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Queen's University


The Mission of Undergraduate Studies in Biology

Our mission is to prepare graduating students to be engaged, independent, reflective, critically thinking citizens who will be inspired and able to actively contribute to the improvement of society.  We will use our expertise across the biological sciences to train students how to ‘think as scientists’ (i.e. to use evidence-based reasoning to understand phenomena and solve problems). We anticipate that this educational perspective, along with the specific goals outlined below, will produce graduates that are highly competitive for the best opportunities available in the workplace and in leading professional and graduate school programs.  We will provide a well-balanced, high quality undergraduate education in biology, aimed at fostering a commitment to learning and application of biological principles throughout the experiences of life. 

To achieve these goals, we will teach in multiple ways that that are specifically designed to promote active, engaged learning.  Students in our program will have opportunities to apply for courses that include concept-based lectures, Socratic question and answer approaches, student and professor-led seminars, peer instruction, conceptual problem-solving, iterative writing/editing exercises, student debates, ‘hands-on’ lab practical experiences including state-of-the-art molecular biology techniques, use of our nearby top class biological field station (Q.U.B.S.) as well as multiple opportunities for field courses across the world, small-sized 4th year courses (with enrollment caps from 14-30 students), and probably best of all, one-on-one student-professor honours thesis and independent research projects (BIOL 537-540).


 (1) Develop their aptitudes for independent critical thinking, originality and creativity, adaptability and problem-solving, team-based and collaborative work, writing, and time management.

 (2) Enhance their awareness of the diversity of life and the functioning of living systems by developing a core knowledge base in biology with particular emphasis on Departmental strengths in molecular biology, cell biology, genetics, biochemistry, physiology, ecology, and evolutionary biology.

(3) Become proficient in fundamental science skills including hypothesis development and testing, experimental design, data management, quantitative and statistical analyses, critical interpretation of numerical and graphical data, and incorporation of ethical considerations.

(4) Do biological research (individually and in groups) that involves formulating questions and collecting and interpreting data from the lab, growth chamber and/or field, so as to experience the potential joys inherent in  the process of scientific discovery.

(5) Become proficient in communication skills used in biology, including strategies for effective scientific literature reviewing and synthesis, science writing, and oral and visual presentations.  

(6) Understand and describe the historical development of biology as a science, its principal theories, and its most recent ideas and discoveries.

(7) Appreciate and reflect on the importance of the biological sciences to other disciplines, to human welfare, to effective conservation of other species and the environment, and to the sustainability of our civilisation.


Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000