Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Molecular Biology of Development
Academic Year
Semester 2
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Workshop/practical report  1000 words maximum plus appropriate figures  20%
Semester Assessment Funding application and peer review  Preparation of a full grant application using rules and pro-formas of an actual funding body e.g. BBSRC. Meeting minutes and peer effort review sheet.  20%
Semester Exam 3 Hours   60%
Supplementary Assessment Workshop/practical report  1,000 words maximum plus appropriate figures  20%
Supplementary Assessment Pre-application funding proposal  1,000 and group working proforma (500) (e.g. Leverhulme type) and team working exercise (alternative to group work)  20%
Supplementary Exam 3 Hours   Written exam.  60%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Discuss mechanisms and the relationship between signaling and gene expression.

2. Discuss the regulation of gene expression in the context of its impact on specific developmental examples.

3. Demonstrate an understanding of the experimental basis for our current knowledge of the molecular biology of development.

4. Analyse and present experimental results to a professional standard.

5. Supplement and integrate primary sources with the taught material.

Brief description

During development signals, and the regulation of differential gene expression, work together to build a complex organism from a single cell. The advent of molecular cell biology and genetics has enabled us to understand this process at the most fundamental of levels. In this module we will be examining some of the latest research on molecular development and revealing that the many of the mechanisms are used and re-used time and again in different systems and across taxa.


This module focuses on the development of multicellular organisms and the roles of signaling and gene expression in these processes. In all cases we will be looking to draw parallels across systems and taxa.
We begin with a brief section that introduces (or re-introduces for some) the basic developmental of the organisms which will be used as exemplars. We will then go on in detail to examine the molecular biology of specific developmental processes and stages. In each case the signaling mechanisms employed, and the information they carry, will be discussed in the context of changes in cell fate as determined by the differential expression of key genes. The molecular biology of errors in development will also be examined.
The organisms used as models in the module will be chosen to represent models as well as those in which recent studies have made significant contributions to our understanding. Throughout the module there will be great emphasis on the use of recent primary literature to allow you to directly engage with the data underpinning the ideas.

As well as encountering a wealth of experimental data in the lectures, you will also have the opportunity of analyzing relevant data yourselves and developing skills in presenting and discussing the results to a professional level.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Processing, analysis and presentation of experimental or workshop data.
Communication Preparation of professional laboratory/workshop report and research funding application.
Improving own Learning and Performance
Information Technology
Personal Development and Career planning Developing an understanding of the scientific funding process and collaborating with others to create a funding proposal.
Problem solving Interpretation of developmental data.
Research skills Use of online bibliographies and search engines to source literature for practical and funding application.
Subject Specific Skills Analysis of developmental data.
Team work Demonstration of pro-active team membership via production of professional minutes and/or reflection on team contribution.


This module is at CQFW Level 6