Faculty of Science

Monash University

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2012 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 0 (NATIONAL PRIORITY), 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered, or view unit timetables.

FacultyFaculty of Science
OfferedClayton Second semester 2012 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Dr Heather Verkade


The development of multicellular organisms from a single cell is a triumph of evolution. This unit explores how genes control the unfolding of the body plan following fertilization. It covers the genetic control of patterning and how cells acquire identities and become different from each other and become organised into organs. It includes the genetic control of fundamental cellular processes that enable cells to communicate with each other and the environment, to differentiate from each other, and to move. A comparative approach is used, based on model organisms including Arabidopsis, C. elegans, Drosophila and the zebrafish. The exciting current area of evolution of developmental processes or "evo devo" is included.


On completion of this unit students will:

  1. be able to describe the genetic principles that underlie development and explain how these have evolved to generate the many different types of organisms;
  2. be able to give examples of the application of modern molecular genetic techniques to the analysis of development in a range of model organisms;
  3. be able to illustrate the impact of transgenesis and microscopy on our capacity to investigate cellular and developmental processes;
  4. have developed skills in the collection and analysis of experimental data;
  5. have developed skills in the written presentation of scientific information and ideas;
  6. be able to illustrate how science advances though new findings and the continuous publication of refereed papers;
  7. be able to critically assess new discoveries in developmental and cellular genetics.


Examination (3 hours): 60%
Mid-semester test: 10%
Practical reports, problem solving exercises and written assignment: 30%

Chief examiner(s)

Dr Heather Verkade

Contact hours

5-6 hours per week (Two lectures and one lecture/tutorial session per week for 12 weeks. One 3-hour practical session per week for 8-9 weeks.)


GEN2041 or BMS2042 or MOL2011