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SCIN316 - Plant Identification, Taxonomy, and Systematics

Course Details

Course Code: SCIN316 Course ID: 4285 Credit Hours: 3 Level: Undergraduate

An introduction to classification and evolution of vascular plants, with emphasis on flowering plants (angiosperms). This course will use structural terminology, characteristics of major plant families, and systematics. Student will use taxonomic keys, floras, and manuals for species identification. (Prerequisites: SCIN130 or BIOL134)


Course Schedule

Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
03/30/20 - 09/04/20 09/07/20 - 11/01/20 Summer 2020 Session D 8 Week session
06/29/20 - 12/04/20 12/07/20 - 01/31/21 Fall 2020 Session D 8 Week session

Current Syllabi

After successfully completing this course, you will be able to:

  • (LO-1) Construct dichotomous keys
  • (LO-2) Describe the morphological characteristics of the major plant families.
  • (LO-3) Evaluate traditional (morphology based) and contemporary (molecular and genetics based) methods of classification.
  • (LO-4) Explain how and why evolution influences patterns of biodiversity and relatedness in plants.
  • (LO-5) Use electronic sources for plant identification.
  • (LO-6) Apply knowledge of plant families to identify unknown plants.

Please see the Student Handbook to reference the University’s grading scale

NameGrade %
Forums 25.00 %
Forum 1 3.13 %
Forum 2 3.13 %
Forum 3 3.13 %
Forum 4 3.13 %
Forum 5 3.13 %
Forum 6 3.13 %
Forum 7 3.13 %
Forum 8 3.13 %
Assignments 40.00 %
Assignment 1- Leaf Dichotomous Key 8.00 %
Assignment 2: Vegetative Characteristics Lab 8.00 %
Assignment 3: Floral Characteristics Lab 8.00 %
Plant Collection 16.00 %
Assessments 35.00 %
Quiz 1 8.75 %
Quiz 2 8.75 %
Final Exam SCIN 316 17.50 %

Required Technology

  • See the Technology Requirements section of the undergraduate catalog for the minimum hardware and software requirements.
  • Microsoft Office 365 is available to APUS students for free. To sign up, visit If you have questions about accessing the software, please contact Classroom support at

Additional Resources
Other references for this course can be found in the Resources section of our classroom. Additionally, these books might be useful:

Glimn-Lacy, J. and P.B. Kaufman. (2006). Botany Illustrated: Introduction to Plants, Major Groups, Flowering Plant Families, 2nd Edition. Springer Science: New York, NY USA. 146pp.
Murrell, Z.E. (2010). Vascular Plant Taxonomy, 6th Edition. Kendall Hunt Publishing: Dubuque, IA USA. 656pp.

In addition to the required course texts the following public domain Websites are useful. Please abide by the university’s academic honesty policy when using Internet sources as well. Note web site addresses are subject to change.

Site Name

Website URL/Address

APA Citation Guide – AMU/APU Library

Encyclopedia of Life

Plant Families: Online Botany Guide

Guide to Flowering Plant Families

NatureServe Explorer

USDA Plants Database

Book Title:The Kew Plant Glossary: An Illustrated Dictionary of Plant Terms, 2nd ed - e-book available in the APUS Online Library; links also provided inside the classroom Lessons section.
Publication Info:Royal Botanic Gardens
Author:Beenjte, Henk
Unit Cost:$30.00

Previous Syllabi

Not current for future courses.