What to expect in first year

First year biology at Monash provides students with an exceptional grounding in the knowledge and generic skills required by modern biologists and those interested in obtaining a broader-based science degree.

Student examining plant

It has been said that while the 20th century was the century of physics, the 21st century will be the century of biology. This is most likely due to the increased demand for a sustainable and healthy environment and through ongoing advances in the areas of genetics, medicine and ecology. This is an exciting time to be a biologist and studying biology provides you with the opportunity to be a part of these great changes!

The well-equipped first-year biology laboratory, which has state-of-the-art computing facilities and multimedia resources, is designed to maximise the learning experience, in individual, small and large group settings. We provide structured courses with excellent student support from well qualified and committed tutors, teaching associates and peer tutoring programs. We will prepare students for a broad range of biological and biomedical careers through high quality programs in basic biosciences. We will inspire and nurture your curiosity in order to improve our understanding of how our world evolved and operates. We create a flexible and innovative teaching program that provides students with the skills to learn, the motivation to want to learn, and opportunities to improve those skills that you wish and need to develop to your full potential.

Preparation for studying at tertiary level

First-year biology does not assume prior VCE study of biology. The flexible learning structure of the subject, with considerable staff and multimedia support and extensive self-learning opportunities, means that even if you have had no experience in biology you can excel. However, students who have studied VCE biology will be challenged and stimulated by the content and presentation of the course. English is a compulsory prerequisite, and VCE subjects such as biology, chemistry and mathematics are extremely useful. First-year biology is a prerequisite for many second year units and most third-year units have second-year prerequisites. The weekly contact hours for a student studying biological sciences units is two one-hour lectures and a one three-hour practical (or equivalent).


The first-year biology staff pride themselves on the special attention they give to the transition of students from secondary to tertiary education. In understanding the complexities and difficulties confronting students as they commence a university degree, student transition and orientation is more seemless, students feel more engaged with their studies, and their learning outcomes are enhanced.

BIO1011 Biology 1
  • Plant and animal biology
  • Structure & function of plant & animal cells
  • Cell biochemistry
  • Genetics & development biology
  • Evolutionary processes & ecology
BIO1022 Biology 2
  • Microbiology
  • Molecular biology
  • Integrated structure and function of animals at the subcellular, cellular, tissue, organ & organism levels
BIO1042 Environmental Biology
  • The biosphere
  • Plant & animal adaptations for living in the biosphere
  • Population, community & ecosystem ecology
  • The plant and animal biogeography of Australia
  • Human impacts, conservation biology & biodiversity
Generic Skills - all units
  • Scientific methods
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Information management and evaluation
  • Appropriate, effective and safe use of laboratory equipment
  • Data analysis and presentation
  • Effective peer group and individual learning