Not all courses are offered each year. Please check the Official Graduate Biology Course offerings here:

Newly admitted graduate students must read the advising information before registering for courses, and request that the advising block to be removed by the Biology Graduate Office (

Students take several courses to make up the 6 credits required for their MSc degree, which must include one of BIOL5038 1.5 (Current Topics in Molecular and Cellular Biology), BIOL 5086 1.5 (Critical Skills in Ecology and Evolution), or BIOL 5100 1.5 (Critical Skills in Animal Physiology). MSc students in the Neuroscience Graduate Diploma program may take BIOL 5146 3.0 (Fundamentals in Neuroscience I) in lieu of BIOL 5038, BIOL 5086 or BIOL 5100.

Biology Graduate Office
Tel: 416-736-2100 ext. 77821
150B Farquharson Building

Students can take combinations of courses to make up the credits required for their degree. A number of these courses are offered in any particular year. Most of the courses will have fairly low enrolments (typically 6-10 students).

Graduate students from other Ontario Universities, interested in enrolling in a York graduate course, should consult their own graduate program regarding Ontario visiting graduate student plan (OVGS) procedures.

Molecular and Cell Biology


Biology 5027 1.5: Topics in Molecular Biology I: Gene Expression

This  course covers the area of gene expression, including topics in chromatin remodelling, mechanisms of transcriptional activation/repression and activation of transcription factors by extracellular signals.

Prerequisites: undergraduate courses in biochemistry and molecular biology.

Biology 5028 1.5: Topics in Molecular Biology II: Proteins

This  course covers the area of proteins, including topics in protein synthesis, folding, transport, regulation and degradation.

Prerequisites: undergraduate courses in biochemistry and molecular biology.

Biology 5029 1.5: Topics in Molecular Biology III: Nucleic Acids

This  course covers the area of the structure and function of nucleic acids including DNA replication, recombination and repair, DNA and RNA polymerases, telomerases, and several aspects of mRNA processing and metabolism.

Prerequisites: undergraduate courses in biochemistry and molecular biology.

Biology 5030 1.5: Topics in Molecular Biology IV. Signal Transduction

This course covers signal transduction including the activation of cell surface receptors, the generation of secondary messengers and intracellular ionic currents.

Prerequisites: Biology background with courses in plants, genetics, cell biology, and molecular biology; and permission from course director.

Biology 5037 1.5: Advanced Genetics

This course will address recent advances in Drosophila, C. elegans and plant genetics. Techniques such as genetic dissection, genetic screens, methods for manipulating genes, chromosomal analysis, transposon and enhancer tagging, and positional cloning will be included in the lecture topics.

Prerequisite: Undergraduate Introductory Genetics Course.

Biology 5038 1.5: Current Topics in Molecular and Cellular Biology

This course is designed to introduce students to the process of scientific inquiry and hypothesis-based research. Students will be taught different formats of scientific writing and oral presentation.

Ecology and Evolution


Biology 5072 1.5: Sociobiology and Sociogenomics

This  course will introduce students to the diversity of research belonging to the field of sociobiology, trace the history of the subject, and discuss the recent contribution of genomic biology to the topic.

Biology 5081 3.0: Introduction to Biostatistics

This course examines common statistical methods used in biology. Data science and statistical workflows are developed. Descriptive statistics, generalized linear models, regression, nonparametric tests, bootstrapping, and randomization tests are considered. The r programming and software environment will be used for data analysis.

Biology 5086 1.5: Critical Skills in Ecology and Evolution

In this  course, reviews expectations and responsibilities of graduate research in ecology and evolution.  It trains student in communicating research in oral and written forms, and in the importance of understanding the deep history of ideas in their research field.

Biology 5087 1.5: Invasion and Community Ecology

This  course will explore topics in contemporary community ecology including a focus on invasion by non-native species. General principles, current hypotheses, and specific case studies will be used to examine the relevance of invasion to community construction, resilience, and structure.

Biology 5088 1.5: Advanced Topics in Ecology and Evolution

This  course will introduce graduate students to classical and recent literature in Ecology and Evolution, outline the current state of the field, and explain the contribution of novel experimental and empirical approaches to solving evolutionary and ecological questions. Students will also be exposed to the latest methodological innovations in the field.

Biology 5098 1.5: Conservation Biology

This course examines current topics in conservation biology through discussions, debate and review of recent theory and empirical studies in conservation biology. We will explore the causes and consequences of biodiversity loss in different taxa, the role of loss of genetic diversity in driving population declines, and the extent to which species have and will evolve in response to human impacts and multiple environmental stressors.

Biology 5221 1.5: Phylogenetics

This  course deals with i) the principles of phylogenetic reconstruction using cladistic methodology ii) the utility of phylogenetic approaches to areas other than systematics iii) computer programs to perform phylogenetic analyses.

Animal Physiology


Biology 5128 1.5: Current Topics in Comparative and Integrative Animal Physiology

This course covers topics in comparative animal physiology with an emphasis on regulatory mechanisms and homeostasis. Topics include endocrinology, neurobiology, metabolism osmotic and ionic regulation, reproduction and highlight modern integrative physiology techniques. Examples are drawn from vertebrate and invertebrate animals.

Biology 5100 1.5: Critical Skills in Animal Physiology

This course reviews expectations and responsibilities of graduate research in Animal Physiology.  It trains students in communicating research in oral and written forms, and in the importance of understanding the deep history of ideas in their research field. This course is being offered Fall 2017.

This course is required for all new MSc students in the Animal Physiology stream.

Biology 5151 1.5: Current Topics in Endocrinology

This  course will provide students with basic knowledge on Endocrinology, including chemical natures, synthesis and secretion, regulation, signaling transduction pathways, and endocrine/paracrine/autocrine regulation of physiological processes. It will also introduce students to experimental approaches and recent advances i the field of Endocrinology. In addition, students will learn how to analyze and critique research papers, summarize key findings and communicate the information to others. Finally, we will discuss various aspects of how to prepare a research proposal.

Biology 5152 1.5: Current Topics in Epithelial Physiology

This course covers advanced topics in epithelial (and endothelial) physiology. An emphasis is placed on the importance of epithelial (and endothelial) transport processes to the normal physiological function of organ systems, but all aspects of epithelial (and endothelial) physiology are open for consideration. Examples will be drawn broadly from metazoans and will include both vertebrate and invertebrate organisms. Modern approaches that consider epithelial physiology are to be highlighted.

Biology 5153. 1.5: Physiology of Global Change

This course focusing on global environmental change (past and present) covering broad ranges of topics: from changing global temperatures to ocean acidification. Changing environments are discussed in terms of the resulting physiological stresses and adaptations that have occurred/are occurring in diverse taxa. Emphasis is placed on basic physiology principles, biochemistry, and molecular biology in the context of evolution and ecology.

Cross-Listed Courses

Biology 5131 3.0: Molecular Basis of Muscle Physiology

This course examines the molecular basis of muscle development, growth and regeneration.

  • Course Description

Same as Kinesiology & Health Science 6351 3.0.

Biology 5132 3.0: Advanced Respiratory Physiology in Health and Exercise

This course consists of an examination of salient research on the respiratory system in relation to health and exercise, including an exposure to relevant laboratory techniques. This course is not being offered this year.

  • Course Description

Same as Kinesiology & Health Science 6310 3.0.

Biology 5133 3.0: Neuromuscular Physiology

This course examines the physiology of the neuromuscular system as it relates to exercise and to health. Special emphasis is placed on fatigue and the adaptations to training. This course is not being offered this year.

  • Course Description

Same as Kinesiology & Health Science 6350 3.0.
Prerequisite: An introductory course in mammalian physiology is required. Courses in exercise, muscle and neurophysiology are recommended.

Biology 5134 3.0: Vascular Biology in Health and Disease

Understanding the cellular composition and function of the vascular system provides the basis in this course for discussing the processes of angiogenesis, atherosclerosis, inflammation and ischemia-reperfusion injury with an emphasis on current advances in pharmacological and genetic therapies.

Same as Kinesiology & Health Science 6301 3.0.

Biology 5135 3.0: Visualspatial Memory and Goal-Directed Action

The course examines how the brain represents, updates, and transforms spatial information from the senses, primarily vision, into goal-directed movements of the eyes, head, and hand.  This course is not being offered this year.

Same as Psychology 6260 3.0 and Kinesiology & Health Science 6160 3.0.
Prerequisite: Psychology 3250, Biology 4370, Kinesiology 4500 or 4505.

Biology 5136 3.0: Perception and Action

This course looks at some of the biological and neurophysiological principles that underlie the representation of the spatial world and the sensory and motor processes with which we interact with the world. Specific examples of the realization of general principles are drawn from how we know about and control our own movements, including control of eye and head movements, reaching and pointing and locomotion and navigation. The course considers how various senses are transduced, coded, centrally represented and eventually converted into action.

Same as Kinesiology & Health Science 6161 3.0 and Psychology 6750P 3.0.

Biology 5137 3.0: Brain Mechanisms of Movement in Health and Disease

This course surveys the role of different cerebral cortical and sub-cortical areas in controlling voluntary movements.  Following a review of fundamental concepts in motor control and basic neuroanatomy, students give presentations summarizing what is currently known about the motor function of different brain regions. Data from theoretical, experimental, and patient studies will be used to illustrate how various areas such as primary motor, premotor, parietal, and cerebellar cortices are involved in the planning and execution of sensory-guided voluntary motor behaviour.

Same as Kinesiology & Health Science 6150 3.0 and Psychology 6235 3.0.

Biology 5139 3.0: Advanced Exercise I: Muscle

Advanced topics in exercise physiology and biochemistry of muscle, including energy metabolism, fatigue, cell signalling and the molecular adaptations to exercise and disease states. Discussion of original research articles in exercise physiology.

Prerequisite: York undergraduate courses Arts/Science Kinesiology 4010 3.0: Physiology of Exercise or equivalent.
Same as Kinesiology & Health Science 6370 3.0.

Biology 5141 3.0: Brain and Behaviour: Cognitive Systems

This course examines cognitive systems that guide our awareness, behaviour, and mental capacity. Major emphasis is placed on attentional systems and the study of consciousness.

Same as Kinesiology & Health Science 6153 3.0 and Psychology 6278 3.0

Biology 5142 3.0: Laboratory Methods of Perceptual Psychology

This course is not being offered this year.

This course teaches students how to design and caary out perceptual and cognitive experiments that require careful control of visual stimuli. It covers practical laboratory methods, as well as theoretical background material that is needed in order to design experiments intelligently. Topics include: programming in MATLAB, display calibration, stimulus design, psychometric functions and thresholds, data analysis, signal detection theory, ideal observers, and low-level sensory encoding.

  • Course Description

Same as Psychology 6274 3.0.

Biology 5143 3.0: Neurobiology of Disease

This course will focus on molecular and cellular mechanisms that give rise to disease in the developing and mature nervous system. The contribution of genetic, developmental and environmental factors in the causation of human diseases will be specifically addressed.

  • Course Description

Same as Kinesiology & Health Science 6154 3.0.

Biology 5144 3.0: Computer Programming for Experimental Psychology

This graduate course covers computer programming methods that are useful in experimental psychology. Topics include the MATLAB programming language, data files, curve fitting, Monte Carlo simulations, statistical tests, journal-quality data plots, 2D and 3D graphics (OpenGL), and interfacing to external devices.

Prerequisite: The course assumes no previous programming experience, and brings students to the point where they are able to write useful programs to advance their own research.
Cross-listed with PSY 6273 3.0 – host program.

Biology 5146 3.0: Fundamentals of Neuroscience I: Structures, Neurons and Synapses

  • Course Description

Same as Pscyhology 6273 3.0.

Biology 5147 3.0: Fundamentals of Neuroscience II: Circuits, Systems and Behaviour

This course will focus on a system approach to specialized circuits within the central nervous system that determine sensory, motor and cognitive systems.

Permission from course director is required to enrol in this course.
Same as Psychology 6253 3.0 and Kinesiology & Health Science 6156 3.0.

Biology 5149 3.0: Applications in Vision Science

Unique in Canada, this course is comprised of a series of one-week training units on different applications of vision science. Lectures will be presented by faculty members at York, and guest lectures will be presented by scientists and engineers from industry and government. In addition to the lectures, each student will complete a project addressing an application of vision science. Student presentations will be reviewed with mentors to augment communications training.

Same as Psychology 6228 3.0 and Kinesiology & Health Science 6149 3.0.

Research Progress Evaluation Course

Biology 6021 0.0, 6022 0.0: MSc Research Evaluation

These courses are offered Winter 2021. Progress in research is assessed annually as described above (see MSc Course Requirements).  

Biology 7021 0.0, 7022 0.0, 7023 0.0, 7024 0.0: PhD Research Evaluation

Theses courses are offered Winter 2021. Progress in research is assessed annually as described above (see PhD Course Requirements).