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University of California, Irvine

Preparation for Introductory Biology: DNA to Organisms

University of California, Irvine via Coursera

This course may be unavailable.


This course is designed for students who are taking or about to take introductory biology at the college level.  Its focus will be providing the repeated practice and critical thinking activities that will enable students to be successful in the class in which they are formally enrolled.

WARNING: This course is more "strict" than many Coursera courses:

  • It makes heavy use of peer assessment assignments. They are required to earn a Distinction certificate.
  • Quizzes are timed
  • All quizzes and peer assessments have weekly due dates

This course will cover the foundational concepts of cell biology and chemistry:

  • Parts of a cell and its membrane
  • Polarity, charge and water
  • Membrane transport, rearranging the cell and  cell movement
  • Biological macromolecules and their functional chemistry
  • Manufacturing and transporting of proteins
  • Membrane potentials and action potentials
  • Genes, alleles, mutations
  • Cellular respiration, photosynthesis as redox reactions

This course is part of a research project to study student learning at UCI. The study information sheet is posted here. You can opt out of your data being used as part of anonymous analysis by contacting Dr. Sun as listed on the information sheet.


  • Week One: Molecules, polarity, cell membranes and water movement
  • Week Two: Protein synthesis and localization
  • Week Three: Neurophysiology, genes and mutations
  • Week Four: Redox reactions, respiration and photosynthesis

Taught by

Diane O'Dowd and Adrienne Williams


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