Life Science
Uni e-Prep Course by NTU
Also Available at SF@NS LXP

Biology - Life Science
Life Science is a valuable course provided by NTU that has been specially designed to assist NSFs, NSMen, and others in better preparing for their future university studies, whether they plan to attend local universities in Singapore or pursue their education abroad. The course is aimed at helping students develop a strong foundation in life science, which is a critical area of study for many fields, including medicine, biology, and biotechnology. By participating in this program, students will have the opportunity to strengthen their knowledge and gain valuable insights into the important field of life science.
This Life Science ePrep course is developed in collaboration with the textbook publishers, Cengage, and is based on the popular textbook “Biology: The Unity and Diversity of Life” by Cecie Starr, et al., currently in its 15th edition. A hard copy of the textbook is provided to every student at no additional cost, and it also comes with excellent learning materials on life science provided by the textbook publishers. Due to time constraints, the focus of this Life Science ePrep course is on Genetics for the purpose of certification. However, materials on all the remaining 39 chapters are also provided.
There is also a retired NTU professor acting as the tutor. He can be reached via email, not only during the course but beyond till the students start their university studies and have their own university tutors, and even beyond when the students require more assistance, not just regarding their academic learning, but on careers and other matters as well.
Please note that this course, as well as the other ePrep courses provided by NTU, is now also available at SF@NS LXP, the SkillsFuture@NationalService Learning eXperience Platform.

Life Science ePrep Course – Main Contents

I. Compulsory Chapters

Learning Objectives
1 DNA Structure and Function

1 The Discovery of DNA’s Function

1.1 Describe the four properties required of any genetic material.

1.2 Summarize the classic experiments of Griffith, Avery, and Hershey and Chase that demonstrated DNA is genetic material.

2 Discovery of DNA’s Structure

2.1 Summarize the events that led to the discovery of DNA’s structure.

2.2 Identify the subunits of DNA and how they combine in a DNA molecule.

2.3 Explain how DNA holds information.

2.4 Describe base pairing.

3 Eukaryotic Chromosomes

3.1 Describe the way DNA is organized in a chromosome.

3.2 Explain how a eukaryotic cell’s chromosomes carry its genetic information.

3.3 Explain the meaning of diploid.

3.4 Distinguish between autosomes and sex chromosomes.

4 How Does a Cell Copy Its DNA?

4.1 State the purpose of DNA replication and describe the process.

4.2 Explain the role of primers in DNA replication.

4.3 Describe nucleic acid hybridization.

4.4 Describe semiconservative hybridization.

4.5 Explain why DNA replication proceeds only in the 5′ to 3′ direction.

5 Mutations and Their Causes

5.1 Using examples, explain how mutations can arise.

5.2 Describe two cellular mechanisms that can prevent mutations from occurring.

6 Cloning Adults Animals

6.1 Using a suitable example, explain the process of cloning an adult animal.

6.2 Explain why clones can be produced from a single body cell of an adult.

6.3 Describe the process of differentiation.

2 From DNA to Protein

1 Introducing Gene Expression

1.1 Compare the composition and structure of DNA and RNA.

1.2 Describe the flow of information during the process of gene expression.

2 Transcription: DNA to RNA

2.1 Describe the process of transcription.

2.2 Compare DNA replication with transcription.

2.3 Explain three types of post-transcriptional modifications.

3 RNA and the Genetic Code

3.1 Describe codons and give some examples.

3.2 Explain the signals that start and stop translation.

3.3 Explain how an mRNA specifies the order of amino acids in a polypeptide.

3.4 Summarize the role of rRNA and tRNA in translation.

4 Translation: RNA to Protein

4.1 Explain the roles of mRNA, tRNA, and rRNA in translation.

4.2 Describe the way a polypeptide lengthens during translation.

5 Consequences of Mutations

5.1 Describe three types of mutations.

5.2 Explain how mutations can affect protein structure.

5.3 Using appropriate examples, explain why some mutations are not harmful.

3 Control of Gene Expression

1 How Cells Control Gene Expression

1.1 Explain what is meant by gene expression control.

1.2 Give two reasons why control of gene expression is necessary.

1.3 Describe transcription factors and give some examples of the different types.

1.4 List the points of control over expression of a gene with a protein product.

2 Orchestrating Early Development

2.1 Describe the relationship between master genes and differentiation during embryonic development.

2.2 Explain the function of homeotic genes and give some examples.

2.3 Using an appropriate example, explain how experiments with homeotic genes offer evidence of shared ancestry among species.

 3 Details of Body Form

3.1 Describe a few examples of gene control in eukaryotes.

3.2 Explain why only one X chromosome is active in cells of a female mammal.

 4 Gene Expression in Metabolic Control

4.1 Using the lac operon as an example, describe gene control in bacteria.

4.2 Compare gene expression control in single-celled and multicelled organism.

4.3 Explain why most human adults are lactose intolerant.

5 Epigenetics

5.1 Explain why a DNA methylation is passed to a cell’s descendants.

5.2 List some environmental factors that affect DNA methylation patterns.

5.3 Describe epigenetic modification of DNA and give some examples.

4 How Cells Reproduce

1 Multiplication by Division

1.1 Describe the main events in the eukaryotic cell cycle.

1.2 Explain how mitosis maintains the chromosome number.

1.3 Explain the difference between sister chromatids and homologous chromosomes.

1.4 Identify two body processes that require mitosis.

1.5 Describe the purpose of cell cycle checkpoints.

2 A Closer Look at Mitosis

2.1 List the stages of mitosis in order and the main events that occur during each stage.

2.2 Describe the role of microtubules in mitosis.

2.3 Explain how mitosis packages two sets of chromosomes into two new nuclei.

3 Cytoplasmic Division

3.1 Define cytokinesis and explain why it is necessary.

3.2 Describe and compare cytokinesis in an animal cell and a plant cell.

4 Marking Time with Telomeres

4.1 Illustrate the function of telomeres in cell division.

4.2 Explain why normal body cells are not immortal.

4.3 Describe the fail-safe function of a cell division limit.

5 Pathological Mitosis

5.1 Explain why mutations in growth factor genes can give rise to neoplasms.

5.2 Use an example to describe tumor suppressors.

5.3 Describe the three hallmarks of malignant cells.

5 Meiosis and Sexual Reproduction

1 Why Sex?

1.1 Explain why homologous chromosomes may carry different alleles.

1.2 List the differences between sexual reproduction and asexual reproduction.

1.3 Describe how genetic diversity makes a population more resilient to environmental challenges.

2 Meiosis in Sexual Reproduction

2.1 Describe the relationship between germ cells and gametes.

2.2 Explain how meiosis reduces the chromosome number, and why this is a necessary part of sexual reproduction.

3 A Visual Tour of Meiosis

3.1 Explain the steps of meiosis in a diploid (2n) cell.

3.2 Describe the major differences between meiosis I and meiosis II.

4 How Meiosis Introduces Variations in Traits

4.1 Describe crossing over and how it introduces variation in traits among the offspring of sexual reproducers.

4.2 Explain the random nature of chromosome segregation during gamete formation, and its significance in terms of genetic variation.

5 Mitosis and Meiosis—An Ancestral Connection?

5.1 Describe the similarities and differences between mitosis and meiosis II.

5.2 Support the argument that meiosis might have evolved from mutations in the process of mitosis.

6 Observing Patterns in Inherited Traits

1  Mendel, Pea Plants, and Inheritance Patterns

1.1 Explain the contribution of Gregor Mendel to the study of inheritance.

1.2 Describe the difference between a homozygous and heterozygous genotype, and represent each symbolically with an example.

1.3 Distinguish between genotype and phenotype with an example.

1.4 Use an example to describe dominant and recessive alleles.

2  Mendel’s Law of Segregation

2.1 Describe the way a Punnett square is used to predict the outcome of a monohybrid cross.

2.2 Explain how a testcross can reveal the genotype of an individual with a dominant trait.

2.3 State the law of segregation in modern terms.

3  Mendel’s Law of Independent Assortment

3.1 With a suitable example, explain how to make a dihybrid cross.

3.2 State the law of independent assortment in modern terms.

3.3 Explain why the relative location of two genes on a chromosome can affect the way their alleles are distributed into gametes.

 4 Beyond Simple Dominance

4.1 Using the human blood groups as an example, explain codominance and multiple allele systems.

4.2 Explain incomplete dominance with an example.

4.3 With suitable examples, describe epistasis and pleiotropy.

5  Nature and Nurture

5.1 With suitable examples, describe some environmental effects on phenotype.

5.2 Discuss the influence of an individual’s environment on expression of genes associated with behavior. 

6  Complex Variation in Traits

6.1 Using appropriate examples, explain continuous variation and its causes.

7 Human Inheritance

1 Human Chromosomes

1.1 Explain why pedigrees are used to study human inheritance patterns.

1.2 Differentiate between a genetic disorder and a genetic abnormality.

2 Examples of Autosomal Inheritance Patterns

2.1 Using appropriate examples, explain and diagram the autosomal dominant and autosomal recessive inheritance patterns.

3 Examples of X-Linked Inheritance Patterns

3.1 Using appropriate examples, explain and diagram the X-linked recessive inheritance pattern.

3.2 Explain why genetic disorders associated with an X chromosome allele are more common in males than in females.

4 Changes in Chromosome Structure

4.1 List some causes of large-scale structural changes in chromosomes.

4.2 Describe the main types of large-scale structural changes in chromosomes and explain their potential consequences.

4.3 Give an example of structural change that has occurred in chromosomes during evolution.

5 Changes in Chromosome Number

5.1 Distinguish between polyploidy and aneuploidy.

5.2 Explain how Down syndrome arises by nondisjunction during meiosis.

5.3 Using appropriate examples, describe some health effects of changes in chromosome number in humans.

6 Genetic Screening

6.1 Explain how early screening for a genetic disorder can help a baby.

6.2 Describe three prenatal diagnosis methods.

8 Studying and Manipulating Genomes

1 Personal Genetic Testing

2 DNA Cloning

2.1 Describe restriction enzymes and explain why their discovery was important for DNA research

2.2 List the steps involved in making recombinant DNA

2.3 Explain the process of DNA cloning, and why researchers clone cDNA.

   3 Isolating Genes

3.1 Describe two ways of mass-producing a targeted section of DNA

3.2 Differentiate between a genomic library and a cDNA libraries

3.3 Explain the use of probe in screening a DNA library

   4 DNA Sequencing

4.1 Describe how the sequence of DNA is determined

4.2 Explain the concept of electrophoresis

     4.3 Explain The Human Genome Project

   5 Genomics

5.1 Describe some applications of genomics

5.2 Use appropriate examples, explain how individuals can be identified by their DNA

   6 Genetic Engineering

6.1 Differentiate between a Genetic Modified Organism and a transgenic organism

6.2 Use appropriate examples, describe some of the ways the genetically modified microorganisms are used

6.3 Describe safety measures put in place for genetic modification.

 7 Designer Plants

7.1 Describe a method of making transgenic plants

7.2 Describe some of the ways that genetically engineered plants are used

   8 Biotechnology Barnyards

8.1 Describe some transgenic animals and their uses

8.2 Explain some ethical concerns regarding engineered animals

   9 Editing Genomes

9.1 Explain Gene Theraphy and some of its benefits and risks

9.2 Give an example of gene drive, and describe how it works

II. Optional Chapters (Not Needed for Certification)

  • The Science of Biology
  • Life’s Chemical Basis
  • Molecules of Life
  • Cell Structure
  • Ground Rules of Metabolism
  • Where It Starts—Photosynthesis
  • Releasing Chemical Energy
  • Biotechnology
  • Evidence of Evolution
  • Processes of Evolution
  • Life’s Origin and Early Evolution
  • Viruses, Bacteria, and Archaea …
  • …See the complete list of Topics and Learning Objectives

What You Get in this Life Science ePrep Course

I. Free Textbook
“Biology: The Unity and Diversity of Life” is a very popular textbook on Biology and other Life Sciences, authored by Cecil Starr, R Taggart, CA Evers, and Lisa Starr, 15th Ed.  
II. Free Consultation
A dedicated retired NTU professor is acting as the tutor. You can consult him via email or WhatsApp. A retired professor has a lot more time and energy for you than a full-time professor who has to struggle with heavy teaching and administrative workloads on top of the need to source for research grants and the pressure to perform cutting-edge research.
III. Materials Online
1   Notes, video lessons, and PowerPoint files.
2   Answers/solutions to all questions/problems in the textbook.
3   Online exercises.
4   Bonus learning materials economics (university level).
IV. Digital Certificate
A digital certificate will be issued if you have completed this NTU Life Science ePrep course and passed all the tests at the end of each of the ten compulsory chapters.

Life Science ePrep Course – Sample Materials

1. Illustrative Video

This video illustrates the translation process whereby a polypeptide chain is assembled from amino acids in the order specified by an mRNA. There are many such video lessons that illustrates the various life science principles and processes.

2. Core Concepts:

All organisms alive today are linked by lines of descent from shared ancestors.

Cells of all multicelled eukaryotes reproduce by mitosis and cytoplasmic division.

Together, these processes are the basis of growth, tissue repair, and asexual reproduction.

Because mitosis links one generation of cells to the next, it is a mechanism by which the continuity of life occurs.

All multicelled organisms use the same molecules to drive and regulate their cell cycle.

Note: This is one of the Core Concepts in the chapter on DNA Structure and Function – for more listing of core concepts in the chapter, see here.

3. Key Terms
  • Bacteriophage: virus that infects bacteria.
  • DNA sequence: order of nucleotides in a strand of DNA.
  • Autosome: a chromosome that is the same in males and females.
  • Centromere: of a duplicated eukaryotic chromosome, constricted region where sister chromatids attach to each other.
  • Chromosome: a structure that consists of DNA and associated proteins; carries part or all of a cell’s genetic information.
  • Chromosome number: the total number of chromosomes in a cell of a given species.
  • Diploid: having two of each type of chromosome characteristic of the species (2n).
  • Histone: type of protein that structurally organizes eukaryotic chromosomes.
  • Karyotype: image of an individual’s set of chromosomes arranged by size, length, shape, and centromere location.
  • Nucleosome: a length of DNA wound twice around a spool of histone proteins.
  • Sex chromosome: member of a pair of chromosomes that differs between males and females.

Note: These are some of the Key Terms in the chapter on DNA Structure and Function – for more listing of key terms in the chapter, see here

4. Critical Thinking Question and Answer


Why are some genes expressed and some not?


Some genes are expressed and some are not expressed, because not all gene protein products are needed by all cell types. In other words, a cell regulates its gene expression because it contains too many genes. For example, a brain cell and a liver cell contain the same exact DNA code (as do all the cells found within a multicellular organism); however, a brain cell needs different proteins to function properly than do liver cells. Therefore, to make their unique set of protein products, certain genes are expressed and certain genes are repressed. So, one compromise of being multicellular is that every cell contains every gene the organism needs to live. However, the majority of these genes are not needed by any specific cell at a specific time.

Note: In addition to standard types of questions, there are also many Critical Thinking Questions that encourage greater thinking and deeper understanding.

5. Data Analysis
data analysis in life science eprep course


  1. Skin cancer cells had the greatest response to an increase in concentration of the engineered RIPs.
  2. One hundred percent of all the cell types were alive at 10−7 g/l of engineered RIP.
  3. Breast cancer cells showed the greatest survival at 10−6 g/l of engineered RIP.
  4. The engineered RIPs had the least effect on breast cancer cells.

Note: The students also learn to perform Data Analysis which is one of the modern approaches to learning Life Science.


Discrete Mathematics



Life Science ePrep course for Uni Preparation

Who Should take this course?
It is a very important course for students doing life science, medical, dental, pharmaceutical, biological, biotechnical, biochemical, biomedical, and other health-care-related degrees. This course will provide you with a strong foundation in life science and other biological knowledge.
Please note that you take this ePrep course to acquire better knowledge on life science. Do not use it to get exemption from any life science related module. Rather you should proceed to take these modules to attain good GPA.
A bonus course on ethics will also be provided as knowledge of ethical principles is very critical for those in the health care sector.
Even for those not going to any university due to various reasons, this is an opportunity to prove that they are capable of completing a university-level course. With the foundation provided by this eprep course, you will be in a good position to proceed to university studies.
Everyone is welcome and there is no pre-requisite.

Life Science ePrep Course for Uni Preparation

How to Sign up?
1 NSFs and NSMen
There are two methods:
i. SkillsFuture@NS Scheme
Please activate your SF@NS LXP account at You should activate your SF@NS LXP account as soon as you are in NS so as to enable you to take up many university-preparation courses such as this Life Science ePrep course before you start your university studies for free. Links to information on other university preparation courses by NTU are provided at the top of this page.
ii. NS e_Prep Scheme
Please sign up with NS Portal to enjoy the NS e-PREP subsidy. Please go to “Access ePREP”, search for “NTU” as the course provider, then select “Biotechnology” among the e-PREP courses. You can only sign up for one course free under the e_PREP Scheme.
2 Non-NS Folks
This course is now open to all. Please sign up with NTU PaCE directly.  The course fee is S$342.40, inclusive of the textbook. 

Life Science ePrep Course Duration

The official duration of the Life Science course is three months (but normally much longer accessibility period is given) and may be extended upon request. Unofficially though, the support by the tutor extends beyond the official course period. Also, most of the course materials can be downloaded for later study. Please note that since most of the course materials are proprietary and for your private study only, while you may show others the materials, please refrain from transmitting them to others. 

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