SHE Level 5
SCQF Credit Points 15.00
ECTS Credit Points 7.50
Module Code MMB126381
Module Leader Mark Williams
School School of Health and Life Sciences
Subject Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • B (January start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge

At least a 2:2 honours degree (or equivalent) in a biomedical or biological science discipline.

Summary of Content

The module will provide the student with the opportunity to study advanced current topics in one of the major causes of death in the western world (1 in 2 people will develop cancer in their lifetime); this area is currently the focus of extensive biochemical; physiological and immunological research. The module will provide a thorough grounding of current knowledge in oncology and will encompass, cancer hallmarks and the aetiology, biology, molecular biology and molecular, bacterial and immune/cellular based therapies of cancer.


Aetiology and Molecular Biology Cancer statistics, incidence, mortality, survival, geographical distribution, causes, and discussion of national screening programs for the detection of common cancers (e.g. colorectal cancer). The molecular basis of cancer, including oncogenes (e.g. src, abl, ras, myc) and tumour suppressor genes (e.g. p21, p27 , pRb, p53 ) and how they are associated with the main hallmarks of cancer including sustained proliferation, and loss of cell cycle regulation. Viral oncogenesis Oncogenic viruses such as; Kaposi's sarcoma virus, Merkel cell polyoma virus, Epstein-Barr virus, human adult T-cell leukaemia virus type 1, hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus and human papilloma virus, the cancers they result in and their mechanism of action Apoptosis Role in development & response to stress, signals for cell survival or death. Genomic instability and cell cycle checkpoints Cancer Immunology T-cell recognition of antigen, MHC-restriction, co-stimulatory signalling. Immune surveillance. Tumor-specific and tumour-associated antigens, tumour markers and their clinical applications. Immunologic effector mechanisms: antigenic modulation, tumour-induced immunosuppression. Immunotherapy: enhancement of immunogenicity, cytokines, monoclonal antibodies, immune checkpoint blockade (e.g. PD-1 and PD-L1), chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy (e.g. anti-CD19 CAR-T cells). Detailed examples of common solid malignancies Breast cancer, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, symptoms, diagnosis, molecular genetics and treatment. Haematological Malignancies (blood cancers) Haemopoietic cell development and regulation, de-regulation in leukaemogenesis, diagnosis, molecular basis and therapy for promyelocytic leukaemia, stem cell therapy. Immunohistochemistry in cancer Introduction to Immunohistochemistry (IHC), current techniques and practices in IHC, clinical application of IHC in diagnostic pathology.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module, the student should be able to:1. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the molecular features of malignant cells. 2. Recognize the correlation between basic scientific findings and their transition from 'bench to bedside' in different types of cancer.3. Evaluate current literature related to cancer.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

The module initially utilizes a convergent teaching approach with each topic in order to ensure that the different student groups taking the module quickly achieve the required background. Thereafter, each lecture topic is discussed using evidence based teaching which facilitates divergent thinking. Evidence based learning of new scientific findings develops the students' ability to critically analyse new ideas and how these extend current concepts. The subject areas covered in the module are at the leading edge of science providing the student with an advanced understanding. Analytical and communication skills are further developed in the data analysis and coursework essay components of the module promoting both engaged learning and broader deeper learning of often complex subject material. The students consider cancer, which has major worldwide health implications and which combined with knowledge of the latest technologies for investigation, detection, diagnosis and treatment provides global learning opportunities of significant real world problems.

Indicative Reading

Oxford Textbook of Oncology, Kerr, A. 2019 3 rd edition, Oxford University Press The Biology of Cancer, Robert A. Weinberg, 2014 2 nd edition, Garland Science The Immune System, Peter Parham, 2015, 4 th edition, Garland Science Various journals and review articles as directed in individual lectures

Transferrable Skills

Develop personal transferable skills in the use of bibliographical material, preparation and presentation of essay-type material and analytical skills in data analysis.

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Independent Learning (FT) 110.00
Assessment (FT) 15.00
Lectures (FT) 25.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Exam 01 2.00 60.00 45% Unseen Written Exam
Course Work 01 n/a 40.00 45% Data Analysis