BI2BCB5-Clinical Biomedicine

Module Provider: School of Biological Sciences
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Pre-requisites: BI1BEC1 Building Blocks of Life and BI1BH12 Human Physiology or BI1BAD2 Pathology and Histology
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr David Leake


Type of module:

Summary module description:

The Clinical Biomedicine module describes what happens to your blood or tissue sample when it is taken to the Pathology laboratories in a hospital. The role of haematology laboratories in investigating the various types of blood cells, leukaemias, lymphomas, myelomas, blood groups and haemostasis is described.  The techniques used in cellular pathology laboratories are covered, including histopathology, immunochemistry, cytology, cervical screening and auto-immunity. The types of assays used in clinical biochemistry laboratories are described and their roles in diagnosing liver, renal, endocrine and heart disease and inborn errors of metabolism. The use of tumour markers in cancer patients is discussed, as is the detection and measurement of drugs, both therapeutic and illegal, and poisons. You will carry out a practical in which you diagnose someone’s disease by determining their haematocrit, haemoglobin concentration, blood type and full blood count. There is also a practical on the different types of blood coagulation assays and one in which you stain a cervical biopsy and carry out a Papanicolaou stain of cells. There is a talk from a hospital scientist on careers in hospital laboratories.


In this module students will develop a detailed understanding of three critically important areas of biomedical sciences and clinical investigation – haematology, cellular pathology and clinical biochemistry. Specifically, this will involve the development of an understanding of: (1) normal and abnormal cells and molecules in blood cells and a range of other tissues; (2) the techniques used within the haematology, cellular pathology and clinical biochemistry laboratories to investigate and diagnose disease; (3) the treatment and assessment of treatment of disease; (4) the roles of these laboratories within a hospital setting. The importance of strict quality control is stressed. The use of large automated machines using dry reagent chemistry and the use of point of care testing in clinical biochemistry are described. There is also a talk on careers in hospital laboratories. Some lectures will build on more basic introductions in Part 1, although many new areas of interest will be introduced for the first time. Practical sessions and seminars will enable the application of the theoretical information gained in the lectures and also provide experience of investigative biomedical science, the techniques used and safety and ethical issues within the working clinical laboratory environment. This module will be taught by biomedical scientists and clinicians at the Royal Berkshire Hospital and academic members of the School of Biological Sciences.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of this module students should be able to: 1. Describe the basic organisation of the blood system and other tissues and the molecular and physiological basis of haematological diseases and diseases of other tissues that may be diagnosed through histology techniques 2. Explain how haematological and histopathological principles are applied to the diagnosis of specific disease and understand the technical basis of diagnostic techniques of fundamental importance in the haematology and cellular pathology laboratories 3. Describe the theoretical and practical applications of biochemical principles to medicine in hospital laboratories 5. Explain how clinical biochemistry laboratories investigate and assist in the diagnosis, screening and treatment of a range of diseases 6. Describe the role of the hospital in monitoring therapeutic drugs and screening for drugs of abuse 7. Describe the organisation and processes within these laboratories, the importance of Good Laboratory Practice (GLP), internal and external quality control, safety procedures, ethical considerations and patient confidentiality.

Additional outcomes:
Students will gain some experience of the work of professional biomedical scientists within hospital laboratories through meeting with and teaching by biomedical scientists and clinicians.

Outline content:

The lectures cover: - Blood cell morphology and identification - Haematopoiesis - Red blood cells - structure and function - Anaemia and haemoglobinopathy - Transfusion science - White blood cells (granulocytes, monocytes) - White blood cells (lymphocytes) - Leukaemias, lymphomas and myelomas - The full blood count, blood cell counting and automated identification - Haemostasis (platelets, coagulation and fibrinolysis) - laboratory techniques - Platelet pathologies including thrombocytopenia, platelet function disorders and thrombosis - Coagulation disorders including haemophilia and thrombophilia - Histopathology: tissue labelling, fixation, sectioning, staining and observation - Cytopathology: sample preparation, staining and observation - Autoimmunity and histopathology - Automation of analyses - Quality control - Population screening - Tests of endocrine, liver and renal function - Tests for diabetes - Control of calcium and magnesium metabolism - Inborn errors of metabolism - Markers of heart disease - Tumour markers - Therapeutic drug monitoring - Toxicology/drugs of abuse - Point of care testing - The career of a Biomedical Scientist. Practical sessions cover - Blood cell morphology, identification and counting; blood transfusion serology - Haemostasis: platelet function and coagulation assays - Histological and cytological techniques - staining and observation of tissues/cells.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Teaching will be delivered through formal lectures and seminars. The clinical investigation of haematology and cellular pathology will be reinforced through three practical sessions that will introduce students to fundamentally important assays of cells, cell function and coagulation. Students will also gain insight to work within a clinical laboratory environment and will gain from meeting with, and teaching from, practicing biomedical scientists and clinicians.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 32
Seminars 7
Practicals classes and workshops 10
Guided independent study 151
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 70
Report 30

Summative assessment- Examinations:
A two hour examination

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Formative assessment methods:
Case studies are carried out during seminar sessions. Students work independently, or in groups, to complete case study worksheets during the session. Guidance (where necessary) and verbal feedback will be provided during each session, followed by a review of the answers and discussion at the end of the session.

Formative assessment and verbal feedback of practical laboratory skills will be given continuously during all practical sessions.

Practice examination questions (both MCQ and essay), with answers for self-assessment, are made available on blackboard and/or in a revision session.

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

    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 / Safety gloves
    The Department/School can provide students with this/these at an approximate cost of £12 (for lab coats). Safety glasses and gloves are provided in the classes, though students may wish to purchase their own glasses at £3.
    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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