Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) Biology Curriculum

The objective of the 2024 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) Biology syllabus is to prepare candidates for the examination by evaluating their attainment of the following course objectives:

  1. Understanding the Diversity, Interdependence, and Unity of Life:
    • Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of the concepts related to the diversity, interdependence, and unity of life.
    • Explain the continuity of life through processes such as reorganization, inheritance, and evolution.
    • Apply biological principles to various aspects of daily life, including their impact on living things, individuals, society, the environment, community health, and the economy.
  2. Variety of Organisms: a. Living Organisms:
    • Differentiate between the characteristics of living and non-living entities.
    • Identify the structures of both plant and animal cells.
    • Analyze the functions of cell components in plants and animals.
    • Compare and contrast the structures of plant and animal cells.
    • Trace the hierarchical levels of organization among organisms, aligning with the five levels of living organisms’ organization.

    b. Evolution of Organisms:

    • Analyze external features and characteristics of organisms across various kingdoms, such as Monera, Protista, Fungi, Plantae, and Animalia.
    • Demonstrate an understanding of the life histories of diverse organisms.
    • Illustrate the gradual transition from aquatic to terrestrial life based on knowledge of life histories.
    • Trace the evolutionary progression of listed plants.
    • Evaluate the advancement of invertebrate animals and their economic importance.
    • Assess the ecological significance and economic value of insects.
    • Trace the progression of multicellular animals and determine their economic importance.

In summary, the UTME Biology syllabus aims to equip candidates with a solid understanding of biological concepts, the diversity of living organisms, and their evolution, fostering the application of this knowledge to real-world scenarios.

  1. Adaptations in Organisms: a. Structural/Functional and Behavioral Adaptations:
    • Describe how organisms adapt to their environment and lifestyle through various structures, functions, and behaviors.
    • Categorize countershading in fish, toads, and snakes, as well as understand warning coloration in mushrooms.
    • Differentiate between various castes in social insects like termites, elucidating their functions within the colony hive.
    • Explain behaviors such as basking in lizards and territorial behavior in animals during unfavorable conditions like hibernation and aestivation.
    • Account for adaptations related to obtaining food (bird beaks and legs, insect mouthparts), protection and defense (stick insects, praying mantis, and toads), securing mates (redhead male and female Agama lizards, display of feathers by birds), regulating body temperature (skin, feathers, and hairs), and conserving water (plant spines and mammal scales).

    b. Form and Functions:

    1. Internal Structure of a Flowering Plant:
      • Identify transverse sections of plant organs (root, stem, leaf).
      • Relate the structure of these organs to their respective functions.
      • Identify supporting tissues in plants (collenchyma, sclerenchyma, xylem, and phloem fibers).
      • Describe the distribution of supporting tissues in roots, stem, and leaves.
    2. Internal Structure of a Mammal:
      • Examine the arrangement of internal organs in mammals.
      • Describe the appearance and position of digestive, reproductive, and excretory organs.
    3. Nutrition:
      • Explore modes of nutrition, distinguishing between autotrophic and heterotrophic nutrition.
      • Examine plant nutrition, covering topics like photosynthesis and mineral requirements (macro and micro-nutrients).
      • Investigate animal nutrition, including classes of food substances (carbohydrates, proteins, fats and oils, vitamins, mineral salts, and water).
      • Perform food tests (e.g., starch, reducing sugar, protein, oil, fat, etc.).
      • Understand the structure, types, and functions of mammalian teeth.
      • Study the mammalian alimentary canal and the nutrition process (ingestion, digestion, absorption, and assimilation of digested food).

Objectives:

Upon completion of this section, candidates should be able to:

  1. Nutrition:
    • Compare photosynthetic and chemosynthetic modes of nutrition, providing examples from both flowering and non-flowering plants.
    • Compare autotrophic and heterotrophic modes of nutrition.
    • Differentiate holozoic (e.g., sheep and man), parasitic (e.g., roundworm, tapeworm, and Loranthus), saprophytic (e.g., Rhizopus and mushroom), and carnivorous plants (e.g., sundew and bladderwort), determining their nutritional value.
    • Differentiate light and dark reactions, and state conditions necessary for photosynthesis.
    • Determine the necessity of light, carbon dioxide, and chlorophyll in photosynthesis.
    • Detect the presence of starch in a leaf as evidence of photosynthesis.
    • Identify macro and micro-elements required by plants.
    • Recognize deficiency symptoms of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.
    • Indicate sources of various classes of food; relate the importance and deficiency (e.g., scurvy, rickets, kwashiorkor) of each class; determine the importance of a balanced diet.
    • Detect the presence of listed food items from the result of a given experiment.
    • Describe the structure of a typical mammalian tooth; differentiate types of mammalian teeth and relate their structures to their functions.
    • Compare dental formulae of man, sheep, and dog.
    • Relate the structure of various components of the alimentary canal and its accessory organs (liver, pancreas, and gall bladder) to their functions.
    • Identify general characteristics of digestive enzymes; associate enzymes with the digestion of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats; determine the end products of these classes of food.
  2. Transport:
    • Determine the relationship between an increase in size and complexity and the need for the development of a transport system in plants and animals.
    • Determine the sources of materials and the forms in which they are transported.
    • Describe the general circulatory system; compare specific functions of the hepatic portal vein, pulmonary vein and artery, aorta, renal artery and vein.
    • Identify organs of the plant vascular system; understand the specific functions of the phloem and xylem.
    • Identify media of transportation (e.g., cytoplasm, cell sap, body fluid, blood, and lymph); know the composition and functions of blood and lymph; describe diffusion, osmosis, plasmolysis, and turgidity as mechanisms of transportation in organisms.
    • Compare various mechanisms of open circulatory systems in animals, transpiration pull, root pressure, and active transport as mechanisms of transportation in plants.
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4. Respiration:

Topics: a. Respiration b. Respiratory Organs and Surfaces c. Mechanism of Gaseous Exchange in: i. Plants ii. Mammals d. Aerobic Respiration e. Anaerobic Respiration

Objectives:

Candidates should be able to:

i. Significance of Respiration:

  • Examine the significance of respiration.

ii. Chemical Processes:

  • Describe a simplified outline of the chemical process involved in glycolysis and Kreb’s cycle with reference to the role of ATP.
  • Deduce, from an experimental setup, gaseous exchange, products, and the exchange and production of heat energy during respiration.

iii. Respiratory Organs and Surfaces:

  • Describe respiratory organs and surfaces, including body surface, gill, trachea, lungs, stomata, and lenticel, with reference to organisms in which they occur.

iv. Mechanism and Movements:

  • Describe the mechanism for the opening and closing of stomata.
  • Determine respiratory movements in animals.

v. Oxygen and Muscles:

  • Examine the role of oxygen in the liberation of energy for the activities of living organisms.
  • Deduce the effect of insufficient oxygen supply to the muscles.

vi. Fermentation and Yeast:

  • Use yeast cells and sugar solution to demonstrate the process of fermentation.
  • Understand the economic importance of yeasts.

5. Excretion:

Topics: a. Types of Excretory Structures: i. Contractile vacuole ii. Flame cell iii. Nephridium iv. Malpighian tubule v. Kidney vi. Stoma and lenticel b. Excretory Mechanisms: i. Kidneys ii. Lungs iii. Skin c. Excretory Products of Plants

Objectives:

i. Meaning and Significance of Excretion:

  • Define the meaning and state the significance of excretion.
  • Relate the characteristics of each excretory structure to its functions.

ii. Structure and Functions:

  • Relate the structure of the kidneys to excretory and osmoregulatory functions.
  • Identify the functions and excretory products of the lungs and the skin.

iii. Economic Importance of Plant Excretory Products:

  • Deduce the economic importance of excretory products of plants, such as carbon dioxide, oxygen, tannins, resins, gums, mucilage, alkaloids, etc.

6. Support and Movement:

Topics: a. Tropic, Tactic, Nastic, and Sleep Movements in Plants b. Supporting Tissues in Animals c. Types and Functions of the Skeleton: i. Exoskeleton ii. Endoskeleton iii. Functions of the Skeleton in Animals

Objectives:

i. Need for Support and Movement:

  • Determine the need for support and movement in organisms.

ii. Supporting Tissues in Plants:

  • Identify supporting tissues in plants (collenchyma, sclerenchyma, xylem, and phloem fibers).
  • Describe the distribution of supporting tissues in roots, stem, and leaf.

iii. Plant Responses to Stimuli:

  • Relate the response of plants to stimuli such as light, water, gravity, and touch.
  • Identify regions of growth in roots and shoots and the roles of auxins in tropism.

iv. Animal Skeleton and Joints:

  • Relate the location of chitin, cartilage, and bone to their supporting function.
  • Relate the structure and general layout of the mammalian skeleton to its supportive, locomotive, and respiratory functions.
  • Differentiate types of joints using appropriate examples.

v. Functions of the Skeleton:

  • Apply the protective, supportive, locomotive, and respiratory functions of the skeleton to the well-being of the animal.

7. Reproduction:

Topics: a. Asexual Reproduction i. Fission as in Paramecium ii. Budding as in yeast iii. Natural Vegetative Propagation iv. Artificial Vegetative Propagation

b. Sexual Reproduction in Flowering Plants i. Floral Parts and Their Functions ii. Pollination and Fertilization iii. Products of Sexual Reproduction

c. Reproduction in Mammals i. Structures and Functions of Male and Female Reproductive Organs ii. Fertilization and Development (Fusion of Gametes)

Objectives:

Candidates should be able to:

i. Asexual Reproduction:

  • Differentiate between asexual and sexual reproduction.
  • Apply natural vegetative propagation in crop production and multiplication.
  • Apply grafting, budding, and layering in agricultural practices.

ii. Sexual Reproduction in Flowering Plants:

  • Relate parts of the flower to their functions and the reproductive process.
  • Deduce the advantages of cross-pollination.
  • Deduce different types of placentation leading to simple, aggregate, multiple, and succulent fruits.

iii. Reproduction in Mammals:

  • Differentiate between male and female reproductive organs.
  • Relate their structure and function to the production of offspring.

iv. Fertilization and Development:

  • Describe the fusion of gametes as the process of fertilization.
  • Relate the effects of the mother’s health, nutrition, and indiscriminate use of drugs on the developmental stages of the embryo up to birth.
  • Explore modern methods of regulating reproduction, e.g., in vitro fertilization and birth control.

8. Growth:

Topics: a. Meaning of Growth b. Germination of Seeds and Conditions Necessary for Germination of Seeds

Objectives:

Candidates should be able to:

i. Growth:

  • Apply the knowledge of the conditions necessary for germination to plant growth.
  • Differentiate between epigeal and hypogeal germination.

9. Co-ordination and Control:

Topics: a. Nervous Co-ordination i. Components, Structure, and Functions of the Central Nervous System ii. Components and Functions of the Peripheral Nervous System iii. Mechanism of Transmission of Impulses iv. Reflex Action

b. The Sense Organs i. Skin (Tactile) ii. Nose (Olfactory) iii. Tongue (Taste) iv. Eye (Sight) v. Ear (Auditory)

c. Hormonal Control i. Animal Hormonal System – Pituitary – Thyroid – Parathyroid – Adrenal Gland – Pancreas – Gonads ii. Plant Hormones (Phytohormones)

d. Homeostasis i. Body Temperature Regulation ii. Salt and Water Regulation

Objectives:

Candidates should be able to:

i. Nervous Co-ordination:

  • Apply the knowledge of the structure and function of the central nervous system in coordinating body functions in organisms.
  • Illustrate reflex actions such as blinking of the eyes, knee jerk, etc.
  • Differentiate between reflex and voluntary actions and recognize conditioned reflexes such as salivation, riding a bicycle, and swimming.
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ii. Sense Organs:

  • Associate the listed sense organs with their functions.
  • Apply the knowledge of the structure and functions of these sense organs in detecting and correcting their defects.

iii. Hormonal Control:

  • Locate the listed endocrine glands in animals.
  • Relate the hormone produced by each of these glands to their functions.
  • Examine the effects of various phytohormones (e.g., auxins, gibberellin, cytokinin, and ethylene) on growth, tropism, flowering, fruit ripening, and leaf abscission.

iv. Homeostasis:

  • Relate the function of hormones to regulating the levels of materials inside the body.

Topics:

i. Abiotic ii. Biotic

Objectives:

A. Abiotic and Biotic Factors: i. Deduce the effects of temperature, rainfall, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, altitude, salinity, turbidity, pH, and edaphic (soil) conditions on the distribution of organisms. ii. Use appropriate equipment (e.g., secchi disc, thermometer, rain gauge, etc.) to measure abiotic factors.

B. Human Impact on Distribution: Describe how the activities of plants/animals (particularly human) affect the distribution of organisms.

2. Symbiotic Interactions of Plants and Animals:

Topics: (a) Energy flow in the ecosystem: food chains, food webs, and trophic levels (b) Nutrient cycling in nature i. Carbon cycle ii. Water cycle iii. Nitrogen cycle

Objectives:

i. Symbiotic Interactions: i. Determine appropriate examples of symbiosis, parasitism, saprophytism, commensalism, mutualism, amensalism, competition, predation, and cooperation among organisms. ii. Associate the distribution of organisms with food chains and food webs in particular habitats.

ii. Energy Flow and Nutrient Cycling: i. Describe food chains and webs. ii. Describe the cycle and its significance, including the balance of atmospheric oxygen and carbon (IV) oxide, and global warming. iii. Assess the effects of the water cycle on other nutrient cycles. iv. Relate the roles of bacteria and leguminous plants in the cycling of nitrogen.

3. Natural Habitats:

Topics: (a) Aquatic (e.g., ponds, streams, lakes, seashores, and mangrove swamps) (b) Terrestrial/Arboreal (e.g., tree-tops of oil palm, abandoned farmland or a dry grassy (savanna) field, and burrow or hole.

Objectives:

i. Associate plants and animals with each of these habitats. ii. Relate adaptive features to the habitats in which organisms live.

4. Local (Nigerian) Biomes:

Topics: a. Tropical Rainforest b. Guinea Savanna (Southern and Northern) c. Sudan Savanna d. Desert e. Highlands of Montane Forests and Grasslands of the Obudu, Jos, Mambilla Plateau.

Objectives:

i. Locate biomes in regions. ii. Apply the knowledge of the features of the listed local biomes in determining the characteristics of different regions of Nigeria.

5. The Ecology of Populations:

Topics: (a) Population density and overcrowding. (b) Adaptation for survival i. Factors that bring about competition ii. Intra and inter-specific competition iii. Relationship between competition and succession. (c) Factors affecting population sizes: i. Biotic (e.g., food, pest, disease, predation, competition, reproductive ability). ii. Abiotic (e.g., temperature, space, light, rainfall, topography, pressure, pH, etc.) (d) Ecological succession i. Primary succession ii. Secondary succession

Objectives:

i. Determine the reasons for rapid changes in human population and the consequences of overcrowding. ii. Compute/calculate density as the number of organisms per unit area.

i) Relate the increase in population, diseases, shortage of food and space with intra- and inter-specific competition. ii) Determine niche differentiation as a means of reducing intra-specific competition. iii) Relate competition to succession.

i. Deduce the effect of these factors on the size of the population. ii. Determine the interactions between biotic and abiotic factors, e.g., drought or scarcity of water leading to food shortages and lack of space causing an increase in disease rates.

i. Trace the sequence in succession to the climax stage of stability in plant population.

6. Soil

Topics:

a) Characteristics of Different Types of Soil (Sandy, Loamy, Clayey): i. Soil Structure ii. Porosity, Capillarity, and Humus Content

b) Components of the Soil: i. Inorganic ii. Organic iii. Soil Organisms iv. Soil Air v. Soil Water

c) Soil Fertility: i. Loss of Soil Fertility ii. Renewal and Maintenance of Soil Fertility

Objectives:

Candidates should be able to:

i. Soil Characteristics: i. Identify physical properties of different soil types based on simple measurements of particle size, porosity, or water retention ability. ii. Determine the amounts of air, water, humus, and capillarity in different soil types experimentally.

ii. Healthy Plant Growth: i. Relate soil characteristics, types, and components to the healthy growth of plants.

iii. Factors Affecting Soil Fertility: i. Relate factors such as loss of inorganic matter, compaction, leaching, erosion of the topsoil, and repeated cropping with one variety to soil fertility.

iv. Soil Conservation Practices: i. Apply the knowledge of the practice of contour ridging, terracing, mulching, poly-cropping, strip-cropping, use of organic and inorganic fertilizers, crop rotation, shifting cultivation, etc., to enhance soil conservation.

7. Humans and Environment:

Topics:

a) Diseases: (i) Common and Endemic Diseases. ii. Easily Transmissible Diseases and Disease Syndromes such as:

  • Poliomyelitis
  • Cholera
  • Tuberculosis
  • Sexually Transmitted Disease/Syndrome (Gonorrhea, Syphilis, AIDS, etc.)

b. Pollution and Its Control: (i) Sources, Types, Effects, and Methods of Control. (ii) Sanitation and Sewage

c) Conservation of Natural Resources

d) Game Reserves and National Parks

Objectives:

i. Disease Spread and Control: i. Identify ecological conditions that favor the spread of common endemic and potentially epidemic diseases, e.g., malaria, meningitis, dracunculiasis, schistosomiasis, onchocerciasis, typhoid fever, and cholera, etc. ii. Relate the biology of the vector or agent of each disease with its spread and control.

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ii. Disease Prevention and Control: i. Use the knowledge of the causative organisms, mode of transmission, and symptoms of the listed diseases for their prevention/treatment/control. ii. Apply the principles of inoculation and vaccination in disease prevention.

iii. Pollution and Control: i. Categorize pollution into air, water, and soil pollution. ii. Relate the effects of common pollutants to human health and environmental degradation. iii. Determine the methods by which each pollutant may be controlled.

iv. Sanitation and Health Agencies: i. Examine the importance of sanitation with emphasis on solid waste sewage disposal, community health, and personal hygiene. ii. Assess the roles and functions of international and national health agencies (e.g., World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF), International Red Cross Society (IRCS), and the ministries of health and environment.

v. Conservation of Natural Resources: (i) Apply various methods of conservation of both renewable and non-renewable natural resources for the protection of our environment for present and future generations. (ii) Outline the benefits of conserving natural resources, prevention of desertification. (iii) Identify the bodies responsible for the conservation of resources at the national and international levels (e.g., Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), Federal Ministry of Environment, Nigeria National Parks, World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP)) and assess their activities.

vi. Game Reserves and National Parks: i. Know the location and importance of game reserves and National parks in Nigeria.

D: Heredity and Variations (I) Variation in Population

Topics:

1. Variations in Individuals:

a. Morphological Variations: (i) Size (Height, Weight) (ii) Colour (Skin, Eye, Hair, Animal Coats, Scales, Feathers) (iii) Fingerprints

b. Physiological Variations: (i) Ability to Roll Tongue (ii) Ability to Taste Phenylthiocarbamide (PTC) (iii) Blood Groups

c. Application of Discontinuous Variation:

  • Crime Detection
  • Blood Transfusion
  • Determination of Paternity

Objectives:

Candidates should be able to: i. Differentiate between continuous and discontinuous variations with examples. ii. Relate the role of environmental conditions, habitat, and genetic constitution to variation.

Candidates should be able to: i. Measure heights and weights of pupils in the same age group. ii. Plot graphs of frequency distribution for heights and weights.

Candidates should be able to: i. Observe and record various color patterns in plants and mammals. ii. Apply fingerprint classification in identity detection.

Candidates should be able to: i. Identify specific examples of physiological variation among the human population. ii. Categorize people based on their physiological variation.

Candidates should be able to: i. Apply knowledge of blood groups in blood transfusion and determination of paternity. ii. Use discontinuous variation in crime detection.

2. Heredity:

Topics:

a) Inheritance of Characters: i) Heritable and Non-heritable Characters.

b) Chromosomes – Basis of Heredity: (i) Structure (ii) Process of Transmission of Hereditary Characters from Parents to Offspring.

c) Probability in Genetics and Sex Determination.

d) Application of Principles of Heredity: i) Agriculture ii) Medicine

e. Sex-linked Characters:

  • Baldness, Hemophilia, Color Blindness, etc.

Objectives:

Candidates should be able to: i. Determine heritable and non-heritable characters with examples. ii. Illustrate the simple structure of DNA. iii. Illustrate segregation of genes at meiosis and recombination of genes at fertilization to account for the process of transmission of characters from parents to offspring. iv. Deduce that segregation of genes occurs during gamete formation and that recombination of genes at fertilization is random in nature.

Candidates should be able to: i. Analyze data on cross-breeding experiments. ii. Apply the principles of heredity in the production of new varieties of crops and livestock through cross-breeding. iii. Deduce advantages and disadvantages of out-breeding and in-breeding. iv. Analyze elementary contentious issues of genetically modified organisms (GMO) and gene therapy and biosafety.

Candidates should be able to: i. Apply the knowledge of heredity in marriage counseling with particular reference to blood grouping, sickle-cell anemia, and the Rhesus factor. ii. Examine the significance of using recombinant DNA materials in the production of essential medical products such as insulin, interferon, and enzymes.

Candidates should be able to: i. Identify characters that are sex-linked.

E: Evolution

1. Theories of Evolution:

a) Lamarck’s Theory b) Darwin’s Theory c) Organic Theory

Objectives:

Candidates should be able to: i. Relate organic evolution as the sum total of all adaptive changes that have taken place over a long period of time resulting in the diversity of forms, structure, and functions among organisms. ii. Examine the contributions of Lamarck and Darwin to the theory of evolution. iii. Know evidences in support of organic evolution.

2. Evidence of Evolution:

Objectives:

Candidates should be able to: i. Provide evidences for evolution such as fossil records, comparative anatomy, physiology, and embryology. ii. Trace evolutionary trends in plants and animals. iii. Provide evidence for modern evolutionary theories such as genetic studies and the role of mutation.

RECOMMENDED TEXTSNdu, F.O. C. Ndu, Abun A. and Aina J.O. (2001) Senior Secondary School Biology: Books 1 -3, Lagos: Longman

Odunfa, S.A. (2001) Essential of Biology, Ibadan: Heinemann

Ogunniyi M.B. Adebisi A.A. and Okojie J.A. (2000) Biology for Senior Secondary Schools: Books 1 – 3, Macmillan

Ramalingam, S.T. (2005) Modern Biology, SS Science Series. New Edition, AFP

Stan. (2004) Biology for Senior Secondary Schools. Revised Edition, Ibadan: Heinemann

Stone R.H. and Cozens, A.B.C. (1982) Biology for West African Schools. Longman

Usua, E.J. (1997) Handbook of practical Biology 2nd Edition, University Press, Limited