• Class Number 2789
  • Term Code 3430
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Maja Adamska
    • Prof Maja Adamska
    • Prof Ulrike Mathesius
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 19/02/2024
  • Class End Date 24/05/2024
  • Census Date 05/04/2024
  • Last Date to Enrol 26/02/2024
SELT Survey Results

How do complex multicellular organisms develop from a single cell? How did mechanisms of development evolve through millions of years of evolution? How does temperature, light and environmental chemicals affect development? This course integrates evolutionary, ecological and molecular perspectives to investigate how animals and plants develop and interact with their environment. The course will cover the following topics: developmental regulatory genes and hormones (including signalling pathways and transcription factors), morphogenesis, maintenance of homeostasis, regeneration, interaction with biotic and abiotic environmental factors, plasticity, stem cells and transdifferentiation, genetic and genomic basis of evolution of multicellularity and body forms. The practical section will expose students to modern techniques used in developmental biology research using plant and animal model systems. During practicals, student teams will be carrying out two consecutive mini-projects during which they will attempt to solve biological riddles. Written manuscript-style reports and oral conference-style presentations will be peer-reviewed before assessment. The course should appeal to students interested in molecular biology or biomedicine as well as those interested in organismal biology.

Note: Graduate students attend joint classes with undergraduates but are assessed separately.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Explain the molecular and genetic background of animal and plant development;
  2. Describe evolutionary history of complex multicellular life forms;
  3. Compare environmental influence on development and homeostasis of animals and plants;
  4. Interpret, analyse and present experimental results and conclusions in a scientific manner.
  5. Critically assess and present current scientific literature on topics related to ecological and evolutionary developmental biology.

Research-Led Teaching

All lecturers in the course are international experts in their specific fields. In addition to fundamental biological concepts, examples from recent research papers are used during the lectures. To prepare reports from practical 1, students learn to analyse their data in light of recent research literature and prepare and revise journal-style written reports. To prepare seminars and abstract from practical 2, students learn to analyse their data in light of recent research literature and present conference-style talks.

Examination Material or equipment

Hand written and printed notes, but no computer or internet resources will be allowed during the quizzes.

Recommended texts

Scott F. Gilbert, Developmental Biology, 10th edition

Scott F. Gilbert, et al. Ecological Developmental Biology: The Environmental Regulation of Development, Health, and Evolution

Ottoline Leyser and Stephen Day, Mechanisms in Plant Development, Blackwell Publishing (this book is available from the ANU Library as an ebook that you can download electronically)

Recommended student system requirements 

ANU courses commonly use a number of online resources and activities including:

  • video material, similar to YouTube, for lectures and other instruction
  • two-way video conferencing for interactive learning
  • email and other messaging tools for communication
  • interactive web apps for formative and collaborative activities
  • print and photo/scan for handwritten work
  • home-based assessment.

To fully participate in ANU learning, students need:

  • A computer or laptop. Mobile devices may work well but in some situations a computer/laptop may be more appropriate.
  • Webcam
  • Speakers and a microphone (e.g. headset)
  • Reliable, stable internet connection. Broadband recommended. If using a mobile network or wi-fi then check performance is adequate.
  • Suitable location with minimal interruptions and adequate privacy for classes and assessments.
  • Printing, and photo/scanning equipment

For more information please see https://www.anu.edu.au/students/systems/recommended-student-system-requirements

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:
  • Written comments
  • Verbal comments
  • Feedback to the whole class, to groups, to individuals, focus groups

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 lectures, tutorial
2 lectures, tutorial, practical
3 lectures, tutorial, practical tutorial quiz
4 lectures, tutorial, practical tutorial quiz
5 lectures, tutorial, practical tutorial quiz
6 lectures, tutorial tutorial quiz
7 lectures, tutorial tutorial quiz, draft report from practical 1
8 lectures, tutorial, practical tutorial quiz, review of report from practical 1
9 lectures, tutorial, practical tutorial quiz
10 lectures, tutorial, practical tutorial quiz, final report from practical 1; journal club
11 lectures, tutorial, practical tutorial quiz
12 lectures, tutorial, workshop tutorial quiz, abstract and presentation from practical 2

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Learning Outcomes
Written report based on practical 1 20 % 1,4
Abstract and seminar based on practical 2 20 % 3,4
Journal club presentation 20 % 1,2,3,4,5
Tutorial quizzes 40 % 1, 2, 3

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


Participation in tutorials, practicals and workshops. Attendance will be noted.


Tutorial quizzes replace examinations in this course.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 20 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,4

Written report based on practical 1

Working in groups of 2-4, you will prepare journal manuscript-style report in which you will attempt to identify gene, expression of which you revealed during practical 1. Each group of students will work on a different gene, making each report unique. Draft manuscripts will be read and commented on by students from other groups during following instruction received during one of tutorials. In response to these written comments (which will be moderated by the course convener), you will prepare and submit for marking a revised version of the report.

Assessment Rubrics

Word limit : 2000 (+/- 500) words

Presentation requirements: We will give you advice during the tutorials about how to prepare and revise the report. For structure and style, follow the journal Gene Expression Patterns, https://www.elsevier.com/journals/gene-expression-patterns/1567-133x/guide-for-authors

 Estimated return date: two weeks after final submission

Hurdle Assessment requirements: Report must be submitted.

Individual Assessment in Group Tasks: Each student in group will have primary responsibility for a section of the report (e.g. introduction, results, etc.), marks will also be awarded for group work.

This activity will be conducted in three phases, each with different due dates advertised through the Wattle page.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 20 %
Learning Outcomes: 3,4

Abstract and seminar based on practical 2

For the second practical on plant development, we will work in groups of 2-4 students. Each group will work on a different aspect of the practical (i.e. a different plant phenotype) and present their results in form of an abstract, as well as a group seminar. Each person will write their own abstract to summarise their work. Seminars will be presented as a group, with each student responsible for a different part of the seminar.

The assessment rubric will be available on the course Wattle site.

 Word limit: 300 Words for Abstract

 Presentation requirements: We will give you advice during the tutorials about how to present the seminars and the abstracts. Guidelines will be available on Wattle.

 Estimated return date: one week after submission

 Hurdle Assessment requirements: Abstract must be submitted and seminar presented in person

 Individual Assessment in Group Tasks: Everyone needs to submit their own Abstract and these will be marked individually. Seminars will be presented as a group, but each student is responsible for one part of the seminar, e.g. one person would present the introduction, another one the results, discussion and methods. The seminar mark includes assessment of each student’s part and will also include a mark for how well the different parts of the seminar are integrated.

This activity will be conducted over two days in last week of the semester.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 20 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Journal club presentation

Details of task: You will carry out a literature research and select a single recent research paper on a topic related to ecological and evolutionary developmental biology to present to your fellow students and lecturers, speaking for 15-20 minutes.


Matter (50%): i e. Content - appropriate in depth, accurate, presented in a clear and concise fashion, inclusion of appropriate graphs or figures.

Method (30%): i.e. the structure and organization of the talk, quality of the slides

Manner (20%): i.e. the delivery of the talk - speed of delivery, eye contact with audience, volume of delivery

Value: 20%

Presentation requirements: We will give you advice during the tutorials about how to present the papers. Guidelines will be available on Wattle.

Estimated return date: Presentations in the tutorial slot in the second half of the semester; results returned within two weeks after presentations.

Hurdle Assessment requirements (where applicable): You must give oral presentation to pass the course.

Individual Assessment in Group Tasks (where applicable): Each student is individually assessed.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 40 %
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3

Tutorial quizzes

Multiple-choice and short answers questions.

Quizzes will be run during the tutorial slots in weeks 3-12, testing knowledge from the lecture material in previous weeks. Hand written and printed notes, but no computer or internet resources will be allowed during the quizzes.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information. In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service — including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy. If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes. Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).
Prof Maja Adamska
+61 2 6125 1631

Research Interests

development, evolution, genomics

Prof Maja Adamska

By Appointment
Prof Maja Adamska

Research Interests

development, evolution, genomics

Prof Maja Adamska

By Appointment
Prof Ulrike Mathesius

Research Interests

Prof Ulrike Mathesius


Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions