7.012 | Fall 2004 | Undergraduate

Introduction to Biology



There are no formal prerequisites for this course, but we do presuppose high school-level biology and chemistry (especially familiarity with the fundamental aspects of chemical structure).

Prior to taking this course, you may want to review Pre-7.01 Getting up to Speed in Biology, a self-paced course designed to help prepare students for their first college-level biology class.


Freeman, Scott. Biological Science. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002. ISBN: 9780130819239.

Spencer, Charlotte A. Genetic Testimony: a Guide to Forensic DNA Profiling. San Francisco, CA: Benjamin Cummings, 2003. ISBN: 9780131423381.


Regular weekly attendance is expected. Each recitation section meets twice per week for 50 minutes.


Tutors are available at no charge for all students who wish to have extra help with the course material, either on a one-time or on a regular basis.

Voluntary Laboratory

This semester is the second time we are offering a voluntary lab component as an exciting addition to 7.012.

The purpose of the labs is to give you a hands-on experience with the organisms, equipment, techniques, and thought process used by molecular biologists. You will have the opportunity to do experiments for yourselves, and a chance to learn the concepts that are addressed in lecture and section from a different angle. Experiments will include:

  • Isolating your own DNA
  • Generating and Finding Mutant Yeast
  • Performing Gene Therapy on Mutant Yeast
  • Setting up Yeast Matings
  • Screening Household Products for Carcinogens


There are six problem sets for this course. Of the six graded problem sets, the lowest grade is dropped in calculating your final grade (see below). The last problem set, Problem Set 7, will not be graded, however, the material on this problem set will be covered on the Final Exam. Although you may engage in general discussions of problems, sharing of answers is a violation of the trust placed in all students in the class, each of whom is entrusted with producing her/his own set of answers. Students who copy problem set answers or allow their problem sets to be copied may receive a 0 for all the Problem Sets (and thus lose 20% of the grade).

Completed problem sets must be put in the appropriate TA’s box in the wooden cart by the due date/time.

Note: Problem sets will not be accepted late and will be scored ZERO points if not turned in on time.


Three quizzes and a final exam are given in this course. The quizzes are given during the term and a comprehensive final (worth 2 quizzes), given during finals week.

Each of the term quizzes will take place in at least two locations, on the dates listed in the syllabus. See Quiz handouts for room assignments. The lowest letter grade score of the five (the 3 quizzes plus the final worth 2 quizzes) will be dropped when calculating your overall grade. Because we drop the lowest score, there will be no make-up quizzes and no conflict quizzes given for any reason. If you miss a term quiz, it will be the score that is dropped.

The Final Exam is a 3-hour, cumulative exam, covering the entirety of the course. The score on the final exam will be halved and each half counts as a quiz score when calculating your grade. The final represents two of the five quiz scores and must be taken, otherwise you lose 20% of your grade. If your score on the final is your lowest grade then one of the halves will be dropped.

The date, time, and location of the final will be announced as soon as this information is available. A conflict final exam may be scheduled by the registrar for students with legitimate exam conflicts.

Quiz Review Sessions will be held prior to each quiz – the dates, locations and times of the reviews will be announced during the term.

Any quizzes, exams, or problem sets that are not picked up by the end of the term will be disposed of.


ACtivities percentages notes
5 of 6 Graded Problem Sets 20% Lowest of 6 problem set scores dropped
4 of 5 Quizzes 80% Lowest grade of “five” quizzes dropped (3 one-hour quizzes during term plus the 2 quiz scores derived from the Final Exam, whose score will be divided in two, each half counting as one quiz score)

Course Info

Learning Resource Types
Lecture Videos
Problem Sets with Solutions
Exams with Solutions
Lecture Notes