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 - 4

Total - 68

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 practicals 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, supported by laboratory classes.

Evaluation method

i) Evaluation by written tests. Four individual and closed-book written tests. Three of them based on the lectures and on problem-solving sessions and one based on the practical classes. The grades (0-20) will de disclosed to one decimal place. The weighted mean of the grades from the 4 tests will correspond to 70% of the final grade. There is no minimal grade for each of the tests, but the mean of the grades from the tests must be ≥ 9.5. 

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

iii) Laboratory evaluation. Presence in the practical classes (8-9 points), self-evaluation (0-3 points), and report (0-8 points). Corresponds to 15% of the final grade.

- The final mark (0-20) will be the weighted average of the written tests (70%), of the evaluation of the weekly quizzes problem-solving sessions (15%), and of the evaluation of the laboratory (15%). 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 (70%), and of the evaluation of the quizzes/problem-solving sessions (15%) and of the laboratory (15%), rounded to the nearest integer.  

- 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 in a least 3 laboratory classes. Furthermore, the evaluation of the quizzes and presence in the problem-solving sessions and of the laboratory must be positive (i.e., > 10). If this exigence is accomplished this year (2023/2024) 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 the evaluation of the quizzes. However, they need to be present in at least 4 of the laboratory classes and have a positive mark in the laboratory evaluation. In these exceptional cases, the final mark will be the weighted mean of the grades obtained in the tests or of the exam (70%) and the grade of the laboratory evaluation (15%), divided by 0.85. 

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: