Cancer Biology and Therapeutics

Module summary

Module code: BIOL0034
Level: 6
Credits: 15
School: Engineering and Science
Department: Science
Module Coordinator(s): Lauren Pecorino



To facilitate an understanding of the relationship between cell biology and the basis of cancer;
To provide an advanced understanding of the control of mechanisms of cell division, cell differentiation and cell signalling;
To relate an understanding of concepts in carcinogenesis and of current molecular therapeutic strategies.

Learning outcomes

On completing this course successfully you will be able to:
1. Critically discuss control mechanisms involved in division, differentiation and signalling of a normal cell;
2. Precisely define processes in cell biology relevant to the mechanism of cancer;
3. Critically discuss current concepts of carcinogenesis and cancer therapy;
4. Demonstrate an ability to analyse published data in published journal articles.

Skills Learning Outcomes:
On completing this course successfully you will be able to:
Analyse, synthese and summarise information critically, including published research or reports;
Obtain and integrate several lines of subject-specific evidence to formulate and test hypotheses;
Cite and reference work in an appropriate manner; recognise the moral and ethical issues of investigations and appreciate the need for ethical standards and professional codes of conduct;
Use the internet and other electronic sources critically as a means of communication and a source of information;
Develop an appreciation of the interdisciplinary nature of science and of the validity of different points of view;
Develop the skills necessary for self-managed and lifelong learning;
Identify and work towards targets for personal, academic and career development;
Develop an adaptable, flexible, and effective approach to study and work.

Indicative content

Control of the cell cycle and cell growth;
Mutations and DNA repair; Transcriptional regulation (including epigenetics) and differentiation;
Molecular mechanisms of programmed cell death.
The molecular basis of cancer including the concept that it is a genetic disease at the cellular level: oncogenes and tumour suppression genes.
Causative agents: chemical carcinogenes; radiation; hormonal imbalance, viruses.
Cancer and the diet.
Tumour antigens and the role of the immune system.
Angiogenesis and metastasis.
Role of nutrition.
Strategies for diagnosis and new molecular therapies.

Teaching and learning activity

The course will be delivered mainly through lectures and tutorials (approximately 2:1). A specifically designed textbook written by the course leader is used for the course, including its listing of journal articles. The underlying principles / concepts will be explained in lectures. The supporting tutorial programme will establish the understanding of material delivered in lectures and will facilitate the understanding of these concepts and their applications. Some will involve enhancing self-learning skills and exam techniques.

Learning Time (1 credit = 10 hours)

Contact Hours:
lectures 24
seminars 1
practical sessions 0
tutorials 12
other 0
Private Study 90
Assignments: course work and other forms of assessment:
coursework 20
laboratory work 0
examinations 3
other 0


Coursework - 40%
LO 4. 2000 words
Critical review of a research paper.

Exam - 60%
LO 1-3.

Pass mark - 40% overall
2 hour exam covering all topics.