BIMBC2-Biology of Cancer

Module Provider: School of Biological Sciences
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Dr Mike Fry


Summary module description:
In this module the students will learn about the current approaches used to study, diagnose, and treat cancer. All the main topics in cancer biology will be reviewed. The module will examine the current therapeutic options available to prevent and manage different types of cancers. There will be particular emphasis on current research and the role of more personalised medicine approaches to help convey mechanistic insights into diseases processes, diagnosis and rational treatment. Building on the knowledge and skills developed in the Autumn term, lectures in this Spring term module will be supplemented by journal club style discussions of the latest literature, problem based learning sessions where data will be analysed, and small group tutorial discussions on various topics.

To enable students to gain a good working knowledge and understanding of the environmental and molecular causes of cancer, how it is diagnosed and treated, and the challenges that remain to be over come in this field. Students will develop skills in the critical analysis of the literature and will carry out problem based learning exercises to engage them with analysis of large data sets.

Assessable learning outcomes:
During the course of the module there will be a number of formative assessments prior to the summative assessments. These formative assessments will be delivered through the problem-based learning, journal club paper discussions, and small group tutorials. At the end of the module students should have a good working knowledge and understanding of the key aspects of modern cancer biology through the lectures, paper discussion and tutorials. This broad knowledge and understanding will be assessed through an end of module test. Students will develop critical analysis, data analysis and presentation skills through problem-based learning and analysis of scientific literature. Their critical analysis of the literature will be assessed through a short viva relating to current scientific publications. Wider analysis of the literature and data analysis will be assessed through a mini literature research project on an oncogene, tumour suppressor gene or type of cancer where the students will have to review the literature and present the current state of knowledge and understanding in the field to the other students.

Additional outcomes:

Outline content:
This module will cover all the major topics in modern cancer biology, including the main causes of cancer including tumour viruses, modern approaches to cancer diagnosis, the hallmarks of cancer cells, the idea of cancer stem cells, current views on the mixed cellular populations in primary and metastatic cancer sites, the role of cancer genes (oncogenes, tumour suppressors and gatekeepers), rewiring of cell signalling pathways, apoptosis, growth regulation, invasion and metastasis, the biology of angiogenesis and modern treatment strategies for different types of cancer including the growing role of personalised medicine, rational signal transduction therapy and modern ideas on immunotherapy. Several staff in the Biomedical Sciences section of the School of Biological Sciences will contribute to this module. The lecture material will be re-enforced and developed through the use of weekly journal club style paper discussions, tutorials and problem-based learning activities (large data set analysis, modelling approaches to understanding cancer etc).

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
This module will be delivered through weekly lectures, seminars, small group tutorials and problem–based learning activities. Students will be expected to read and prepare in advance of each week’s class. The material read will then be put in context of the latest research in the lecture and then followed up by in class discussions, more discussions of the literature and interactive problems based sessions. Students will be required to do a considerable amount of individual study each week to prepare for the lectures, tutorials, and journal club style paper discussions.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Seminars 10
Tutorials 20
Guided independent study 160
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Project output other than dissertation 35
Oral assessment and presentation 15
Class test administered by School 50

Other information on summative assessment:

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information:

Length of examination:

Requirements for a pass:

Reassessment arrangements:
A reassessment essay title will be provided by the module convenor.

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

Things to do now