84283 - Embryology

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

Describe the structures and the development of the human embryo at different stages, including gametogenesis, fertilization, and implantation.

Course contents

Learning outcomes: At the end of the course the students will know the mechanisms that control human embryogenesis and morphogenesis. They are familiar with tissue origin from germ layers, organogenetic mechanisms of the embryo and embryonic stem cells.

Objectives: Knowledge of the basic aspects of human embryogenesis and morphogenesis.

Program: Embryology- Characteristics of the mechanisms that control human embryogenesis and morphogenesis.


Introduction to human development

  • Reproductive organs
  • Femal Reproductive Cycles: ovarian cycle and menstrual cycle
  • Transportation of Gametes: oocyte transport and sperm transport and maturation
  • Viability of oocytes and sperms

First week of human development

  • Fertilization
  • Phases of fertilization
  • Cleavage of zygote
  • Formation of Blastocyst

Second week of human development

  • Formation of amniotic cavity, embryonic disc and umbilical vesicle
  • Development of Chorionic Sac
  • Implantation sites of Blastocystes

Third week of human development

  • Gastrulation: formation of germs layers
  • Neurulation: formation of the neural tube
  • Development of Somites
  • Development of Intraembryonic coelom
  • Early development of cardiovascular system, example of regeneration
  • Development of Chorionic Villi

Fourth Week of human development

  • Folding of Embryo
  • Head and Tail Folds
  • Lateral Folds
  • Germ Layer Derivatives
  • Control of Embryonic Development
  • Estimation of Embryonic Age

Placenta and fetal membranes

  • Decidua
  • Development of Placenta
  • Fetomaternal junction
  • Intervillous Space
  • Amniochorionic Membrane
  • Placental Circulation
  • Stages of Labor
  • Placenta and Fetal Membranes after Birth
  • Umbelical Cord
  • Amnion and amniotic fluid
  • Umbelical vesicle
  • Fetal Membranes

Principles and Mechanisms of Morphogenesis

  • Animal models
  • Patterning the vertebrate embryo




1. Before we are Born, Essential of Embryology and Birth Defects

Keith.L. Moore, T.V.N. Persaud, Mark G. Torchia. Elsevier



Teaching methods

A combination of frontal lessons and lessons inter-pares on specific topics. The acquisition of the knowledge will be frequently monitored with online tests

Assessment methods

The students will be evaluated by written exam, with multiple choice tests and open questions on the EOL - Exam OnLine Platftorm. During the written test, a mark scoring from 0 to 6 will be displayed next to the relevant question.The final mark is given by the arithmetic sum of the scores from each answered question. Wrong answers or missing answers will score as 0. 

Interpretation of the score:

  • <18 failure, not scored. The student fails to satisfactorily address all of the questions.
  • 18 Poor. The student inadequately addresses most of the questions with serious inherent weaknesses.
  • 21 Fair. The student broadly addresses most of the questions, but there are significant weaknesses.
  • 24 Good. The student addresses the questions well, but a number of shortcomings are present.
  • 27 Very good. The student addresses the criterion very well, but a small number of shortcomings are present.
  •  30 Excellent. The student successfully addresses all relevant aspects of the questions. Any shortcomings are minor.
  •  30 cum laude. The student successfully addresses all relevant aspects of the questions with no shortcomings.

The final score will be a "weighted average mark": 

- Alert- Attendance Requirements - Alert-

Attendance to this learning activity is mandatory; the minimum attendance requirement to be admitted to the final exam is 66% of lessons. For Integrated Courses (IC), the 60% attendance requirement refers to the total amount of I.C. lessons. Students who fail to meet the minimum attendance requirement will not be admitted to the final exam of the course and will have to attend relevant classes again during the next academic year. Professors may authorize excused absences upon receipt of proper justifying documentation, in case of illness or serious reasons. Excused absences do not count against a student’s attendance record to determine their minimum attendance requirement.

Teaching tools


    1. Power-Point presentations and interactive use of dedicated websites
    2. E-learning material (including scientific literature and self-assessment tools) will be provided.

Office hours

See the website of Mattia Lauriola