Course Descriptions - Supporting Courses for Departmental, Interdisciplinary and Minor Programs

The courses listed below may serve as supporting courses for the biology and molecular biology majors. They may also serve as requirements or electives for interdisciplinary and minor programs offered by the Department of Biology.  The entire undergraduate catalog can also be accessed with the following link:   download pdf

 

Chemistry


CHE 117 Principles of Chemistry (4 SH). A course emphasizing stoichiometry, chemical equilibria, acids and bases, chemical kinetics, thermodynamics, electrochemistry, nuclear phenomena, and interactions of science and society. In the laboratory program students will investigate chemical systems, analyze observations and data, devise explanations, and communicate results. Prerequisites: High school chemistry and an acceptable score on a placement test or completion of CHE 111 with a grade of C- or better. Offered Fall and Spring semesters.

CHE 180 Inorganic Chemistry (4 SH). A study of the energetics of the bonding and reactions of inorganic compounds. Emphasis is given to the periodicity of the chemical and physical properties of the elements. Major themes of the course include effective nuclear charge, lattice energy, charge density, acid/base theories, and the descriptive chemistry of all of the elements. The laboratory includes the investigation of the energetics of reactions, the synthesis and analysis of coordination compounds, qualitative chemistry, and the communication of results. Prerequisite: CHE 117 with a grade of C- or better. P. Smith.

CHE 230 Chemical Analysis (4 SH). A study of the theoretical foundation and skills necessary for the solution of problems encountered in the area of quantitative chemical analysis, including classical and modern methods. Emphasis is given to the evaluation and presentation of data, sampling, equilibrium dynamics of analytically important reactions, experimental design, volumetric techniques, absorption and emission spectroscopy, electrochemical methods, and analytical separations. Examples and laboratory exercises will include environmental air, soil and water systems. Prerequisites: CHE 117, and MTH 135 or 150 (may be co-requisite). H. Boylan.(Also listed as ES 230.)

CHE 261 Organic Chemistry I (4 SH). An overview of organic chemistry. Organic molecules are compared by their functional group, focusing on nomenclature, physical properties, and the major chemical reactions used in synthesis and identification. Emphasis is also given to the areas of acidity, basicity, stereochemistry, aromaticity, and spectroscopy. Laboratory activities involve techniques for determination of physical and chemical properties, and methods of purification. Prerequisite: CHE 117. Offered Fall and Spring semesters. H. Boylan, S. Kennedy, L. Miller, T. Sherwood, P. Smith.

CHE 262 Organic Chemistry II (4 SH). A study of organic reactivity. This course details organic molecules by reactivity and emphasizes the differences between organic reactions. Specifically, organic reactions will be surveyed by type of reaction keying on the movement of electrons, molecular orbitals, and energetics. Spectroscopy is employed to monitor structural changes. Laboratory activities also probe the reactivity of molecules and explore the relationship between structure and reactivity. Prerequisite: CHE 261 with a grade of C- or better. Offered Spring Semester. L. Miller, T. Sherwood.

CHE 340 Instrumental Analysis (4 SH). A study of modern instrumentation used in the investigation of chemical systems. The theory, design, and application of spectroscopic, electrochemical, and surface analysis techniques are discussed. Basic electronics and the relationship between signal and noise are also discussed. Prerequisites: CHE 230 and PHY 142 or 152. Offered Fall Semester, alternate years. H. Boylan.

CHE 375 Green Chemistry (4 SH). A study of the principles, concepts, and applications of green chemistry. Particular attention will be given to industrial processes, catalysis, waste management, and renewable resources. Discussions will focus on the current literature on green chemistry. While the course does not include a laboratory, students will participate in a project that applies the principles of green chemistry to a laboratory experiment used in the chemistry curriculum. This project will serve as the culminating experience for the course. Prerequisites: CHE 230 and CHE 261. P. Smith.

CHE 380 Principles of Biochemistry (4 SH). A chemical study of proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and nucleic acids in a biological context. Emphasis is placed on the structure to function of these biological molecules and their context within organisms. Energy transductions and concepts of metabolism are also introduced. Prerequisite: CHE 261. L. Miller, T. Sherwood.

CHE 385 Biochemistry Laboratory (2 SH). A chemical investigation of proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and nucleic acids in the laboratory. Emphasis is placed on purification and characterization of biological molecules utilizing contemporary instrumentation and techniques. Prerequisite or co-requisite: CHE 380. S. Kennedy, L. Miller, T. Sherwood.


Computer Sciences


CS 151 Principles of Computer Science I (4 SH). A broad introduction to the discipline of computer science, with attention given to many components of the field. Topics include an examination of subfields of computer science, computer representation of data, an introduction to hardware structure, and fundamentals of programming languages. Special emphasis is given to techniques for problem solving and algorithm development, designing and implementing computer programs, and software analysis and verification methods. Prerequisite: prior programming experience recommended.

CS 152 Principles of Computer Science II (4 SH). A continuation of the study of the discipline of computer science. This course includes an introduction to data structures, simulation, and scientific uses of computing. Programming for searching and sorting data is covered, as well as an introduction to recursion. Prerequisite: CS 151.

CS 271 Neural Networks: The Computing Perspective (4 SH). A study of the structure, construction and capabilities of computational devices including neural networks, and their practical application to solving real-world problems. This is a cluster course, therefore students must also register for Neural Networks: The Biopsychological Perspective (PSY 261).


Environmental Science (ES) and Environmental Studies (ENV)


ES 160 Concepts of Environmental Science (4 SH). An investigation of the effect of humans on the Earth’s environment and on the other species that inhabit our planet. The course will look at the impact that an increasing human population has on the resource utilization, pollution production, habitat degradation, and the extinction of species. It will include a brief look at the policies and laws that specifically relate to environmental problems.

ES 230 Chemical Analysis (4 SH). A study of the theoretical foundation and skills necessary for the solution of problems encountered in the area of quantitative chemical analysis, including classical and modern methods. Emphasis is given to the evaluation and presentation of data, sampling, equilibrium dynamics of analytically important reactions, experimental design, volumetric techniques, absorption and emission spectroscopy, electrochemical methods, and analytical separations. Examples and laboratory exercises will include environmental air, soil and water systems. Prerequisites: CHE 117, and MTH 135 or 150 (may be co-requisite). H. Boylan. (Also listed as CHE 230.)

ES 360 Ecology (4 SH). A study of the structure of ecological populations, communities, and ecosystems, and the processes that affect them. Topics include population growth, regulation, and dynamics, population interactions, food webs, species diversity, succession, biogeography, and energy flow and nutrient cycling. Laboratories stress experimental design and data analysis. Prerequisite: C- or better in BIO 203. (Also listed as BIO 360.)

ES 250 Risk Assessment (4 SH). This course provides an introduction to risk assessment, and includes the characterization of hazard, exposure assessment, the quantification of risk, and the application of risk analysis to environmental decision making. Specific topics will include human and environmental risk assessment, sources of potential hazards, transport and transfer processes, acute and chronic exposure to hazardous substances, and the effects of stressors on individuals, populations, and communities of organisms. Risk assessment will be considered within a regulatory framework, and the limitations of the current risk analysis paradigm will be addressed. Prerequisites: BIO 203 and CHE 117.

ES 465 Introduction to GIS (4 SH). This course is an introduction to the theory and use of Geographic Information Systems, including the fundamental concepts of GIS, capabilities of GIS, and applications for dealing with spatial data. Key issues for discussion will include data input data models, database design and database queries, sources of information for spatial databases, spatial analysis, computational algorithms, and information presentation. Other issues such as the nature of geographic phenomena to be represented in a GIS, comparisons of different GIS representational schemes, and appropriate use of geographic information will also be covered. These topics will be discussed within an environmental context using ArcView, a PC-based GIS software package. A. Throckmorton. (Also listed as BIO 465.)

ES 601, 602 Environmental Science Capstone: Problem Analyses in Environmental Science (2 SH each). Interdisciplinary senior research project designed to study an environmental problem from an integrated, multidisciplinary viewpoint. Students work collectively to develop testable hypotheses, design and implement experiments to test their hypotheses, and present their results in comprehensive written and oral reports. Prerequisite: successful completion of all required courses in the major.

ES 560, 570, 580, 590 Internship (1-4 SH). Prerequisites: ES 160 and consent of the Environmental Science Committee for proposed internship.

ES 620, 630, 640, 650 Independent Study (1-4 SH). Prerequisites: completion of an acceptable proposal of an original experimental or observational project dealing with an environmental topic; minimum GPA 2.750 in the major; completion of ES 160; and consent of the ES committee.

ES 660, 670, 680, 690 Honors Research (1-4 SH). (Additional requirements and due dates should be obtained from the environmental science chair. Four additional semester hours of research may count as an elective.)

 

ENV 401 Environmental Studies Seminar (4 SH). The Environmental Studies Seminar is an integrative experiential and project-based course that is a capstone experience for all ENV minors. Students are expected to bring their discipline-specific expertise to the group and collaborate on a class project that identifies a problem, examines it from a multidisciplinary perspective and provides practical solutions. Prerequisites: ENV 101 and at least one ENV Group I elective (ES 160, ECO 270 or PS 251) or approval by instructor.

 

Geology


GEL 121 General Geology (4 SH). An introductory study of the earth, its materials, its structure, the forces which act upon it and modify it, human interactions with the earth, and the earth’s history. The laboratory includes field work in the area, as well as in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia.


Mathematics


MTH 135 Concepts of Statistics (4 SH). An introduction to the concepts of statistics. Topics include graphical and numerical summaries of data, confidence intervals and significance tests about hypotheses. Emphasis is placed on conceptual understanding and interpretation of data and statistics. Not available to students who have credit for BA/ECO 220, PSY 201, SSC 251, BIO 206.

MTH 150 Calculus I (4 SH). This course will focus on the fundamentals of differential calculus. Topics considered include functions, limits, continuous functions, differentiation and integration of functions with one real variable, applications of differentiation and the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus. Students will be introduced to some basic calculus proofs. This course is suggested for all students who expect to continue for any advanced degree including finance, law, and medicine.

MTH 152 Calculus II (4 SH). This course will focus on the fundamentals of integral calculus, including techniques and applications of integration. Other topics include infinite series and introductory topics from differential equations. Prerequisite: MTH 150.


Neuroscience


NS 341 Behavioral Neuroscience (4 SH). Analysis of how nervous system activity underlies sensory, perceptual and higher cognitive activities including motivation, memory, language, thought, and mental illness. A laboratory is included. A. Gittis. (Also listed as PSY 341 and BIO 433.)

NS 560, 570, 580, 590 Field Experience/Internship (1-4 SH). An opportunity for students to work in a research or applied setting. Regular contact with the Westminster College internship instructor is required. A reading list developed prior to actual internship activities, a journal and a paper integrating the readings, internship experience and other college course work are also required. Prerequisite: junior level standing. Staff.

NS 631, 632 Neuroscience Research I, II (4 SH). A two-semester guided research project. Projects can be supervised by any department participating in the neuroscience major. Students must participate in PSY 601, 602. A. Gittis.


Philosophy


PHI 218 Philosophy of Mind. The philosophy of mind is one of the most rapidly developing and vigorous areas in contemporary philosophy. New techniques in neuroscientific imaging are providing a steady flow of data requiring philosophical analysis and interpretation. Guided reading will be supplemented by historical primary sources and articles on neuropsychology. Since it is highly desirable that both philosophy majors and students of neuropsychology be given the opportunity to study philosophy of mind, this course will normally be offered as part of a cluster with PSY 262: Neuropsychology of Mind.


Physics


PHY 141 Foundations of Physics I (4 SH). The first semester of an introductory study of physics (mechanics, heat, electricity, magnetism, waves, light and modern physics) without calculus. Basic principles used in both semesters are introduced in the first semester. Some emphasis will be given to applications of physics to biological systems. A laboratory is included. Prerequisite: a good background in high school mathematics including algebra and trigonometry. Offered Fall Semester.

PHY 142 Foundations of Physics II (4 SH). The second semester of an introductory study of physics (mechanics, heat, electricity, magnetism, waves, light and modern physics) without calculus. Some emphasis will be given to applications of physics to biological systems. A laboratory is included. Prerequisite: PHY 141 or PHY 151. Offered Spring Semester.

PHY 151 Principles of Physics I (4 SH). The first semester of an introductory study of physics (mechanics, heat, electricity, magnetism, waves, light and modern physics). Basic principles used in both semesters are introduced in the first semester. Some basic concepts of calculus may be introduced as needed. A laboratory is included. Co-requisite: MTH 150 or higher. Offered Fall Semester.

PHY 152 Principles of Physics II (4 SH). The second semester of an introductory study of physics (mechanics, heat, electricity, magnetism, waves, light and modern physics). Calculus methods will be used. A laboratory is included. Prerequisite: PHY 151; Co-requisite: MTH 152 or higher. Offered Spring Semester.

PHY 221 Electronics (4 SH). An introductory course covering basic principles and applications of electrical engineering. Topics covered include steady-state and transient analysis of electrical networks, frequency response, op-amps, diodes, and transistors. A laboratory is included. Prerequisite: PHY 152. Offered on a rotating basis.


Psychology


PSY 101 Introduction to General Psychology (4 SH). Principles of human and animal behavior. The study of individual, group and institutional behavior in context. Offered every semester. Staff.

PSY 201 Statistical Methods and Analysis (formerly Research Methods and Analysis) (4 SH). An introduction to the experimental methodology, descriptive data analysis, statistical inference, and philosophy of science that are most germane to psychology. A laboratory is included. Prerequisite: PSY 101. S. Webster. 

PSY 261 Neural Networks: The Biopsychological Perspective (4 SH). An introduction to how biologically-oriented psychology analyzes such topics as memory, intelligence and consciousness as emerging from principles of neurocomputation. A cluster course. Must also register for CS 271. A. Gittis.

PSY 262 Neuropsychology of Mind (4 SH). This course surveys the contributions of psychology and neuroscience to understanding human thought and human nature. Particular attention is paid to scientific approaches in studying consciousness and the field of clinical neuropsychology. A cluster course. Must also register for PHI 218. A. Gittis.

PSY 281 Principles of Learning and Memory (4 SH). Analysis of the variety of mechanisms by which our behavior and our representations develop from experience. Prerequisite: PSY 101. A. Gittis

PSY 315 Animal Behavior (4 SH). An introduction to the fascinating fields of animal behavior and cultural learning. This course focuses on the relationships between animals and their environments through adaptation, communication and social organization. It also explores other exciting issues such as, what animal behavior can teach us about ourselves, how economic game theory has been used to explain evolution of behavior, and how our understanding of animal behavior is changing the way we treat them. There will be field work in the form of animal observations and a possible field trip to Pittsburgh Zoo or another wild animal facility. Prerequisites: C- or better in BIO 203 or permission of instructor, willingness to spend a lot of time watching animals. K. Robertson. (Also listed as BIO 363.)

PSY 351 Cognition (4 SH). Memory, problem solving, language and intelligence considered from information processing and alternative views. Prerequisite: PSY 101. K. Lunnen.

PSY 601 Psychology Capstone: Senior Studies I (2 SH). Senior Capstone seminar which addresses psychological research, its strengths, weaknesses and applications beyond psychology. Students must register for Senior Studies I concurrently with Advanced Research I (611, 621, 631, 641, or 651). Students will prepare and review proposals for senior theses and begin preliminary research. Prerequisites: PSY 201 and junior level standing. Offered Spring Semester.

PSY 602 Psychology Capstone: Senior Studies II (2 SH). Continuation of Senior Studies I. Students must register for Senior Studies II concurrently with Advanced Research II (612, 622, 632, 642, or 652). Students will conduct, revise, review and formally present senior theses. Prerequisite: PSY 601. Offered Fall Semester. Successful completion of this course and the Advanced Research II course satisfies the Liberal Studies Capstone requirement. J. McMinn.