycle, and signal transduction. The course will emphasize experimental strategies to understand eukaryotic cell function, and the laboratory will provide hands-on experience in modern cell biological techniques, including microscopy, cell fractionation, and protein
purification. Biology 19 is the prerequisite equivalent of Biology 12.
Biology 19 is open only to first-year students and enrollment is limited to 24 students in the Fall of 2023.
Invitation to enroll will be based on
1) Performance on the Biology Placement Exam (accessed via Canvas site).
2) Via application (link to application). Deadline to apply is Thursday, September 7 at 5PM.
Overview of the Biology Placement/Advisory Test
The Biology Placement/Advisory Test is a 60 minute test that contains 30 multiple-choice questions that cover central concepts in molecular biology, cell biology, genetics, and evolutionary biology. We recommend that all students that are considering taking Biology at Dartmouth complete this test. As the name suggests, the result of the Biology Placement/Advisory Test is advisory, not binding. Since there is no formal placement associated with the Biology Placement/Advisory Test, the score does not appear on your placement record in Banner Student. If you are interested in studying Biology at Dartmouth, we strongly suggest that you take the Biology Placement/Advisory Test to help you decide which Biology course is most appropriate for you to begin study of Biology at Dartmouth. In addition, the Biology Placement/Advisory Test is required for admission to Biology 19 (Honors Cell Structure and Function).
The Biology Placement/Advisory test can be accessed via the Canvas site at this- link.
What is Biology 11?
Biology 11 is a topics based introductory Biology course. There are several offerings of Biology 11 each year, each organized around a different topic. Each offering is designed to provide a synthetic overview of the life sciences, and to introduce the fundamental ideas, processes and theories on which the modern life sciences are built. Different offerings of Biology 11 have different themes that the instructors have chosen to introduce fundamental concepts and develop a perspective on the life sciences. Each offering may also be organized somewhat uniquely, based on how professors combine their approach to give the lectures, the scheduling of discussions, and the role of quizzes, exams and papers in student assessment. Students are free to choose the offering they prefer.
All Biology 11 offerings will cover the key basic principles and concepts in biology. For example, all Biology 11 offerings will cover the basics of cell biology, molecular biology, genetics, evolution, and energetics. However, the specific details of what you learn in one offering will be different from what students learn in other offerings of Biology 11. A useful analogy is to think about Biology 11 as a first year seminar in biology. Dartmouth's first-year writing seminars are focused on different topics, but all first-year seminars teach valuable writing skills. Similarly, Biology 11 offerings feature different specific information, but all will teach you how to think critically and in a more sophisticated way about biology.
There are several objectives of Biology 11. The first is to stimulate interest in the science of biology. The second is to encourage critical, analytical thinking in science. The third is to communicate key concepts in biology. The fourth is to develop an appreciation for the specific topic that is the focus of each offering. By the end of any offering of Biology 11, students will have acquired knowledge of key biological concepts such as evolution, the relationship between structure and function, information flow, and the interconnectedness of living systems. Students also will have developed analytical skills about how present-day research in biology is carried out and interpreted.
Link to Biology 11 offerings for the 2023-2024 academic year.