Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 5 x 1 hour lectures per week
Practical 2 x 3 hour practicals
Other 2 x 3 hour revision sessions


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 2 x workshop reports  25%
Semester Assessment Group work  25%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Written examination  50%
Supplementary Assessment 2 Hours   Students must take elements of assessment equivalent to those that led to failure of the module.  100%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Describe key signaling pathways and gene expression regulatory mechanisms and discuss the impact of the former on the latter

2. Describe the regulation of adhesion and migration and its role in development and cancer

3. Describe the impact of cancer molecular biology on treatment and outcomes

4. Discuss the mechanisms underpinning the ageing process

5. Discuss the importance of stem cells and the regulation of pluripotency v. differentiation

6. Compare and contrast the processes involved in cancer progression and development

7. Analyse raw developmental data and produce a summary and draw conclusions

8. Critically interpret published data and analyse key published experiments

Brief description

The importance of cell signaling and its impact on differential gene expression will serve as an introduction to the module (building on the material in BR10310). This introductory section will also examine the regulation of cell migration and programmed cell death. These basic principles will then be put into context by examining the role they play in early embryo development, aging and cancer formation and treatment and plant cell biology.


The module will begin with a section outlining the key principles of regulated gene expression and cell signaling together with lectures covering recurring themes throughout development and oncogenesis (cancer formation) such as cell migration and programmed cell death.

In the section on the development of the early embryo we will examine how signals and differential gene expression are important for determining the basic body pattern of embryos as diverse as those of a fly and a human, determining the fates of individual cells in the embryo, and regulating the movements of cells required to form a complex organism.

Cell fate (differentiation) and movement are two key factors in the development of cancer and, in the final part of the module, we will examine how problems with signaling and differential gene expression can lead to cancer and show how many of the process that are features of early development are also crucial for the growth and spread of cancer. How this understanding impacts on treatments and outcomes will also be discussed.

Plant molecular cell biology will also be discussed focusing on special aspects of signaling and gene expression. The experimental and commercial manipulation of these will be addressed.

Two lectures will be set aside to allow staff to discuss relevant topical subjects. This will vary from year to year depending on recent research. It may involve IBERS staff talking about their own research work or be based on events in the media.

Workshops will use a variety of video, virtual and data interpretation exercises to reinforce and expand on the taught material. In addition students will work in groups to develop websites based on cancer molecular biology topics.

The module will also feature a 2 hour session involving an invited speaker who will talk about her or his work in a field related to the topic and discuss career paths with students.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Analysis of data, calculation of basic descriptive stats and production of appropriate graphical representations
Communication Production of succinct and professional reports within strict word limits and to a pre-set format. Production of professional, accessible web resources.
Improving own Learning and Performance
Information Technology Production of a professional and accessible cancer topic website.
Personal Development and Career planning Opportunity to hear about a career related to the topic and question an invited speaker about career paths
Problem solving Critical analysis of published data and approaches to resolution of conflicts in the literature. Developing and testing hypotheses.
Research skills
Subject Specific Skills
Team work Working together as a team, keeping minutes, organizing regular meetings, identifying and using the strengths of each member

Reading List

Essential Reading
Lodish, Harvey et. al. (2007) Molecular Cell Biology 6th Edition W. H. Freeman Primo search Neal, Anthony J. et al. (2008) Clinical Oncology, Basic Principles and Practice 4th Edition Hodder Arnold Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 5