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Biology

Female student in field of grain

Biology deals with fundamental questions about the origin and evolution of plants and animals, how living organisms interact with their environment, how whole organisms develop from single cells, and how the brain and nervous system work.

Biology students are introduced to the study of life, from the molecular level to the far-reaching interactions of the ecosystem. They can experience the excitement of discovery by carrying out their own projects under the supervision of top researchers.

Students can specialize in fields such as ecology and environmental sciences, molecular and developmental biology, and biotechnology. Many go on to graduate school and others head for medicine, dentistry, and other professional health sciences. Further career options include working in education, government, and industry.

Program options

Depending on how much they want to specialize, undergraduate students may elect to follow an Honours, Major, or Liberal program in Biology. Minors and interdisciplinary major programs are available to combine Biology with Mathematics, Neuroscience, Computer Science, and the McGill School of Environment, as well as other fields.

At the graduate level, the department’s particular strengths lie in cell, molecular and developmental biology, as well as plant science, neurobiology, evolutionary and behavioural ecology, conservation, and aquatic sciences. Professors’ research interests are extremely wide-ranging. Among the topics currently being explored are the molecular basis of plant stress responses, genetic mechanisms of embryo development, and conservation of tropical forests and reefs.

Department highlights

  • Students enjoy excellent opportunities for active research in the life sciences in the laboratories and at the field sites of outstanding scientist-professors.
  • Students have access to state-of-the-art research labs, plus an impressive roster of research and field stations, including the Phytotron for controlled growth of experimental plants, the Limnology Research Centre, the Gault Nature Reserve, Huntsman Marine Science Centre in New Brunswick, and the Bellairs Research Institute in Barbados. The program includes optional field courses in Quebec, New Brunswick and Barbados.
  • Molecular Genetics and Development Seminar Series, Organismal Seminar Series, Aquatic Seminar Series, and BEEF (Behaviour, Evolution, and Ecology on Fridays) present a variety of fascinating topics.
  • McGill Biology Students’ Union (MBSU). Visit their website.

More information

Departmental webpage for undergraduate studies

Calendar entry for Biology - see online calendar

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