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Advanced Topics in Developmental Biology - BIO00001H

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  • Department: Biology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Betsy Pownall
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2018-19
    • See module specification for other years: 2017-18

Related modules

Pre-requisite modules

Co-requisite modules

  • None

Prohibited combinations

  • None

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2018-19

Module aims

This module will be taught as a series of lectures focussed on understanding the primary scientific literature that underpins the current models of how embryonic development works. Each lecture takes the style of a journal club where 3 or 4 primary papers are presented and the experimental evidence that supports current understanding of developmental mechanisms is gone through in detail. Students are expected to have read the papers ahead of each session, and will be expected to contribute during discussion. The modules aims to develop a critical awareness of data presented in primary research papers. By exposing students to a wide range of experimental approaches, we aim to provide students with knowledge of “an experimental toolkit” that can be deployed for investigating problems in modern developmental genetics and cell biology. Major topics covered include 1) The mechanisms regulating the specification and differentiation of vertebrate skeletal muscle. 2) The mechanisms regulating the induction and patterning of the mesoderm and neuroectoderm in amphibians. The seminars are supported by an introductory lecture and a final question and answer session.

Module learning outcomes

At the end of this module a student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate deep understanding of the background, results, conclusions and potential shortcomings of primary research papers relating to a number of key topics in developmental biology.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the experimental approaches and techniques used in the study of developmental biology.
  • Demonstrate the ability to interpret novel experimental data and devise experimental approaches to solve novel problems in developmental biology.


Task Length % of module mark
OPen Assessment
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
OPen Assessment
N/A 100

Module feedback

Feedback on your progress is important to your learning process and we return all first and second year work to you after marking for feedback purposes via Biology Student Services in week 9 or 10 of the spring and summer terms. You will be notified by e-mail when your work is ready for collection.

Module marks are made available to both you and your supervisor via your eVision account as soon as the marks are available, by week 6 of the spring term and week 8 of the summer term. You are expected to discuss your performance and progress with your supervisor in your mid-spring term and end of summer term supervisory meetings.

A histogram of all module marks is produced and posted on the examinations notice board outside Biology Student Services.

Specimen answers are posted on the web: by comparing the specimen answers with your own, you should obtain a clear idea of what was expected of you. For each module the markers will also give general feedback on how well the questions were answered and point out any standard errors that students may have made.

Indicative reading

These are available in EARL which is accessible through the VLE module site.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.