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Monash University

Monash University Handbook 2011 Undergraduate - Area of Study

All areas of study information should be read in conjunction with the relevant course entry in the Handbook. The units listed for this area of study relate only to the 'Requirements' outlined in the Faculty of Science component of any bachelors double degrees.

Managing facultyFaculty of Science
Offered byDepartment of Anatomy and Development Biology
Course coordinatorProfessor John Bertram (Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology)


Developmental biology is one of the most exciting and fast-moving fields in modern biomedical science. It is the discipline concerned with the development of an adult organism from a single cell. The study of developmental biology covers such topics as classical embryology, body structure and design, gene expression and molecular mechanisms of development, organogenesis, causes of birth defects, stem cell biology, regenerative biology and medicine, and tissue engineering. All these aspects are featured in the developmental biology units. Commencing at level two, the concept that the many specialised cell types in the adult human body are derived from a single fertilised egg is introduced. How the body plan is established during embryogenesis, how tissues combine to form organs and how organ systems form the adult body structure are described in lectures and examined in practical classes.

At level three, studies progress to the major molecular and cellular processes that regulate the development of differentiated cells, tissues and organs during embryonic and fetal development, and to what can go wrong in early development leading to congenital abnormalities and/or propensity for long-term adult disease. At level three the diversity of developmental biology research will be introduced including topics such as: the molecular and genetic regulation of organ development and specific transcription factors and post-transcriptional gene regulation in development, identification of tissue-specific stem cells and their roles in development, organ regeneration and cancer, causes of premature birth and the developmental origins of adult health and disease.


On completion of the major sequence in developmental biology students will:

  • appreciate the structural diversity of eukaryotic cells
  • understand the arrangements of cells and extracellular matrix in primary tissues
  • be able to recognise specialised cell types, primary tissues and stages of early human development both in vivo and in vitro
  • understand basic micro and macro imaging techniques including aspects of image capture, storage and reproduction
  • understand the general anatomy of the human body
  • understand the microscopic and macroscopic structure of organs and organ systems
  • understand how the general body plan is established in the embryo
  • understand the molecular systems that regulate the development of the body
  • have a good understanding of the development of the major organs and organ systems, and understand the key molecular events regulating this development
  • understand the common birth defects and the mechanisms underlying these developmental abnormalities
  • understand the different types of embryonic and adult stem cells, their characteristics and biological potentials
  • understand the concept of developmental programming and how this can result in adult disease
  • understand how factors, cells and materials can be combined to provide regeneration of diseased tissues and organs
  • appreciate a number of the current scientific, ethical and commercial controversies in developmental biology, understand both sides of the arguments, and appreciate both points of view
  • understand how new knowledge in developmental biology is obtained
  • be able to retrieve, discuss (written and verbal) and understand the latest research findings in the areas above from the electronic and hardcopy literature
  • have developed, in the context of the discipline, the graduate attributes of effective communication, quantitative literacy, information and communication literacy, inquiry and critical thinking, and ethical, social and international understanding.


Level two

  • DEV2011 Early human development from cells to tissues
  • DEV2022 Principles of organ and body design

Level three

  • DEV3011 Fundamentals of developmental processes
  • DEV3022 Developmental pathways to health and disease
  • DEV3032 Stem cells and regeneration
  • DEV3990 Action in developmental biology research project

Sequence requirements

Minor sequence in developmental biology (24 points)

Minor sequence in molecular biology (24 points)

Major sequence in developmental biology

Note: MOL2011 is a recommended unit for all level three DEV units.

Requirements for honours in developmental biology

  • 24 points of relevant level-three units, of which normally 18 points are developmental biology units

Additional information

Level two

The prerequisite subjects for DEV2011 are BIO1011 or BIO1022.

In order to undertake DEV2022, it is necessary to undertake DEV2011.

Level three

The prerequisite subjects for the third year units DEV3011 and DEV3032 are

DEV2011 and DEV2022.

DEV3011 is a prerequisite for DEV3022.

In order to undertake DEV3990, 12 points of study in the discipline area at second year level and a distinction over 24 points at second year level is required or, under extraordinary circumstances, by permission of the unit convenor or head of department.

Note: MOL2011 is a recommended unit for all level-three DEV units.


Coordinator: Assoc Prof M. Jane Black

In addition to the requirements listed above, students must meet the entry requirements for the Science honours program relevant to their course of enrolment. See the entries for:

  • 3520 Bachelor of Science Advanced with Honours
  • 0051 Honours degree of Bachelor of Science
  • 2188 Honours degree of Bachelor of Science (Science Scholar Program)

Full details regarding the course structure for honours in this area of study are outlined in course 0051 Honours degree of Bachelor of Science.

Relevant Courses

Single degrees

  • 0050 Bachelor of Science
  • 3520 Bachelor of Science Advanced with Honours
  • 1120 Bachelor of Science (Science Scholar Program)

Double degrees

  • 0530 Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science
  • 3537 Bachelor of Arts (Global) and Bachelor of Science
  • 1469 Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Science
  • 3517 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Computer Science
  • 3711 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Education
  • 1633 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Education
  • 3278 Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering and Bachelor of Science
  • 3282 Bachelor of Mechatronics Engineering and Bachelor of Science
  • 0085 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Engineering
  • 0086 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Laws

Honours degrees

  • 0051 Honours degree of Bachelor of Science
  • 2188 Honours degree of Bachelor of Science (Science Scholar Program)