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Unit of study_

BIOL3926: Developmental Biology (Advanced)

Semester 1, 2021 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

Qualified students will participate in alternative components to BIOL3026 Developmental Biology. The content and nature of these components may vary from year to year. Some assessment will be in an alternative format to components of BIOL3026.

Unit details and rules

Unit code BIOL3926
Academic unit Life and Environmental Sciences Academic Operations
Credit points 6
BIOL3929 or BIOL3026?
A mark of 75 or above in (GEGE2X01 or MBLG2X72 or GENE2002 or BIOL2X29 or BCMB2X02) and a mark of 75 or above in (MBLG2X71 or BIOL2XXX or BCMB2XXX or QBIO2001 or IMMU2XXX or MEDS2003)
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Marcus Heisler,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam (Record+) Type B final exam Exam
Written exam - short answer questions
50% Formal exam period 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO7 LO8
Assignment Laboratory Notebook
Laboratory notebook
10% Week 04
Due date: 26 Mar 2021 at 18:00
See Canvas
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO7 LO8
Assignment Developmental biology literature review
20% Week 07 12 mins
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO8 LO7 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Laboratory notebook
Laboratory notebook
10% Week 09
Due date: 07 May 2021 at 18:00
See Canvas
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO8 LO7 LO5 LO4 LO3
Assignment Laboratory notebook
Laboratory notebook
10% Week 13
Due date: 04 Jun 2021 at 18:00
See Canvas
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO8 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3
Type B final exam = Type B final exam ?

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.
  • Developmental biology presentation: Students will employ library and Internet resources to investigate a topic on developmental biology. Students will prepare a PowerPoint presentation on their topic for joint presentation to their group.
  • 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.

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

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 7-11: Model systems and genetic approaches Lecture (5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6
Lectures 17-18: 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
Cell signalling Lecture (1 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4 LO8
Week 08 Cytoskeleton Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Cancer and Development Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO8
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.

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

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:


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.