Biology Laboratory Techniques I


The main goal of the course is focused in the linkage between student’s integration in a cell and molecular biology laboratory with the practice of basic methologies in use in this area.

This objective will be permanently accompanied by training in standard safety lab procedures (in prevention and accident) and by the theoretical and practical foundations of the scientific method and scientific writing, and of the basic lab work necessary for researh. In articulation with TLB II (7624), more centred on molecular biology, this course prepare for specific and more differentiated courses.   

General characterization





Responsible teacher

José Paulo Nunes de Sousa Sampaio, Rosario Mato Labajos


Weekly - 3

Total - 44

Teaching language



There are no previous requirements.



- Becker, W.M. et al. (2005). The World of the Cell (6thed.). Benjamin Cummings Publ. Co.

- Anderson, C. (1995). Basic Experimental Chemistry. Kendall/Hunt Publ. Co.

- Richwood, D. et al. (1997). Cell Biology Essential Techniques. Willey & Sons.

- Canas Ferreira W.F. et al. Microbiologia. Volume I.

- Alberts, B. et al. (2015). Molecular Biology of the Cell (6th ed.). Garland Science, Taylor & Francis Group.


Other material

Papers, slides and other support materials available in the UC page at the Moodle.

Teaching method

Any of the four modules of this course comprises theoretical and practical classes (1h / week) and laboratory practices (2.5 hours / week). The practical classes are expository nature, serving as a complement to the preparation and laboratory classes each week. Learning is complemented by questionnaires resolution in autonomy. The practical classes consist of laboratory sessions with practical work in groups. 

Evaluation method

1.  Attendance:

In order to have attendance (“frequência”) recognized in this course, students have to be present in 2/3 of the theoretical-practical (TP) classes, attend 2/3 of the practical (P) classes and complete the evaluation elements that are given in EACH OF THE FOUR MODULES of this course.

Students that have a “working-student” status, who are not required to attend P and TP classes, have to conduct an assessment in accordance with the instructions given by the responsible for the course.

Punctuality to the TP and P classes:

- A 20-min delay, after the 10-min tolerance limit, will be registered as “Did not attend”.

- Three 10-min delays, after the 10-min tolerance limit, will also be registered as “Did not attend”.

Students who do not get their attendance recognized in this curricular unit cannot request to be evaluated through an exam and will have to take this course in a following academic year.




2.  Evaluation:

2.1. Theoretical-Practice/ Practice component (TP/P- 50% , 10/20 points).

 Student’s learning of the contents taught in modules 1/ 2 and 3/4, which are part of the TLB I course, are evaluated independently at the end of each module through a written test. The score of each test, which is given on a scale of 0-20 values, will then be used to produce the final grade.

 Test Dates: Module 1/2 – October 26 2019, Module 3/4 – December 14 2019

 The score is obtained by simple arithmetic average of the two tests, calculated to the hundredth (Modules 1 and 2 - 20% to the final grade, Modules 3 and 4 -30% to the final grade). If a student fails to attend one of the tests, it will be scored with 0 (zero) as the examination through tests cannot be repeated. Medical certificates, or other documents that justify the observed absence, will only be accepted until one week after the day of the non-attended class.

There is no minimum grade.

 2.2. Laboratory Component (LC, 40% - 8 points)

At the end of each module, the evaluation elements (protocols filled with the answers to the questions, exercises or evaluation forms) provided by the teacher should be delivered by group. The distribution of these 8 values ​​by the different assessment elements delivered by the students will be as follows: 2 values ​​for module 1; 1.5 values ​​for module 2; 2.5 values ​​for module 3; and 2 values ​​for module module 4. The evaluation elements delivered by the students must be identified with the students'' name, the shift and the group (the lack of any of the requested data will be penalized).

Except in exceptional cases, the grade given in each practice session will be the same for all members of the group.

2.3. Summative Component. (SC, 10% - 2 values)

At 2 values ​​will be subtracted 0.1 values ​​for each lack of delay in practical classes; 0.2 points for each unjustified absence in practical classes and 0.5 points in case the unjustified absence could compromise the result of the next week''s practical class.

It will also be penalized, with 0.1 values, the lack of answer or incorrect answers made to the nominal questions at the beginning or during each practical class and which is indicative of the student''s lack of preparation or commitment to the subject of the module and its respective. laboratory work. Poorly participatory attitudes in laboratory class will also be penalized. These penalties may be offset by excellent contributions in other classes.

2.4. Final grade (FG)

The TLBI final grade will be obtained by the weighted average of the various components rounded to the units.

 2.5. Conditions to Obtain Approval

Students must have equal or more than 4.5 values in the 10 values of the theoretical-practical / practical evaluation (TP/P) to be added the values of laboratory evaluation (LC) and summative evaluation (SC).

In order to obtain approval, a student must obtain a final grade-FG (obtained by the weighted average of the laboratory and theoretical-practical / practical components) equal to or greater than 9.5 values.

 FG = (TP/P*0,50) + (LC*0,40) + (SC*0,10) >= 9,5 values

3. Evaluation by Appeal and Improvement of Note

Individual evaluation of content knowledge of theoretical-practical classes and practices.

The written exam will have a maximum duration of 1h 30min. This exam is intended for students who are dissatisfied with the form of continuous assessment (final grade lower than 9.5 points), but frequently with the UC and note in the other assessment components, and for students wishing to improve the grade of the theoretical- practice. Students who do not pass in the current academic year will keep the grade obtained in the laboratory component.

Students who have passed previous years to the year 2019-2020, and who wish to improve the grade, will take an exam for 20 values and will not keep the grade obtained in the laboratory component.

This evaluation will incorporate all the subject matter, taking into account the whole of the subject and not just one of the modules in particular.

Attention: CLIP registration for the examination is mandatory.

Subject matter

Module 1.  Introduction to main equipment and chemical compounds in the laboratory.  Safety procedures: prevention and accident. Hazards in a molecular cell biology laboratory. Measurement of weight and volume. Preparation of solutions. pH determination. Buffer solutions. Basic notions of spectrophotometry. Beer -Lambert Law. Calibration curves: applications on quantitative analyis.  

Module 2.  Introduction to Cell Culture Techniques. Asepsis. Culture media. Culture and isolation of microrganims. Physiological conditions. Lab culture and culture collections. Preservation of microrganisms. 

Module 3. Introduction to Microscopy. Historical Evoution. Techniques. Introduction to transmission bright-field microscopy and phase-contrast microscopy: optics, image formation, operative mode, micrometry. Comparison of different microcopy techniques.  

Module 4. History and purpose of histology. Processing of histological samples: sample collection, fixation, inclusion in paraffins, microtomy, dyes and assembling agents. Safety and quality of histological processing. Main types of animal tissues and identification of fundamental structures in plants and unconventional animal models. Hematoxylin + Eosin and Toluidine Blue staining as background techniques in histology. Histological micrograph. Principles of histochemistry, immunohistochemistry and histopathology.


Programs where the course is taught: