Cell Biology A


The objective of this curricular unit is to provide description of the functioning of living cells, and of how their functions are related to: (i) the internal organization and structure of the cells; (ii) cell-cell and cell-extracellular communication. It is expected that upon its completion, the students will be able to:

  • identify similarities and differences between the different types of cells;
  • describe how proteins are synthesized from DNA and how the underlying processes are controlled;
  • identify the different organelles in eukaryotic cells and describe their functions;
  • compare the structure and function of the components of the cytoskeleton in eukaryotic cells;
  • know how proteins and membranes are transported within a living cell;
  • know the main concepts underlying cell cycle and cell division, cell signaling, and cellular adhesion;
  • analyze results of experiments related with the themes of this curricular unit.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Luís Jaime Gomes Ferreira da Silva Mota


Weekly - 5

Total - 60

Teaching language



Available soon


Molecular Biology of the Cell, B. Alberts, A. Johnson, J. Lewis, M. Raff, K. Roberts, P. Walter, 6th edition, 2015, Garland Science, Taylor&Francis Group, New York.

Essential Cell Biology, Bruce Alberts, Karen Hopkin, Alexander Johnson, David Morgan, Martin Raff, Keith Roberts, Peter Walter, 5th Edition, 2019, W. W. Norton & Company, New York and London.

Biologia Celular e Molecular, C. Azevedo e C. E. Sunkel, 5th edition, 2012, Edições Lidel, Lisboa.

Slides from the lectures and list of problems from the problem-solving sessions (provided by the lecturer)

Teaching method

Lectures and problem-solving sessions to all subjects, through oral / multimedia exposure:

 - theoretical classes (2h) at a distance, via Zoom, for discussion of topics, based on materials (videos, slides, texts) previously provided. Quizzes in Moodle.

 - theoretical-practical classes (2h), in person, with discussion of quizzes to solve problems and other discussions.

Evaluation method

- Continuous evaluation:

i) Evaluation by written tests. Three individual and closed-book written tests, based on lectures and on problem-solving sessions. The grades (0-20) will de disclosed to one decimal place. The weighted mean of the grades from the3 tests will correspond to 65% of the final grade. There is no minimal grade for each of the tests, but the mean of the grades from the 3 tests must be ≥ 9.5. 

ii) Evaluation of quizzes in Moodele and of the presence and participation in the problem-solving sessions. From 0-20. Minimal grade of 10. Corresponds to 15% of the final grade.

iii) Evaluation of project/seminar. Written essay about a research paper to be prepared in group. From 0-20 (0-3 self-evaluation; 0-17, evaluation by the lecturer. Minimal grade of 10. Corresponds to 20% of the final grade.

- The final mark (0-20) will be the weighted average of the three written tests (65%), of the evaluation in the problem-solving sessions (15%), and of the evaluation of the project/seminar (20%). For its calculation, the weighted average will be rounded to the nearest integer. 

- Approval at the curricular unit requires a weighted average of at least 10 (i.e., 9.5).

- If the evaluation is by a final exam, the grade will be the weighted average of the exam (65%), and of the evaluation of the problem-solving sessions (15%) and of the project/seminar (20%), rounded to the nearest integer. 

A final mark in the of < 9.5 in the average of the written test or in the exam will corresopond to fail. In this case, the final grade at the course will be the one of the average of the written tests/exam (the grades of the participation in the problem-solving sessions and of the project/seminar will still be valid and used for the calculation of the final mark when the student is approved at the course).  

- The final exam will cover all topics taught: it is not possible to repeat only one of the tests.

- To be accepted at the final exam, the students cannot miss > 2/3 of the problem-solving sessions and must present the written essay. Furthermore, the evaluation of the participation in the problem-solving sessions and of the written essay must be positive (i.e., > 10). If this exigence is accomplished this year (2021/2022) it will still be valid within the next 5 years. 

- The students who formally work are not obliged to be present in a minimum number of problem-solving sessions and are not subject to evaluation in the problem-solving sessions. However, they need to accomplish the written essay/presentation with positive evaluation. In these exceptional cases, the final mark will be the arithmetic mean of the grades obtained in the tests or of the exam (80%) weighted with the grade of the evaluation by project (20%). 

Subject matter

Organization and function of living cells. Eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells. Composition and function of cellular membranes. Function of cell organelles and essential cell processes: nuclear organization; DNA replication; DNA transcription; synthesis of proteins; mitochondria and chloroplasts; peroxisomes; endoplasmic reticulum; Golgi; lysosomes and endosomes. Intracellular transport: nuclear, transmembrane and vesicular. Cytoskeleton and molecular motors. Cell signalling. Cell cycle and cell division. Cell death. Extracellular matrix and cellular adhesion. 


Programs where the course is taught: