ANAT SC 3102 - Comparative Reproductive Biology of Mammals III

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2015

The course provides an overview of mammalian reproductive biological processes with an emphasis on the diversity of reproductive mechanisms that have evolved in placental, marsupial, and monotreme mammals. The lecture topics include sex determination and sex differentiation, development of the gonads, gonadal ducts and external genitalia, the differentiation, and dynamics of production, of the male and female gametes together with changes that occur to the spermatozoon during transit of the male and female genital ducts. The cell and molecular biology of sperm-egg interactions at the time of fertilisation are then given, followed by the processes involved in egg activation and differentiation of the early embryo. Macromorphological and cellular changes associated with implantation, placentation and lactation in various groups of mammals are then covered. This is followed by an overview of the causation of, and ways of overcoming, sub- and infertility in the human species. Finally an outline of the biological principles underlying contraceptive technology, and the application of assisted reproductive technology to the conservation of rare and endangered species of placental and marsupial mammals is given. Tutorials cover a variety of reproductive biological topics ranging from an overview of the biology of carcinoma of the prostate gland and breast in the human to the unique reproductive biology of the echidna. For practical work students carry out a research project that involves hypothesis testing and utilises a variety of light and electron microscopical techniques - the latter in Adelaide Microscopy. Students who undertake this course will obtain background knowledge that will ideally suit them for future courses in either reproductive health or in wildlife biology.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code ANAT SC 3102
    Course Comparative Reproductive Biology of Mammals III
    Coordinating Unit Anatomy and Pathology
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 6 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Assumed Knowledge ANAT SC 2109 or ANAT SC 2500 or ANAT SC 2200 or ANAT SC 2501
    Assessment Mid semester test 10%, written exam 60%, project/essay 25%, tutorial participation 5%
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Eleanor Peirce

    Course Coordinator: Dr Eleanor Peirce
    Phone: +61 8 8313 5191
    Location: Room N131b, level 1, Medical School North

    Tutor: Hanna McLennan
    Phone: +61 8 8313 5743
    Location: Room N116, Medical School North

    Tutor: Romany Stansborough
    Phone: +61 8 8313 5743

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1 Have gained an overview of the science of comparative mammalian reproductive biology.
    2 Have gained factual background knowledge of morphological, and in particular cellular, basis of reproductive biology with an overview of the evolution of mammalian gonads, gametes and their interaction at fertilisation.
    3 Have basic understanding of the practical application of assisted reproductive technology to animal breeding and conservation programs of rare and endangered species of mammals.
    4 Have obtained background knowledge, and an historical overview, of the development of contraceptive technologies.
    5 Have learnt how to plan, and carry out, a research investigation that will involve hypothesis testing, development of time management skills, and the writing of a research report in the form of a scientific paper with appropriate referencing to relevant background literature.
    6 Have basic understanding of skills required to work in the field of human reproductive health and animal reproduction.
    7 Have gained experience in the use of various microscopical techniques.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 2, 3, 4
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 1, 5
    An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 4, 5, 6, 7
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 2, 3, 5
    A proficiency in the appropriate use of contemporary technologies. 5, 6, 7
    A commitment to continuous learning and the capacity to maintain intellectual curiosity throughout life. 1
    An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 6
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    M H Johnson (2013) Essential Reproduction 7th Edition. Publisher - Blackwell, Oxford
    Recommended Resources
    C R Austin & R V Short (1982) Reproduction in Mammals, Second edition, Volumes 1 – 3. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
    Online Learning
    Course contents (lecture notes, laboratory and tutorial handouts) on MyUni
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    Attendance at most of the tutorials and the completion of a written research report is essential for successful completion of this course. A mid-semester test will be held at which time students will gain experience in answering questions on the theoretical background knowledge gained up until that time.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    Students are expected to carry out independent reading of research papers around the research topic of their project and to gain a comprehensive knowledge of that field so that they can put their research findings into context of what has already been published. They will be expected to write up the report of their project in the form of a research paper as if were to be submitted to a relevant scientific journal for publication. They should expect to spend at least 4 hours per week on their project work and the relevant reading of the scientific literature.
    Learning Activities Summary


    Lecture number




    Sex determination & differentiation in mammals



    Evolution of sex determining mechanisms in vertebrates



    Mammalian testis exocrine function, spermatogenesis and the development of sperm form during spermiogenesis



    Prostate structure and  the cell biology of prostatic cancer



    Testis endocrine function; steroid biosynthetic pathway and androgen control of spermatogenesis



    Clinical andrology and its practical application in assessing sperm function and male fertility



    Oogenesis and ovarian follicular development



    Ovary-pituitary-hypothalamic inter-relationships



    Mammalian ovarian cycles;  their variation in length and control by various luteotrophic and luteolytic mechanisms



    Gonadal ageing: puberty induction and development of fertility; menopause and associated endocrine changes



    Ovarian endocrine activity and its effects on the rest of the female tract especially the uterus



    Oocyte selection and ovulation



    Sperm transport and sperm selection in the female reproductive tract



    Sperm-egg interactions, egg coat penetration, and sperm-oolemma binding and fusion



    Fertilisation, zygote formation and egg activation



    Early embryo development in eutherians and marsupial mammals



    Immunology of reproduction and why is the fetus not rejected by the mother.



    Comparative invasive and non-invasive implantation in mammals and occurrence of delayed implantation.



    Cell biology of placentation



    Development of milk synthesis and secretion; lactation



    Reproductive technology & its application to overcoming subfertility & infertility in humans



    Reproductive technology & its application to conservation of rare and endangered species of mammals



    Control of fertility, its historical background & biological basis of contraceptive technology


    Tutorial topics are variable but include the following:

    ·   The Red Queen Hypothesis – its significance & importance

    ·   Research project topic presentations

    ·   Discussion of post-meiotic sperm development and evolution of sperm form

    ·   Monotreme reproduction and its seasonality

    ·   Totipotency of the early mammalian embryo and early embryo differentiation

    ·   Intracytoplasmic sperm injection of  human eggs - its advantages and disadvantages

    ·   Cell biology of breast cancer

    ·   Application of reproductive technology for maximising livestock production

    ·   Australia’s future population trends and predictions on environmental sustainability (Australian Academy of Sciences video)

    Small Group Discovery Experience
    For the practical component, small groups of students (maximum of 4 per group) will undertake a research project on some aspect of reproductive biology. A selection of topics will be provided for students to choose from by the course coordinator taking into account the resources and material available. The project will introduce students to the various stages of the research process, from the development of a research proposal, to formulating an hypothesis, executing a series of experiments to investigate the topic in hand, critically evaluating the results, the discussion of them in the light of the current literature, and the writing a research report in the form of a scientific paper. Typically the carrying out of the research will involve the use of a variety of microscopical techniques which will be supervised by the two teaching assistants.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Assessment Type Weighting Learning Outcome(s) being addressed
    Midsemester test (on materials presented in weeks 1 to 6) Summative 10% 1-2
    Project proposal Formative N/A 3, 5, 6
    Research report Summative 30% 3, 5, 6
    Final exam Summative 60% 1, 2, 4

    Research Project Timeline:
    Background reading and preparation of a draft research proposal - Weeks 1-3
    Submission of draft research proposal  - 11.30pm, Friday Week 3
    Appointment  with coordinator for discussion and evaluation of draft research proposal  - during Week 4
    Submission of revised research proposal - 11.30pm Friday Week 4
    Execution of research project  - Weeks 5-12 (including mid-semester break)
    Submission of final research report  - 11.30pm, Friday Week 13
    Assessment Detail
    Students will be assessed on their theoretical knowledge base in both the midsemester test and in the end of semester examination. Each student's ability to synthesise relevant literature, plan a research project and analyse data using relevant statistical methods will be assessed in the written research project submission at the completion of the semester.
    The final research report must be submitted online via Turnitin in MyUni. Reports submitted later that the 11.30pm Friday Week 13 deadline will be marked "without prejudice", but marking penalties will apply.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

    All lectures will have a summary on MyUni and where possible the lectures will be recorded.
  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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