NBIK13005U Experimental Higher Model Organisms

Volume 2024/2025

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


Biological research is conducted in a diverse array of organisms, because every experimental approach has its own requirements, and every organism used in research offers the experimenter a unique set of advantages and disadvantages. As stated by August Krogh, “for a large number of problems, there will be some [system] of choice in which it can be most conveniently studied.” The purpose of this course is to introduce the student to several current biological model systems, including their advantages, specialized tools, and recent advances.


Class lectures, relevant articles from primary and review literature, and practical laboratory and theoretical exercises will provide an overview of the use of biological model systems and strategies used in basic and applied research. The model systems covered during the course vary from year to year depending on instructor availability; these models may include the flowering plant Arabidopsis thaliana, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, and the mouse, Mus musculus. For each organism, the practical material will focus on a relevant theme, and the techniques used may include quantitative assays of gene or protein expression, measurement of metabolite levels or neuronal activity, dissection, immunostaining, imaging, plant tissue culture, Drosophila handling and genetics, and behavioral assays. Themes may include gut-brain axis, neuropeptides in metabolism and behavior, neuroanatomy, cancer and growth control, and metabolic regulation.

Learning Outcome

This course is intended to provide an overview of several model systems and some current scientific topics that are studied in each of these systems. Students will not be expected to have mastered these organisms and topics by the end of the course, but we intend to provide – and students will be expected to exhibit – the following general knowledge bases, skills, and competencies.

Knowledge of: 

  • the suitability of different models for different scientific topics and methods of investigation;
  • the general biological attributes of the covered model systems;
  • the most commonly used “core” tools and techniques used within these model systems;
  • and the specific scientific topics covered in the assigned reading, lectures, seminar presentations, and exercises, used to illustrate the use of the model system.

Skills to:

  • to understand the general use of different model-organism systems
  • and to learn about unfamiliar methods and techniques,
  • and therefore to be able to follow current developments in the fields presented by the instructors;
  • to read, understand, and present the assigned primary literature (i.e., peer-reviewed journal articles)

Competences to:

  • to discuss and criticize research articles orally and in writing;
  • to interpret experimental data;
  • to discuss interdisciplinary aspects of the research covered in the course;
  • and to propose experiments to test models and questions raised in research on model organisms.

Relevant literature will be assigned by the instructor(s) handling each model system. See Absalon for specifics.

General Molecular Biology/Almen molekylærbiologi or an equivalent course.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree are recommended.
Instructors will give introductory lectures and assign background reading and literature presentations for their class segment. Through these lectures, informal discussion, reading and student presentation of literature, and laboratory exercises, students will learn about the featured model systems, the specific biological problems that will be investigated in the laboratory exercises, and other appropriate, interesting material.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 24
  • Preparation
  • 115
  • Theory exercises
  • 64
  • Exam
  • 3
  • Total
  • 206
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
On-site written exam, 3 hours under invigilation
Type of assessment details
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)
Exam registration requirements
  • Attendance, or instructor permission to be absent, at 80% of class sessions, because this is a  hands-on laboratory course.
  • Oral presentation of ~2-3 (depending on the number of students) assigned literature articles, demonstrating an understanding of the fundamental concepts covered.
  • Hand-in of two assigned written assignments that also demonstrate an understanding of the material and will need to be approved by the instructors.
  • There will be feedback from the instructors regarding these evaluations, and the written reports may be revised in response to this feedback in order to be approved; feedback on oral presentations will include advice on improvement from one presentation to the next. 
All aids allowed
  • Including paper or electronic versions of class notes, presentations, lectures, and articles.


As the exam is an ITX-exam, the University will make computers available to students at the ITX-exam.

Students are not permitted to bring digital aids like computers, tablets, calculators, mobile phones etc.

Books, notes, and similar materials can be brought in paper form or uploaded before the exam and accessed digitally from the ITX computer. Read more about this at Study Information.

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners.

The same as the ordinary exam. If 10 or fewer students have signed up for the re-exam, the type of assessment wil be changed to an oral exam. Duration: 30 minutes without preparation time. 

Students who do not fulfill the requirements for attending the ordinary exam will have to follow the course again.


Criteria for exam assesment

Questions on the written or oral exam may be based on any topic or item covered in the course. 

See Learning outcome.