The main objective of this discipline is to provide the essential biological knowledge for a future environmental engineer, specifically:

i) The understanding of the basic processes that support the functioning of biological organisms;

ii) The understanding of the complex role of biota in the environment and related social-economic aspects, supporting science-based decision making;

iii) The development of biodiversity concepts and of conservation and restoration relevance.

The knowledge acquired in this discipline is crucial for the areas of ecology, environmental quality, ecotoxicology, human health, environmental impact assessment and ecological modelling.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Carlos David da Silva Oliveira dos Santos, Michiel Adriaan Daam


Weekly - 4

Total - 85

Teaching language



There are no prior requirements to attend this course


- Life. The Science of Biology. Sadava, Hillis, Heller e Berenbaum. 12ª edição 2020. Sinauer Associates Inc. USA

Teaching method

- Practical classes (3h per week), including field trips

- Theoretical classes (1h per week)

Evaluation method

Attendance at practical classes is mandatory. Absences justified by a medical certificate are admitted up to a maximum of 1/3 of the practical classes.

Theoretical and practical components have the same weight in the final grade (50%).

The grades will be assessed through written exams (one for each component), and the grade of each component should be equal or higher than 10. The final grade may be inflated by the performance and active participation in classes. 

Subject matter

I History of life on Earth. Earth’s history. Origin of life. Evolution and succession of the main taxonomic groups. 

II The Cell. Procaryotic and eucaryotic cell. Cellular organelles. Membrane system. Cytoskeleton. Cell division. Metabolism. Photosynthesis. 

III Heredity. Mendelian heritability. DNA, genes and chromosomes. Gene expression. Mutation and genetic diseases.

IV Evolutionary processes. Evolution mechanisms. Species formation. Construction of phylogenies.

V The evolution of biodiversity. Protists. Plants without seeds. Plants with seeds. Early animals and Lophotrochozoans. Ecdysozoans. Deurerostomes.

VI Physiology. Plant physiology. Autotrophic processes. Adaptation mechanisms. Animal physiology. Respiratory efficiency. Regulation and homeostasis. 

VII Practical approaches of biology. Biodiversity sampling methods. Taxonomy. Anatomy. Cell biology. Physiology. Molecular genetics.



Programs where the course is taught: