Epigenetics and Cell Differentiation

Course content

The course does not use a textbook, but rather a selection of articles from the primary literature. Three articles are prepared each week and discussed in groups of ~16 students supervised by one teacher in three-hour literature sessions. An introduction to each session is provided during the week preceding the discussion in the form of a lecture. The students prepare for the discussion at home ahead of time by reading the articles and attempting to answer a list of questions provided with each article. Research seminars related to the literature topics are given by teachers in the course and guest speakers. Laboratory exercises help understand techniques and concepts encountered in the primary literature. These exercises are designed as experiments rather than demonstrations.


MSc Programme in Biochemistry
MSc Programme in Biology
MSc Programme in Biology with a minor subject
MSc Programme in Molecular Biomedicine

Learning outcome


  • Variations in gene expression profiles during cellular differentiation
  • Histone modifications, chromatin structure, and epigenetic regulation of gene expression
  • RNAi: discovery, mechanisms, biological functions
  • Roles of micro-RNAs in gene regulation and embryonic development
  • Mechanisms of asymmetric cell division


The primary goals of this course are

  • to provide the students with the tools necessary to a critical understanding and evaluation of the primary scientific literature related to the topic of the course;
  • to consolidate their understanding of the scientific method; and
  • to stress the importance of model systems in modern Biology.

These goals are achieved by an integrated approach combining laboratory exercises and discussions of the primary literature.


By the end of the course, the students should be able to:

  • discuss, put into perspective, and criticize articles covered in the course.
  • use their acquired skills and knowledge to discuss, put into perspective, and criticize articles not covered in the course, bearing on topics related to those covered in the course.
  • present the methods used in the articles covered in the course.
  • report and put into perspective results obtained in the laboratory exercises.
  • conceive experiments related to the laboratory exercises or related to experiments presented in articles covered in the course.

Approximately 70 contact hours of integrated laboratory exercises, discussions, and lectures.

See Absalon.

Open to biology, biochemistry, biomedicine and nanotechnology master students and to students at the third-year bachelor level who have passed their first and second year courses.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination, 4 hours under invigilation
Written assignment
Type of assessment details
The take-home exam weigths 1/3 of the final grade, and the 4-hour written open-book exam weigths 2/3 of the final grade.

The course has been selected for ITX exam
See important information about ITX-exams at Study Information, menu point: Exams -> Exam types and rules -> Written on-site exams (ITX)
All aids allowed

As the exam is an ITX-exam, the University will make computers available to students at the exam. Students are therefore not permitted to bring their own computers, tablets, calculators, or mobile phones.

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship

30 minutes oral examination with 30 minutes preparation time, no aids allowed.

Criteria for exam assessment

In order to obtain the grade 12 the student should convincingly and accurately demonstrate the knowledge, skills and competences described under Learning Outcome.


Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 12
  • Preparation
  • 112
  • Theory exercises
  • 18
  • Practical exercises
  • 30
  • Project work
  • 30
  • Exam
  • 4
  • English
  • 206


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 block

Block 2
Minimum 12 students and maximum 48 students
The number of seats may be reduced in the late registration period
Study Board for the Biological Area
Contracting department
  • Department of Biology
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator
  • Genevieve Thon   (3-6e6c754769707635727c356b72)

Other members of the Department of Biology and guest speakers.

Saved on the 11-05-2023

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Courseinformation of students