MSc Genomic Medicine / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Molecular Pathology of Cancer

Course unit fact file
Unit code BIOL67482
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This unit will provide a broad based knowledge of molecular pathology in the context of the pathogenesis of neoplastic diseases, and in the context of routine and emerging diagnostic practice. The lectures will be delivered by a range of clinical and non-clinical academic staff, many of whom are internationally recognised experts in their field.



To equip students with an advanced knowledge of molecular pathology and an understanding of the application of new technologies in the diagnosis and management of cancer.

Teaching and learning methods

The course contains 15 hours of lectures.

Knowledge and understanding

1. A basic understanding of control of cell cycle, cell proliferation and death.

2. An understanding of the definition of malignancy and be able to criticise the definition.

3. A knowledge of the genetic repair mechanisms.

4. An understanding of the molecular mechanisms of oncogenesis, and how changes within genes of various categories may result in an altered phenotype.

5. An understanding of the differences between transformation and malignancy.

6. An understanding of the molecular basis for the known risk factors for tumours, such as viral infections and environmental carcinogens.

7. A knowledge of familial cancer and its molecular basis.

8. An understanding of the molecular basis of tumour growth, angiogenesis, tissue invasion and metastasis.

9. An understanding of tumour classification systems

10. An understanding of the role of pathology in cancer diagnosis, molecular sub-classification, assessment of aggressiveness (prognosis), and characterisation of metastases

11. An appreciation that the therapeutic approach to neoplasia is based on an understanding of the differences between normal and malignant cells, the mechanisms of tumour growth and progression, and the host reaction.

12. An understanding of the importance of sample quality for tumour genomic analysis

13. An understanding of genomic testing of cell free tumour DNA in blood, for diagnosis and monitoring of solid cancers

14. An understanding of the role of companion diagnostics

15. An understanding of the methods available for monitoring disease following treatment (medical, surgical or bone marrow transplant)

Intellectual skills

Students will know how molecular pathology is presently applied to routine clinical diagnostic practice, and gain insight into how neoplastic conditions are investigated at a molecular level, as well as understanding how new technologies are being introduced into diagnostic pathology.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Students will be able to understand how molecular pathology can be applied to clinical care in the context of diagnostic pathology.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 50%
Written assignment (inc essay) 50%

Other: Multiple choice question exam

Feedback methods

Formative and Summative feedback will be given

Recommended reading

Includes but is not limited to:

 The Biology of Cancer, by Robert Weinberg 2013, published by Garland Science

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 150

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Karen Rees-Unwin Unit coordinator
Miriam Smith Unit coordinator

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