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Basic cell biology

Find out more about basic cell biology, from cytoplasm & cytosol to membranous systems and nucleus and cell cycle

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CIVIS focus area
Open to
  • Bachelor's
Field of studies
  • Medicine and Health
  • Blended Intensive Programmes (BIP)
Course dates
18 October 2022 - 30 June 2023

The proposed program is the result of a pilot experience carried in October/December 2021 with physical mobility in June 2022.

Following a blended learning approach, this Basic Cell Biology course is divided into two modules. The virtual mobility module combines face-to-face teaching with online asynchronous sessions, which allows an optimal usage of teaching approaches such as flipped learning, research-based teaching and teamwork. From October to December, the module covers the program’s theoretical part. The syllabus is divided into three knowledge blocks:

  • Membranes and cytoskeleton
  • Organelles and the secretory Pathway
  • Nucleus organization and cell cycle

In the course’s physical mobility module, students spend the entire week in the lab which makes it possible to set the practical part of the course as project-based. Students get in touch with experiment design and interpretation beyond the purely procedural practical courses usually followed during the first years.

Main topics addressed

  1. Cytoplasm & Cytosol
    1. Plasma Membrane
    2. Extracellular Matrix
    3. Cytoskeleton
  2. Membranous Systems 
    1. Mitochondria
    2. Chloroplasts
    3. Endoplasmic reticulum
    4. Golgi Apparatus
    5. Endocytosis
    6. Membranes & Vesicle Traffic
  3. Nucleus and Cell Cycle
    1. Interphase nucleus & Chromosomes.
    2. Mitosis/Meiosis
    3. Cell cycle – Phases
    4. Cell cycle – signals and control
    5. Ageing and cell death

Learning outcomes

Students will acquire knowledge on the Cell Biology subject by establishing an interactive framework. The main learning objective is to reach a comprehensive understanding of the structure and function of the cell and its organelles and to familiarise with different basic techniques currently used in Cell Biology. At the end of this course, all the students should be able to:

  • Know and understand cell morphology, ultrastructure and function, cell cycle and proliferation
  • Understand some of the technologies currently used in research in cellular biology
Dates: 18 October 2022 - 30 June 2023 Total workload: 150 hours
Format: Blended ECTS: 6
Location: Madrid, Spain Language: English (C1) 

Recognition of ECTS depends on your home university.

Physical mobility 

The course's physical mobility will consist of a week of practical lab work, from 26 to 30 June 2023, in which students carry out a small project. Designed in a project-based format, students will have to obtain, analyze and interpret different sets of results in order to answer a relevant question while they explore relevant technics in the field.

Virtual part

The virtual part will be running from 18 October to 16 December 2022.

The virtual program contains 40 hours of synchronous and asynchronous classes distributed in 9 weeks, 4-6 hours per week. It follows a flipped learning approach with a strong research-based learning component.

The program is divided into three knowledge blocks according to the main function or processes in which each cell part is involved:

  • Structural (Block 1)
  • Functional (Block 2)
  • Regulatory (Block 3)

The last session in each block is devoted to giving students an integrated view of the whole section so they can broaden their view of how the cell works and connect all three blocks together.

Sessions and dates

Week 1
  • 18/10: 0.1 Introduction to the Topic 0.2 Introduction to Basic Cell Biology
  • 19/10: A.- Prokaryotic Vs Eukaryotic Cells; Cytoplasm & Cytosol (Asynchronous)
  • 21/10: 1.1 Plasma Membrane 1.2 Extracellular Matrix
Week 2
  • 25/10: 1.3 Membrane & Matrix 1.4 Cytoskeleton 1
  • 28/10: 1.5 Cytoskeleton 2
Week 3
  • 04/11: 2.1 Mitochondria
Week 4
  • 08/11: 2.2 Chloroplasts 2.3 Chloroplasts (Mitochondria Vs Chloroplasts)
  • 11/11: B.- Introduction to Membranous Systems (Asynchronous)
Week 5
  • 15/11: 2.4 Endoplasmic reticulum
  • 18/11: 2.5 Endoplasmic reticulum
Week 6
  • 22/11: 2.6 Golgi Apparatus 2.7 Endocytosis
  • 23/11: C.- Golgi Apparatus (Asynchronous) D.- Endocytosis (Asynchronous)
  • 25/11: 2.9 Membranes & Vesicle Traffic – Integration
Week 7
  • 28/11: E.- Interphase nucleus & Chromosomes. (Asynchronous)
  • 29/11: 3.1 Mitosis/Meiosis
  • 02/12: 3.2 Mitosis/Meiosis
Week 8
  • 07/12: 3.3 Cell cycle – Phases
  • 09/12: 3.4 Cell cycle signals and control 3.5 Aging and cell death
Week 9
  • 13/12: 3.6 Cell cycle signals and control
  • 16/12: 3.7 Aging and cell death


Basic Cell Biology is a mandatory topic in first courses in most life-sciences and medicine-related degrees. Hence, no previous study pre-requisites are needed besides being enrolled in the first year on one of such degrees in any of the participant CIVIS partners.

Preference will be given to those students belonging to institutions participating in the program.

The course will be open to any CIVIS student willing to enrol, given an agreement can be achieved with its hosting institution. Nevertheless, for selection purposes, previous demonstrable cell biology knowledge, beyond the high school level, will be considered.

The course will be fully taught in English, hence proficiency in English will be mandatory for students applying for the course.

Application process

Send your application by filling in the online application form by 30 September 2022 with the following documents:

  • Motivation letter
  • Level of English

An online interview may be required.

Apply for this course


Virtual and physical mobility modules are separated in time and therefore will be assessed independently. Assessment is intended to be mostly formative, hence it will have a strong continuous component (70%) although it will include a final exam, 30%.

Virtual module. Continuous assessment: in every knowledge block a number of activities will be designed for assessment. They will be in class discussed, marked and personalised feedback will be given. Depending on the feedback, teachers might allow students to re-submit an activity. Final exam: it will be mostly problem-based. It will be corrected in class and peer marked. Students will have to mark their peers and provide feedback accordingly. Marking and feedback will be teacher-reviewed before handing it to the students. 

Physical mobility module. Assessment will have two parts and, since the module is fully teamwork-based, developed and marked in teams. First, through the module, they will have to collect their results and prepare a small presentation to discuss them with their peers. Students and teachers will give feedback. Second, on the last day, they will be given a set of results related to the ones they obtained. They will have to interpret them and use them to answer a single scientific question. At the end of the session, answers will be discussed in class and the teachers will give personalized feedback to each team. Presentation/discussion and problem-solving will be teacher marked.

Blended Intensive Programme

This CIVIS course is a Blended Intensive Programme (BIP): a new format of Erasmus+ mobility which combines online teaching with a short trip to another campus to learn alongside students and professors across Europe. Click here to learn more about CIVIS BIPs.

GDPR Consent

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  • Juan J. Arredondo Lamas, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid (Spain)
  • Mar Pérez Martínez, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid (Spain)
  • Daniela Cucu, University of Bucharest (Romania)
  • Sylvie Thuault, Aix-Marseille Université (France)
  • Claudio Rivera Baeza, Aix-Marseille Université (France)
  • Laurence Ladrière, Université libre de Bruxelles (Belgium)