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Botany

Purpose of Course  showclose

Botany is the study of plants.  Because species in the plant kingdom have characteristics that make them distinct from any other form of life, they are particularly interesting subjects for the study of evolution and physiology.  For example, whereas most organisms are dependent on other organisms for energy, plants can capture energy directly from photons of light and convert it into a usable form through the process of photosynthesis.  For this reason, plants are referred to as the “producers” in a habitat.  Unlike the cells of other organisms, plant cells have rigid cell walls constructed from the inside out (rather than the outside in) during mitosis and cytokinesis.  Plants also have a variety of unique reproductive and dispersal mechanisms that allow them to quickly adapt to, occupy, and invade far-flung areas, despite their general immobility.

In this course, you will learn the basics of plant biology.  We will begin with plant anatomy, learning the names and functions of all of the parts of a plant.  We will then move on to plant physiology, where you will learn about photosynthesis, growth, and reproduction.  Next, we will study plant evolution according to the fossil record and will take a general look at the diversity of plant life in existence today.  Finally, we will discuss the ways in which plants fit into the global ecology, highlighting their importance in any habitat.

This course will prepare you for further study in the fields of botany and horticulture.  It will also be useful to students of ecology, evolution, and resource management.

Course Information  showclose

Welcome to BIO306:  Botany!  Below, please find general information on this course and its requirements. 

Course Designer: Attorney John W. Rooney, Ph.D.

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

Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work
through each unit and all of its assigned materials.  You will also need to complete:

  • Subunit 2.1.4 Assessment and Assignments
  • Subunit 2.2 Assessments
  • Subunit 3.2.2 Assessment
  • Subunit 3.2.3 Assessment
  • Subunit 3.2.2.2.1.4 Assessments
  • The Final Exam

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 quizzes and problem sets 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 83.5 hours 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 14 hours.  Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to complete subunit 1.1.1 on Monday night (2 hours); subunits 1.1.2.1 to 1.1.2.2 on Tuesday night (2 hours); subunits 1.1.2.3 to 1.1.2.4 on Wednesday night (2 hours), etc…

Tips/Suggestions: As noted in the “Course Requirements,” BIO101 and B102 are pre-requisites for this course.  If you find yourself struggling with topics you covered in these courses as you progress through this course, consider taking a break to revisit BIO101 and BIO102.


Botany is a rich and diverse subject, and sometimes it is easy to “lose sight of the forest for the trees.” You may find yourself so focused on a detailed topic such as, say, hornworts, photosynthesis, or diatoms, that you lose sight of the big picture.  The lack of a single primary resource makes this even more likely.  For this reason, I highly recommend that you outline and take notes as you progress through the course, and review your outline and notes frequently.  This will be useful when preparing for your Final Exam.



Learning Outcomes  showclose

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

  • Identify and describe the functions of the different cells, tissues, and organs that make up a plant.
  • Describe the major life processes in plants (photosynthesis, respiration, transpiration, growth and development, and reproduction) at the tissue, organ, cellular, and molecular level.
  • Explain the history and evolution of plants on earth.
  • Discuss plant diversity and identify the major characteristics of plant phylogenetic divisions. 
  • Explain how plants fit into the global ecological system and why they are essential for life on earth.

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.

√    Have completed the following courses from “The Core Program” of the Biology discipline: BIO101: Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology, BIO101: LabBIO102: Introduction to Evolutionary Biology and Ecology, and BIO102: Lab.

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