What is the Foundations BIOL sequence, and why should I take it?
Biology 101-104 is a set of four half-semester modules that together constitute a one-year course that spans the broad field of biology. The topics covered are Biochemistry and Biophysics (Biology 101), Cell Biology (Biology 102), Genetics and Developmental Biology (Biology 103), and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (Biology 104).
The true goal of BIOL 101-104 is not simply to teach you factual information about the topics outlined above, but rather to develop your critical thinking skills. Science and medicine are such rapidly moving fields that any factual material we cover will soon be out of date. However, if we can instill in you the ability to critically analyze the current body of scientific knowledge, and the ability to think independently and creatively about science, we will help you move from being mere consumers of existing knowledge to becoming creators of new knowledge.
The bioscience majors MCDB, MBB, EEB and NSCI all require that you either take Biology 101-104 or else place out of these courses by taking online placement exams that are given over the summer. All higher level biosciences courses at Yale have at least one of the Biology 101-104 modules as a prerequisite. Therefore, most students who plan to complete a biosciences major at Yale or who are considering medical school after college will find it useful to start by taking Biology 101-104.
You can start by taking Biology 101/102 either in the Fall or in the Spring, as each of the Biology 101-104 modules will be taught every semester. We expect about half the biology-interested first years will take Biology 101 in the Fall, while the other half will wait until Spring and use their Fall term to get going on other math/science courses instead. To encourage students to distribute between both semesters, we place a cap on registration in Biology 101/102 for the Fall. Taking Biology 101-102 in the first year is also a good idea, but it is of little importance for most first-year students whether they complete Biology 101-102 in the Fall or Spring.
Biology 101-104 is taught at a level that should be appropriate for most students, regardless of their prior coursework (or lack thereof) in biology and chemistry. Students with relatively poor preparation in the sciences will have the chance to attend an optional enrichment section that will help provide the necessary background to succeed in the course. All students will be challenged at a level appropriate to their background. For example, in 101 each student completes an individualized project. For this project you will be assigned a professor or TF as a mentor who will have a series of one-on-one meetings with you and help you set the ambition of your project to the right level for you. Students who have previously taken AP biology and chemistry courses might find the first few weeks of Biology 101 covers topics they have seen before, but in new ways, and the course will rapidly advance so that the large majority of the Biology 101-104 material will be new to all students.