Skip to main content

Unit information: Cell and Developmental Biology in 2014/15

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Cell and Developmental Biology
Unit code BIOL20011
Credit points 10
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2D (weeks 19 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Grierson
Open unit status Not open


Recommended: Normally 120 cps of appropriate Level 1 units in Biological Sciences. BIOL 20005 Molecular Methodology is recommended.



School/department School of Biological Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

All living things are composed of cells and all biological phenomena are ultimately the result of cellular activity. Developmental mechanisms govern how cells multiply, arrange themselves, and specialise, and cellular mechanisms are responsible for the responses of organisms to their environment. Cell and developmental biology are two of the most rapidly advancing areas of biology, whose medical, agronomic and biotechnological significance have been recognised by recent Nobel Prizes.

This unit will use examples of cell signalling, developmental patterning, and cell differentiation in animals, plants, and microbes to illustrate how genetic and environmental information is processed, and how single cells can develop into complex, multicellular organisms.


  • to complement interests in all areas of biology
  • to provide a secure grounding for more advanced courses involving cell and developmental biology
  • to provide a secure grounding for practical projects relating to cell and developmental biology.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will be familiar with a range of examples of cellular and developmental mechanisms in animals, plants, and microbes. The most successful students will develop an appreciation of how these mechanisms might arise and adapt during evolution, and how similar mechanisms might apply to other biological processes that they are studying in other parts of the course.

Teaching Information

3 x 1-hour weekly lectures (weeks 19 - 23)

1 x 3 hour workshop in wk 24

Self-directed learning week (week 24). Students are expected to spend this time on directed reading.

Assessment Information

Worksheet assessment (40%), end of year examinations (60%).

Reading and References

  • “The Molecular Biology of the Cell” Bruce Alberts, Alexander Johnson, Julian Lewis, Martin Raff, Keith Roberts, and Peter Walter, Garland Science
  • “Principles of Development” Lewis Wolpert, Oxford University Press