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Physics major- Should I take biology with a lab?

  1. Jul 31, 2013 #1


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    Hey everyone, I'm wondering if, as a physics major, I should take labs with all of my other science classes as well? I'm taking a one year sequence in general chemistry over the next two semesters, which has a mandatory lab component. My main question pertains to biology. I'm going to be taking bio either in the spring, or maybe next fall, and I'm wondering if I should take it with a lab component.

    I have 3 different options. I can take a basic Intro to Biology course, either with or without a lab, or I can take a more advanced Principles of Biology course, which has a mandatory lab.

    Here are the course descriptions-

    Bio 103/104-An introduction to fundamental principles of biology including: nature of science, basic chemistry, the organization, structure and function of organisms, cell division, reproduction, genetics, evolution and ecology. The course is designed for the student with minimal science background. This course will satisfy science requirements for A.A., A.S. transfer, and A.A.S. degree students. (For non-science majors.) Credit will not be awarded for both BIO 103 and BIO 104.

    Bio 105- A survey of the basic principles of biology including: nature of science, cells, structure and function of organisms, genetics, evolution and ecology. This course is designed to satisfy the biology requirement for general education and vocation-occupational curriculum majors. It provides a basis for understanding principles common to all major fields of biology for the science or professional major. Students who have completed BIO 105 with a grade of C or better will not receive credit for BIO 103 or BIO 104

    Any advice on which to take? From what I've gathered, Bio 105 is a more rigorous course, but I believe it assumes some of the prerequisite knowledge of chemistry, and bypasses a large portion of the chemistry based aspects of the course. The prior knowledge of chemistry won't be an issue, because I will most likely be taking it next fall, after having completed a year of general chemistry. For the purposes of my degree though, Bio 103, without a lab would fulfill my requirement. I feel like taking the more advanced course would be more fulfilling though. Biology is something that I do have at least a general interest in, so that would definitely help in taking the more advanced course.

    Any input would be appreciated. :)

    edit-The description for 103/104 says "for non-science majors," but I've checked and it would fulfill my life science requirement.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 1, 2013 #2


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    You don't want to take a science course for non-science, take 105. What do you have against lab? Bio lab at least is useful, no incline planes.
  4. Aug 1, 2013 #3


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    I've got nothing against labs. I think I'd prefer to take it with a lab really, but considering that I'll be taking a couple other science classes with labs at the same time...I'm wondering if it would be too much to take on at one time.

    I've talked with my adviser about it, and he doesn't even know why the 103/104 courses are designated as being for "non-science majors." No one in the school really seems to understand why they are.
  5. Aug 1, 2013 #4


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    I would keep the following in mind:

    1. If medical school is at all a possibility for you, you generally need a full year biology course with a lab as a prerequisite. The same goes for other professions such as dentistry or optometry.

    2. A lot of physics research and industrial applications lie in the biomedical sector. You may want to consider careers in medical physics, biophysics, biomedical engineering, etc. While there won't necessarily be a prerequisite to get involved in these, a strong foundation in biology is certainly helpful to have a big picture understanding of the applications of physics research in these areas. So the more you know, the better.

    3. I know it's school and program specific, but first year biology labs "tend" not to be as time-consuming as physics labs as there tends to be less of a focus on error analysis and more emphasis on demonstrating various prinicples that are talked about in class and introducing general processes.

    Also you may want to ask yourself: are you in school to do the minimum necessary to get your degree or to get an education in the subjects that really interest you?
  6. Aug 1, 2013 #5


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    Thanks! That's exactly the type of information I was looking for.

    1. Medical school isn't really a possibility. I've never even really considered that as a potential path.

    2. My main interests lie in particle physics, but I'm still fairly early in my undergrad, so it's quite possible that these interests will change. That's kind of one of the ways I was seeing things though, that a broad exposure to more rigorous material would be beneficial, and keep more potential doors open.

    3. Assuming that I take bio fall semester of next year, I'd have it at the same time as university physics II, intro differential equations, intermediate spanish I, and possibly a philosophy class. My main concern was whether or not a bio lab would take up too much time when mixed with these other classes. It's good to know that biology lab won't be quite as time consuming as other labs. I don't even really know what would be involved in the lab, so that's something to look into.

    I'm definitely not in school to do the minimum. I thoroughly enjoy exposing myself to different fields of study, and accumulating as much knowledge as I can about a wide range of topics. However, I don't want to let my GPA slip because I'm overloading, which was basically my main concern. It sounds like it shouldn't be too big of a deal to just take the more advanced biology class though, so that puts me a bit more at ease.

    Thanks for the input!
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