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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Biological Sciences : Biology

Undergraduate Course: Developmental Biology 3 (BILG09010)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Biological Sciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 9 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course studies development of the complex organism from the fertilised egg, leading from the control of gene expression, to cell interaction, to the formation of tissues and organs. It considers the development of many types of animal and plant embryos and also post-embryonic process (control of growth, tissue maintenance, flowering, etc). Major sections of the course include pattern formation (cell lineage, cell interaction); control of gene expression; genetic analysis in zebrafish and in Drosophila (the oocyte, the embryo and imaginal discs); mammalian development; plant development. The course consists of lectures, laboratory practicals, small-group seminars and data-analysis sessions.
Course description The study of development is central to modern biology. It is revealing how multi-cellular organisms form the correct cells, tissues and organs in the right place at the right time, to generate a complex and functional organism. Combining manipulative, genetic and molecular approaches, Developmental Biology allows us to understand the path from genes to organism. Analysis in different species has shown that a surprisingly similar 'toolkit' of developmental mechanisms is used in vertebrate and invertebrate animals and in plants (albeit often using different gene products as the 'tools'). The Developmental Biology 3 course aims to give a broad view of the processes and mechanisms of development in a range of important research organisms.

An understanding of development is not only crucial to appreciating how the whole, functional organism is formed, but also to understanding what happens when things go wrong, as in congenital abnormalities or in cancer.

We encourage you to go on to Development, Regeneration and Stem Cell Honours in your final year. The Honours programme builds on this 3rd year course, going in more detail into experiments on developmental mechanisms - at levels from embryology and morphogenesis to the molecular control of gene expression, and in many different organisms. We also cover important additional topics such as stem cell biology, human developmental genetics, developmental neurobiology and the evolution of development (what is shared and what is unique to different organisms, from humans to plants). Developmental Biology is truly interdisciplinary, with input from the Science and Medical areas - it is an exciting and intriguing topic and the research career prospects are good.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed Cells to Organisms 2 (BIME08011)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Biological Sciences students are automatically eligible to take this course by having completed the compulsory Year 2 courses [Biology 2A (BILG08024), Biology 2B (BILG08025) and Biology 2C (BILG08026)].
Students from other Schools are advised to enquire with the Course Organiser if you are not sure whether this course is suitable for you.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesEquivalent of the courses listed above
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 24, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 23.5, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 2.5, Revision Session Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 144 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 55 %, Coursework 45 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) An essay and three mini-tests based on the practicals, plus one 2.5 hour exam.
Feedback Not entered
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)2:30
Resit Exam Diet (August)2:30
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the broad principles behind the processes of development and the mechanisms by which they are achieved, integrating results from different experimental systems (vertebrate and invertebrate animals, plants) and from different experimental approaches (embryology, developmental genetics, cell and molecular biology).
  2. Have developed basic skills in observing developing organisms, and understand how to carry out some of the surgical and cellular experimental techniques of developmental biology.
  3. Analyse and synthesise primary research papers to construct coherent arguments in essay form, and assess experimental evidence and its interpretation.
Reading List
There is no perfect book, but we strongly recommend the very readable:
Gilbert SF and Barresi MJ. (2016) Developmental Biology (11th Edtn), Sinauer and
Wolpert L. & Tickle (2015) Principles of Developmental Biology (5th Edtn), O.U.P.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserProf Val Wilson
Tel: (0131 6)50 6424
Course secretaryMiss Janna James
Tel: (0131 6)50 8649
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