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Unit of study_

HSTO3003: Cells and Development: Theory

Semester 2, 2020 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

The main emphasis of this unit of study concerns the mechanisms that control animal development. Early developmental processes including fertilisation, cleavage, and gastrulation leading to the formation of the primary germ layers and subsequent body organs are described in a range of animals, mainly vertebrates. Stem cells of both embryonic and adult origin will be covered. Emphasis will be placed on the parts played by inductive cell and tissue interactions in cell and tissue differentiation, morphogenesis and pattern formation. This will be studied at both cellular and molecular levels.

Unit details and rules

Unit code HSTO3003
Academic unit
Credit points 6
72cp of 1000 to 3000 level units
Assumed knowledge

(ANAT2008 or BMED2401 or MEDS2005) and Human biology; BIOL1XX8 or BIOL1XX3 or MEDS1X01

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Frank Lovicu,
Lecturer(s) Stephen John Assinder,
Michael Morris,
Claire Goldsbury,
Maria Byrne,
Margot Day,
Frank Lovicu,
Anai Gonzalez Cordero,
Pierre Osteil,
Helen Ritchie,
Stuart Fraser,
Geraldine O'Neill,
Jennifer Byrne,
Paulina Selvakumaraswamy,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam (Record+) Type B final exam Final Written Exam
Written exam made up of Short Answer Questions
60% Formal exam period 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1
Online task In Semester Quiz
SAQ and MCQ Quiz
4% Week 04 16 mins
Outcomes assessed: LO1
Skills-based evaluation Online Delivered Seminar
Seminar presentation based on written report
8% Week 07 8 mins
Outcomes assessed: LO1
Assignment Written Report
Written report based on a relevant topic of students choice
20% Week 07 1500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1
Online task In Semester Quiz 2
SAQ and MCQ Quiz
4% Week 08 16 mins
Outcomes assessed: LO1
Online task In Semester Quiz 3
SAQ and MCQ Quiz
4% Week 12 16 mins
Outcomes assessed: LO1
Type B final exam = Type B final exam ?

Assessment summary

  • Final exam: Short answer questions
  • In-semester quizzes: Short answer questions and multiple choice questions
  • Seminar
  • Written report

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.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100



75 - 84



65 - 74



50 - 64



0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory 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
Week 01 1. Course introduction; 2. Spermatogenesis; 3. Oogenesis/fertilisation Lecture (4 hr)  
Week 02 1. Cleavage to blastulation; 2. Gastrulation (1˚ germ layer formation) Lecture (4 hr)  
Week 03 Implantation Lecture (4 hr)  
Introductory tutorial Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 04 Mouse as a model: implantation to gastrulation revisited, organogenesis (endoderm development), molecular analysis of early development Lecture (4 hr)  
Week 05 1. Mesoderm development; 2. Cardiovascular development Lecture (4 hr)  
Week 06 Musculoskeletal (mesoderm) development Online class (4 hr)  
Week 07 Neurulation to neural tube patterning and development Lecture (4 hr)  
Week 08 Constructing the CNS Lecture (4 hr)  
Week 09 Student seminars Lecture (4 hr)  
Week 10 Cell and tissue interactions 1 Lecture (4 hr)  
Week 11 Cell and tissue interactions 2 Lecture (4 hr)  
Week 12 Cell migration, invasion and metastasis Lecture (4 hr)  
Week 13 1. Oncogenes and tumour suppressors; 2. Genomics and human developmental disease Lecture (4 hr)  

Attendance and class requirements

A student enrolled in a unit of study must comply with the requirements set out in the faculty resolutions, award course resolutions or unit of study outline about undertaking the unit of study, including on matters such as: (a) attendance at and participation in lectures, seminars and tutorials; and (b) participation in practical work.
The Faculty of Science resolutions states:
9(1). Students are expected to attend a minimum of 80% of timetabled activities for a unit of study, unless granted exemption by the Associate Dean. Attendance to lectures is therefore highly recommended.

All assessments are compulsory, with in class Quiz assessments the only attendeance recorded.

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

Development Biology Text Book

Gilbert and Barresi

Any Edition

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. Learning Goals The main emphasis of this unit of study concerns the mechanisms that control animal development. Fertilisation, cleavage, gastrulation and the formation of the primary germ layers are described in a range of animals, mainly vertebrates. Much of the emphasis will be placed on the parts played by inductive cell and tissue interactions in cell and tissue differentiation, morphogenesis and pattern formation. This will be studied at both cellular and molecular levels. Learning Outcomes Students taking this Unit learn about the processes of animal development and examine the major questions in developmental biology. By the end of the unit of study, students should have an in-depth knowledge of: *fertilisation, cleavage, gastrulation and formation of the primary germ layers. *the differentiation of the primary germ layers and organogenesis. *the cellular and molecular mechanisms that control tissue morphogenesis and differentiation. *the mechanisms that control differential gene expression leading to cell and tissue differentiation. In addition, students in this unit of study should understand and develop: -the intellectual and technical skills required for asking and answering questions related to cellular and developmental processes, -an overall appreciation for the complexity of developmental processes, -become familiar with the powerful cellular and molecular tools that are currently available for dissecting out these processes.

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.

No significant changes outside adapting the unit for COVID-19


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

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