MCE5100 - Introduction to mammalian embryology - 2017

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Postgraduate - Unit

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


Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Organisational Unit

Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology


Associate Professor Peter Temple-Smith

Dr Sally Catt

Unit guides


Monash Medical Centre

  • First semester 2017 (Day)
  • First semester 2017 (Online)


This unit will provide students with an overview of the basic embryological knowledge that is essential for working in animal and human IVF laboratories. Theoretical information about hormonal control of reproduction, folliculogenesis, gametogenesis, fertilisation, implantation, early embryo development to gastrulation, germ and somatic cell lineages and also epigenetics from a cellular, genetic and molecular perspective will be presented and discussed in lectures and tutorials. Also an overview on potential stem cell therapies discussing the production and use of human embryonic stem cells, comparing with stem cells from adult and foetal origin will be given.


Upon successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

  1. identify and describe in detail the processes of spermatogenesis, hormonal control of reproduction and fertilisation;
  2. describe and discuss the cellular, genetic and molecular aspects of embryonic development and differentiation to a level required by a human IVF program or a research laboratory;
  3. define epigenetics and, using cell differentiation as an example, explain its importance in causing phenotypic and gene expression changes without change in nuclear DNA sequence;
  4. describe in detail the events involved in the transformation of an embryo from the 2-cell stage to hatching of the late blastocyst;
  5. explain how the trophoblast forms and the process of implantation;
  6. identify and clearly explain the process of embryonic development from the inner cell mass to gastrulation and formation of the trilaminar embryo;
  7. discuss other embryonic manipulations and explain the potential effects of epigenetics on the development of an embryo and subsequent offspring;
  8. explain and discuss stem cell therapies, and be aware of the differences between adult, foetal and embryonic stem cells;
  9. demonstrate an ability to critically and constructively analyse research data in various aspects of embryology;
  10. communicate their knowledge clearly and effectively.


  • Written journal review comparison (35%)
  • Written exam (2 1/2 hours) (60%) (Hurdle)
  • Peerwise (5%)

Workload requirements

16 hours contact per week (lectures, tutorials, forums, self-directed study).

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study

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