Module Provider: School of Biological Sciences
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites: Some knowledge of molecular cell biology
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Prof Philippa Darbre


Summary module description:

This module aims to provide a detailed study of current knowledge and understanding of the biology of cancer and how this can be used to clinical benefit in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. No person is left untouched by cancer at some stage in their lifetime in the modern world, but fear can be dispelled by knowledge, and it is hoped that in addition to offering this as an academic module that the knowledge gained may prove of personal lifetime benefit.

Assessable learning outcomes:
At the end of the module students will be able to:
•identify the contribution made to an understanding of cancer by epidemiological, genetic, molecular cell biological, animal model and clinical data and examine their relative importance;
•outline the current state of knowledge concerning carcinogenesis by radiation, chemicals and viruses;
•describe the cellular and molecular events in tumour growth, progression and metastasis;
•give an account of the action of oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes in cancer;
•describe how an understanding of the biology of cancer can be used to improve screening, diagnosis and treatment of cancer;
•assemble and evaluate information on specific named cancers in order to integrate the knowledge obtained from a variety of approaches.

Additional outcomes:

Outline content:
This module covers the current state of knowledge concerning the epidemiology, genetics, cell biology and molecular mechanisms in the development of cancer, and examines how an understanding of the biology of cancer can be used to improve diagnosis and treatment, and even prevention.
Lecture topics include:
•Stages in the development of cancer from a cell biological and clinical perspective
•Genetic susceptibility and risk factors identified by epidemiology
•Mechanisms by which radiation, chemicals and viruses can cause carcinogenesis
•The role of oncogenes
•The role of tumour suppressor genes
•Mechanisms of metastasis including angiogenesis
•Tumour immunology
•Application of cancer biology in discovering novel therapeutic targets including signal transduction pathways, the cell cycle, angiogenesis and endocrine therapy
•Discussion of strategies which could be used to reduce cancer rates or even prevent cancer

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
There are two 50-minute teaching sessions each week which aim to give knowledge and understanding of the subject, mostly in lecture form. Students carry out a case study of a particular cancer which attempts to integrate epidemiological, molecular cell biological and clinical approaches. Students present the results of their research to their colleagues in short group presentations towards the end of the term and each write individually an extended, referenced abstract of 250 words.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20
Tutorials 4
Guided independent study 76
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 80
Written assignment including essay 10
Oral assessment and presentation 10

Other information on summative assessment:

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (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.

    Length of examination:
    A two-hour examination

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    By examination in August/September.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 21 December 2016

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