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Haverford College
Department of Biology


A revolutionary expansion is occurring in our ability to understand the structure and function of living organisms at the cellular and molecular levels. The traditional lines that used to demarcate the areas of genetics, biochemistry, microbiology, and cell physiology have dissolved, particularly in the research laboratory. This change has necessitated an approach to the teaching of biology that emphasizes the common molecular basis of these disciplines and the involvement of students in the process of discovery so they have the conceptual tools to both follow and contribute to the rapid advances. The following course descriptions reflect Haverford's approach to molecular and cellular biology. The courses are built in a series of stages:

Take a Peek...

Watch and listen to Haverford Students discuss the Biology program's lab research and experience from Sophomore to Senior year.

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Perspectives on Biology: Learning about Biology for non-majors

Perspectives in Biology courses without prerequisites are offered at the 100-level for exploration by students interested in learning about biology but not intending to major in the subject. These are appropriate for students from all backgrounds and disciplines and are separate from the major track.

Sophomore Year

The major curriculum begins in the sophomore year with Cell Structure and Function (Biology 200a and 200b), a course in cellular and molecular biology. Successful completion of one natural science course (which includes a laboratory experience) at Haverford, Bryn Mawr or Swarthmore College is a prerequisite for Biology 200a.

Junior Year

The junior year curriculum consists of two junior laboratory courses (300a and 300b) and a suite of half-semester 300-level lecture courses, of which majors must complete four, two of which must represent a "core" discipline (designated 301 through 306 and 312). At least one semester of advanced coursework (200 level or higher) in a natural sciences department other than Biology is also required.

Senior Year

In the senior year students select one from a series of 350-level advanced seminar courses in which scientific reviews and articles drawn from the primary literature are examined and discussed in detail. These courses are designed to immerse students in contemporary developments in a particular area of cell, molecular, or developmental biology and are intended to develop critical faculties as well as creative talents.

Seniors also participate in a 400-level senior research tutorial. The tutorial may be taken for single or double credit per semester in the senior year. It involves performing original research and reading and reporting on the current literature under the supervision of a faculty member. Topics of Senior Research Tutorials are chosen to lie within the areas of principal interest and expertise of the instructors.

Senior Departmental Studies (499) is a half credit course for senior majors, involving participation in the department's external seminar program and presentations of research projects to the department.

Interdisciplinary Studies within the Science Division

Alternative routes within the major are offered to students interested in interdisciplinary studies within the science division. Areas of Concentration are supported biochemistry; biophysics; scientific computing;and neural and behavioral studies (NBS). A new concentration is anticipated in Environmental Studies in the near future. In these interdisciplinary programs, a student majoring in biology takes an enhanced curriculum to fulfill the requirements of both their major and concentration.

Students may substitute some Bryn Mawr biology courses for some Haverford requirements with prior departmental approval. In general, students who take Bryn Mawr Biology 101 and 102 as freshmen are strongly advised to take Biology 200a and 200b as sophomores. Bryn Mawr Biology 101 and 102 cannot be substituted for the major requirement of Biology 200a and 200b.

Qualified students from other majors may be admitted to Biology 300 and other courses in the curriculum with the consent of the instructor.

Students wishing to combine the biology major with another major may do so in accordance with college guidelines for double majors. Such students must complete independently the full requirements of the biology major. At the present time, the biology department does not offer a minor.