Life Sciences Major


Animal Biology - Animal Health & Disease - Life Sciences (Multidisciplinary) -
Microbiology & Molecular Biotechnology
- Plant Biology - Wildlife Biology

The Life Sciences (Biological and Agricultural) Major (download a brochure) is a cross-disciplinary biology program offered exclusively at McGill's Macdonald Campus by the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (FAES).  Students in the Life Sciences Major take Core and Specialization courses at the Mac campus but also have access to courses at McGill's downtown campus via the free shuttle bus service.  For general information about our programs and studying at Macdonald, see the Future Students page.  Two publications that have great deal of useful information for students, the Student Viewbook and the Macdonald Essential Guide for New Students (2014), can be downloaded at Macdonald Publications, and McGill offers resources for students for whom English is not their first language.  Questions?  Contact our Academic Advisor Dr. Julie Major or the Student Affairs Office and check out our advising linksFinally, a NEW 12-credit Honours Program is now available (see below)!

Apply to McGill online!

Life Sciences Program Structure

Program description - Course requirements

The Life Sciences Major consists of 66 required credits: 42 credits obtained from Core courses and 24 credits obtained by completion of one of the Specializations.  Of the 42 credits that make up the Core, 33 credits must come from the 11 required U1 courses in the table below; the remaining 9 credits may come from any combination of courses from the Complementary Course List.  Students may take virtually any  courses offered by McGill as electives for the approximately 24 credits remaining.

Life Sciences Core Courses:

Required courses: see eCalendar 2014-15) for course descriptions
U1 Fall
U1 Winter
AEBI 210 Organisms 1
AEBI 211 Organisms 2
LSCI 204 Genetics
AEBI 212 Evolution and Phylogeny
AEMA 310 Statistical Methods 1
LSCI 202 Molecular Cell Biology
LSCI 211 Biochemistry 1
AEHM 205 Science Literacy
FDSC 230 Organic Chemistry*
LSCI 230 Introductory Microbiology

U2 or U3 Fall U2 or U3 Winter
PARA 438 Immunology
ANSC 400 Eukaryotic Cells & Viruses

*Or elective if an equivalent organic chemistry course (with a lab) was previously completed.  To register for LSCI 211 students must also be registered for FDSC 230 in the same or previous term unless an equivalent organic chemistry course was completed prior to coming to McGill

Complementary courses: see eCalendar 2014-15) for course descriptions
ANSC 234 Biochemistry 2 ANSC 250 Principles of Animal Science
ANSC 312 Animal Health & Disease ANSC 323 Mammalian Physiology
ANSC 324 Developmental Biology & Reproduction ANSC 326 Fundamentals of Population Genetics
ANSC 330 Fundamentals of Nutrition
ANSC 420 Animal Biotechnology
BINF 511 Bioinformatics for Genomics
BTEC 306 Experiments in Biotechnology
ENVB 210 The Biophysical Environment
ENVB 222 St. Lawrence Ecosystems
LSCI 451 Research Project 1
LSCI 452 Research Project 2
MICR 331 Microbial Ecology
MICR 338 Bacterial Molecular Genetics
MICR 341 Mechanisms of Pathogenicity
MICR 450 Environmental Microbiology
NRSC 333 Pollution & Bioremediation
PARA 410 Infection & Immunity
PLNT 304 Biology of Fungi PLNT 353 Plant Structure and Function
PLNT 426 Plant Ecophysiology PLNT 435 Plant Breeding
FAES 300 Internship 2 WILD 424 Parasitology
Some courses in addition to the above may be considered for use in your program via an Advisor-approved course substitution.  For example, BIOL 385 Plant Growth and Development is a course we have allowed as a complementary course substitution for the Plant Biology Specialization, as this course was found to be excellent and highly relevant to that program.  Always seek approval for substitutions prior to taking a course that is not listed in your program as approval is not guaranteed.  If approval is not given, courses may be taken as electives.  Please consult with your Advisor for further information.

The Life Sciences Specializations:
The five Specializations that work best with the Life Sciences Major are 24-credit sets of courses that range from discipline-specific, to interdisciplinary (see below).  The Life Sciences (Multidisciplinary) Specialization offers the broadest choice of courses.  While some students take two Specializations, most take only one (as required), students are advised to choose a Specialization by the end of U1 (Specialization form).
Animal Biology - Program description - Course requirements
Animal Health & Disease - Program description - Course requirements
Life Sciences (Multidisciplinary) - Program description - Course requirements
Microbiology & Molecular Biotechnology - Program description - Course requirements
Plant Biology - Program description - Course requirements
Wildlife Biology - Program description - Course requirements

Life Sciences Honours Program:

Students interested in the Honours Program must apply to the Program Director in March or April of their U2 year, to begin the program in September of their final year.  Students must have a CPGA of 3.3 or higher and have a professor who has agreed to be their research supervisor to obtain approval from the Program Director for entry into the program.  The 54-credit Honours Life Sciences program includes the same basic course requirements as for the Major Life Sciences (42 credits) but with an additional requirement for 12-credits of research courses via FAES 401 Honours Research Project 1 (6 credits) and FAES 402 Honours Research Project 2 (6 credits) in the Fall and Winter semesters, respectively.

Research and Internship opportunities in the Life Sciences programs:

There are three basic options for students to gain research experience:  the Honours Program, the Research Project courses (LSCI 451 Research Project 1 and LSCI 452 Research Project 2) and summer internships.  The Research Projects and Honours Program are similar in that students with approved research supervisors can do up to two semesters of research in a professor's lab.  The Research Project courses count as complementary credits towards the Life Sciences Major.  Internships are available as courses FAES 200 and FAES 300 offered via the FAES Internship Office.

Registering for courses on Minerva:

See this link for information on how to register for courses.  The "tutorial video" link on that page is recommended as it will take you through the important and sometimes confusing process.
Search Course Listings 2014-2015
Dynamic Schedule

Life Sciences Careers:

Careers in the life sciences require strong grounding in biology, genetics, biochemistry and molecular biology.  A partial list of fields in which you can pursue a career can be found below, but individuals with imagination and ambition are not limited to these examples, the sky is the limit!  Students are encouraged to make full use of McGill's Career Planning Service (CaPS), which has offices on both campuses.

Health sciences and medicine
Veterinary science and veterinary medicine
Molecular and agricultural biotechnology
Pharmaceutical and food industries
Research in microbiology, genetics, parasitology and biochemistry
Plant, cellular, and molecular biology research
Forensic sciences (entomology, molecular biology)
Biological and environmental sciences teaching


Arctic microbiology: Life on Mars? (Prof Lyle Whyte)
Biotechnology:  Neglected tropical parasitic diseases (Prof Tim Geary)
Plant biology:  Climate change and food crises (Prof Don Smith)
Health and nutrition: Obesity (Prof Katherine Gray-Donald)
Environmental biology: Learning in the field (ENVB 222) (Prof Chris Buddle)
The Freshman Program: What's it like studying at Mac?

Freshman Program and additional requirements for 100-level courses

To meet the BSc (AgrEnvSci) degree requirements of 120 credits, students normally receive either a block of 30 credits for completion of a DEC (Quebec CEGEP students) or complete the 30-credit Freshman Program, before they enter the Life Sciences Major.  Students entering the Life Sciences Major from high school (Canadian provinces other than Quebec, US high schools) will complete the Faculty's Freshman program prior to entering U1.  Check out this video about the Freshman Program at Mac!  See the list of courses in the Freshman program: these are the courses that all students must complete, at a university or Quebec CEGEP before entering our program, or as part of their program at McGill.  Depending upon your academic background, you may be accepted into the Life Sciences Major with additional requirements for one or more of these 100-level courses.  You may have already taken courses equivalent to some of these courses, and while most equivalent courses are recognized automatically, you may need to apply for some course equivalencies.  To do this, complete the Course Equivalency Application form.

English language Skills

English is the language of instruction at McGill.  While it is possible to hand-in assignments and write exams in French for most courses, students coming to McGill will be immersed in English in the classroom.  While this immersion may be a big reason why you have chosen McGill, if English is not your first language you should take every opportunity to work on your English language skills before coming to McGill, and during your time here.  To that end, the McGill Writing Center offers various courses, such as CESL 299, and the School of Continuing Studies offers a number of English programs.

Academic Advising

If you have a question or need an advising appointment, please contact Dr. Julie Major

Life Sciences Academic Advisor: Dr. Julie Major
Phone: (514) 398-8380
Office: Macdonald-Stewart Building, MS2-082
To send an e-mail, click on Dr. J. Major's name (secure e-mail link) on the Academic Advisors web page

Life Sciences Program Director: Dr. B.T. Driscoll
Phone: (514) 398-7887

Advising links and forms:

Student Affairs Office
Important dates
Basic Math-Science Equivalence Tables (CEGEP-McGill)
Undergraduate Programs and Courses
Course Equivalency Application Form
Program Change Application Form
Specialization Form