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Social sciences and humanities

Subject: BIOLOGY (A.A. 2025/2026)

single-cycle master degrees (5 years) in PRIMARY TEACHER EDUCATION

Course year 3
CFU 13
Teaching units Unit BIOLOGIA
Biology and Ecology (lesson)
  • TAF: Compulsory subjects, characteristic of the class SSD: BIO/05 CFU: 12
Biology and Ecology (laboratory)
  • TAF: Compulsory subjects, characteristic of the class SSD: BIO/05 CFU: 1
Teachers: Tiziana ALTIERO
Exam type written and oral divided
Evaluation final vote
Teaching language Italiano
Contents download pdf download




Biological knowledge and teaching skills are fundamental parts of the training of future pre-school and primary school teachers.

At the end of the course, students should be able:
- to outline the characteristics of living organisms and their main biological functions;
- to recognize similarities and differences between living organisms;
- to develop ideas about the transformations and changes occurring throughout life;
- to outline the relationships between living things and those that link organisms to their environment;
- to understand the morpho-functional adaptations of living organisms (form/function relationship) and the concept of evolution;
- to use the knowledge and skills acquired to design and to program teaching interventions of biology in pre-school and primary school.
For the learning objectives, please refer to the section on expected learning outcomes.

Admission requirements

Basic knowledge of Biology acquired in secondary school and required for the admission to the course of study.

Course contents

The content per CFU may change during the course in the light of feedback from students.

The course is a one-year course with a total of 13 CFU (= 100 hours) of which: 12 CFU (= 84 hours) lecture and 1 CFU (= 16 hours) teaching laboratory.

I semester:
Basics of Biology (Pre-school and Primary school) - 6 CFU (= 42 hours):
- Introduction to biology and chemical basis of life (2 CFU = 14 hours): Biology, the study of life; properties and levels of organization of living things; unifying basic themes of biology; classification of living things; the scientific method; chemical composition of living things; chemical and physical properties of water; structure and function of the organic molecules and macromolecules (carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids).
- Cell and reproduction (2 CFU = 14 hours): Biological investigation tools, microscopy; discovery of the cell; cell theory; structure of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells (plant and animal); plasma membrane; sub-cellular organization of the eukaryotic cell, structure and function of cell organelles; biological tissues. Continuity of life: asexual and sexual reproduction; cell cycle; semi-conservative DNA replication; chromosomes; mitosis and meiosis; recombination and genetic variability; inheritance of characters; genetic information and genetic code; transcription and translation (protein synthesis); life cycle; fertilization and development, ovoparity, ovoviviparity, viviparity.
- Energy flow through cells and ecosystems (2 CFU = 14 hours): metabolism (catabolic and anabolic processes); chlorophyll photosynthesis; cellular respiration; alcohol and acid fermentation; ecosystems; interactions between organisms and their relationships with the environment; ecological chains and networks; ecological pyramids; ecological thinking; main terrestrial biomes.

Semester II:
- Origin of Life, Evolution and Biodiversity (Pre-school and Primary school) - 6 CFU (= 42 hours):
- Origin and history of life on Earth; biological evolution (1 CFU = 7 hours): prebiotic synthesis, origin of prokaryotes and endosymbiotic theory of the origin of eukaryotes; origin and diversification of multicellular organisms; biological concept of species, biological evolution and phylogeny.
- Diversity of living organisms (5 CFU = 35 hours): unicellular (archaea, bacteria and protists) and multicellular (fungi, plants and animals) organisms; classification; biological characteristics, morpho-functional adaptations, main biological functions and life cycle of plants, fungi and animals (including humans); examples of biology teaching activities for kindergarten and primary schools.

- Laboratory (Pre-school and Primary school) - 1 CFU (= 16 hours): Observation, exploration and manipulation of living organisms (plants and animals) (Pre-school and Primary school); extraction of DNA from a fruit, modelling of its structure, replication, transcription and translation (Primary school). Educational reinterpretation of the contents and activities carried out for their application in pre-school and primary school, also from the vertical curriculum point of view.

Teaching methods

The lessons and the didactic laboratory are delivered in presence, under ordinary conditions. Class attendance is optional, although highly recommended. As far as the laboratory is concerned, attendance at 100% of the scheduled hours (16 hours) is compulsory to obtain the qualification required to take the examination and it is recorded by means of a register of attendance signatures, on entry and exit. The laboratory activities take place over three half-days. In addition, enough laboratory sessions are planned to guarantee attendance for all students. The teaching is carried out by means of mainly face-to-face and participatory lessons with the support of visual (slides) and audiovisual (short films) material. Moreover, some immaginative tools could be used for some topics. The laboratory includes guided practical exercises, using instruments such as magnifying glasses and microscopes, during which students will be involved in small group work and large group discussions on biology topics revisited from a didactic point of view for kindergarten and primary schools, also with a view to the vertical curriculum. The course is taught in Italian.

Assessment methods

A final oral test will be used to assess learning outcomes. It is also possible to take an intermediate written test (not compulsory and exclusively during the extraordinary exam session in January/February) on the topics of the first semester, followed by a partial oral test on the topics of the remaining part of the programme (second semester). The final oral examination covers the entire programme. The assessment indicators for the oral examination are: - knowledge and understanding; - ability to apply knowledge and understanding; - autonomy of judgement; - mastery of scientific language and communication skills. The final grade is expressed in thirtieths. For students who choose to divide the examination into an intermediate written test + a partial oral test, the written test consists of 20 questions, 15 of which are closed multiple-choice questions with four answer options each, only one of which is correct, and 5 open questions with a maximum limit of space/rows to be used. The time available to students to complete the written test is 90 minutes. Each correct answer to the multiple-choice questions is awarded 1 point, wrong or no answer is awarded 0. For the open questions, the first two questions are awarded up to 3 points, while the remaining three are awarded up to 2 points. The mark for the written test is the sum of the points obtained for the closed and open questions; the resulting mark is converted into thirtieths . The results are published on Esse3 platform within 10 days of the written test and they are valid for one year. The intermediate written test is designed to assess: - knowledge and understanding (closed and open questions); - the application of knowledge (closed and open questions); - the ability to link knowledge (open questions); - the mastery of scientific language (open questions). The assessment indicators for the partial oral test are: - knowledge and understanding; - ability to apply knowledge and understanding; - autonomy of judgement; - mastery of scientific language and communication skills. The final mark expressed in thirtieths is the arithmetic mean of the marks obtained in the two tests (written and oral).

Learning outcomes

- to describe and understand the theoretical basics of biology;
- to recognize and understand the scientific language of the discipline;
- to describe and distinguish research methods in biology, particularly those applied to school contexts.

- to argue and interpret biological processes in a systemic way;
- to observe, plan and evaluate biology teaching actions in pre-school and primary school, which also actively involve the class group, with its specificities.

- to reflect independently and critically on acquired biological skills and on the main topics of biology.

- to argue problems of biology and its didactics in a clear and effective way;
- to use correctly and appropriately scientific language, concepts and acquired knowledge.

- to use acquired competences in study strategies for continuing education;
- to update acquired knowledge independently and to deepen it.


Le diapositive delle lezioni e i materiali audio visivi utilizzati durante le lezioni saranno resi disponibili sulla pagina dell’insegnamento (Teams e/o Moodle). Le diapositive utilizzate durante le lezioni, pur rappresentando un valido supporto per la preparazione all’esame, non sono sufficienti. Si suggerisce caldamente di utilizzare i testi di riferimento di seguito indicati:

- Morris J.R., Hartl D.L., Knol A.H., Lue R.A., Michael M. (2021) – Biologia. Come funziona la vita. (Cellula, Genetica, Evoluzione, Biologia animale, Corpo umano). I Ed. italiana; Bologna: Zanichelli Ed.
- Morris J.R., Hartl D.L., Knol A.H., Lue R.A., Michael M. (2021) – Biologia. Come funziona la vita. (Piante, Funghi) I Ed. italiana; Bologna: Zanichelli Ed.
- Morris J.R., Hartl D.L., Knol A.H., Lue R.A., Michael M. (2021) – Biologia. Come funziona la vita. (Ecologia) I Ed. italiana; Bologna: Zanichelli Ed.


- Sadava D., Hillis D.M., Heller H.C., Hacker S. (2019). Biologia, vol. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, V Ed. it., Bologna: Zanichelli ed. (NB. è disponibile anche il vol. "Elementi di Biologia e genetica" che sostituisce i volumi 1 e 2).

SUGGERIMENTI UTILI DI LETTURA (Testi di Didattica della biologia):
- Anna Perazzone (2019) – Insegnare e apprendere le scienze della vita nella scuola dell’infanzia e del primo ciclo. Mondadori Università Ed.
- Gianfranco Santovito (2015) – Insegnare la biologia ai bambini. Dalla scuola dell’infanzia al primo ciclo d’istruzione. Roma: Carocci editore;
- Emilio Padoa-Schioppa (2018) – Didattica della Biologia. Metodi e strumenti per l’insegnamento e l’apprendimento della biologia. Con espansione online: QD10. EdiSES Ed.
- Giancarlo Fava (2005) – Scienze della natura. Aspetti di didattica. Aracne Ed.