• Course Introduction

        • Time: 57 hours
        • Free Certificate
        Welcome to BIO101: Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology. This course is designed for students who want to learn about and appreciate basic biological topics while studying the smallest units of biology: molecules and cells.

        Molecular and cellular biology is a dynamic discipline. There are thousands of opportunities within the medical, pharmaceutical, agricultural, and industrial fields. In addition to preparing you for a diversity of career paths, understanding molecular and cell biology will help you make sound decisions that can benefit your diet and health.

        First, read the course syllabus. Then, enroll in the course by clicking "Enroll me in this course". Click Unit 1 to read its introduction and learning outcomes. You will then see the learning materials and instructions on how to use them.

      • Unit 1: Introduction to Biology

        Biology is the study of life. While biologists have made great strides in discovering things on earth, there are still many new things to learn. The first fundamental questions are: What is Life? What does it mean to have life? These inquiries are essential to the new discoveries that biologists realize and make known every day. With such a vast scope of information, biologists must organize these discoveries that will stand the test of time. In this unit we introduce the major topics a biologist studies and the theories they use and apply to their work.

        Completing this unit should take you approximately 4 hours.

      • Unit 2: Basic Chemistry

        Nature is not based on one field of study. It incorporates biology, physics, chemistry, and other academic disciplines. Life is multidisciplinary and is driven by chemical processes. Since so many biology topics overlap with basic principles of chemistry, you need a basic understanding and appreciation of chemistry to fully understand biology. For example, in Unit 1 we discussed that the atom is the first part of the biological hierarchy. In this unit we provide an understanding of this foundational level of organization.

        Completing this unit should take you approximately 5 hours.

      • Unit 3: Biological Molecules

        Biological molecules are the essential molecules needed for life. These molecules can be organic or inorganic. Organic chemistry is the study of carbon, which is an element that forms strong covalent bonds essential for the foundational structures of all living things. Water, salts, acid and bases are mostly essential inorganic molecules that facilitate many biological processes.

        All organisms contain the organic biological molecules – carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and nucleic acid – which are essential to life. This unit will help you understand the structures and functions of these organic molecules and how our body needs them to function properly.

        Completing this unit should take you approximately 5 hours.

      • Unit 4: Cells and Cell Membranes

        Cells are the smallest units of life. In this unit we explore the characteristics, components, and functions of cells. Learning about the structures of cells, allows us to see the similarities and differences among organisms. Bacteria, plant, animal, and fungus cells are similar in many ways and contain many of the same small structures known as organelles. However, some characteristics help distinguish whether a cell belongs to an animal, plant, fungus, or bacteria.

        For example, all plant cells contain cell walls, while animal cells lack this particular extracellular structure. The water within a cell that presses against the cell wall gives a plant its rigidity and your celery its crunch!

        Completing this unit should take you approximately 10 hours.

      • Unit 5: Enzymes, Metabolism, Cellular Respiration

        Metabolism refers to the sum total of every chemical reaction in every organism. Cells use enzymes and metabolic pathways to conduct these chemical reactions. It is essential to understand the reactions that comprise metabolism to learn how organisms acquire and use energy to survive. Since this process is quite complicated, we will explore it from several different angles in this unit.

        Completing this unit should take you approximately 9 hours.

      • Unit 6: Photosynthesis

        Have you ever wondered how a plant grows from a tiny acorn into a giant oak tree? Where does all that biomass come from? How does it get the energy to grow? Photosynthesis is the fascinating process plants use to convert light energy to chemical energy. Because plants are at the bottom of the food pyramid in almost all ecological systems, understanding how they grow and develop will give you a greater understanding of your environment.

        Completing this unit should take you approximately 4 hours.

      • Unit 7: Cellular Reproduction: Mitosis

        Organisms require their cells to divide for the purposes of reproduction, growth, development, or repair. Cellular division is divided into two phases: mitosis and cytokinesis. Mitosis involves the division of the nuclear chromosomes, while cytokinesis is the division of the cytoplasmic components into new daughter cells. Serious consequences, such as cancer, can occur if this cell cycle is disrupted in some way.

        Completing this unit should take you approximately 6 hours.

      • Unit 8: Cellular Reproduction: Meiosis

        Meiosis is a specialized type of cellular reproduction that only occurs in the ovaries and testes and results in an egg or sperm, respectively. Sexual reproduction is responsible for the amazing amount of diversity within a species. When sperm fertilizes an egg, the resulting offspring contain genes from the father and the mother. In essence, you contain, at least in a small part, genes from ALL of your ancestors.

        Completing this unit should take you approximately 4 hours.

      • Unit 9: Mendelian Genetics and Chromosomes

        Do you ever wonder why you look like your brother or sister, or where you got your freckles from? Are you concerned about developing a disease another family member struggles with? These are the types of questions that can be answered with an understanding of genetics. In this unit we learn about the basic principles of inheritance and how likely it is to pass on certain traits from one generation to another.

        Completing this unit should take you approximately 5 hours.

      • Unit 10: Gene Expression

        In this unit, we learn about the universal genetic codes deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA). We call DNA and RNA universal because we find them in every known organism. As we learned in Unit 7, the DNA and RNA in every organism are made up of the same few ingredients.

        However, extremely slight differences often account for the differences between species. What makes a dog different from a toadstool? What accounts for the differences within species? What makes you different from your neighbor? This unit will give you a greater understanding of the genetic code and its impact on your life.

        Completing this unit should take you approximately 5 hours.

      • Study Guide

        This study guide will help you get ready for the final exam. It discusses the key topics in each unit, walks through the learning outcomes, and lists important vocabulary. It is not meant to replace the course materials!

      • Course Feedback Survey

        Please take a few minutes to give us feedback about this course. We appreciate your feedback, whether you completed the whole course or even just a few resources. Your feedback will help us make our courses better, and we use your feedback each time we make updates to our courses.

        If you come across any urgent problems, email contact@saylor.org or post in our discussion forum.

      • Certificate Final Exam

        Take this exam if you want to earn a free Course Completion Certificate.

        To receive a free Course Completion Certificate, you will need to earn a grade of 70% or higher on this final exam. Your grade for the exam will be calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you can take it again as many times as you want, with a 7-day waiting period between each attempt.

        Once you pass this final exam, you will be awarded a free Course Completion Certificate.

      • Saylor Direct Credit

        Take this exam if you want to earn college credit for this course. This course is eligible for college credit through Saylor Academy's Saylor Direct Credit Program.

        The Saylor Direct Credit Final Exam requires a proctor and a proctoring fee of $25. To pass this course and earn a Proctor-Verified Course Certificate and official transcript, you will need to earn a grade of 70% or higher on the Saylor Direct Credit Final Exam. Your grade for this exam will be calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you can take it again a maximum of 3 times, with a 14-day waiting period between each attempt.

        Once you pass this final exam, you will be awarded a Credit-Recommended Course Completion Certificate and an official transcript.