Biological Science

The following modules are available to incoming Study Abroad students interested in Biological Science.

Alternatively you may return to the complete list of Study Abroad Subject Areas.

BIOL111: Molecules of Life

  • Terms Taught: This course runs in Weeks 1-5 of Michaelmas Term only.
  • US Credits: 2 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS Credits
  • Pre-requisites: High school biology and chemistry.

Course Description

This course illustrates the chemical unity of life and provides a chemical basis for the understanding of biological concepts. The chemistry and structure of the major molecules involved in biological processes are discussed.

Educational Aims

  On completion of this module a student should be able to:
  • Describe ionic, covalent and hydrogen bonding and van der Waals forces.
  • Describe the structure of water and its properties.
  • Describe the structure of proteins, carbohydrates, nucleic acid and lipids and how this influences function.
  • Describe some of the chemical properties of proteins, carbohydrates and lipids.
  • Describe the role of lipids in membrane structure.
  • Discuss the structure-function relationship of phospholipids.
  • Read and use appropriate literature with a full and critical understanding, in particular addressing experimental design and methodology.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  • 1-3: Energy. Atomic structure. Isotopes. Chemical bonding. Ionic and covalent bonds. Molecular shape, isomerism. Structure and properties of water. pH. Simple organic molecules and representation.
  • 4: Nucleic Acids.
  • 5-6: Amino acids. Proteins as polymers of amino acids.
  • 7-8: Protein structure and function.
  • 9-10: Carbohydrates - monosaccharides, disaccharides and polysaccharides.
  • 11-12: Lipid structure and function. Introduction to membranes.

Workshops

  1. Chemistry workshop
  2. Rasmol molecular modelling
  3. Problem-based learning workshop
  4. Molecular building workshop

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 30%
  • Coursework: 30%
  • Test: 40%

BIOL112: Cell Structure and Function

  • Terms Taught: This course runs in Weeks 6-10 of Michaelmas Term only.  
  • US Credits: 2 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: High school biology and chemistry.

Course Description

The common features that cells share are contrasted with the diversity that they present. The course considers how structure and function are related; how the cell generates energy for internal use; and how cells reproduce and interact with one another.

Educational Aims

  On completion of this module a student should be able to:
  • Describe the structure and function of the separate organelles and components within the cell.
  • Describe the structure and function of different tissues
  • Describe methods of studying cells and cell organelles.
  • Show the means by which different sorts of cells divide.
  • Give an elementary description of current understanding of the cell cycle.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  1. Prokaryotic cells
  2. Techniques for studying cells
  3. Plasma membrane
  4. Endomembrane system
  5. Mitochondria
  6. Chloroplasts
  7. Cytoskeleton
  8. Cell junctions and the organisation of cells into tissues
  9. Cell Cycle
  10. Cell reproduction
  11. Cancer (and lecture 12)

Practicals

Two practicals (including presentations) will be mounted to illustrate aspects of the material described during the lectures. These will include a tissue structure and function and a workshop on organelle isolation and electron microscopy.

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 30%
  • Coursework: 30%
  • Test: 40%

BIOL113: Genetics

  • Terms Taught: This course runs in Weeks 1-5 of Lent Term only.
  • US Credits: 2 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: High school biology and chemistry.

Course Description

This module seeks to illustrate how genes determine inherited characteristics, how these genes are transmitted from one generation to the next and how modern techniques based on DNA technology are being used in medicine, forensic science, agriculture and medicine.

Educational Aims

On completion of this module a student should be able to:

  • State Mendel's laws of segregation and independent assortment.
  • Show how Mendelian ratios can vary from the expected values.
  • Say what is meant by linkage and recombination and to construct genetic maps based on recombination data.
  • Describe chromosome abnormalities and single gene defects in humans and give examples of diseases caused by aneuploidy, chromosome rearrangement, autosomal mutations and sex-linked mutations.
  • Describe how DNA is replicated.
  • Describe how the sequence of bases in DNA is transcribed and then translated into a sequence of amino acids in a protein.
  • Describe the processes of mutation and DNA repair at the molecular level and show how point mutations can affect protein structure.
  • Basic bioinformatics is introduced.  Describe the principal data formats for genomic sequence information, and show how that information is manipulated and analysed via the key methodological concepts of search and alignment.  Discuss the use of alignments to infer past evolutionary events using phylogenies.
  • Describe the special features of bacteria and their viruses.
  • Demonstrate how genes are organised and expressed in eukaryotes.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  • 1-5: Meiosis and segregation, independent assortment, linkage and recombination. Chromosomal and single gene defects in humans. DNA - structure and replication. Transcription and the genetic code 
  • 6-10: The mechanism of protein synthesis. Mutations - causes and consequences. DNA repair. Introduction to Bioinformatics. Genetics of bacteria and their viruses, regulation of gene expression, in bacteria. 
  • 11-12: Eukaryotic gene organization and expression. 

Practicals/Workshops

  1. Workshop - Practice genetics problems 
  2. Computer-assessed genetics problems. 
  3. Karyotype analysis. 
  4. Computer exercise - Basic Bioinformatics Techniques.

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 30%
  • Coursework: 30%
  • Test: 40%

BIOL114: Biotechnology

  • Terms Taught: This course runs in Weeks 6-10 of Lent Term only.
  • US Credits: 2 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: High school biology and chemistry.

Course Description

This module provides an understanding, at a basic level, of the diverse ways in which the biological processes of plants, microbes and animals can be manipulated for benefit, and to demonstrate how biotechnology influences our everyday lives. On completion of this module a student should be able to: describe methods for making transgenic bacteria, animals and plants, list applications of biotechnology in agriculture, forensics and medicine, and discuss some of the wider ethical and social problems involved in biotechnology.

Educational Aims

On completion of this module a student should be able to:

  • Describe the general steps involved in cloning genes and analysing their expression.
  • Describe methods used in sequencing whole genomes and the potential benefits of this technology
  • List several ways in which microbes affect our lives.
  • Describe the techniques used in plant biotechnology and discuss its applications in crop production and protection.
  • Give examples and describe the benefits of food biotechnology.
  • Describe how mammalian cells can be grown in culture and how animals can be genetically engineered.
  • Discuss how stem cells and gene therapy may be used to treat diseases in the future.
  • Describe how DNA technology is used in screening for genetic diseases and in forensics.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  1. Principles of recombinant DNA technology
  2. Gene analysis
  3. Gene Expression analysis
  4. Genome Sequencing
  5. Microbial biotechnology - products from microorganisms I
  6. Microbial biotechnology - products from microorganisms II
  7. Plant biotechnology - principles of plant genetic engineering
  8. Plant and food biotechnology
  9. Animal cell biotechnology - principles of mammalian cell culture, stem cells and tissue engineering
  10. Animal biotechnology - genetically engineered animals and gene therapy
  11. Testing for genetic diseases
  12. Genes and Identity - use of DNA in forensics

Practicals/Workshops

  • Practical - Cloning recombinant DNA
  • Workshop 1 - Analysing agarose gels and restriction mapping
  • Workshop 2 - DNA fingerprinting in forensics

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 30%
  • Coursework: 30%
  • Test: 40%

BIOL115: Protein Biochemistry

  • Terms Taught: This course runs in Weeks 1-5 of Summer Term only.
  • US Credits: 2 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: High school biology and chemistry.

Course Description

The purpose of this course is to expand upon the introduction to proteins given in BIOL111. The course is split into two themes, the first of which is an introduction to the breadth of protein function, with an emphasis on how protein structure relates to function, and the second is an introduction to enzyme biochemistry.

Educational Aims

    On completion of this module a student should be able to:
  • Describe different categories of protein structure and function.
  • Explain the relationship between protein structure and function.
  • Describe different mechanisms for post-translational regulation of protein activity.
  • Describe interactions between proteins and other molecules.
  • Understand the features of enzyme-catalysed reactions.
  • Describe the kinetics of enzyme-catalysed reactions using the Michaelis-Menton model.
  • Explain how enzyme activity is regulated in the cell.
  • Describe how enzyme kinetics can be used to investigate mode of inhibition for clinically relevant drugs.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  1. Protein function I
  2. Protein function II
  3. Protein Function III
  4. Protein Function IV
  5. Protein Function V
  6. Enzymes I - Introduction to enzymes
  7. Enzymes II - Enzyme activity / Reaction kinetics I
  8. Enzymes III - Reaction kinetics II
  9. Enzymes IV - Regulation of enzyme activity I
  10. Enzymes V - Regulation of enzyme activity II

Practicals/workshops

  • Week 1 - Laboratory-based practical - Protein biochemistry 
  • Week 2 - Computer based workshop - Protein structure/function 
  • Week 3 - Laboratory-based practical - Enzyme assay 
  • Week 4 - Theory-based workshop - Kinetics data handling 

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 30%
  • Coursework: 30%
  • Test: 40%

BIOL121: Anatomy and Tissue Structure

  • Terms Taught: This course runs in Weeks 1-5 of Michaelmas Term only  
  • US Credits: 2 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: High school biology and chemistry.

Course Description

The aim of this course is to introduce students to the anatomy of the human body. The course will begin by looking at the different systems of the human body, followed by a study of the types of body tissue and their structure/function relationships. Later lectures will address individual systems and examine them in the context of homeostatic mechanisms. Finally students will be introduced to elements of the sensory and movement systems. Material in this course, in conjunction with BIOL123, 124 and 125, will provide students with a basic grounding in all of the eleven systems of the human body.

Educational Aims

On completion of this module a student should be able to:

  • Outline the eleven systems of the human body.
  • Explain the structure and function of the skeletal, urinary, muscular and integumentary systems.
  • Give examples of how major body systems interact with one another.
  • Explain the structure and function of blood, the liver, the eye and ear.
  • Name the four types of tissue and discuss their structure and function.
  • Explain the meaning of a homeostatic system and provide examples.
  • Outline the components and functions of the various body fluids.
  • Prepare posters and computer based presentations under time-limited conditions.
  • Demonstrate competence in: counting red blood cells; identification of white blood cells; pipetting and preparing dilutions.
  • Read and use appropriate literature with a full and critical understanding.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  • Introduction
  • Lecture 1       Body Systems and their Major Organs
  • Lecture 2-3    Tissue Types and Structures
  • Lecture 4       Blood and Homeostasis
  • Lecture 5-6    Water Homeostasis and the Urinary system
  • Lecture 7       Bone Structure and the Skeletal System
  • Lecture 8       The Liver and Metabolic Homeostasis
  • Lecture 9       Integumentary System  
  • Lecture 10     Skeletal muscle
  • Lecture 11     Visual system
  • Lecture 12     Audio system

Practicals/Workshops

  1. Workshop: The major body systems.
  2. Practical: Counting and identification of blood cells.
  3. Computer-based workshop: Major body organs
  4. Practical workshop: Hands-on revision session.

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 30%
  • Coursework: 30%
  • Test: 40%

BIOL122: Impact of Microbes

  • Terms Taught: This course runs Weeks 6-10 of Michaelmas Term only
  • US Credits: 2 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: High school biology and chemistry.

Course Description

The aim of this course is to provide students with a broad understanding of the diversity of viruses, prokaryotes, fungi and protists. Selected examples from each group will be studied in detail to illustrate the beneficial and detrimental roles of microorganisms.

Educational Aims

    On completion of this module a student should be able to:
  • Outline beneficial and detrimental impacts of microbes.
  • Outline the diversity of prokaryote lifestyles.
  • Discuss the dynamics of bacterial growth.
  • Describe the link between cell structures and the ability of bacteria to cause disease.
  • Describe the structure of viruses and the ways they infect bacterial, plant and animal cells.
  • Identify important protists, describe their life-cycles and outline their ecological roles.
  • Describe the diversity, pathogenicity and exploitation of fungi.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  1. What is microbiology? Introduction and history 
  2. Bacterial cell structure and function
  3. Bacterial growth, diversity and classification
  4. Bacterial pathogenicity – how bacteria cause disease Bacterial cell structure and function
  5. What are protists?
  6. Protist diversity
  7. Ecological role of protists
  8. Introduction to fungi
  9. Fungi as pathogens
  10. Putting fungi to good use
  11. Structure of viruses, animal viruses and viroids
  12. Classification of viruses, animal viruses, and viroids

Practicals/Workshops

Overall the practicals will provide experience of aseptic technique and the safe handling of microorganisms. They will involve:

  • Practical  1 and 2 Performing viable counts, Gram staining and phenotypic identification of bacteria  
  • Practical  3  Investigating the diversity of protists and their feeding processes
  • Practical  4  An investigation of fungal form and function

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 30%
  • Coursework: 30%
  • Test: 40%

BIOL123: Infection and Immunity

  • Terms Taught: This course runs in Weeks 1-5 of Lent Term only
  • US Credits: 2 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: High school biology and chemistry.

Course Description

The aim of this course is to provide students with a broad understanding of the molecular and cellular interactions between infectious organisms and the host immune system. Selected infections will be studied in detail and used as paradigms to illustrate principles of the host/pathogen interaction.

Educational Aims

On completion of this module a student should be able to:
  • Summarise the global impact of pathogens on human health.
  • Describe the life cycles of selected parasitic organisms.
  • Discuss the pathogenic effects of these parasites on the human body.
  • Describe the cells and organs of the immune system.
  • Discuss different types of immunity; humoral and cellular.
  • Discuss the role of vaccination and chemotherapy in preventing disease.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  1. Introduction to infectious agents; global prevalence of disease. 
  2. Immune system I:Introduction 
  3. Immune system II:Cells and tissues of the immune system. 
  4. Immune system III:Immune processes. 
  5. Viral infections 
  6. Prion dieseases 
  7. Parasitic protozoa: Malaria 
  8. Parasitic worms I: Nematodes 
  9. Parasitic worms II: Trematodes 
  10. Parasitic worms III: Cestodes
  11. Chemotherapy 
  12. Vaccination

Practicals/Workshops

One two-hour session per week consisting of either a practical or workshop:

Practicals

  1. Investiage the immunological basis of complement-mediated lysis
  2. Examination of prepared slides and specimens, enabling students to consolidate their knowledge of the life cycles of parasites relevant to the course.

Workshops involve watching video presentations on parasitic organisms and their effects on human health, followed by a question and answer session on the viewed material.

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 30%
  • Coursework: 30%
  • Test: 40%

BIOL124: Hormones and Development

  • Terms Taught: This course runs in Weeks 6-10 of Lent Term only. 
  • US Credits: 2 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: High school biology and chemistry.

Course Description

The aim of this course is to introduce students to the mechanisms cells use to communicate with each other using hormones and extracellular mediators. This will then be developed further to show how communication is vital for the coordination of growth and development of a human being.

Educational Aims

    On completion of this module a student should be able to:
  • Give examples of hormones and their functions.
  • Describe how hormones interact with receptors and generate signals inside a cell.
  • Outline the stages of embryogenesis.
  • Discuss the role of signalling molecules in animal and human growth and development.
  • Describe changes in foetus and mother during pregnancy.
  • Describe causes of human infertility and possible treatments.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

1: Basics of communication: endocrine, paracrine and autocrine signalling. Introduction to signal transduction.  2: Signal transduction- Receptors  3: Signal transduction- Phosphorylation cascades and second messengers. 4-5:  The endocrine system of mammals  6: Hormonal control of animal reproduction  7: Fertilisation 8-9: Embryogenesis and development 10: Human pregnancy – the first trimester and placentation 11: Human pregnancy – the second and third trimesters, labour and birth 12: Infertility – causes and treatments

Practicals/Workshops

Workshop 1: Cell Signalling

Practical 1: Hormones in animals: a computer exercise

Practical 2: Endocrine system practical

Workshop 2: Revision workshop

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 30%
  • Coursework: 30%
  • Test: 40%

BIOL125: Human Physiology

  • Terms Taught: This module runs in Weeks 1-5 of Summer Term only.
  • US Credits: 2 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: High school biology and chemistry.

Course Description

The aim of this course is to introduce students to the essential elements of human physiology focusing on the brain and the nervous system; the heart and the circulatory system; the external respiratory system; and the digestive system. This course is complementary to BIOL121 which covers some other aspects of human physiology and anatomy.

Educational Aims

    On completion of this module a student should be able to:
  • Describe the cellular structure of nerve cells and glial cells, and some of the major anatomical features of the human brain.
  • Describe how nerve impulses are generated and propagated, including the role of ion channels and the physiology of a typical chemical synapse.
  • Give some key examples to illustrate the chemical diversity of neurotransmitter molecules.
  • Describe the structure of the heart and its electrophysiology, focusing on what happens at different stages of the cardiac cycle.
  • Monitor blood pressure using a sphygnomanometer.
  • Explain the principles involved in inheritance of ABO blood groups.
  • Describe the structure of the human lung system, and explain how oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged within the alveoli and transported in the blood.
  • Describe the different components of the gastrointestinal (GI) system, and explain the processes involved in the digestion and absorption of food as it passes through the GI tract.
  • Discuss the key mechanisms involved in regulation of some of the above processes.
  • Write an essay type question on material covered in the course.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  • 1-4: The brain and nervous system
  • 5-7:  The heart and circulatory system
  • 8-10:  The external respiratory system
  • 11-12: The gastrointestinal system
Practicals/Workshops

Workshops will focus on:

  • Nernst equation and action potentials in nerve cells
  • Module test and exam workshop

Practical work will focus on:

  • Blood pressure
  • Blood groups
  • Lung volumes
  • Digestive enzymes

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 30%
  • Coursework: 30%
  • Test: 40%

BIOL131: Skills in Biomedical and Life Sciences

  • Terms Taught: This course runs in weeks 1-5 of Michaelmas term only
  • US Credits: 2 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: High School Biology and Chemistry

Course Description

This course aims to introduce you to the wide range of skills and competencies required to undertake the study of Biomedical topics. During this module you will explore techniques for accessing literature and critically examining it, for undertaking lab work safely and appropriately, for manipulating biological samples to allow the most appropriate analyses to be undertaken. You’ll practice introductory methods for the analysis and presentation of data acquired as outputs from experimental work.

Educational Aims

This module provides an introduction to laboratory common practice, equipment and safety. The theory component could be considered as the 3Rs of bioscience: Reading (literature searching, how to read a scientific paper); Writing (principles of good writing and of data presentation, how to construct and write a practical report); aRithmetic (mathematical tools for laboratory calculations, using MSExcel for basic statistical calculations and graphing). The module also gives an overview of the pathways through which science becomes public knowledge, policy and practice.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  1. Welcome! Overview of module, introduction to solutions, concentrations and the mole concept
  2. Understanding concentrations and making solutions
  3. Understanding and performing dilutions, including worked example
  4. Reading and understanding scientific literature
  5. Report writing
  6. Report writing skills: understanding and effectively presenting data
  7. Writing skills
  8. How science is communicated and becomes public

Practicals/Workshops

  • Practical: Practical skills and operation of equipment. Students practice the use of the lab equipment and start to acquire data for use in Excel in week 2.
  • Workshop: Literature searching and acquiring - introduction to facilities and strategies
  • Workshop (2 hours): Maths test (for understanding areas that need work, not for assessment). Using
  • MSExcel for calculations, basic stats, graphing, using data generated in week 1
  • Workshop: Run through of answers to maths test. Coursework assignment 1 introduced.
  • Practical: Determination of unknown concentration of protein using standard curve
  • Workshop: Report writing skills: exercises in understanding and effectively presenting data
  • Workshop (2 hours): Writing skills - editing exercises, including sample End Module Test exercise
  • Workshop: Comparing newspaper reporting with primary source article        

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework: 50%
  • Test: 50%

BIOL132: Experimental Design and Data Analysis

  • Terms Taught: This course runs in weeks 6-10 of Michaelmas term only.
  • US Credits: 2 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: High school biology and chemistry.

Course Description

This course aims to equip you with the ability to report statistical results concisely and effectively, to negotiate statistical software and virtual learning environments effectively, to improve team-working skills, to gain experience in effectively conducting appropriate statistical calculations and the ability to summarise and critique information from different sources in a coherent manner.

Educational Aims

This module aims to enable students to:

  • Understand the necessity for, and contingencies affecting, good experimental design.
  • Handle, present, analyse and report data in a systematic way for scientific purposes.
  • Make sense of much data representation and statistical reporting in biomedical research literature, and critically evaluate some.
  • Understand more deeply the way much of science progresses.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures
  1. Data types, measurements and sources of variability/error
  2. Experimental design including repeatability, consistency, use of controls
  3. Aspects of presentation, numerical summaries
  4. Sampling, confidence I
  5. Sampling, confidence II
  6. Decision making: Continuous data I
  7. Decision making: Continous data II
  8. Decision making: Categorical data
  9. Regression/correlation
  10. Revision

Workshops

  • Manipulating and examining data - introduction to statistics software.
  • Summarising and presenting data.
  • Data analysis and presentation I.
  • Data analysis and presentation II.
  • Finding and using data to answer questions.
  • Critically examining published work.

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 30%
  • Coursework: 30%
  • Test: 40%

BIOL133: Biomedical Science in Practice

  • Terms Taught: This course runs in Weeks 1-5 of Lent Term only.
  • US Credits: 2 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: High school biology and chemistry.

Course Description

The aim of this course is to introduce Biomedical Science students to the laboratory based investigation of human health and disease. Students will develop an understanding of how diseases develop and how they affect the function of the human body through the study of key elements of histology, pathology and metabolism.

Educational Aims

This course aims to introduce Biomedical Science students to laboratory-based investigations of human health and disease, focussing upon cellular pathology, epidemiology, medical microbiology, clinical biochemistry and haematology. Students will develop an understanding of how common diseases such as cancer, chronic heart disease and diabetes mellitus develop.  They will be introduced to up-to-date methodologies of laboratory practice, diagnosis and monitoring. Finally, hospital-acquired infections will be discussed focusing on causes, prevention and current practices aimed at reducing these infections.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  1. Diagnosis of disease
  2. Basic methods in histology
  3. Disease epidemiology
  4. Cellular pathology
  5. Clinical immunology
  6. Medical microbiology in the diagnosis of disease
  7. Clinical biochemistry (I) - The clinical biochemistry lab
  8. Clinical biochemistry (II) - Core clinical biochemistry tests and electrolyte disturbances
  9. Myocardial infarction
  10. Diabetes mellitus
  11. Introduction to haematology and transfusion science
  12. The management of hospital-acquired infection

Practicals/Workshops

  1. Cellular pathology: Diagnosis of cancer
  2. Cellular pathology: Clinical immunology
  3. The clinical biochemistry laboratory
  4. Case study workshop and revision

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework: 50%
  • Test: 50%

BIOL134: Biomedicine and Society

  • Terms Taught: This course runs in Weeks 6-10 of Lent Term only.
  • US Credits: 2 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: No Pre-requisites

Course Description

This course aims to equip you with the ability to critically evaluate the role of different academic disciplines to inform debates in scientific theory and practice, to work in a team to present ideas coherently, concisely and effectively and with the ability to reflect on and interpret information from different public and professional sources.

Educational Aims

This aims to equip students with:

  • A broad understanding of some key concepts and ethical debates in the public perception of biomedicine
  • Skills to critically evaluate the place of biomedicine in a cultural and social context
  • An awareness of how professional and public debate informs research ethics and research agendas in biomedicine

Outline Syllabus

The module will be structured around four core themes. The indicative content will include key themes as below:

Lectures

  • Biomedicine in society – Setting the context
  • Biomedicine in society – a historical introduction
  • Power, policies and politics
  • Research ethics in biomedicine
  • Animal and human research
  • Animal research: ethical issues
  • Cadavers, autopsies, and other stories
  • Ethical debates in human experimentation
  • Biomedicine and media
  • Public debates about genetics, stem cell research and drug safety
  • Media influence on disease prioritisation in research
  • Ethics in communication between biomedicine and society
  • Health inequalities and differential access
  • Clinical trials – access and randomisation
  • Health literacy and the expert patient
  • Cultural differences in research focus, access and participation

Workshops / Seminars:  Working in small groups each student will attend one 3 hour seminar/workshop session per week (weeks 1,2 and 4) and one 4 hour seminar/workshop (week 3). Each seminar/workshop will involve reading and preparation of material for critical evaluation and discussion. Students will prepare short presentations based on each of the weekly topics. Indicative topics will include:

  • Comparing the historical role and practice of biomedical research in shaping health politics and policies with that of contemporary biomedicine.
  • Critically evaluating ethical debates in animal and human research
  • Biomedicine in the media: examining public versus professional perception of a current debate of medical research.
  • Health inequalities: assessing the role and influence of biomedicine in specific cultural and social contexts

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 30%
  • Coursework: 30%
  • Test: 40%

BIOL135: Diagnosis in Biomedical Science

  • Terms Taught: This course runs in Weeks 1-5 of the Summer Term only.
  • US Credits: 2 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: No Pre-requisite.

Course Description

In this course you will learn to investigate a range of human disorders and disease processes, with emphasis on diagnosis and monitoring. Upon completion of this course you should be able to describe the principles and applications of some routine methods used in clinical biochemistry, haematology, clinical immunology, medical microbiology and clinical genetics. On completion of this course, you should also be able to analyse and interpret data, to use safe working practice in the laboratory and to communicate scientific information.

Educational Aims

To be able to investigate a range of human disorders and disease processes, with emphasis upon diagnosis and monitoring. To be able to describe the principles and applications of some routine methods used in clinical biochemistry, haematology, clinical immunology, medical microbiology and clinical genetics.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  • 1-2.  Investigations into human immune system dysfunction. HIV, autoimmunity, multiple myeloma and agammaglobulinaemia will be discussed and diagnostic tests for these will be explained.  Techniques discussed will cover FACS, ELISA, PCR and electrophoresis.
  • 3-4. Haemostasis in health and disease. Normal haemostasis will be discussed. Routine tests used in the detection and monitoring of some bleeding and coagulation disorders will be described, including Prothrombin Time (PT); Activated Partial Thromboplastin Time (APTT), Thrombin Time (TT) and fibrinogen assays.
  • 5-6. Biochemical investigation of gastrointestinal tract diseases. Structure and function of a healthy gastrointestinal tract will be explored followed by an analysis of some gastrointestinal tract diseases  (including: cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, helminths and Cryptosporidium) and their detection. Analytical techniques to be discussed will include: sweat test, RFLP, enzyme detection, faecal fat tests and microscopy.
  • 7-8. Biochemical investigation of kidney function in renal failure and diabetes mellitus. Analytical techniques for detection of key renal analytes will be described including: spectrophotometry, dye-binding techniques, ion selective electrodes, biosensors and HPLC.
  • 9-10.  Biochemical investigation of endocrine disorders: the adrenal and thyroid glands. The thyroid and adrenal glands will be investigated with an emphasis upon disease states leading to dysfunction of these endocrine glands: (Addison’s disease; Cushing’s disease; pheochromocytoma; Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Grave’s disease). Detection of hormone levels via immunoassay and HPLC will be described.
  • 11-12. Chemical toxicology. The background to the mode of action of a range of drugs will be described followed by how they may be detected. Paracetamol and salicylate overdose detection will be described. Chromatography methods for detection of drugs such as ecstasy, cocaine and heroin will be investigated.

Practicals and workshops:

  • ELISA practical - an opportunity to develop safe working practice in the laboratory and to perform one of the analytical tests described in the lectures.
  • Case study workshops will be conducted where students are given biochemical, molecular, microscopic or haematological data and are asked to interpret these and provide a diagnosis.
  • Poster session where students will work in groups to investigate a range of common drugs, their mode of action and laboratory detection methods.

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 50%
  • Coursework: 25%
  • Test: 25%

BIOL201: Biochemistry

  • Terms Taught: Michaelmas Term Only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: Normally biology or biochemistry majors only.

Course Description

Biochemistry endeavours to describe the structure, function and organisation of molecules in living systems.  This course concentrates on two key areas of biochemistry. First, enzymology; how do proteins function as biological catalysts and how are chemical reactions controlled within a cell? The second is metabolism; how do organisms obtain energy from their surroundings in order to stay alive and how do organisms manage to accurately regulate the many chemical reactions participating in this function?

Educational Aims

The general aim of the course is to introduce the concepts of cellular biochemistry by examining macromolecular structure and the relationship of cellular organisation to the central pathways of intermediary metabolism and the physical processes underlying cellular functions. Specifically, this module will initially focus on two related and key areas of biochemistry. The first is enzymology; how do proteins function as biological catalysts and how are chemical reactions controlled within a cell? The second is metabolism; how do organisms obtain energy from their surroundings and maintain their complex order - the major distinguishing feature of life?  The course will investigate how the many chemical reactions which participate in metabolism are accurately regulated and organised. The concepts and areas of biochemistry covered in the course will be further illustrated by reference to the pathological state and human diseases which result from specific malfunctions in biochemical pathways and reactions.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  • 1:         Overview/introduction to metabolism
  • 2-3:      Citric acid cycle
  • 4-7:      Bioenergetics
  • 8:         Amino acid metabolism
  • 9-12:    Carbohydrate metabolism
  • 13-17:  Enzymes and pathway control
  • 18-20:  Structure and metabolism of lipids

 Workshops/practicals

  • Enzyme Kinetics Practical
  • Bioenergetics workshop
  • Respiratory Chain
  • Glucose Measurements
  • Enzyme kinetics workshop
  • Data analysis revision session
  • Essay writing/exam technique revision session

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 50%
  • Coursework: 50%

BIOL211: Cell Biology

  • Terms Taught: Michaelmas Term Only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: Normally biology or biochemistry majors only.

Course Description

This course will cover some of the fundamental aspects of cell biology – including the cytoskeleton, how cells reproduce and die, and the interactions within and between cells, which allow them to perform their function in the whole organism.

The course starts with methods used to study cells and examination of the dynamic nature of the cytoskeleton. It then examines the proteins that catalyse the transport of solutes across biological membranes, investigating both the molecular mechanisms and physiological significance of transmembrane transport in a variety of biological systems.

Also examined are the molecular mechanisms involved in cells receiving and acting upon extracellular information. Such processing of extracellular information leads to many outcomes depending on the cell types involved, e.g. alterations in metabolic activity, visual perception, regulation of the cell cycle and growth, development and death. The module will also examine cellular dynamics, i.e. how cells maintain and alter their shape and the processes involved in the movement of cells, and the mechanisms of development of whole organisms, examining how individual cells become committed to a particular function as development occurs. This course includes a laboratory component.

Educational Aims

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Describe three different types of cellular receptor and the signalling pathways most commonly associated with each.
  • Outline some of the experimental techniques used to study second messengers.
  • Give examples of where signal transduction is used in biological systems.
  • Describe the processes of cell division and death and how these may be measured.
  • Explain the various roles the cytoskeleton in cells and how cells are able to move.
  • Describe the mechanisms by which ions and solutes are transported across membranes and how theses are integrated into signalling networks.
  • Say what is meant by “induction” and give examples of inductive signalling in development.
  • Outline lateral inhibition and show how the Notch signalling pathway operates.
  • Give examples of cell interactions during neural development

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  • 1-4        Cell dynamics
  • 5-8        Membrane transport
  • 9-12      Cell signalling
  • 13-16    Development
  • 17-20    Division and Death

 Workshops/Practicals

  • Immunocytochemical staining practical
  • Calcium signalling practical
  • Membrane transport practical
  • Agonists and antagonists on the Guinea pig ileum - computer simulation workshop
  • Exam techniques workshop

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 50%
  • Coursework: 50%

BIOL243: Medical Microbiology

  • Terms Taught: Lent Term Only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: Normally biology or biochemistry majors only.

Course Description

This course examines the relationship between microbe and host; with particular focus on bacterial and viral pathogens and the body's immune defences. The diversity of structure, function and metabolism of bacteria, in relation to their role as a cause of disease, is explored and practical skills in bacteriology are introduced. Morphology and reproductive strategies of viruses are examined and methods for controlling viral infections by vaccination or anti-viral therapies are described.

The course introduces principles of clinical microbiology by focusing on epidemiology and diagnosis of infection and treatment of patients with infection. The theme is one of "emergence" illustrating how some new infections have come to be a problem in health care. The practical’s focus on the diagnostic process and illustrate the contribution which the microbiology laboratory can make to clinical decision making and epidemiology.

This course also deals with the way in which pathogens (mainly bacteria) survive, and sometimes grow, in the environment and the implications this has for health in the community.

The course is given in collaboration with health service consultants and workers from the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust.

Educational Aims

On completion of this module a student should be able to:

  • Describe key aspects of microbe (bacterial and viral) structure and relate structure to function.
  • Explain how physiological and metabolic adaptations help facilitate the survival, growth, or pathogenicity of different bacteria within the human body.
  • Describe microbial (bacterial and viral) life cycles and how these can be exploited to combat infection.
  • Describe mechanisms of action of antimicrobials and explain how resistance to antimicrobials occurs.
  • Describe examples of human innate and adaptive defences against microbial infection and describe how these can be utilized for vaccination strategies.
  • Discuss positive and negative aspects of human: microbe interactions.
  • Explain the principles of detection and diagnosis strategies for microbial infection.
  • Evaluate the role of the laboratory in research, clinical decision making and collection of epidemiological data.
  • Describe the role of animal and protozoan vectors in harbouring and spreading disease.
  • Describe examples of nosocomial, opportunistic and emerging pathogens and explain why these are becoming more common.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  • Bacterial cell structure and taxonomy.
  • Bacterial functional diversity                                      
  • Bacterial metabolism and metabolic diversity 1
  • Bacterial metabolism and metabolic diversity 2
  • Bacteria and disease 1: The invasive process.                                                     
  • Bacteria and disease 2: Biofilms
  • Bacteria and disease 3: Virulence factors and toxins.                      
  • Bacteria and disease 4.  Protozoan harbouring of pathogens       
  • Antibiotics I: Clinical use
  • Antibiotics II: Resistance mechanisms and importance.                 
  • Major issues in clinical microbiology: The changing face of infection; factors in decline; social, political and medical factors in emergence
  • Opportunistic infection
  • Hospital (nosocomial) infection                                                                                
  • Control of bacterial growth in the environment                                                
  • Legionella
  • Chlamydia: Life cycle, species, disease, lab diagnosis.                    
  • Virus structure & reproduction
  • Defence against viral infection: Immunity and therapies                               
  • HIV: Case Study                                                                                                               
  • Emerging pathogens and alternative therapies.

Practicals/workshops

  • Introduction to microbiology practical / Essay Workshop
  • Clinical Microbiology Workshop 1
  • Clinical Microbiology Workshop 2
  • Clinical Microbiology Workshop 3
  • Data analysis workshop
  • Exam workshop

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 50%
  • Coursework: 50%

BIOL253: Genetics

  • Terms Taught: Lent Term Only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: Normally biology or biochemistry majors only.

Course Description

This course examines the mechanisms of heredity, beginning at the chromosomal level and moving through Mendelian genetics and its extensions to molecular genetics. The role of genetics in human disease is discussed. The mechanism of protein synthesis and the effect of mutation are examined with the emphasis on the use of mutants in analysing biochemical pathways. Mechanisms of DNA replication, recombination and repair are analysed and the expression of genes in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes is discussed. This course includes a laboratory component.

Educational Aims

The aim of this course is to examine the mechanisms of heredity, with emphasis on molecular Genetics. The lectures build on material taught in part I and the sections on gene expression, and human disease introduce material that is developed further in the third year Genetics modules.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  • Introduction to module & DNA structure
  • Gene Function
  • Genomes and Chromosome structure
  • Mechanisms and enzymology of DNA replication I
  • Mechanisms and enzymology of DNA replication II
  • Mechanisms and enzymology of DNA replication III
  • DNA damage and mutation
  • DNA repair                      
  • Bacterial genetics - F plasmid, Hfr strains, conjugation mapping
  • Phage and transduction
  • Recombination at the molecular level 
  • Introduction to Transcription and Control of gene expression in prokaryotes I
  • Control of gene expression in prokaryotes II
  • Structure and production of eukaryotic mRNAs
  • Regulation of gene expression in eukaryotes
  • Translation: prokaryotes
  • Translation: eukaryotes
  • Genes and cancer I
  • Genes and cancer II
  • Genes and cancer III.

 Practicals / Workshops

  • Essay workshop, introduction to research literature.
  • Molecular biology problems workshop.             
  • Practical 1 Plasmid Purification & analysis.
  • Practical 2 Spontaneous and induced mutagenesis.
  • Practical 3 Conjugation mapping
  • Human disease workshop. Coursework return and feedback on practical 1
  • Revision and exam workshop
  • Coursework return and feedback on practicals 2 and 3. Q & A session

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 50%
  • Coursework: 50%

BIOL271: Biochemical Techniques

  • Terms Taught: This course runs in Weeks 1-5 of Michaelmas Term only.
  • US Credits: 2 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: BIOL201 (or equivalent)

Course Description

This course aims to provide a grounding in core techniques in protein purification. Through lectures and laboratory classes you will gain understanding and experience of a variety of commonly used biochemical methods employed in protein purification. The practical sessions are linked and require you to purify one of several proteins from a starting mixture on the basis of their biochemical properties. The four core topics are:

  1. Introduction to protein purification and bulk preliminary purification techniques
  2. Chromatography techniques for protein purification
  3. Protein and enzyme assay techniques
  4. Gel electrophoresis and associated techniques

Educational Aims

Students will be taught a variety of commonly used biochemical methods employed in protein purification. Such methods include extraction methodologies, differential centrifugation, ammonium sulphate precipitation, dialysis, protein assays, spectrophotometric methods, chromatography (size-exclusion, ion-exchange, hydrophobic), SDS-PAGE, western blotting and isoelectric focusing.

Outline Syllabus

The module is designed to provide students with a good working knowledge of the principals and practical techniques associated with the purification of proteins. Each subset of two lectures is linked to a practical in which the students put the theory discussed in the preceding lectures into practice. All four practical sessions form a coherent protein purification strategy; the theory being that the students start with a mixture of proteins and purify one particular protein by the end of the module.

Lectures

  • 1 - 2:  Introduction to protein purification Extraction methodologies, differential centrifugation, ammonium sulphate precipitation, dialysis
  • 3 - 4:  Chromatography: size-exclusion, ion-exchange, hydrophobic, high-performance liquid chromatography, monitoring and assays
  • 5 - 6:  Protein assays, spectrophotometric methods
  • 7 - 8:  SDS-PAGE, Western blotting, Isoelectric Focusing

Practical/ Workshop

  • 1:  Ammonium sulphate precipitation and dialysis
  • 2:  Size exclusion chromatography
  • 3:  Bradford protein assay
  • 4:  SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework: 60%
  • Test: 40%

BIOL272: Cell Biology Techniques

  • Terms Taught: This course runs in Weeks 6-10 of Michaelmas Term only. 
  • US Credits: 2 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: BIOL211 (or equivalent)

Course Description

This techniques-based course will provide you with the opportunity to improve your laboratory-based practical skills and increase your understanding of how cell biological research is carried out. The laboratory work will develop your organisational and record keeping skills, whilst the write-up of the practical will allow you to demonstrate your ability to analyse and interpret data and communicate your results in an effective manner.

Educational Aims

The module will provide students with subject specific knowledge, understanding and skills in the theory and practice of cell biology. This will be based around generic techniques such as bio-imaging and FACS analysis used in cell biology laboratories for the investigation of cellular function. It will begin by addressing how cells are extracted from tissues and maintained in culture or transformed in cell lines. It will then cover standard end points of cell biology assays including survival and proliferation, adhesion and migration, cell cycle status and location of proteins within cells.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  • 1-2. Manipulation of cells; Techniques for the isolation of primary cells from tissue, pros and cons of using cultured cells, growth requirements for cell culture, types of cell culture, cell counting.
  • 3-4. Techniques for assessing cell viability, adhesion and proliferation and migration
  • 5-6. Flow cytometry in cell biology; Assessment of cell cycle status, apoptosis, receptor expression, signalling events in single cells.
  • 7-8. Bio-imaging; Localisation of proteins within cells using confocal, TEM and SEM.

Practicals

  • Week 1:- Cell counting of suspension and adherent cultures.
  • Week 2:- Proliferation and MTT assay.
  • Week 3:- Cell cycle analysis by flow cytometry.
  • Week 4:- Bio-imaging, TEM, SEM and confocal in context of localisation within cells.

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework: 60%
  • Test: 40%

BIOL273: DNA Technology

  • Terms Taught: This course runs in Weeks 1-5 of Lent Term only.
  • US Credits: 2 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: BIOL253 (or equivalent)

Course Description

This course aims to extend the knowledge of gene manipulation and analysis introduced in BIOL 114. It examines techniques for making transgenic organisms and then considers modern methods for high throughput DNA sequencing and the bioinformatic methods that are used to analyse the resulting data. Methods for analysing gene function through large-scale expression analysis and systematic knockouts are also examined.

Educational Aims

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Describe methods for making transgenic bacteria, yeast, animals and plants
  • Carry out a cloning experiment and analyse the results by PCR
  • Outline current and future uses for transgenic organisms
  • Describe advances in DNA sequencing technologies and give examples of state-of-the-art high-throughput methods
  • Show how protein-coding genes can be identified in a genome sequence and how homology searches can be used to infer function
  • Use bioinformatic tools to characterise an unknown sequence
  • Describe array and high-throughput sequencing methods for transcriptome analysis
  • Show how proteomics uses genome sequence data to identify proteins by mass spectrometry
  • Describe gene knockout and knockdown technologies used in functional genomics

Outline Syllabus

Lectures:

  1. Transgenic bacteria and lower eukaryotes
  2. Construction of transgenic animals
  3. Construction of transgenic plants
  4. Uses of transgenic animals
  5. Uses of transgenic plants
  6. High throughput sequencing technologies
  7. Functional genomics I - transcriptomics
  8. Functional genomics II - proteomics and gene knockouts

Practicals / Workshops:

  1. Making transgenic bacteria - ligation, transformation and colony PCR (2 sessions)
  2. Sequencing technologies computer workshop
  3. Bioinformatics computer workshop

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework: 60%
  • Test: 40%

BIOL274: Microbiological Techniques

  • Terms Taught: This course runs in Weeks 6-10 of Lent Term only.
  • US Credits: 2 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: BIOL243 (or equivalent)

Course Description

This course provides a grounding in core techniques in microbiology. Through lectures and laboratory classes you will gain an understanding and experience of a variety of commonly used microbiological methods employed in the study of medical and environmental microbiology.

Educational Aims

  • To develop a student’s ability to safely handle microbiological samples, via a series of lectures on their potential pathogenicity and a range of practical exercises using aseptic techniques.
  • To enhance the student’s general microbiological skills by repeating certain techniques throughout the practical exercises. For example, the student will routinely make bacterial suspensions, perform 10-fold dilutions, inoculate agar plates and dispose of waste correctly.
  • Practical exercises: to enhance further knowledge, understanding and skills, including, (i) isolation of bacteria from their toothbrush, plaque, sink surface and tap water using a range of differential and selective media, and subsequent comparison of the proportions of each microbial group in the four environments, (ii) the purification of bacterial colonies [from [i]), their screening for the production of signal molecules using a bio-reporter, the identification of any signalling bacteria using biochemical tests and, (iii) the susceptibility of isolated bacteria (from [i]) to antibiotics and common disinfectants using standard EU tests.
  • The student will also learn how bacteria can be genetically engineered to bioluminesce and how these fluorescent cells are being used in microbiological studies; though no practical experience of this will be provided.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  • 1-2       Laboratory health and safety, culturing microbes, culturable counts
  • 3          Direct counts, Bioluminescence
  • 4          Bacterial cell-cell communication with each other and eukaryotes
  • 5          Antibiotic production and assaying
  • 6          Disinfection and disinfectant testing
  • 7          Molecular detection of microbes
  • 8          Microbes and art

Practicals

  • 1    Isolation of bacteria from a toothbrush, plaque, sink surface and tap water
  • 2    Collation of class data, purification and screening of bacteria for signal molecules
  • 3    Identification of bacteria, antibiotic and disinfectant tests
  • 4    Results of the week 3 tests, maths

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework: 40%
  • Practical: 20%
  • Test: 40%

BIOL281: Clinical Biochemistry

  • Terms Taught: This course runs in Weeks 1-5 of Michaelmas Term only.
  • US Credits: 2 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: BIOL201 (or equivalent)

Course Description

This course aims to highlight areas of interest which are common to the biochemist and to the physician in both diagnosis and patient management and to demonstrate the practical tests required for the diagnosis of some selected disease states.

Educational Aims

This module provides an opportunity for students to.

  • Understand the role of clinical biochemistry in the diagnosis and treatment of disease.
  • Be able to demonstrate practical skills in the essentials of measurement, data generation and analysis.
  • Be able to undertake a thorough, sensitive and appropriately detailed assessment, using appropriate techniques and equipment.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  • 1  The use of biochemical tests in medicine. 
  • 2   Disorders of a calcium metabolism. .   
  • 3  The biochemistry of renal function   
  • 4   Disorders of the thyroid gland..   
  • 5   The hyperlipidaemias
  • 6   Acid-base disturbance   
  • 7   Endocrine investigations.  
  • 8   Liver function tests.  

Practicals

  • 1  Measurement of calcium and albumin in body fluids as an aid to diagnosis (practical).  
  • 2  Data interpretation - clinical and laboratory (workshop).  
  • 3  The measurement of enzymes (practical).  
  • 4  Protein electrophoresis (practical). 

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework: 60%
  • Test: 40%

BIOL282: Cellular Pathology

  • Terms Taught: This course runs in Weeks 6-10 of Michaelmas Term only.
  • US Credits: 2 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: BIOL211 (or equivalent)

Course Description

The aim of this course is to develop a more specific knowledge of the science underlying the discipline of cellular pathology and the technologies in use. You will learn the principles and ethics of tissue handling, the methodologies of how to process tissues and recognise pathological conditions and the value of screening programmes. Through this course you will gain a greater appreciation of the scientific basis of the methods in common use in Clinical Biomedical Laboratories.

Educational Aims

The aim of this course is to develop knowledge and understanding of the science underlying the discipline of cellular pathology and the technologies in use. You will explore, with consultant pathologists, the tissue, cellular and molecular changes which accompany a range of pathologies. You will gain practical experience in Histopathology practice, the techniques for a range of staining protocols and the examination of the outcomes of staining.

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Understand the underlying mechanisms which lead to abnormal cells being observed in a tissue.
  • Understand the response of living tissues to cell injury.
  • Explain the theory and practice of tissue fixation and staining in cellular pathology.
  • Explain pathologies of the breast, prostate and reproductive tissues.
  • Explain kidney function and pathological features of renal disease.
  • Describe the pathological manifestations of cardiac failure.
  • Explain the biochemical measurements employed to diagnose such pathologies.
  • Perform Histological staining for the identification of connective tissue, amyloid, carbohydrates and lipids.

Outline Syllabus

Week 1:- Abnormal cellular pathology

  • Lecture 1:  This lecture will explore the underlying mechanisms which lead to abnormal cells being observed in a tissue. For example loss of oxygen supply resulting in the induction of ischaemia due to loss of electron transport in the mitochondria, loss of ATP output and breakdown of membrane integrity.
  • Lecture 2: The induction of inflammation and its pathology. This lecture will examine the response of living tissues to cell injury, building on the microbes and disease course. The mechanisms of leukocyte extravasion and activity in the tissue will be explained at a molecular level. The lecture will then go on to discuss the balance between an inflammatory response which is required to avoid infections with pathogens and an inflammatory response which is overactive resulting in tissue damage and abnormal pathology.
  • Practical:  Tissue fixation, and staining for cell pathology. This practical will recap on the types of fixation and staining techniques that students has met in other courses. It will then continue with students examining sections on slides to compare pathological versus normal conditions, including hyperplasia, atrophy, ischaemia and anoxia, necrosis, apoptosis. Students will be expected to distinguish these conditions, identify possible disease states where they might meet such conditions and explain the intracellular mechanisms which lead to the observed pathology.

Week 2:- The Pathology of Cancer.

  • Lecture 3:  Female cancers. This lecture will examine cancers of the breast and female reproductive tract. It will consider the role of genetic mutations such as those in the BRCA1 and 2 genes and how such mutations might lead to disruption of DNA repair mechanisms and cell cycle control and a predisposition to other gynaecological cancers. The lecture will continue by classifying the different types of breast cancers and how subsequent lobular invasion affects outcome.
  • Lecture 4:  Male cancers. The development of the male reproductive organs will be discussed with particular emphasis on the stem cells origins of the tissues. The origins of both testicular and prostatic carcinomas will be examined with reference to pre-disposing genetic factors and their expected intracellular effects. The pathology of prostate cancer will be covered in depth with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) being compared to adenocarcinoma.  Reference will be made to proposals to develop screening programs for prostate serum antigen (PSA) and the usefulness of such programs will be discussed.
  • Practical:  Pathology of Malignant Diseases. Students will be taught how cervical smears are collected and will then examine some slides of unknown pathological status. Results from all groups will be pooled and the error rates assessed. This workshop will then continue to examine whether there is a rationale for screening for prostate cancer and students will discuss the methodologies/drawbacks/benefits of such screening programmes.

Week 3:- Renal pathology

  • Lecture 5: Fine structure and function of the kidney. This lecture will examine the development of the kidney and the role of the nephrons. It will continue by examining how these cells can filter the body fluid and regulate its composition to maintain fluid, pH and electrolyte balances. The lecture will end with a discussion of the hormonal and metabolic role of the kidney with particular reference to maintenance of RBC levels.
  • Lecture 6: Clinical pathology of renal disease. This lecture will examine both primary glomerular diseases and systemic diseases which result in kidney malfunction. Selected examples will be examined in depth to assess the underlying mechanisms of kidney failure and how these translate into laboratory findings and pathological features.
  • Practical:  Urinary analysis and kidney function. This workshop will involve a visit to the hospital lab to examine modern methodologies and equipment used for the analysis of urine. As coursework students will be given a set of case studies with urinary analysis data and kidney pathology and must link the urine diagnostics to the correct type of kidney failure, explaining the reasons for the alteration in urine analytes.

Week 4:- Arterial and Cardiovascular Pathology

  • Lecture 7: Arterial function and disease. This lecture will examine the range of factors which can contribute to arterial disease. These include, inflammation, injury response, plasma lipid levels, genetic and racial factors and hypertension. The different lipid proteins, their complex biochemical composition and their consequences in terms of lipid transport processes will be examined in detail.
  • Lecture 8: Cardiovascular disease. This lecture will look at the pathological manifestations of cardiac failure, with particular emphasis on ischaemic heart disease, with a view to explaining their underlying causes and mechanisms.
  • Practical:  Measurement of plasma lipids and their prognostic role in arterial and cardiac disease. The workshop will begin with a description of modern technologies for plasma lipid analysis. Students will then analyse case studies where patient histories of measurements of plasma lipid content are linked to risk of subsequent ischaemic heart disease.

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework: 60%
  • Test: 40%

BIOL283: Haematology and Transfusion Science

  • Terms Taught: This course runs in Weeks 1-5 of Lent Term only. 
  • US Credits: 2 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: Normally biology or biochemistry majors only.

Course Description

This course builds on the knowledge of blood cells and their functions that you have gained in BIOL 122 (basic blood composition and function), BIOL 243 (immunology) and BIOL 201 (regulation of platelet function and the coagulation cascades).

Educational Aims

  • To investigate the constituents of blood in a healthy individual and in a variety of diseased states.
  • Leukaemias, anaemias, haemoglobinopathies and thalassemias will be discussed leading to an understanding of diagnostic tests for each. 
  • Haemostasis and thrombosis will be studied, leading to understanding of a range of bleeding and coagulation disorders and their diagnosis.
  • Subject-specific practical skills will be taught with a strong emphasis upon safe working practice in the laboratory.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  • Introduction to blood - basic red blood cell and white blood cell morphology. Introduction to some common hospital blood tests.
  • Haemostasis - platelet plug formation and blood clotting
  • Bleeding and coagulation abnormalities - a variety of disorders or coagulation and bleeding will be investigated and common lab findings described.
  • Leukaemias - Types of leukaemia, biochemical and clinical characteristics will be investigated.
  • Chronic Myeloid leukaemia - The genetics, biochemistry and clinical features of this disease will be discussed along with the 'wonder drug' treatment.
  • Haemoglobinopathies, thalassemias and other red cell disorders - the structure of normal haemoglobin will be described.  Thalassemias and sickle cell anaemia will be used as examples of diseases resulting from abnormal haemoglobins. Lab investigations will be discussed.
  • Anaemias  - hypochromic, megaloblastic and haemolytic anaemias will be described along with symptoms and common lab findings.
  • Blood collection, screening and compatibility testing - Blood grouping will be described, along with preparation of blood, screening and complications. We will finish with analysis of haemolytic disease of the newborn (HDN).

Practicals / Workshops

  • Red cell indices and red blood cell disorders
  • Preparation of a blood smear, staining and identification of white blood cells. ABO blood grouping.
  • Blood transfusion: a workshop led by a transfusion nurse based in a hospital.  This workshop is intended to consolidate the theory of blood transfusion and link with hospital practice and procedures.
  • Workshop using web-based resources to identify blood pathologies.

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework: 60%
  • Test: 40%

BIOL284: Practical Physiology

  • Terms Taught: This course runs in Weeks 6-10 of Lent Term only.
  • US Credits: 2 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: No Pre-requisite.

Course Description

The aim of this course is to build on knowledge gained in BIOL 125 Human Physiology. You will focus on a small number of themes and learn the theoretical background through online and text resources supported by tutorials. Physiological control mechanisms will be explored through experimentation on student volunteers and online simulations. 

Educational Aims

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Describe homeostatic mechanisms that control blood pressure, fluid and electrolyte balance
  • Perform urinalysis and interpret data 
  • Interpret an electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Describe the effects of exercise on pulse and ECG
  • Describe the electrophysiology of muscles
  • Demonstrate the effects of electrical stimuli using the nerves of the forearm
  • Record and measure the muscular twitch response to nerve stimulation, and show recruitment in the twitch response as the stimulus strength increases
  • Measure the decline in maximal force during a sustained contraction, and examine some properties of muscular fatigue
  • Record electromyography (EMG) during voluntary muscle contractions, and investigate how contractile force changes with increasing demand

Outline Syllabus

The four themes of the module are:

  • Blood pressure and the circulatory system
  • The urinary system and water homeostasis
  • The Nervous System
  • Muscles and fatigue

Learning objectives will be given for each of these themes, linked to page numbers in Martini: Fundamentals of Anatomy and Physiology. Students prepare seminar work, prior to each seminar, based on these learning objectives.

Laboratory experiments associated with these themes are:

  • ECG measurements
  • Cardiovascular effects of exercise
  • Urinalysis
  • Electromyography
  • Measurement of nerve impulse velocity
  • Muscle fatigue

Collection of data in the practical and subsequent analysis of data in computer labs will take place weekly.

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework: 60%
  • Test: 40%

BIOL301: Cell Signalling 1

  • Terms Taught: Weeks 1-5 of Michaelmas Term Only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: BIOL211 (or equivalent)

Course Description

This aim of this course is to build upon the material taught in second year cell biology and to discuss, in depth, specialised areas of cell biology aligned to signalling pathways. Initially the course will focus on discussing how the perception of a stimulus at the cell surface leads to the production of an intracellular response and will use examples such insulin signalling (and defects in diabetes), cytokine signalling in blood cell production and the role of leptin signalling in obesity. The course will address the molecular mechanisms within these processes and look at experimental techniques and analysis designed to investigate them.

Educational Aims

On successful completion of this module students will be able to...

  • Describe how different signal transduction pathways act to relay signals from receptors to the cytoplasm or the nucleus.
  • Explain the different types of cellular receptor and their common features.
  • Explain how the signalling pathways activated by insulin and cytokines lead to specific biological outcomes.
  • Discuss how mutations in signalling proteins lead to disregulated growth and provide information about the pathway structure.
  • Outline the 'space' and 'time' components of integration of intracellular signals to achieve a biological outcome.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  • 1-4:  Insulin signalling in metabolic regulation 
  • 5-6:  Proteoglycans and cell signalling
  • 7-8:  Cytokine signalling in haemopoiesis
  • 9:     Leptin and obesity
  • 10:   TGF beta signalling

Practicals / Workshops

  • 1:   Measurement of cell growth and survival  - practical
  • 2:   Insulin signalling- workshop
  • 3:   Proteoglycans - workshop
  • 4:   TGF beta in development and disease- workshop
  • 5:   Revision/Exam workshop            

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 67%
  • Coursework: 33%

BIOL302: Cell Signalling, Transport and Disease

  • Terms Taught: Weeks 6-10 of Michaelmas term only
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: BIOL211 (or equivalent)

Course Description

This course will examine the key role played by ion channels and calcium ions in intracellular cell signalling pathways. You will gain an appreciation of the diverse physiological roles that ion channels and calcium signalling play in animals, and human physiology in particular, focusing on our five key senses (ie olfaction, sight, touch, taste and hearing). The importance of ion channels and calcium signalling in human physiology will be further highlighted by investigating a range of diseases that are caused when ion channels malfunction (eg cystic fibrosis, myotonia, malignant hyperthermia, sudden heart arrest caused by long QT syndrome, diabetes) or by perturbations of calcium signalling (eg cancer and cardiac hypertrophy). The techniques used to study ion channel activity and calcium signalling will be examined allowing you to gain hands-on experience of analysing ion channel activity using real data, and providing you with the tools necessary to interpret the literature published on these topics.

Educational Aims

On successful completion of this module students will be able to: 

  • Understand the techniques used to investigate ion channel activities and physiological functions.
  • Determine the selectivity of ion channels from primary data.
  • Appreciate the wide diversity of ion channel structure and function.
  • Recall the key roles of ion channels in sensory perception (namely sight, taste, olfaction, hearing and touch).
  • Understand the diverse roles of ion channels in human physiology by understanding the pathophysiology of a range of channelopathies (diseases caused by ion channel malfunction).
  • Understand the link between ion transport across membranes and calcium signalling.
  • Appreciate the versatility of calcium signalling, how this is achieved through the calcium toolkit, and how this contributes to the assembly of a large number of calcium signalling signalosomes.
  • Explain how specificity may be encoded is calcium signalling pathways.
  • Understand how perturbation of calcium signalling may be responsible for the development of some cancers and of cardiac hypertrophy.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  1. Overview of ion channel families and methodologies
  2. Sensing with Ion Channels
  3. Calcium Channels and Cell Signalling
  4. Channelopathies I:  Diseases of Skeletal Muscle Caused by Ion Channel malfunction
  5. Channelopathies II:  Cystic fibrosis
  6. The calcium signalling toolkit
  7. Specificity and crosstalk in calcium signalling
  8. Calcium signalling and cardiac hypertrophy
  9. Calcium signalling and cancer

Practicals/Workshops

  1. Analysis of Ion Channel activity - Workshop session 1
  2. Analysis of Ion Channel activity - workshop session II
  3. Measuring Ion Channel using the patch clamp technique - Practical 1
  4. Measuring the calcium using aequorin - practical II
  5. Analysis of Aequorin data - workshop

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 67%
  • Coursework: 33%

BIOL303: Cell Cycle and Stem Cells

  • Terms Taught: Weeks 1-5 of Lent Term Only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: BIOL253 (or equivalent)

Course Description

This course aims to illustrate the mechanisms by which cells become terminally differentiated to perform specialised functions and how this process depends on coordinated regulation of the cell cycle, gene expression and apoptosis. Its role in the regulation of embryonic and adult stem cells will be covered along with how progenitor and terminally differentiated cells are produced. The course will look at the various stem cell technologies, including established and developing technologies to exploit embryonic, adult and induced pluripotent stem cells. The ethics of the use of different stem cell technologies will also be covered.

Educational Aims

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Discuss regulation of the cell cycle
  • Demonstrate how cells become differentiated to perform specialised functions.
  • Say how the cell cycle is regulated
  • Describe the mechanism and role(s) of apoptosis.
  • Describe the different types of stem cells.
  • Explain the roles of stem cells in development
  • Explain the roles of stem cells in adults
  • Discuss the ethics surrounding stem cell use
  • Give examples of the different types of stem cell therapies.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  • Cell cycle I 
  • Cell cycle II 
  • Cell specification in yeast 
  • Differentiation of mammalian cells 
  • Regulation of cell death 
  • Introduction to stem cells 
  • Stem cell niches and cell interactions I 
  • Stem cell niches and cell interactions II 
  • Stem cell therapies
  • Stem cells and tissue engineering 

Practicals/Workshops

  • Cell cycle CP
  • Differentiation and apoptosis CP
  • Identification of stem cell populations - practical  NJF
  • Evaluation of stem cell therapies NJF
  • Exam/Revision workshop NJF/CP

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 67%
  • Coursework: 33%

BIOL311: Genetics

  • Terms Taught: Weeks 1-5 of Michaelmas Term Only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: BIOL253 (or equivalent)

Course Description

This course aims to give you the opportunity to explore the fundamentals of eukaryotic and prokaryotic gene organisation, gene expression and DNA repair mechanisms. You are encouraged to access and evaluate information from a variety of sources and to communicate the principles in a way that is well-organised, topical and which recognises the limits of current hypotheses. It also aims to equip you with practical techniques including data collection, analysis and interpretation.  

The material builds on subjects taught in BIOL253, but in greater detail with the emphasis on topics of current research.

Educational Aims

On successful completion of this module students will be able to...

  • Describe prokaryotic promoters and DNA binding proteins
  • Discuss different ways of regulating gene expression in prokaryotes
  • Describe activation of transcription in eukaryotes
  • List eukaryotic DNA binding proteins and their structural motifs
  • Show how non coding RNAs can regulate gene expression in a variety of different ways
  • Say what is meant by “epigenetics” and discuss epigenetic modifications of eukaryotic chromosomes
  • Describe the structure and function of centromeres and telomeres
  • Describe DNA repair pathways and discuss how failure to repair DNA damage is associated with a number of debilitating genetic diseases.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

Gene Expression

  • Bacterial gene expression I
  • Bacterial gene expression II
  • Eukaryotic basal transcription factors and RNA polymerases
  • Eukaryotic DNA binding proteins and Gene Activation
  • Post-transcriptional regulation in eukaryotes - pre-mRNA splicing
  • Regulatory RNAs in eukaryotes
  • Epigenetics and heterochromatin

Chromosome replication and repair

  • Telomeres and centromeres
  • DNA repair diseases I
  • DNA repair diseases II

Practicals / Workshops

  • Protein expression in E. coli I
  • Protein expression in E. coli II
  • Gene expression workshop
  • DNA repair workshop
  • Revision/exam workshop

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 67%
  • Coursework: 33%

BIOL312: Medical Genetics

  • Terms Taught: Weeks 6-10 of Michaelmas Term Only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: BIOL253 (or equivalent)

Course Description

This course aims to give you an understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underpin human inherited diseases. It examines modes of inheritance, methods of diagnosis and the potential for treatments. The impact of human genome sequencing and post-genomic technologies on diagnosis and treatment is considered. You have the opportunity to practise practical skills in the analysis of human DNA and to investigate diseases in depth through case studies.

Educational Aims

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Outline the organisation of the human genome
  • Analyse human pedigree data
  • Describe methods for mapping human genes
  • Show how genes associated with genetic diseases can be identified
  • Describe diagnostic tests that are commonly used for genetic diseases
  • List common chromosomal disorders and their characteristics
  • Discuss epigenetic effects and genetic disease
  • Show how allele frequencies vary in a population
  • Show how genome-wide association studies attempt to link complex diseases with susceptibility genes
  • Discuss genetic reasons for variation in drug response (pharmacogenetics)
  • Discuss alkaptonuria as an example of an inborn error of metabolism
  • Describe examples of diseases caused by expansion of trinucleotide repeats
  • Discuss the different ways that repeat expansions can cause disease
  • Discuss mechanisms of repeat expansion
  • Outline the techniques currently used in gene therapy and the potential for new treatments
  • Carry out PCR analysis of a VNTR locus
  • Investigate a genetic disease

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  • Organisation of the human genome
  • Genetic analysis in humans
  • Identifying mutations and diagnosis of genetic diseases
  • Chromosomal disorders
  • Epigenetics and disease
  • Genetic variation in populations
  • Inborn errors of metabolism - Alkaptonuria
  • Repeat expansion diseases I
  • Repeat expansion diseases II
  • Gene therapy

Practicals/Workshops

  • DNA fingerprinting practical 1
  • DNA fingerprinting practical 2
  • Case study 1
  • Case study 2
  • Revision workshop

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 67%
  • Coursework: 33%

BIOL313: Proteins: Structure, Function & Evolution

  • Terms Taught: Weeks 6-10 of Michaelmas Term Only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: BIOL201 (or equivalent)

Course Description

This course builds on the topics and principals of biochemistry, focusing on protein biochemistry. Emphasis will be placed on student-centred learning and it is intended that topics introduced in lectures, practical sessions and workshops will be expanded and reinforced by extra reading. The course will be supported by ten practical/workshop sessions that will take the form of an advanced biochemistry laboratory course. You will perform an extended practical based upon protein purification during the course.

Educational Aims

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Understand the relationship between evolution and protein structure.
  • Describe how proteins fold and the issue of stability.
  • Know how proteins are targeted within the cell.
  • Describe how proteins are degraded.
  • Know how protein structures are determined.
  • Understand the use of bioinformatics in protein structure prediction.
  • Describe common types of protein modification and their function.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  • 1-2  Protein Evolution 
  • 3-4  Protein Structure and Shape 
  • 5-6  Folding 
  • 7-8  Solving Protein Structures/Bioinformatics 
  • 9     Intracellular Protein Motifs 
  • 10   Extracellular Protein Motifs 

Practicals/Workshops

  • Practical 1
  • Practical 2
  • Practical 3
  • Workshop
  • Exam/Revision workshop

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 67%
  • Coursework: 33%

BIOL314: Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology

  • Terms Taught: Weeks 6-10 of Lent Term Only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: Normally biology or biochemistry majors only.

Course Description

The aim of this module is to introduce students to the importance of molecular and cellular interactions between a range of protozoan parasites and their hosts.

Educational Aims

On successful completion of this course you will be able to:

  • Appreciate the impact of protozoan parasites on human health
  • Understand the life-cycle strategies used by protozoan pathogens to gain access to, and survive within, the host
  • Understand in detail the molecular and cell biology of certain protozoan parasites
  • Understand in detail metabolic novelties in parasites and their potential as novel drug targets
  • Understand disease mechanisms and host responses to protozoan infections
  • Apply practical immunological skills to investigating the host-parasite interaction

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  • Introduction to molecular parasitology
  • African trypanosomes: acquired immunity and antigenic variation
  • African trypanosomes: innate immunity and trypanosome lytic factor (TLF)
  • Cell invasion and intracellular survival I: Plasmodium
  • Cell invasion and intracellular survival II: Leishmania
  • Parasite glycobiology I: GPI anchors - structure and biosynthesis in trypanosomes
  • Parasite glycobiology II: protein glycosylation; glycans and virulence
  • The non-photosynthetic chloroplast of malarial parasites
  • Unique aspects of energy metabolism in trypanosomes and Leishmania
  • Influence of host genetics on host resistance/susceptibility

Practicals/Workshops

  • Introduction to essay and complement mediated lysis workshop
  • T. brucei -  Practical I
  • T. brucei -  Practical II
  • Workshop – practical roundup
  • Exam/revision workshop

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 67%
  • Coursework: 33%

BIOL321: Clinical Immunology

  • Terms Taught: Weeks 1-5 of Michaelmas Term Only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: BIOL211 (or equivalent) and/or BIOL243 (or equivalent)

Course Description

The aim of this course is to introduce you to the principles and practice of immunology. The molecular and cellular aspects of the immune system are introduced including the ‘first lines of defence’, the innate system and the acquired systems. The course will examine how the system deals with pathogens but will also explore how the immune system fails, or works against, the body in transplantation, auto-immune diseases and immunodeficiencies. Workshops and practical sessions will explore and develop some of the concepts from the lectures and demonstrate the usefulness of antibodies in research and diagnostic applications.

Educational Aims

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Understand the components of the immune system and their role in host defence
  • Outline the processes involved in innate immunity and their context within the overall immune system.
  • Explain how antibody diversity is generated, how antibody production by B-cells is linked to immune requirements and how antibodies facilitate host defence against pathogens
  • Appreciate the potential of antibodies as therapeutic tools 
  • Explain the role of T-cells in the immune response and describe how cytotoxic T cells induce death in the target compromised cell population
  • Demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the consequences of immune system failure or dysfunction
  • Demonstrate a knowledge of disease mechanisms and host responses to infections

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  • Introduction to immunology and innate immunity     
  • The humoral response – B cell function and generation of antibody diversity  
  • The humoral response – Antibody structure and complement mediated killing  
  • The cell mediated response – T cell function and development    
  • The cell mediated response – MHC and the T cell receptor     
  • Dealing with pathogens and evasion strategies     
  • Hypersensitivity Reactions – allergies and asthma      
  • HIV – towards a cure?         
  • Transplantation immunology  
  • The immune response to cancer

Practicals/Workshops

  • Detailed analysis of a research paper - HIV
  • Antibody engineering
  • Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay     
  • Complement mediated lysis practical      
  • Exam workshop – critical evaluation of past examination essays 

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 67%
  • Coursework: 33%

BIOL322: Tropical Diseases

  • Terms Taught: Weeks 6-10 of Michaelmas Term Only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: Normally biology or biochemistry majors only.

Course Description

The aim of this course is to introduce you to a group of pathogens and parasites responsible for tropical infectious diseases. In the era of increasing international travel and trade, and considering the potential effects of climate change, these are an increasingly important group of organisms, both globally and to the UK. These pathogens include viruses, bacteria, protozoa, worms and arthropods of various kinds. The biology of the major pathogens will be explored including their life cycles, transmission mechanisms, pathology, diagnosis, treatment and control. Workshops and practical sessions will explore and develop some of the concepts from lectures and demonstrate some practical techniques that can be used to facilitate research into tropical diseases.

Educational Aims

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Appreciate the scale of tropical infectious diseases and the challenges they present
  • Demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the life cycles, transmission biology and key features of the major tropical pathogens
  • Explain how tropical diseases are diagnosed and treated, and the limitations of current clinical therapeutic options
  • Discuss the main elements of current research on tropical diseases and describe the process and difficulties of translating these into practical methods for treatment and control

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  • Introduction to tropical diseases
  • Vector biology and vector-pathogen interactions
  • Haemoflagellates
  • Malaria
  • Gut infections
  • HIV and Tuberculosis
  • Arboviruses and haemorrhagic fevers
  • Flukes and Tapeworms
  • Nematodes
  • Ectoparasites

Practicals/Workshops

  • Critical analysis of research papers
  • Practical session I
  • Practical session II
  • Practical session III
  • Data analysis and interpretation

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 67%
  • Coursework: 33%

BIOL332: Neurobiology

  • Terms Taught: Weeks 1-5 of Michaelmas Term Only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: Normally biology or biochemistry majors only.

Course Description

This course aims to give you an understanding of nervous systems, beginning with their formation in the embryo, leading through sensory systems to the neural control of complex behaviours. The emphasis is on model systems and the use of genetic tools to elucidate developmental pathways and neural circuits. Practical exercises will illustrate some of the functions of nervous systems and how these can be manipulated by genetic intervention.

Educational Aims

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Describe the structure of nervous systems
  • Show how nerve cells are specified during development
  • Demonstrate, with examples, how growing axons are guided to their targets
  • Discuss model organisms used in neurobiology
  • List key questions that are being addressed in current neurobiology research
  • Discuss the following behaviours and their underlying neural circuitry: olfaction, gustation, feeding, foraging, courtship
  • Show how Drosophila has been used to elucidate the genetics of learning and memory and compare with what is known in humans
  • Discuss circadian clocks and sleep-wake cycles in Drosophila and other organisms

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  • Recap of basic structure and function of nervous system, types of neuron, glial cells etc.
  • Development I - Neural induction
  • Development II - Patterning of the nervous system
  • Development III - Axon pathfinding
  • Investigating neural circuits
  • “Model” nervous systems – tools, techniques and research questions
  • Olfaction and gustation
  • Feeding and foraging
  • Courtship and mating
  • Learning and memory
  • Circadian rhythms and sleep

Practicals / Workshops

  • Workshop - 'Journal Club'
  • Workshop -  ‘Drugs and the Brain’
  • Olfaction and gustation in Drosophila
  • Courtship and mating in Drosophila
  • Exam/revision workshop

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 67%
  • Coursework: 33%

BIOL334: Environmental Pathogens

  • Terms Taught: Weeks 6-10 of Lent Term Only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: No Pre-requisites

Course Description

The aim of this course is to examine microbial pathogens, emerging diseases and methods for pathogen detection and monitoring in water and food. You will be taught:

  • key groupings in microbial diversity and how they interact in biogeochemical cycles
  • microbial pathogens, their behaviour in the environment and their impact on human health
  • a range of techniques available to identify, quantify and track pathogens in the environment, appreciate their limitations and apply knowledge to environmental water quality policy.

Educational Aims

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Describe key groupings in microbial diversity and how they interact in biogeochemical cycles.
  • Describe a number of microbial pathogens, their behaviour in the environment and their impact on human health.
  • Understand the range of techniques available to identify, quantify and track pathogens in the environment, appreciate their limitations and apply knowledge to environmental water quality policy.
  • Place microbial pathogens in perspective with global microbial diversity and appreciate the positive and negative roles of bacteria in health.
  • Have a working knowledge of water quality assessment and how this advises policy and standards.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  • Pathogens in perspective (Human microbiology, pathogens and underpinning definitions)
  • Pathogens in perspective (Earth cycles; what makes a pathogen a pathogen)
  • Diversity of pathogens (Disease causation; burden; transmission; waste water treatment; environmental contamination )
  • Environmental interactions (Survival; interactions with amoebae; Legionella pneumophila)
  • Vibrio cholerae and cholera
  • Emerging diseases (Contributing factors; West Nile Disease)
  • Emerging diseases (Leptospirosis; Lyme Disease; Cryptosporidiosis)
  • Antibiotic resistance (Mechanisms, emergence and reduction)
  • Detecting pathogens (Classical and molecular methods; sensitivity and limitations)

Practicals

  • Visit to a waste water treatment plant

Workshops 

  • Perspectives on environmental pollution and protection
  • Invited expert: Regulation of pathogens in the environment.
  • Scientific seminar

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 67%
  • Coursework: 33%

BIOL353: Cancer

  • Terms Taught: Weeks 1-5 of Lent Term Only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: BIOL253 (or equivalent)

Course Description

This course aims to provide an understanding of the etiology of cancer, including its multi-step nature. The contrasting roles of tumour suppressors and oncogenes in the process of carcinogenesis will be discussed, as will some of the signalling pathways that regulate their expression. The module aims to provide students with an appreciation of the role of both environmental and genetic factors in determining cancer susceptibility and to also gain an understanding that cancer is often a preventable disease. The module will additionally provide details of novel cancer treatments.

Educational Aims

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Describe the etiology of cancer, including the concept of carcinogenesis as a multi-step process.
  • Appreciate the contrasting roles of tumour suppressors and oncogenes in malignant transformation.
  • Demonstrate how cell signalling pathways act to regulate cell growth in normal cells and how mutations in components of these pathways can lead to cancer
  • Discuss the role of both environmental and genetic factors in determining cancer susceptibility.
  • Explain the basis for different approaches for cancer treatment.
  • Apply practical methods to study the growth and development of cancer.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  • What is cancer and how does it develop?
  • Tumour suppressors 
  • Oncogenes 
  • Causes of cancer: genes v environment 
  • Infectious agents and cancer 
  • Cancer as a preventable disease 
  • Radiotherapy of cancer
  • Cancer chemotherapy - classical approaches 
  • Cancer chemotherapy - novel approaches 
  • Immunotherapy of cancer 

Practicals/workshops

  • Cancer cytogenetics
  • Apoptosis
  • Analysis of tumour cell proliferation
  • Treatment of cancer

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 67%
  • Coursework: 33%

BIOL354: Pathobiology

  • Terms Taught: Weeks 6-10 of Lent Term Only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: Normally biology or biochemistry majors only.

Course Description

This course considers the aetiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment of some of the major chronic diseases that affect human health (neurodegenerative diseases, inflammatory bowel disease, heart disease, diabetes and others). Oral presentations, where you consider a wide range of diseases not covered in the formal lectures, are an important component of the course.

Educational Aims

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Explain which regions of the human brain, and which associated transmitter systems are affected in some key neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Describe the causes, pathology and current strategies for treatment of some of the major human neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Describe the symptoms, possible causal factors and treatment of schizophrenia
  • Understand the etiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment of osteoarthritis.
  • Compare and contrast the two major forms of inflammatory bowel disease, namely Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.  
  • Describe the human cardiovascular system in health and in disease.
  • Explain how diabetes is diagnosed, and the clinical consequences and management of the two main forms of this condition.
  • Understand the etiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of chronic human diseases, through participation in group workshop sessions.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  • Neurodegenerative diseases: Parkinson’s disease
  • Neurodegenerative diseases: Alzheimer’s disease
  • Neurodegenerative diseases: Prion disease
  • Arthritis: Osteoarthritis
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: Ulcerative Colitis 
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: Crohn's disease
  • Circulatory System and Cardiovascular Disease: Atherosclerosis
  • Circulatory System and Cardiovascular Disease: Ischaemic heart disease
  • Diabetes: Early-onset diabetes
  • Diabetes: Late-onset diabetes

Practicals/Workshops

  • Introduction to PowerPoint presentation task
  • Schizophrenia workshop
  • Diabetes practical / PowerPoint presentations
  • Diabetes practical / PowerPoint presentations
  • Revision / exam workshop

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 67%
  • Coursework: 33%

BIOL364: Biology of Ageing

  • Terms Taught: Weeks 6-10 of Lent Term Only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: Normally biology or biochemistry majors only.

Course Description

We know the basics of why we age, however only relatively recently, with the use of modern molecular biology tools, do we begin to understand the mechanistic basis of the ageing process. The general consensus is that ageing is caused by an accumulation of molecular damage, which spreads to cells, organs and systems, and overcomes the organism’s resistance, repair and maintenance mechanisms, homeostasis is compromised, further damage occurs and finally systems become critically affected. However there is a great deal more to learn, and even today we cannot claim to clearly know what makes us age and die.

Ageing is perhaps the most multidisciplinary area of study and is certainly one of the last great mysteries in biology. This module introduces the area and the methodologies with which it is studied. For 50 years, thanks to evolutionary theory, we’ve known why we are fated to age and die, but our understanding of the mechanisms has been a lengthy evolution in itself, from early notions about rates of living to current ideas about modular yet interacting mechanisms including autophagy, protein synthesis, nutrient sensing, insulin-like signalling and disease resistance.

Educational Aims

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of how evolution explains ageing using data from comparative, demographic and genetic selection studies.
  • Be able to collect, analyse and interpret survival data using statistical methods and demographic modelling.
  • Describe how the study of ageing has been illuminated by the study of single gene mutation effects on lifespan, using appropriate examples.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the mechanisms by which dietary restriction affects ageing.
  • Describe and evaluate the theory and evidence behind the current mechanistic theories of ageing, from primary (damage) theories, to secondary or (cellular physiology) theories.
  • Describe and evaluate the evidence for our current knowledge of the genetics of human longevity.
  • Understand the difficulties inherent in testing damage theories of ageing.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  • Introduction, defining and measuring ageing
  • Evolutionary theories of ageing
  • Primary mechanistic (damage) theories of ageing: Free Radical Theory, AGEs
  • Conserved modulators of ageing: model organisms, insulin-like, TOR signalling,
  • Conserved modulators of ageing: diet restriction, sirtuins.
  • Conserved modulators of ageing - cellular detoxification, autophagy and protein translation
  • Secondary mechanistic theories of ageing: proteostasis, mitochondria
  • Secondary mechanistic theories of ageing: telomeres, cell senescence.
  • Genetics and biology of human longevity
  • The ageing brain.

Practicals/Workshops

  • Workshop – Measuring ageing: Survival and  mortality data analysis
  • Workshop - Literature searching exercise for practical write-up: measuring oxidative damage
  • Workshop:Sirtuins and lifespan extension: a scientific controversy
  • Workshop: revision
  • Practical: oxidized protein assay.

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 67%
  • Coursework: 33%

LEC.155: Developmental Biology

  • Terms Taught: This module runs in weeks 1-5 of Summer term only.
  • US Credits: 2 US credits
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS credits
  • Pre-requisites: No pre-requisite.

Course Description

The aim of this module is to introduce students to the key processes involved in animal and plant development the formation of the adult body from a fertilised egg. The course will examine key concepts in developmental biology, including polarity, pattern formation, cellular differentiation and organogenesis. Students will learn how these processes are regulated internally and externally, through developmental regulatory genes and via influences from the external environment. The module will compare and contrast strategies for development in animals and plants.

Educational Aims

On successful completion of the module students should be able to:

  • Outline the key stages in animal embryogenesis
  • Explain how differential gene expression is used to control development
  • Explain how polarity is established during embryogenesis
  • Provide examples of developmental processes that are regulated by cell-cell interactions
  • Describe the process by which a cell loses totipotency and differentiates into a specialised cell type
  • Provide examples of environmental factors that can influence plant and animal development
  • Describe the mechanisms controlling the switch from plant vegetative to reproductive development
  • Identify the major structures present in animal embryos
  • Identify the major organs of the angiosperm flower
  • Interpret the phenotypes of organ identity mutants in terms of the genetic control of development

Outline Syllabus

The module will be delivered through 12 Lectures, 2 laboratory practicals and 2 workshops.

Lectures

  • Lecture 1. Introduction to developmental biology.
  • Lectures 2 5. Animal embryogenesis. Cleavage, gastrulation, organogenesis. Polarity and pattern formation. Cellular determination and differentiation. Genetic and epigenetic control of development.
  • Lecture 6. Stem cell niches, regeneration.
  • Lecture 7. Environmental regulation of animal development.
  • Lecture 8. Introduction to plant development.
  • Lecture 9. Plant embryogenesis.
  • Lecture 10. Apical meristems. Reproductive development.
  • Lecture 11. Environmental regulation of plant development.
  • Lecture 12. Synthesis cross-kingdom comparisons of development.

Practicals/Workshops

  • Practical 1: Comparative embryology
  • Practical 2: The ABC model of floral development
  • Workshop 1: Drosophila embryo development
  • Workshop 2: Revision workshop

Learning hours:

  • Lectures 12 h
  • Practicals Workshops 12 h
  • Tests/exam 6 h
  • Coursework 10 h
  • Reading 20 h
  • Revision 20 h

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework: 25%
  • Exam: 50%
  • Test: 25%

LEC.165: Marine and Estuarine Biology

  • Terms Taught: This module runs in weeks 1-5 of Summer term only.
  • US Credits: 2 US credits
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS credits
  • Pre-requisites: No pre-requisite

Course Description

Aquatic ecosystems host biodiversity which helps to underpin some of the most important ecosystem services on the planet such as carbon storage and sustainable fisheries. Understanding what is there and what it does is vital if we are to maintain and manage aquatic resources and combat the multiple stressors that they face. Through a series of lectures and practicals, students will be introduced to the concept of water as a medium for life and the challenges that poses for organisms spanning from microbes to whales and including those organisms that are subsidised by marine / estuarine production. A focus will be upon ecophysiology and how organisms respond and adapt to environmental gradients such as oxygen availability, salinity, pressure or exposure. The relationship between structure and function, and the importance of considering scales of both space and time will be stressed throughout. The module will finish with an exploration of the ecosystem services provided.

Theory from the lectures will be supported by a site visit to Morecambe Bay to make some field observations and collect samples for a subsequent lab session. Two further lab-based practicals will use fish to investigate aquatic adaptations.

Educational Aims

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Describe the heterogeneity of marine and estuarine environments
  • Identify the specific challenges faced by organisms living in water, especially with regard to salinity
  • Explain how ecophysiological structure relates to function and promotes efficiency
  • Summarize the fundamental concept of ecological zonation
  • Describe the processes of aquatic primary production and energy transfer
  • Define and provide examples of autochthony, allochthony, and ecosystem subsidies
  • State the contemporary tools ecologists use to assess food webs
  • Summarize the concept of ecosystem service provision
  • Describe the multiple stressors impacting upon marine and estuarine habitats
  • Study organisms in the field using basic survey techniques
  • Perform basic analyses and dissection in the laboratory

Outline Syllabus

The module will be delivered through 12 Lectures and 4 practicals/workshops.

Lectures

  • Lectures 1 - 2. Water as a medium for life
  • Lectures 3 - 4. Habitats connectivity and zonation
  • Lectures 5 - 6. Crossing the divide (ecophysiology for salinity/pressure etc)
  • Lectures 7 - 8. Living on the edge (ecophysiology for tidal exposure etc)
  • Lectures 9 - 10. Moving around (structure and function)
  • Lectures 11 - 12. Production and energy flow

Practicals/workshops:

  1. Field visit. Mudflat invertebrates and wading birds observations
  2. Follow up lab on benthic chlorophyll and invertebrates, with isotope data
  3. Fish dissection for demonstration of swim bladder, gills, fins, etc.
  4. Fish form and function follow-on from dissection. Morphometrics.

Learning hours:

  • Lectures 12 h
  • Practicals and workshops 12 h
  • Tests/exam 6 h
  • Coursework 10 h
  • Reading 20 h
  • Revision 20 h

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework: 25%
  • Exam: 50%
  • Test: 25%

LEC.247: Field Biology

  • Terms Taught: This module runs in Weeks 23-24 of Summer Term only.
  • US Credits: 4 US credits
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS
  • Pre-requisites: LEC.142 and LEC.243

Course Description

Employers expect graduate biologists, especially those aiming for careers as field biologists or ecologists, to have gained experience of basic field biology skills and common survey techniques. This module aims to provide students with these essential field skills in order to increase their competitiveness and potential for accessing the job market at the end of their degrees. The module will focus primarily on identification skills of several groups of organisms including plants and animals. This knowledge provides the basis for characterising and identifying habitat types in order to carry out environmental assessments. Students will be introduced to the Phase I habitat survey method and other sampling techniques appropriate for assessing populations of indicator species of each habitat. This module will be delivered in the field at Lancaster University field station and will include excursions to natural habitats in the surrounding areas, such as the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Educational Aims

On completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Use field guides and keys for taxonomic identification.
  • Demonstrate identification skills of the key taxa used in the module, such as (a) common plants in order to map habitats and identify standard habitat types and (b) common and indicator species of target habitats from one or more insect groups.
  • Use the Phase 1 habitat survey manual to classify target habitats within broad categories.
  • Use field equipment for recording a set of environmental variables and ecosystem processes.
  • Identify appropriate sampling methods and apply them in the field.

Outline Syllabus

The module will be an intensive 5-day course in the middle of summer term, likely Week 24 (mid May). The module will have five sections, almost entirely delivered in the field by several lecturers. The main field site will be Hazelrigg Lancaster University field station. The students will be taken through a habitat and biodiversity (indicator taxa) survey at the Hazelrigg field site. There will be also short sessions at the site on: monitoring bird breeding parameters (including demonstration of handling and ringing birds); moth trapping (including species level identification of macro-moths) and small mammal trapping (including species level identification and demonstration of tagging). In addition there will be two days when excursions will be made to off-campus sites (e.g. to a species-rich meadow in the Yorkshire Dales and to sites of highly diverse insect communities such as the Morecambe bay region to see Fritillary butterflies).

Workshop (2h) in week 23:

  • Introduction to the module and health and safety in the field.

Day 1 (8h) in week 24:

  • Introduction to the Phase I habitat survey method, focusing on several habitats present at the field station (grasslands and woodlands) and including some elements of the National Vegetation Classification.
  • To complete a Phase I survey it is necessary to have a general knowledge of plant species. Therefore most of the day will focus on plant identification using identification keys and field guides.
  • Session on bird nest monitoring.

Day 2 (8h) in week 24:

  • Excursion to a species-rich meadow in the Yorkshire Dales, practising plant identification skills.

Day 3 (8h) in week 24:

  • Pollinator species identification and sampling method (point count observations); some specimens will be collected for identification in the lab.
  • Ground beetle species identification in the lab using keys and stereomicroscopes.
  • Short session in the evening (on day 3) and early morning (on day 4) on mammal trapping.

Day 4 (8h) in week 24:

  • Butterfly species identification and sampling method (Pollard walk transect).
  • Excursion to sites of highly diverse insect communities (e.g. nature reserves in the Morecambe Bay region), practising butterfly identification skills.
  • Short session in the evening (on day 4) and early morning (on day 5) on moth trapping.

Day 5 (6h) in week 24:

  • Measuring environmental variables (e.g. light/temperature/moisture, soil chemistry and C flux) at the field station and in the lab .
  • Spot test.

Contact hours: 40

Independent study hours (including reading and coursework preparation): 110

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework: 100%