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Unit of study_

BIOL3026: Developmental Biology

Semester 1, 2023 [Normal day] - Remote

The advent of multicellularity represents one of life's great transitions in complexity, ultimately paving the way to the evolution of complex organisms such as humans. This unit focuses on how such complex multicellular systems are constructed using both animal and plant systems in a comparative way that reveals common strategies and striking contrasts. The course will cover the multidisciplinary nature of approaches used, including classical embryology, biochemistry, genetics, transcriptomics, live-imaging, cell biology, physiology and computer simulation. Topics will include fundamental concepts, morphogens, establishing body axes, cell polarity, differentiation and commitment, evolution in the context of development, mechanics and morphogenesis with examples from model systems, stem cells and cancer. Practical work includes experiments addressing gene expression, organ identity and homeotic conversions, and uses CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing to demonstrate approaches to the study of developmental biology. The practical classes complement the theoretical aspects of the course and develops important skills in developmental biology.

Unit details and rules

Unit code BIOL3026
Academic unit Life and Environmental Sciences Academic Operations
Credit points 6
Prohibitions
? 
BIOL3926
Prerequisites
? 
(MBLG2X72 or GEGE2X01 or GENE2002 or BIOL2X29 or BCMB2X02) and 6cp from (MBLG2X71 or BIOL2XXX or BCMB2XXX or MEDS2003 or QBIO2001 or IMMU2XXX)
Corequisites
? 
None
Assumed knowledge
? 

None

Available to study abroad and exchange students

Yes

Teaching staff

Coordinator Marcus Heisler, marcus.heisler@sydney.edu.au
Type Description Weight Due Length
Supervised exam
? 
Exam
Written exam - short answer questions
40% Formal exam period 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO7 LO8
Small continuous assessment Small test
Multiple choice questions
10% Multiple weeks 15 mins
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO8 LO7 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Laboratory notebook
Laboratory Notebook. Failure to submit will result in AF.
10% Week 04
Due date: 17 Mar 2023 at 18:00
See Canvas
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Assignment Developmental biology literature review
Written assignment
20% Week 07
Due date: 04 Apr 2023 at 18:00
1500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO7 LO8
Assignment Laboratory notebook
Laboratory notebook Failure to submit will result in AF.
10% Week 10
Due date: 05 May 2023 at 18:00
See Canvas
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Assignment Laboratory notebook
Laboratory notebook
10% Week 13
Due date: 26 May 2023 at 18:00
See Canvas
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8

Assessment summary

  • Theory exam: All students will sit a final theory exam held during the official examination period at the end of semester. The exam may comprise multiple-choice, short-answer and/or mini-essay questions from any area of the lecture and practical program. Exam assessment is compulsory and failure to attend, attempt, or submit will result in the award of an AF grade. If a second replacement exam is required, this exam may be delivered via an alternative assessment method, such as viva voce (oral exam). The alternative assessment will meet the same learning oucomes as the original exam. The format of the alternative assessment will be determined by the unit coordinator. 
  • Developmental biology written assignment: Students will work individually and employ library and Internet resources to investigate a topic on developmental biology.
  • Two, small in-class multiple choice question tests. These short tests will occur during the practicals in week 4 and week 8. They will focus on lecture material.
  • Laboratory notebook assessment: Students will maintain a laboratory note book with weekly write up and final conclusions of experiments conducted throughout the semester. The laboratory note books will be submitted at various times during the semester. Several items in the note book will be selected for assessment. 

    The laboratory course is an essential part of the unit of study and students must pass the laboratory component in order to pass the unit. In order to pass students must attend 80% of practical sessions, demonstrate engagement, and submit lab notebooks for assessment (minimum of 2/3 lab notebooks). Failure to submit this material will result in AF for the Unit.

    If technical issues, illness, a requirement to isolate etc. prevent attendance at a specific class, students should discuss the problem with the coordinator to find out how to make up the missed attendance.

      Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

For more information see sydney.edu.au/students/guide-to-grades.

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Multiple weeks Lectures 3-6: Early animal development Lecture (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Lectures 7-9, 12-13: Model systems and genetic approaches Lecture (5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6
Lectures 10-11: Epigenetics Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO8
Lectures 19-20: Morphogenesis Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Fundamental processes Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Weeks 2-3: Animal development Practical (6 hr) LO1 LO2 LO6
Weeks 4-9: Flower development Practical (15 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Weeks 6, 10-12: Mosaic analysis Practical (9 hr) LO1 LO2 LO5 LO6
Week 01 Conceptual overview Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Classical approaches Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 07 Developmental variation:domestication and evolution Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5 LO7 LO8
Week 08 Cell signalling Lecture (1 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4 LO8
Week 09 Cytoskeleton Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Cancer and Development Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO8
Week 10 Neural Development Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO8
Week 13 Frontiers in understanding mammalian development Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO8

Attendance and class requirements

Due to the exceptional circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, attendance requirements for this unit of study have been amended. Where online tutorials/workshops/virtual laboratories have been scheduled, students should make every effort to attend and participate at the scheduled time. Penalties will not be applied if technical issues, etc. prevent attendance at a specific online class. In that case, students should discuss the problem with the coordinator, and attend another session, if available.

The laboratory course is an essential part of the unit of study and students must pass the laboratory component in order to pass the unit. In order to pass students must attend 80% of practical sessions, demonstrate engagement, and submit lab notebooks for assessment (minimum of 2/3 lab notebooks).  

Failure to submit this material will result in AF for the Unit.

If technical issues, illness, a requirement to isolate etc. prevent attendance at a specific class, students should discuss the problem with the coordinator to find out how to make up the missed attendance.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

There are a number of textbooks relevant to the lecture material as listed below. There are also references to original research papers and reviews noted in lectures or available via Canvas or the Library.

  • Wolpert, L and Tickle, C. Principals of Development. Oxford University Press. 4th Edition, 2011.
  • Gilbert S. Developmental Biology. Sinauer. 9th Edition, 2010
  • Slack J. Essential Developmental Biology. Wiley-Blackwell. 2nd Edition, 2006.

Other text books of interest are as follows.

  • Krebs J.E., Goldstein E.S. and Kilpatrick T.S. Lewins Genes X. Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2009
  • Strachan T. and Read A. Human Molecular Genetics 2. Garland Science. 4th Edition, 2010.
  • Meneely P. Advanced genetic analysis: genes, genomes, and networks in eukaryotes. Oxford University Press, 2009.
  • Sanders M.F. and Bowman J.L. Genetic Analysis: An Integrated Approach. Pearson. 2012.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. understand, explain and evaluate classical and modern approaches used in developmental biology
  • LO2. know, understand and analyse developmental biology information
  • LO3. define and describe different means by which multicellular organisms develop
  • LO4. compare and contrast mechanisms of cell fate determination
  • LO5. appraise how developmental biology relates to evolution and diversity
  • LO6. develop skills in the use and application of developmental biology tools
  • LO7. formulate ideas on the practical applications of developmental biology in agriculture
  • LO8. relate the use of developmental biology to improving animal and plant health and well being

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities
GQ1 GQ2 GQ3 GQ4 GQ5 GQ6 GQ7 GQ8 GQ9

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

Delivery of the unit of study has taken into consideration student feedback since the unit was last offered.

Work, health and safety

We are governed by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 and Codes of Practice. Penalties for non-compliance have increased. Everyone has a responsibility for health and safety at work. The University’s Work Health and Safety policy explains the responsibilities and expectations of workers and others, and the procedures for managing WHS risks associated with University activities.

General laboratory safety rules

  • No eating or drinking is allowed in any laboratory under any circumstances 
  • A laboratory coat and closed-toe shoes are mandatory 
  • Follow safety instructions in your manual and posted in laboratories 
  • In case of fire, follow instructions posted outside the laboratory door 
  • First aid kits, eye wash and fire extinguishers are located in or immediately outside each laboratory 

As a precautionary measure, it is recommended that you have a current tetanus immunisation. This can be obtained from University Health Service: unihealth.usyd.edu.au/

Disclaimer

The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.