TFCBIO 91F : Foundation Biology 1


2024 Semester One (1243) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

An introduction to biological sciences with an emphasis on organism diversity, which includes bacteria, plants, fungi and animals. Fundamentals of classification, ecology and evolution are introduced and the study of a current topic in biology is used to develop research and critical thinking skills. Practical classes are both laboratory-based and field based.

Course Overview

TFCBIO 91F is one of the two courses that contribute to the Tertiary Foundation Certificate (TFC) program. The second course, TFCBIO 92F is offered in semester 2. The TFC program is for students returning to education after taking a break or for those who do not meet entry requirements for undergraduate programs. 

This course aims to provide a foundation of fundamental biological concepts in Ecology, Evolution and Biodiversity which are discussed throughout the practical classes and lectures as preparation for Stage 1 biological sciences courses: BIOSCI 101, BIOSCI 108 and BIOSCI 109. The course is designed to engage students in active learning in class using a range of learning approaches including problem(project)-based learning, contextual learning, and Mastery learning. Online resources provide opportunities for revision and practice.

Course Requirements

Restriction: BIOSCI 91F, 91P

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

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Describe real world contexts using and applying basic theoretical and practical concepts of Ecology. (Capability 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8)
  2. Communicate field work observations and data using scientific language. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 6, 7 and 8)
  3. Explain evolutionary thinking, the types of evidence for macroevolution and the major environmental factors affecting it. (Capability 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  4. Explain microevolutionary processes and apply to current examples. (Capability 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  5. Describe and give examples of Earth’s biodiversity within the three domains of life. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6)
  6. Develop skills for independent learning and skills that enable working with others to coordinate activities that achieve group/team objectives. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Coursework 42% Group & Individual Coursework
Test 18% Individual Test
Final Exam 40% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6
Final Exam


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Key Topics

1. Ecology
2. Evolution
3. Biodiversity

Special Requirements

As per Tertiary Foundation Certificate regulations attendance is recorded at all lectures, practicals (labs and field trip) and at tutorials (reviews).

Field trip
There is a compulsory field trip for one day, to an island in the Hauraki Gulf in week four. (Check Canvas for field trip date.)
  • Students must complete a field activity form before completing field work.
  • There are no extra costs associated with the field trip, however you will need to make your own way to the downtown Ferry Building on the day of the field trip.
  • Attending a field trip is essential to being able to complete an assessment.
  • Fieldwork involves approximately 4 hours of outdoor research, identifying plants and birds, along unpaved bush tracks. About 2km of walking is required, this will be at a slow pace to avoid disturbing the birds and there will be regular stops to make observations. The ground is uneven and could be slippery. Please discuss any accessibility issues with the course coordinator Mandy Harper (, as we are able to adjust for student needs.
  • Students must bring their lunch and adequate water (at least one litre), as there are no shops.
  • You will also need to bring appropriate clothing (sunhat, raincoat, warm layers) and comfortable covered footwear (laced shoes e.g. trainers or 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).
  • Toilets are available at the field site.

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 three hours of lectures per week, three hours of labs per fortnight. Students are expected to spend additional hours each week reviewing notes and lecture material, and working on assignments and/or test preparation.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is expected at scheduled activities including lectures, in-course tests and labs as per the TFC rules and regulations to complete the theory and practical components of the course.
Lectures will also be available as recordings. Other learning activities including labs and tutorials will not be available as recordings.
The course will not include live online events.
Attendance on campus is required for tests and the exam.
The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable (see TFC 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 (lecture) book and lab guide are provided. The text book (see course homepage on Canvas) can be purchased from Ubiq (University Bookshop).

A lab coat and safety glasses are provided for laboratories.

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.

Feedback from previous cohorts has changed the assessment, pace, and topic choices in the course. We continually review the course and draw upon the collective experience and wisdom of our students as well as our staff, in developing and fine-tuning this course.

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 16/11/2023 09:57 a.m.