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Basic Cell Biology

Achieve a global understanding of the structure and function of the cell and its organelles and become familiar with the various basic techniques currently used in cell biology

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CIVIS focus area
Open to
  • Bachelor's
Field of studies
  • Medicine and Health
  • Blended Intensive Programmes (BIP)
Course dates
23 October - 5 July 2024

This program aims to provide students a strong foundation in fundamental cell biology, a solid base for further studies in life sciences, clinical biology, biotechnology, medicine. The program seeks to promote cultural exchange and collaboration within the CIVIS alliance, allowing students to interact and work together to acquire knowledge and develop as future scientists.

The Teaching Unit follows a blended learning approach, consisting of two modules. The first module is an active theoretical module, with virtual courses held from October to December 2022, included synchronous teaching sessions, face-to-face interaction with students, small international group work, asynchronous online sessions to develop international collaborative work and prepare oral presentations. The second module is a physical mobility module, with students spending a week in the host laboratory in July 2023, focused on introducing students to design and interpretation of experiments.

The program is divided in three knowledge blocks:

  1. Prokaryotic versus Eukaryotic Cells: Cytoplasm, Cytosol Membranes, Cytoskeleton, Mitochondria, Chloroplast
  2. Membranous Systems: Organelles and the secretory Pathway: Endoplasmic Reticulum, Golgi Apparatus, Endocytosis, Vesicle Traffic
  3. Nucleus Organization and Cell Cycle: Chromosomes, Mitosis, Meiosis, Cell Cycle & Mechanisms of Cellular Death

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 and vesicles traffic
  3. Nucleus and cell cycle
    1. Interphase nucleus and chromosomes.
    2. Mitosis/Meiosis
    3. Cell Cycle – Phases
    4. Cell cycle – signals and control
    5. Aging and cell death

Learning outcomes

Students acquire knowledge on Cell Biology by establishing an interactive framework. The main learning objective is to reach a comprehensive understanding of structure and function of the cell, its organelles and to familiarize with different basic techniques used in Cell Biology. At the end of this course, the students should be able to: Know, understand cell morphology, ultrastructure, function, cell cycle, proliferation. Understand some of the technologies currently used in research in cellular biology. Ability to:

  • Work collaboratively, share responsibility/tasks, work in multidisciplinary teams
  • Clearly, effectively communicate scientific results
  • Generate new scientific ideas, promote creativity and initiative
  • Read, solve problems
  • Self-evaluate, recognize of the need for continuous personal improvement
  • Feel the need for continuous improvement and continuous learning, independently updating own knowledge
  • Search, analyze, interpret, evaluate information
Dates: 23 October - 5 July 2024 Total workload: 150 hours
Format: Blended ECTS: 5*
Location: Brussels, Belgium Language: English (B2) 

*Recognition of ECTS depends on your home university.

Physical mobility

1 to 5 July 2024

The second module covers the physical mobility, consists in a week of practical lab work in which students carry out a small project. They will explore relevant technics in the field in an integrative manner, closer to real science than the usual procedural practical teaching. For practical and didactic reasons, the physical mobility will take place from 1 to 5 July 2024 at Université libre de Bruxelles.

Virtual part

23 October to 20 December 2023

Week 1

  • 24 October
    • Introduction to the topic
    • Introduction to Basic Cell Biology
  • 25 October
    • A.- Prokaryotic vs eukaryotic cells
    • Cytoplasm & Cytosol (Asynchronous practical activities)
  • 26 October
    • Plasma membrane
    • Extracellular matrix

Week 2

  • 31 October
    • Membrane & Matrix
    • Cytoskeleton 1
  • 2 November
    • Cytoskeleton

Week 3

  • 8 November
    • Mitochondria 1 & 2

Week 4

  • 14 November
    • Chloroplasts
    • Chloroplasts (mitochondria vs chloroplasts)
  • 16 November
    • Introduction to membranous systems 1 & 2 (Asynchronous practical activities & theory)

Week 5

  • 21 November
    • Endoplasmic reticulum 1 & 2
  • 23 November
    • Endoplasmic reticulum 3 & 4

Week 6

  • 28 November
    • Golgi apparatus 
    • Endocytosis
  • 29 November
    • Golgi apparatus
    • Endocytosis (Asynchronous practical activities)
  • 30 November
    • Membranes & Vesicles Traffic – Integration

Week 7

  • 5 December
    • Interphasic nucleus & chromosomes 1 & 2 (Asynchronous practical activities & theory)
  • 6 December
    • Mitosis/Meiosis 1 & 2
  • 7 December
    • Mitosis/Meiosis 3 & 4

Week 8

  • 13 December
    • Cell Cycle – Phases 1 & 2
  • 14 December 
    • Cell cycle signals & control 1
    • Aging and cell death 1

Week 9

  • 19 December 
    • Cell cycle signals & control 2 & 3
  • 20 December
    • Aging and cell death 2 & 3


This course is open to Bachelor's students at CIVIS member universities.

Basic Cell Biology is a mandatory topic in first courses in most life-sciences and medicine related degrees. Hence, no previous studies pre-requisites are needed besides being enrolled in the first year on one of such degrees in any of the participant CIVIS partners. The course will be open to any CIVIS student willing to enroll, given an agreement can be achieved with its hosting institution. Nevertheless, for selection purposes, previous demonstrable cell biology knowledge, beyond 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.

For team making, selected students will ask to fill in a learning style and custom-made surveys. Answers to both will be used to ensure heterogeneity within the teams and enhance student interaction.

NB: Visiting Students - Erasmus Funding Eligibility

To be eligible for your selected CIVIS programme, you must be a fully enrolled student at your CIVIS home university at the time you will be undertaking the programme. Click here to learn more about the eligibility criteria.

Application process

Send your application by filling in the online application form by 30 September 2023 with the following documents:

  • CV
  • Cover letter
  • English level

An interview may be required.



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 several activities will be designed for assessment. They will be in class discussed, marked and personalized 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, in 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

The CIVIS alliance and its member universities will treat the information you provide with respect. Please refer to our privacy policy for more information on our privacy practices. By applying to this course you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

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