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Fall 2021: MAT A29 Calculus I for the Life Sciences

From the Course Calendar: “A course in differential calculus for the life sciences. Algebraic and transcendental functions; semi-log and log-log plots; limits of sequences and functions, continuity; extreme value and intermediate value theorems; approximation of discontinuous functions by continuous ones; derivatives; differentials; approximation and local linearity; applications of derivatives; antiderivatives and indefinite integrals.”

Table of contents

Course Staff

Your Professor’s Message

Hi! I’m Parker Glynn-Adey, the professor for MAT A29. This is one of my favourite courses at the University of Toronto. The last time I taught it was back in 2016. It was the first course that I ever taught, and I’m glad to be teaching it back teaching it again.

I like it so much because the students in this course are awesome. You want to be doctors, pharmacists, nurses, mental health workers, and all sorts of people in the life sciences. And that’s awesome! I want to help you succeed in that. If I can get you started doing a bit of math, and you can use it on your mission in the life sciences, then I’ll be tremendously happy.

I’ve tried to design this course so that you can succeed. I’m hoping that there are no crazy surprises in the course, and that it does not stress you out too much. If you’re feeling unsure about your ability to succeed, or you need someone to talk to about the course, then please come to me. I’d be glad to help. My goal is to help you succeed, to go on to finish your program in life science, and to support you on your journey.

Policy on In-Person and Online Offerings

As the COVID-19 Pandemic continues to impact the university we need to be ready for a class with mixed in-person and online instruction. An important policy for this course is that: You will be able to complete this course online asynchronously. We have this policy so that people in different time zones will be able to participate in the class, without having to do math at weird times.

We might have to switch to “online only”. If we switch, then there will be optional synchronous online lectures and you can still take the course asynchronously.


Plan What it will look like What might cause it
A Full capacity, in-person lecture and tutorial, videos online Lifting of all federal and provincial health measures due to COVID-19
B (current) Limited capacity in-person lecture and tutorial, videos online UTSC Re-Opens
C Synchronous online lecture and tutorial, videos online
  • Provincial or federal lockdown
  • Campus outbreak
  • We feel unsafe
  • Almost no one comes to in-person class
D Asynchronous online lecture and tutorial, videos online
  • UTSC shuts down
  • Parker gets COVID
  • The Apocalypse


Lecture will be held in-person and filmed by the WebOption program for distribution. Lecture is a critical moment to ask questions about the material. Many of the students taking MAT A29 this year will not be present in lecture due to travel restrictions, and room capacity limits. As a result, attending lecture in person is a serious commitement. If you attend lecture, please be healthy, alert, and ready to engage. You will be representing all the students who could not attend.


Tutorials will be held in-person and online. You will get to interact with a trained TA who will field your questions from a beginner perspective. All the different tutorials sections will be reviewing the same assigned tutorial problems, so you are free to register for and attend whichever tutorial works for you.

Common Questions:

Communication Policy

There are two ways to contact us:


E-Mail must be from an official University of Toronto account. You must include [MAT A29] in the subject line, or your e-mail might get lost. Please include your name and student number in every e-mail that you send. Be sure to include the precise question, and the problem or difficulty. If you’re not able to write out the question, take a photo or attach a PDF.

 Subject: [MAT A29] Help request!
 Hi! I am Leonhard Euler (12932188) from MAT A29.
 I need help with this question: Find the derivative of f(x)=x^2.
 My problem is this: I don’t know what the word "derivative" means.

Above all, don’t worry about e-mailing me or any of the course staff. We are not evil trolls. We won’t get angry if you e-mail us. Answering student e-mails is a part of our job.

However, e-mail is only part of our job. We might not respond to your e-mail on the same day that you send it. Generally, give us at least two business days to respond. Parker has limited access to his computer on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and weekends.


Anonymous Feedback is welcome in this course. You can submit anonymous feedback here: You may use the form to comment on lecture, ask questions about the course, or give me tips. You do not need to enter your name or email address unless you want a private response from Parker. Note that your anonymous feedback may be discussed (and answered) in lecture, or on the Quercus.


Students with all learning needs and accomodations are welcome in this course. If you have any reason to believe that you may require accommodations contact Parker and/or the AccessAbility Services as soon as possible. We can discuss the particulars of your situation and, if needed, get your registered with AccessAbility Services.

The AccessAbility Services staff (located in AA142) are available by appointment to: assess specific needs, interact with professors, provide referrals to medical professionals, and arrange appropriate accommoda- tions. You can reach AccessAbility at: Their website is here:

Specific to this course: If you want access to the LaTeX code for any of the assignment, for your own use, then please contact me. All of our assignments and tests are open source.

Also, if you need additional time for term tests or the final exam, please let Parker know as soon as possible, and he will setup Crowdmark to allow additional time for your submissions.


The only resource that you need to pay attention to is the textbook for the course. The other two resources are extra rescources that you can choose to read or watch if you want to.

Grading Scheme

Task Weight
Exam 40%
Term Tests (3-1)x20%
Practice Tests 3x1%
Assignments (5-1)x3%
Assignment Reflections 5x1%

Missed Work

You are able to miss one term test and one assignment, during the course. If you’re unable to write a term test or an assignment, then you are free to drop the grade from the course. You do not need to request this, or apologize for missing the work, as it will happen automatically. We are all living through difficult times. Take a break.

There will be three term tests, but only two of them will count towards your final grade. There will be five assignments, but one four of them will count towards your final grade. We hope that this makes things less stressful.

Common Questions:

Term Tests

Goal: these written tests give you the opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of core concepts and topics in a written format. You will gain experience of communicating mathematical ideas in a logical manner. We write tests in a limited amount of time to assess your fluency with the material.

Procedure: we will be using Crowdmark to grade assignment/test submissions. You will get a personalized submission link sent to your UToronto email address. Do NOT share this link with other students.

Submission Guidelines: Tests need to be submitted online through Crowdmark. Each test lasts twenty-four hours. We expect that it should take about an hour to complete the test.

Evaluation Criteria: In general, you need to present your solutions in a logical and clear manner. Detailed solutions will be made available shortly after the deadline of submission.

Please pay attention to the following when writing tests:

Common Questions:

Practice Tests

Goal: These written practice tests give you the opportunity to see what the upcoming tests will look like. We have them so that you can get ready and practice for the real tests.

Procedure: We will use Crowdmark to upload the practice tests submissions. You will get a personalized submission link sent to your UToronto email address. Do NOT share this link with other students.

Submission Guidelines: Tests need to be submitted online through Crowdmark. Each test lasts twenty-four hours. We expect that it should take about an hour to complete the practice test. The practice tests will be available the Thursday through Friday before the real tests.

Evaluation Criteria: The practice tests will NOT be graded. Solutions will be posted online for your reference. If you submit a paper, and it is clear that you attempted all the problems, then you will get full marks. The practice tests are graded for completion only.

Common Questions:


Goal: these assignments give you the opportunity to deepen your understanding of topics covered in this course, and to practice. We use these assignments to determine if you can solve problems slowly, without time constraints.

Procedure: we will be using Crowdmark to grade assignment submissions. You will get a personalized submission link sent to your UToronto email address. Do NOT share this link with other students.

Submission Guidelines: Assignments need to be submitted online through Crowdmark. You will have a week to write the assignment.

Evaluation Criteria: present your solutions in a logical and clear manner. Detailed solutions will be made available shortly after the deadline of submission.

Assignment Reflections

Goal: The reflection assignments give you the opportunity to reflect on what you learned from each assignment. Your responses to the assignment reflections will help us determine how much you learned from the assignments.

Procedure: We will be using Crowdmark to grade assignment submissions. You will get a personalized submission link sent to your UToronto email address. Do NOT share this link with other students.

Submission Guidelines: Assignment reflections need to be submitted online through Crowdmark. You will have a two days to complete the assignment reflection. Assignmnent reflections will be available once the graded assignments are returned to students via Crowdmark.

Evaluation Criteria: The assignment reflections will NOT be graded. If you submit a paper, and it is clear that you considered your graded assignment, then you will get full marks. The assignment reflections are graded for completion only.

Common Questions:

Campus Resources

Facilitated Study Groups

Facilitated Study Groups (FSGs) are weekly drop-in collaborative learning sessions for students who want to improve their understanding of challenging content in selected courses at UTSC. FSG sessions give you a chance to discuss the lecture material and important concepts, develop study strategies and fresh approaches, and work through problems as a group to prepare for your assignments and tests. FSGs in MATA29, will be led by Varumen Siva, who excelled in this course previously. He will attend lectures with you and will prepare activities and questions to ensure that each session is productive.

Research shows that students who regularly attend FSGs gain a deeper understanding of the material and, on average, achieve better grades. It’s also a great way to meet classmates and study in a relaxed, judgment-free space.

Center for Teaching and Learning Academic Learning Support

The Centre for Teaching and Learning provides academic learning support to students through online tutoring, workshops, and peer supports to drive student success. To find out more about all their offerings, see this website:

Math and Stats Support

The Center for Teaching and Learning’s Math & Statistics Support provides free seminars, workshops, virtual tutoring, individual appointments, and small-group consultations to improve students’ proficiency in various subjects of mathematics and statistics. Their main goal is to create a friendly, vibrant environment in which all students can come to learn and succeed.

For their online help offerings see:

Academic Integrity

The instructional team wants to make sure that everyone has a fair chance to succeed in this course. We believe that academic integrity is important in guaranteeing that everyone has a fair chance to succeed. Therefore, we define an academic integrity violation to be accessing or communicating with any person or resource that gives a unique advantage to some students. For example: participating in private group chats, posting questions and reading solutions on websites, hiring or requesting external help. All of these would give some students advantages that would not be available to other students.

Common Questions:

References on Academic Integrity

Schedule of Learning Objectives

  1. Limits and Differentiation (Week 1-4)
    1. Investigate quantitative relationships using graphs, their domains, and ranges.
    2. Evaluate limits numerically, visually, and algebraically.
    3. Apply the rules of differentiation to algebraic and transcendental functions.
  2. Application of Differentiation (Weeks 5-8)
    1. Use derivatives to determine properties, such as shape and the highest/lowest points, of graphs.
    2. Investigate and explain quantitative relationships between variables.
    3. Use differentiation to approximate general functions by linear functions.
  3. Integration (Weeks 9-12)
    1. Explain and apply the relationship between derivation and integration.
    2. Use integeration techniques to solve problems involving areas of bounded by graphs and volumes of solids.
    3. Integrate algebraic and transcendental functions.

Schedule of Tasks

Week Tasks and Learning Objectives
2 Assignment 1 (LO: 1a)
4 Assignment 2 (LO: 1b, 1c) + Term Test 1 (LO: 1a, 1b, 1c)
6 Assignment 3 (LO: 1c)
Reading Week!
7 Term Test 2 (LO: 1c, 2a, 2b, 3a)
8 Assignment 4 (LO: 2a)
10 Assignment 5 (LO: 2c, 3a, 3b)
11 Term Test 3 (LO: 3b, 3c)

Exact Dates of Tasks

Task Dates and Times
Assignment 1 Friday September 10 @ 1:00pm to Friday September 17 @ 1:00pm
Assignment 2 Friday September 24 @ 1:00pm to Friday October 1 @ 1:00pm
Assignment 3 Friday October 15 @ 1:00pm to Friday October 22 @ 1:00pm
Assignment 4 Friday October 29 @ 1:00pm to Friday November 5 @ 1:00pm
Assignment 5 Friday November 12 @ 1:00pm to Friday November 19 @ 1:00pm
Practice Term Test 1 Thursday September 23 @ 3:00pm to Friday September 24 @ 3:00pm
Term Test 1 Monday September 27 @ 4:00pm to Tuesday September 28 @ 4:00pm
Practice Term Test 2 Thursday October 21 @ 3:00pm to Friday October 22 @ 3:00pm
Term Test 2 Monday October 25 @ 4:00pm to Tuesday October 26 @ 4:00pm
Practice Term Test 3 Thursday November 18 @ 3:00pm to Friday November 19 @ 3:00pm
Term Test 3 Monday November 22 @ 4:00pm to Tuesday November 22 @ 4:00pm

The complete table of due dates is available as a Google Calendar.

Common Questions:

Schedule of Material

Land Acknowledgement

As the instructor of this course, I wish to acknowledge the land on which the University of Toronto operates. For thousands of years it has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and the Mississaugas of the Credit. Today, this meeting place is still the home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work on this land.

If you want to get in contact with the people of this place, Parker encourages you to check out: The Native Canadian Center of Toronto. They are very welcoming people. Their a weekly drum circle and meal on Thursdays is the most inclusive and open event that Parker has ever attended.

One last thing, appreciate the land while you’re here as a student. There is a beautiful hike on the south side of campus called the Valley Land Trail. If you go south from Humanities Wing, then you can see a wonderful stream and relax a little.

Old Schedule

This is just here for reference and will not be included in the final syllabus.

This is the old schedule from when I taught the course back in 2016. The following weekly schedule uses section titles adapted from: Bittinger, Marvin L., Neal E. Brand, and John Quintanilla. Calculus for the life sciences. 2006.

  1. Functions and graphs
  2. Functions and graphs
  3. Differentiation
  4. Differentiation
  5. Applications of Differentiation
  6. Reading Week!
  7. Applications of Differentiation
  8. Applications of Differentiation
  9. Explonential and Logarithmic Functions
  10. Explonential and Logarithmic Functions
  11. Integration
  12. Integration
  13. Integration


Published: Jun 1, 2021

Last Modified: Jul 8, 2024


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Thanks for reading! If you have any comments or questions about the content, please let me know. Anyone can contact me by email.