Human Development

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Human Development

  • Host University

    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

  • Location

    Amsterdam, The Netherlands

  • Area of Study

    Human Development and Family Studies

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    At the end of the course the student is able to:

    • Identify (in a case situation) relevant facts and principles at the anatomical, endocrinal and molecular biological level with respect to oogenesis and spermatogenesis, fertilization, embryonal and fetal development, and birth. In addition this applies to genetic and environmental factors that influence these processes and could lead to numerous birth defects; • Identify and understand the coherence between these different processes, and give a detailed explanation/indicate the function of molecular and cellular principles in human development; how malfunction at e.g. the cellular level has its consequences on the formation and function of (parts) of organs as well as the functioning at the systems level;

    • Recognize and describe the different developmental stages of zebrafish development and how perturbation in development by alcohol can be measured and are visible, and describe the advantages and disadvantages of different model systems;

    • Recognize, reflect and evaluate on the use of gene expression analysis tools (e.g. PCR) to measure developmental processes and disturbance by genetic and environmental factors;

    • Evaluate, reflect and form an advice for case studies (mutations, interference, disease examples, abnormal phenotypes) related to prenatal & postnatal development, and consequences of exposure to toxic compounds based on the molecular and cellular principles in developmental biology;

    • Identify (in a case situation) relevant facts and principles of developmental psychology and its methodology, as well as to reflect and evaluate on how malfunction at the cellular and systems level has its consequences on postnatal behavior (motor, cognitive and social function).

    Techniques and skills:

    • Microscopy & drawing/recognizing of anatomical structures (e.g. zebrafish developmental stages, the urogenital system).

    • Analysis of gene expression data; performing simple statistical analyses;

    • Oral presentation of two different practicals. Combining and integrating these data and present them in the context of normal and teratogen-disturbed development using literature to be searched on PubMed.

    This course comes in 3 main modules in which medical issues related to normal development and disturbances thereof are covered from a morphological and molecular point of view.

    • Reproduction, embryology, anatomy and function of the (fe)male reproductive systems, general embryology & fertility.

    • Formation (first trimester) and function (up to term) of main peripheral organ systems (e.g. heart, lungs) dealing with main molecular organizers

    • Development of the central and peripheral nervous systems, general growth (2nd & 3rd trimester), birth and related issues, developmental psychology (methodology, motor-, cognitive- and social development)

    • General classes ~56 h.

    • Compulsory work groups 12 h.

    • Practicals

    • Mandatory assignments: Well-formulated hypotheses and answers to the questions  need to be uploaded before the assigned deadline. Answers to the questions are discussed in the work groups. Participation is graded.

    • Oral presentation: The presentation will deepen the acquired knowledge on morphology and gene cascades perturbed by teratogen exposure.

    - Sub-exams (3x; week 4, 6 and 8 of the course); average exam grade=75% of the course grade

    Exam type (multiple choice (4-options), ~50-60 per sub-exam)

    - Oral presentation & assignments of work meetings; grade=25% of the course grade

    Your presence during all practical and work meetings is mandatory, as well as handing in all completed assignments in time, to be allowed at the oral presentation, and hence to have an official grade. The only resit for these items is doing the course again next year.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Some courses may require additional fees.


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