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Course Presentation

As the influence of biology in contemporary societies is increasingly present in multiple aspects, the acquisition of a basic solid theoretical knowledge is central to the formation of Biologists. This Course reflects this concern by providing a broad theoretical framework in key areas of biology. The faculty is specialized in multiple areas of biology and is integrated in the MARE Research Unit. This Research Unit of Marine Sciences, which was rated highest (Excellent) in the latest assessment of the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), stands out on the national scene for its work in marine biology, conservation biology, behavioral endocrinology, and genetics applied to the research of evolution and animal behavior. The course also has the support of the Center for Biosciences whose activity is directed towards the provision of services, education and training in Biology at various levels.


Profile of the Programme and Level of Qualification

The study program is a 1st cycle in Biology equivalent to a Licenciatura (BSc) degree with a duration of six semesters and 180 ECTS. It aims at enabling graduates to acquire the skills and theoretical knowledge required in all fundamental areas of biological sciences.


Additionally, it also provides studies in key disciplines for the understanding of biological processes, namely, mathematics and statistics, biophysics and biochemistry. Finally, a degree in Biology is not complete without a solid understanding of the scientific research process in all its components: research planning and design, data collection and analysis, critical evaluation of hypothesis and development of processes to test their validity. One of the inputs of this degree to our cultural and scientific panorama arena is the involvement, from the beginning, of students in projects of initiation to scientific research which, while adapted to their level of knowledge, will allow them to meet real life problems associated with any scientific research project. This is materialized by an extensive field and laboratory work program where student will design small research projects which will evolve and become more complex as they progress in their studies.


To meet this aims, the degree is organized in six semesters, 30 ECTS each, with the last semester entirely devoted to the elaboration of a complete research project and one field course. In each second semester, there is a course on initiation to scientific research. 


University higher education – Level 6 (National Ranking of Qualifications, Decree 782/2009 28th July). 

Key Learning Outcomes

The key learning outcomes are the following:

  • Acquire a holistic vision about the diversity of life forms and their patterns of organization;
  • Understand the physical-chemical processes essential to the organization of life matter, the specificity of its thermodynamics, the essential aspects of the molecular architecture and the basis of organization and functioning of genetic processes;
  • Recognize the basic evolutionary processes, key to comprehend the origin of biodiversity and the nature of adaptation processes;
  • Understand micro and macroevolutionary patterns and processes, through the full integration of fossil records, molecular, embryonic and morphological data and phylogenetic analysis;
  • Integrate the biology of individuals in the communities to which they belong and in the framework of their relations with the environment through autoecological and synecological approaches;
  • Understand the mechanism operating on ecosystems both at the energetic level and nutrient circulation;
  • Acquire and evaluate with criticism the main current hypothesis about the processes involved in ecosystem structuring, stability and transformation;
  • Recognize the main terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, being able to apply ecological principles to the evaluation of anthropogenic impacts and nature conservation tasks;
  • Link the ecology of marine organisms with the oceanographic processes that control the physical and chemical characteristics of sea water and acquire an holistic view about the different types of marine communities and the specific methods employed in marine biology studies;
  • Understand the basic functional mechanisms of organisms and their structuring modes in plants and animals and in groups with different levels of complexity;
  • Identify the major processes of energy use and conversion, namely glycolysis, respiration and photosynthesis;
  • Understand the processes on nutrient, water and gases uptake, accumulation and circulation;
  • Build an integrated view on the processes of integration and control of life systems;
  • Be familiar with the most relevant developmental processes in animals and plants integrating, namely, knowledge of the rapidly expanding area of developmental genetics and capture the implications of the current developments on developmental biology to the study of evolution;
  • Recognize the basis for the scientific study of animal behaviour, the key role of behaviour on the relationship between animals and their environment and the neurophysiologic basis of behaviour;
  • Critically discuss the ethical problems in Biology both when practicing the profession as well as on use of organisms for scientific research and on the human-environment relationships;
  • Being able to solve problems at different levels when applying the scientific method in Biology in the following issues: data collection and sampling, bibliographic search of available information, logical reasoning in a solid and critical approach on experimental and observational data, hypothesis formulation and their critical evaluation, planning of research processes and communication of results;
  • Understand the building blocks of scientific knowledge and their limits through the direct connection with the main agents of scientific development;


When completing this 1st cycle in Biology, graduates are able to access further studies on any area of the Biological and related sciences, namely 2nd cycles of studies of a higher education degree. 

Qualification awarded

Biology, Licentiate Degree

Specific Arrangements for Recognition of Prior Learning

Any citizen over 23 years old who does not have the secondary education diploma (12th grade) can attempt to gain admission to a limited number of vacant places available, through special examination which includes an interview (Decree law: Decreto-Lei 64/2006, de 21 de Março).


In accordance with the current legislation (Portaria 401/2007, of Abril 5th and Decreto Lei 64/2006, of March 21st) ISPA recognizes and credits skills acquired in professional and other contexts for academic purposes. 

Access to Further Study

Second cycle of studies of a higher education degree


The licentiate’s degree allows access to 2nd Cycle studies, according to the conditions stated by NARIC (National Academic Recognition Information Center).


More information at NARIC.

Examination Regulations Assessment and Grading

On a 0 to 20 grading scheme, a minimum grade of 10 in each course unit is necessary to pass.

The assessment in each course may include:


  • Type 1 Assessment Methods: exams (with or without oral presentation);
  • Type 2 Assessment Methods: group or individual essays (with or without oral presentation);


Assessment may also include the evaluation of participation in class.


The following table presents the possibilities of arrangement of Assessment Methods and the respective percentage of the final grade.


 Type 1 Assessment MethodsType 2 Assessment Methods
D90% + 10%
E90% + 10%-



The type of assessment of each course is included in the course syllabus that also contains the course objectives, course expectations, course contents and recommended reading.


Graduation Requirements

To graduate the student must complete the 180 ECTS successfully.

Mode of Study


Programme Director

Joana Robalo (Phd)

E-mail: jrobalo@ispa.pt

Phone: +351 218 811 700

Fax: +351 218 860 954

Admission Requirements

Entrance to the Course is available to: 

a) Holders of a high school degree or legal equivalent and can demonstrate the ability to attend higher education through entrance exams 

b) Holders of a degree or legal equivalent; 

c) Holders of a Diploma of Specialized Technology; 

d) applicants who have successfully completed the tests specifically designed to evaluate the ability of frequency of the course for people over 23 years e) applicants who meet the conditions referred to in regulations for access by the Course Change, Transfer and Re-entry Regimes.


To apply to higher education through the National Competition, students must satisfy the conditions stated by NARIC (National Academic Recognition Information Center).


More information at NARIC.


For further information please contact international@ispa.pt