BI2BC45-Cells and Immunity

Module Provider: School of Biological Sciences
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites: Building Blocks of Life – Pt 1
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Mike Fry


Type of module:

Summary module description:
This module will build on molecular cell biology concepts introduced at Part 1 and will introduce new concepts that will form the foundation for further development in modules at Part 3. The aim will be to develop a deeper understanding of the fundamentals of eukaryotic cell structure and function in molecular terms, focusing on cells in tissues and immune cells and the interplay that occurs between them during infection. The module will start by introducing a range of topics linked to cell function in all cell types and then will move on to consider these in the context of the functioning of the immune system during an infection in a tissue.

This module aims to provide background knowledge on molecular cell biology, with an emphasis on the understanding of the fundamentals of cell structure and cell function in molecular terms. The course will also provide students with an understanding of the main concepts and central mechanisms of the mammalian immune response, so that the students may understand how animals, especially humans, react to antigens and attack by pathogens. Students will also be introduced to the main forms of immunopathology and will gain an appreciation of how vaccines are produced and how antibodies may be used as 'tools' in clinical medicine and biological research. Information derived from this course is essential for a good understanding of material in subsequent modules concerning pathogens and disease processes.

Intended learning outcomes:
A working knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of molecular cell structure and function and of the immune system.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module, the student will be expected to be able discuss and explain:
The structure of eukaryotic cells and their internal organization
In molecular terms the essential functions of each organelle of eukaryotic cells
Evaluate methodologies for studying structure and function of cells
Describe cellular mechanisms for control of cell growth, survival, proliferation and differentiation as controlled by cellular signalling pathways
The molecular basis of cell adhesion and cell motility
The ways in which the cell can modify and repair it’s DNA
The different types of immunity occurring in a mammal (i.e. innate and acquired)
The essential terminology associated with the subject
The roles of lymphocytes and other specialised cells, organs and tissues in the acquired immune response
The nature of antigens and how they are recognised and neutralised by the immune system
The nature, structure and roles of receptors, especially immunoglobulins and the T cell receptor
The generation of diversity of immunoglobulins, and concepts associated with immunocompetence
Examples of the role of experimental studies in clarifying the mechanisms of the immune response
The different types of immunopathology: hypersensitivity, autoimmunity and immunodeficiency
The principle and practice of vaccination with appropriate examples
Examples of practical uses of antibodies (e.g. Western blotting, IHC, and immunodiagnostic assays).

Additional outcomes:
Students will have gained hands-on experience of techniques in molecular cell biology and immunology. The students will appreciate the rapid growth of the subject through a critical approach to immunological material presented in videos and discussion/tutorials sessions.
Students will have developed self-directed reading skills because they will be required to read relevant papers and sections of textbooks prior to seminars/discussion sessions.

Outline content:
On the cell biology side there will be a series of lectures that will cover a number of fundamental topics including a consideration of how receptor mediated signalling leads to cell growth, cell cycle and proliferation, autophagy and survival and differentiation; DNA modification and repair mechanisms; protein synthesis (translation), protein targeting and trafficking to it’s site of action; secretion; protein turnover, endocytosis; cell adhesion, migration and chemotaxis. On the immunology side a series of lectures will cover the main aspects of immune responses of mammals: Topics covered will include differences between innate and acquired (adaptive) immunity; cellular events (leucocytes, haemopoiesis, lymphoid tissues, development and function of B and T cells, cytokines and their receptors); immunochemical aspects (antigens, antibodies, major histocompatibility complex, T-cell receptor, complement); genetics of immunoglobulins, practical uses of antibodies. The key concepts in cell biology and immunology will be brought together at the end of the module when we consider how all that we have considered is required to bring about an effective immune response in a tissue of a multicellular organism that has been damaged and infected with a pathogen. Discussion sessions will reinforce material already presented and should lead on to discussion of experiments approaches used in cell biology and immunology.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
There will be two 50 minute lectures/seminars each week in which key topics will be presented and discussed with the class. The students will be expected to do reading or watch videos as directed prior to the seminars as preparation for these discussion sessions. There will be a practical class in each term that students will do on a rotating basis – one will cover an aspect of basic cell biology, the other an aspect of immunology. Each will introduce the students to new laboratory techniques and will help them to develop their laboratory skills further. Students will be expected to submit written reports of their practical work in each term.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10 10
Seminars 10 10
Practicals classes and workshops 10 10
Guided independent study 70 70
Total hours by term 100.00 100.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 70
Report 30

Summative assessment- Examinations:
2 hour examination

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:
There will be two reports, each worth 15%

Formative assessment methods:
There will be a series of short (30 minutes maximum each) formative online tests and problems that will allow students to gauge their progress and understanding of the key module topics prior to the final exam in the summer. These tests, which encourage on-going learning of material throughout the course, are run using Blackboard. Students are given a 5 day window to complete the test and correct answers are subsequently posted on Blackboard.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Re-examination in August/September

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear: In compliance with the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) 1992 Act, while studying this module students will be expected to wear the following item/s: Lab coat / Safety glasses. The Department/School can provide students with a Lab coat at a cost of ~£10. Safety glasses will be supplied. As this module has a prerequisite from Part 1 that also requires a Lab coat there should actually be no additional cost specific to this module.
    Students who choose not to purchase from the University must ensure that that their PPE meets the latest British/European Safety Standards.

    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 20 April 2018


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