Immunology (Revision 2)

BIOL 480

Revision 2 is closed for registrations, see current revision

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online with virtual lab. (This course is charged a lab fee.)

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Science

Prerequisite: First-year university level courses in biology and chemistry, such as Athabasca University’s—BIOL 204, BIOL 205, CHEM 217 or CHEM 218.

Faculty: Faculty of Science & Technology

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BIOL 480 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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Biology 480 is a three-credit, university-level course that covers the principal concepts of immunology. The course discusses the components of the immune system and presents the immune mechanisms critical to immune function. It also covers the immune response to infection and the diseases that result when immunity is compromised or non-functional. It introduces current methods of studying immunity and its clinical applications in the field.

Students enrolling in Biology 480 must have completed first-year courses in biology and chemistry at the university level. According to the Athabasca University Calendar, students who wish to be exempted from these prerequisites must have the approval of the course professor.


Biology 480 is divided into 12 units as follows:

  • Unit 1 Overview of the Immune System
  • Unit 2 Receptors and Signaling
  • Unit 3 Innate Immunity
  • Unit 4 The Complement System
  • Unit 5 Organization and Expression of Antibody and Lymphocyte Receptor Genes
  • Unit 6 The Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) and Antigen Presentation
  • Unit 7 T-Cell and B-Cell Development and Activation
  • Unit 8 Effector Responses: Cell- and Antibody-Mediated Immunity
  • Unit 9 Allergy, Hypersensitivities, and Chronic Inflammation
  • Unit 10 Tolerance, Autoimmunity, and Transplantation
  • Unit 11 Infectious Diseases and Vaccines
  • Unit 12 The Immune System in Health and Disease

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to

  • explain the components and functions of innate and adaptive immunity.
  • identify the role of signal transduction in the immune response.
  • compare and contrast the components of the humoral and cell-mediated immune responses.
  • explain the function and components of the complement system.
  • describe antigen presentation and the role of the major histocompatibility complex.
  • explain the principles of hypersensitivity reactions, inflammation, and autoimmunity.
  • review the immune response to infectious diseases and the role of vaccines in immunity to disease.
  • discuss the role of the immune system in AIDS, cancer, and transplantation.


To receive credit for BIOL 480, you must achieve a course composite grade of at least D (50 percent), and grade of at least 50 percent on each of the course assignments, the mid-term, the final examination and the lab component. The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Activity Weighting
Assignment 1 10%
Assignment 2 10%
Assignment 3 10%
Assignment 4 10%
Midterm Exam 20%
Final Exam 20%
Virtual Component 20%
Total 100%

The midterm and final examinations for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Owen, J.A., Punt, J., & Stranford, S.A. (2013). Kuby Immunology (7th ed.). New York: W.H. Freeman and Company.

Other Materials

Materials for the lab component will be accessed online through the course homepage.

Challenge for Credit Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows you to demonstrate that you have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university-level course.

Full information about Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the BIOL 480 challenge registration, you must pass the Challenge examination with a grade of 50 percent or greater. There is only one examination for the challenge process which is written in the presence of an invigilator. This exam is a comprehensive short and long answer examination and students have 4 hours to complete the exam.

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

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Opened in Revision 2, October 13, 2015.

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