Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology

Purpose of Course  showclose

Welcome to BIO101B, Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology.  This course is intended for the student interested in understanding and appreciating common biological topics in the study of the smallest units within biology: molecules and cells.

Molecular and cellular biology is a dynamic field.  There are thousands of opportunities within the medical, pharmaceutical, agricultural, and industrial fields (just to name a few) for a person with a concentrated knowledge of molecular and cellular processes.  This course will give you a general introduction of these topics.  In addition to preparing for a diversity of career paths, an understanding of molecular and cell biology will help you make sound decisions in your everyday life that can positively impact your diet and health.

Note that this course is an alternative to BIO101A, and that you may choose to take either BIO101A or BIO101B in order to learn about Molecular and Cellular Biology.  These courses cover the same material, but in a slightly different way.

This course provides students the opportunity to earn actual college credit. It has been reviewed and recommended for 3 credit hours by The American Council on Education (ACE). While credit is not guaranteed at all schools, we have partnered with a number of schools who have expressed their willingness to accept transfer of credits earned through Saylor. You can read more about our ACE program here.

Course Information  showclose

Welcome to BIO101B.  Below, please find general information on this course and its requirements. 

Course Designer: Ann Schlosser; the course materials were originally arranged by faculty from the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.

Primary Resources: This course is comprised of a range of different free, online
materials.  However, the course makes primary use of the following materials:

Please note that the Carnegie Mellon resource requires that you signup to create a login and password for free to access the open course initiative.

Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will have to review the material from all units (1-10).  Pay special attention to Units 1 and 2, as these lay the groundwork for understanding the more advanced, exploratory material presented in the latter units. You will also be required to complete:

  • Subunit 1.3 Problem Based Learning Assessment
  • Subunit 4.3 Problem Based Learning Assessment
  • Subunit 5.4 Problem Based Learning Assessment
  • Subunit 6.4 Problem Based Learning Assessment
  • Subunit 9.3 Problem Based Learning Assessment
  • Subunit 9.4 Laboratory Assignment
  • Subunit 10.6 Laboratory Assignment
  • The Final Exam
 The following laboratory assignments are optional
  • Subunit 1.4 Laboratory Assignment
  • Subunit 2.3 Laboratory Assignment
  • Subunit 3.4 Laboratory Assignment
  • Subunit 4.4 Laboratory Assignment
  • Subunit 5.5 Laboratory Assignment
  • Subunit 6.5 Laboratory Assignment
  • Subunit 7.4 Laboratory Assignment
  • Subunit 8.3 Laboratory Assignment

Note that you will only receive an official grade on your Final Exam.  However, in order to adequately prepare for this exam, you will need to work through the required assignments listed above.  It is optional, but recommended, that you also complete the traditional laboratory assignments listed above.

In order to “pass” this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the Final Exam. Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it.  If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.

Time Commitment: This course should take you a total of 102 hours (approximately 81 hours of resources and 21 hours dedicated to laboratories) to complete.  Each unit includes a “time advisory” that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit. These should help you plan your time accordingly. It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories and to determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit, and then to set goals for yourself. For example, Unit 1 should take you about 8.5 hours. Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to complete subunits 1.1 and 1.2 (a total of 3 hours) on Monday night; subunit 1.3 (a total of 2.5 hours) on Tuesday night; subunit 1.4 (a total of 3 hours) on Wednesday night; etc.

Tips/Suggestions: For more information on the topics covered in this course, please refer to BIO101A.  As you read or watch the lectures, it may be helpful to take notes.  It has been found that the physical act of writing helps a student retain material.  These notes can also act as a study guide for the Final Exam.

This course has been developed through a partnership with the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. Unless otherwise noted, all materials are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. The Saylor Foundation has modified some materials created by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges in order to best serve our users.

Khan Academy  
This course features a number of Khan Academy™ videos. Khan Academy™ has a library of over 3,000 videos covering a range of topics (math, physics, chemistry, finance, history and more), plus over 300 practice exercises. All Khan Academy™ materials are available for free at

A version of this course is also available in iTunes U.
Preview the course in your browser or view all our iTunes U courses.  

Learning Outcomes  showclose

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Relate biological concepts to daily living.
  • Characterize biological principles common to all organisms.
  • Explain the significance of biological principles to other fields of study.
  • Recognize the common relationships among scientific fields.
  • Demonstrate skills in using laboratory equipment.
  • Apply and evaluate application of the scientific method.
  • Transfer and apply your biological knowledge to solve problems in different settings.
  • Explain how matter and energy are stored and transformed by living systems.
  • Explain how information is stored, copied, transferred, and expressed in biological systems.
  • Describe the structure and function of biological macromolecules.
  • Describe the structure and function of cellular components.

Course Requirements  showclose

In order to take this course, you must:

√    Have access to a computer.

√    Have continuous broadband Internet access.

√    Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g. Adobe Reader or Flash).

√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer.

√    Have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.).

√    Have competency in the English language.

√    Have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

Unit Outline show close