BIOSCI 399 : Capstone: Biology: The Science of the 21st Century


2024 Semester Two (1245) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Major advances in biology have added immensely to the understanding of our world. These advancements will continue, and biological science will influence our future lives and world. Students will enhance their scientific skills by envisioning the innovative future of biology, and its likely cultural, political and economic impacts, globally, and within the context of Aotearoa and Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Course Overview

Haere mai and welcome to our capstone course, BIOSCI 399.

Biology is the science of the 21st century.  From pandemics, to climate change, to life on other worlds, biology is at the forefront of the most exciting and important human endeavours. It is an exciting time to be a biologist, and in BIOSCI 399, you will develop an understanding of the relevance of biology in the 21st century, from a scientific and social perspective. You will work individually and in groups to explore how contemporary and emerging biological knowledge has, or will have, an impact on the cultural, social, ethical, economic and political dimensions of Aotearoa New Zealand and global communities. Additionally, you will learn how to identify misinformation and hype about what is possible, what is plausible, and what is probable. 

This course is designed to contextualise your biological knowledge to real world issues and allow you to apply the skills you have acquired during your undergraduate degree. The skills and capabilities developed in this course will benefit those students who are entering into postgraduate research but will equally benefit those entering into the workforce directly after their studies. All students in the BSc majoring in biological sciences are required to pass this course as part of their degree. This course includes assessments designed for  individual and group work that will include presentations, written work and discursive activities. 

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: 30 points at Stage III in Biological Sciences

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 critique a programme of biological research that is expected to push the boundaries of knowledge and possibility. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  2. Identify, explain and evaluate of how a particular area of biological research can have profound consequences, intended and unintended, on the human, non-human, and non-living world. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  3. Identify and critically evaluate alternative solutions to challenges that might emerge as new biological knowledge develops and matures. (Capability 2, 3, 4, 5 and 8)
  4. Communicate how the future New Zealand and the world might be shaped by novel biological knowledge. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  5. Identify and use appropriate sources and resources to engage in evidence-based discussions and reviews of the topics discussed. (Capability 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  6. Identify and evaluate how modern and emerging biological knowledge has an impact on the social, cultural, ethical, political and financial dimensions of New Zealand and international communities. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  7. Demonstrate your ability to work both independantly, and as part of a team to develop ideas and communicate to a diverse audiences using a variety of formats. (Capability 6, 7 and 8)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Workshop assignments and weekly assignments 45% Group & Individual Coursework
Individual Assignment 10% Individual Coursework
Presentation 10% Group & Individual Coursework
Project article 30% Group & Individual Coursework
Final reflection 5% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Workshop assignments and weekly assignments
Individual Assignment
Project article
Final reflection

Attendance at workshops is compulsory; some assignments are completed within the workshop.


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

Key Topics

Key topics will be current themes in biology; these will be available via the Canvas page for the course.

Special Requirements

Attendance at workshops is compulsory.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 1 hour of lecture, a 2 hour tutorial per week, 3.5 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 3.5 hours of work on assignments and/or preparation per week.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is expected at scheduled activities. Attendance at workshops is required.

Lectures will be taught on campus and 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.

Students will be provided with a course information including initial reading lists on Canvas, at the start of the course.

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 31/10/2023 10:50 a.m.