NBIK10020U Developmental Biology

Volume 2024/2025

MSc Programme in Biochemistry
MSc Programme in Biology
MSc Programme in Biology with a minor subject
MSc Programme in Molecular Biomedicine


The course covers theoretical knowledge of the basic principles for experimental embryology, including those of gametogenesis and fertilization, development and differentiation in the early embryo, gene regulation, cell-cell communication, cell migration, neural crest differentiation and –specialization, axis specification, development of limbs and organs, sex determination and metamorphosis. Special emphasis is on the medical implications of developmental biology, including identification of genetic defects resulting in congenital syndromes, teratogenesis, stem cell biology, reproductive and therapeutic cloning as well as developmental approaches to cancer therapy.

The course provides the student with sufficient knowledge to address and discuss the consequences of advances within these areas for the society.


Learning Outcome

By attending the course the student will achieve:


The course provides the student with a detailed and comprehensive general knowledge of developmental biology with particular emphasis on medical implications such as the latest advances within stem cell therapeutics. The course provides knowledge of the most widely used models for developmental biology and the student get practical experience with light microscopy of gametes, invertebrate embryos, as well as sections and whole mount preparations of vertebrate embryos.


  • Describe and explain principles and model systems in experimental embryology as well as evaluate their usefulness in solving specific problems, for instance based on original research papers.
  • Demonstrate insight into methods and models for studying differential gene expression.
  • Describe and detail the cellular and molecular mechanisms in cell-cell interaction and signal transduction and integrate these to an overall understanding of embryonic development.
  • Describe the basic cellular and molecular prerequisites for fertilization and explain potentials and limits of in vitro fertilization and other manipulations of the fertilization process.
  • Describe early embryonic development (e.g. fertilization, cleavage, gastrulation, axis specification) in invertebrates (such as sea urchins), in vertebrates (such as amphibians, birds and mammals), and in insects (Drosophila), and generalize and contrast developmental patterns and –processes in selected model organisms.
  • Describe later development and differentiation of ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm and their derivatives. Detail development of limbs, organs (for instance heart and kidneys), blood cells, circulatory system and nervous system.
  • Interpret light microscopic samples of germ cells and early developmental stages of selected model organisms.
  • Describe primary and secondary sex determination.
  • Describe and explain postembryonic development, including breast gland development (mammals), regeneration and aging.
  • Define and categorize stem cells, progenitors and differentiated cells and compare their potentials and limits. Integrate this knowledge to an understanding of cloning strategies and a critical evaluation of its application in regenerative biology.
  • Demonstrate insight into the medical implications of developmental biology, including genetic aberrations/syndromes, teratogenesis, cancer therapy and regenerative medicine. Based on the acquired skills at a qualified level evaluate and criticize novel achievements within these areas.


The student is competent to understand, interpret and integrate the complexity of developmental biology.

See Absalon.

Basic knowledge of cell biology corresponding to the Bachelor level.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.
Lectures, light microscopy exercises, and discussions based on lectures and original scientific literature with a view to understanding applied knowledge of developmental biology.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 146
  • Theory exercises
  • 22
  • Practical exercises
  • 6
  • Exam
  • 4
  • Total
  • 206
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
On-site written exam, 4 hours under invigilation
Type of assessment details
Written exam

The on-site written exam is an ITX exam.
See important information about ITX-exams at Study Information, menu point: Exams -> Exam types and rules -> Written on-site exams (ITX)
Without aids
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners

The same as the ordinary exam.

If ten or fewer students have signed up for re-exam, the type of assessment will be changed to oral exam: Duration: 20 min. with 20 min. preparation and without exam aids.


Criteria for exam assesment

In order to obtain the grade 12 the student should convincingly and accurately demonstrate the knowledge, skills and competences described under Learning Outcome.