BIOSCI 108 : Biodiversity: Patterns of Life


2024 Semester One (1243) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Knowledge of biodiversity is fundamental to understanding our world. Students will become familiar with biological diversity and whakapapa beginning with viruses and leading through to microbes, plants, fungi and animals. Defining characteristics of major organismal groupings will be highlighted to provide students with an overview of the diversity of life on Earth, and the critical role that kaitiakitanga and maintaining biodiversity has for the future.

Course Overview

The focus of this course is to give the students an introduction to organism biodiversity via lecture content, topical New Zealand case studies, and a field trip to a unique urban restoration project. Course components are designed to develop group work, critical thinking, and scientific communication skills.

BIOSCI 108 must be taken by all students in the Biological Sciences major alongside its sister courses BIOSCI 109 Ecology and Evolution: The Continuum of Life and BIOSCI 101 Life! Origins and mechanisms. 

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: People and Place
Capability 2: Sustainability
Capability 3: Knowledge and Practice
Capability 4: Critical Thinking
Capability 5: Solution Seeking
Capability 6: Communication
Capability 7: Collaboration
Capability 8: Ethics and Professionalism
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Describe and discuss biological diversity (biodiversity) including species diversity (richness), genetic diversity, and ecosystem diversity (Capability 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  2. Explain the critical role that biodiversity has for enabling kaitiakitanga. (Capability 1, 3, 4, 6 and 8)
  3. Describe the biodiversity of Aotearoa of the past and present as well as predicting the future. (Capability 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  4. Explain how structure relates to function in organisms. (Capability 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  5. Describe and explain how to interpret the morphological and physiological diversity of a group of organisms in a phylogenetic framework. (Capability 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  6. Develop an awareness of Māori views of species relationships and whakapapa. (Capability 1, 3, 5, 7 and 8)
  7. Describe the biological domains and kingdoms. (Capability 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  8. Demonstrate scientific quantitative skills, such as the ability to evaluate experimental design, read graphs, and understand and use information from scientific papers. (Capability 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  9. Execute scientific research, including developing their own questions and hypotheses, designing an appropriate empirical approach, executing that approach, and analysing and interpreting data. (Capability 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7)
  10. Communicate original scientific work in writing and in oral presentations. (Capability 3, 4 and 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Laboratories 40% Group & Individual Coursework
Test 20% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 40% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Final Exam
Students must pass the practical (laboratories) and the theory (test and final exam) independently to pass the course overall. 


Tuākana Science is a multi-faceted programme for Māori and Pacific students providing topic specific tutorials, one-on-one sessions, test and exam preparation and more. Explore your options at

The Tuākana learning community offers a space within the institution for Māori and Pasifika students. We try to connect talent with opportunity and maybe have a kai as well. Check the BIOSCI108 CANVAS page for details.

Special Requirements

Field trip
There is a one off field trip during a single weekend to reserves in Auckland.
  • There are no extra costs associated with these field trips; however, you will need to make your own way to the reserves. Public transport details for getting to the reserves will be available in Canvas. 
  • Attending a field trip is essential to being able to write the reports for assessment. 
  • You can chose one of four time slots to attend the field trip (there are two slots per day): Students can attend on either a Saturday or Sunday, either in the morning or afternoon.
  • Fieldwork involves approximately 3 hours of outdoor research conducting vegetation surveys in grassland and bush. At the two potential sites access paths exist, but the survey work will have to be done off-track. Fairly minimal walking is required (< 1km) but the ground is uneven and could be slippery. Please discuss any accessibility issues with the course coordinator Leah Barnfather (; we are able to adjust for student needs. 
  • Students must bring their snacks and adequate water (at least one litre). There is a small cafe at Takaparawhau (Bastion Point), and a bakery opposite the Pourewa (Kepa Bush) site. 
  • You will also need to bring appropriate clothing (sunhat, raincoat, warm layers) and comfortable covered footwear (laced shoes e.g. trainers, boots, or gum boots; NO jandals or sandals) that you don't mind getting wet or dirty. Some gear can be borrowed from the department (e.g. raincoats and gumboots) and accompanying persons and service/guide dogs may be able to attend – please contact course coordinator Leah Barnfather ( for more information about these or to discuss other access requirements. 
  • Toilets are only available at Takaparawhau (Bastion Point); Pourewa (Kepa Bush) has no facilities on site (the nearest facilities are in a shopping mall several hundred meters away in the Eastridge Shopping Mall). There are no gender neutral toilets available. 

Students are required to supply and wear a lab coat while in the teaching lab.

Workload Expectations

Following University workload guidelines, a standard 15 point course represents approximately 150 hours of study.

Over the semester the teaching time will be 3 hours of lectures per week, 3 hours of labs per fortnight and a 3 hour field trip. For the 12 teaching weeks, this totals to 51 hours. Since the course as a whole represents approximately 150 hours of study, that leaves a total of 99 hours across the entire semester for independent study, e.g. reading, reflection, preparing for assessments/exams.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

As students must pass the practical (worth 40%) and the theory (worth 60%) independently to pass the course overall, attendance is required at scheduled activities including labs and field trips to complete components of the course.

Lectures will be taught on campus and available as recordings. Other learning activities including labs and field trips will not be available as recordings.

The course will not include live online events.

The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

The Course Guide (combined Lecture and Laboratory Guide) can be purchased from Ubiq the university bookstore, and will also be available as a PDF in Canvas.
Text book: Campbell Biology, Australian and New Zealand Version, 12th edition.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Staff welcome feedback on the course throughout the semester, including the SET evaluations. Please contact your course coordinator or student representative at any time with your feedback.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed for potential plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct, using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 06/11/2023 08:36 a.m.