MSci Developmental Biology

Year of entry: 2022

Course unit details:
Advanced Endocrinology (L)

Unit code BIOL31571
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by School of Biological Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No


Endocrinology is the study of hormones and their control of a wide range of physiological activities. In this unit you will study the molecular and cellular processes which determine the function and control of the human endocrine system and learn about the defects in these processes which can cause endocrine diseases including diabetes and adrenal dysfunction. You will also look at the clinical treatments for these diseases and current research in the area.


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Endocrinology BIOL21261 Pre-Requisite Recommended


To explore the impact of cell and molecular biological techniques on our understanding of endocrine control mechanisms and endocrine disease.

Learning outcomes

A student completing this unit will have an:

  • Understanding of the molecular and cellular processes which determine the function and control of the human endocrine system.
  • Appreciation of the defects in these mechanisms that underlie the development and progression of endocrine disease.
  • Awareness of current strategies for the clinical management of endocrine malfunction and of current research in these areas.



•    Endocrine control of extracellular Ca2+ homeostasis. PTH, vitamin D3 & calcitonin: production, receptors & roles. Clinical abnormalities of Ca2+ metabolism: Hyper- and Hypoparathyroidism, Osteoporosis & Rickets. Current research on Ca2+-sensing receptors and their therapeutic potential.

•    Clinical investigations, consequences & management of diabetes mellitus and hyperinsulinism.

•    Gut hormones in health & disease. Current research in I-cells & gastric banding.

•    The biology and physiological role(s) of Growth Hormone: interaction with the IGF-I axis. Disorders of growth hormone action; the clinical role of growth hormone replacement therapy. Disorders in the control of IGF bioavailability & their clinical consequences.

•    Pituitary-adrenal axis: The principal pathologies of the pituitary gland and their molecular basis; the clinical and surgical management of pituitary tumours. The diagnosis and management of adrenal pathologies. Disorders of glucocorticoid signalling; their consequences, diagnosis & management.

•    CLINICAL CASE PRESENTATIONS (2): the interactive roles of the patient, clinician and clinical biochemist in the clinical diagnosis and management of an endocrine disorder.


Employability skills

Group/team working
Peer assessment of submitted essay plans
Oral communication
Two interactive sessions, with a clinician discussing cases and endocrine research
Problem solving
Diagnosis of the clinical case in the lecture
Students directed towards Henry Stewart Talk podcasts and for additional self-directed learning
Written communication
Essay writing in the unit summative assessment. Use of Blackboard in the practice paper

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 95%
Written assignment (inc essay) 5%

Feedback methods


•       FEEDBACK SURGERY - Marked scripts available for inspection at a 2-hour drop-in surgery to be held in early March.

•       Blackboard Discussion Board - checked regularly by Unit Coordinator.

Recommended reading


There are no specific textbooks for this unit, though "Essential Endocrinology and Diabetes" by Richard Holt & Neil Hanley (Wiley-Blackwell, 6th Edition; External Link to book) may be found useful. The Endotext website (requires free login) is also useful for the topics listed above:

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 18
Independent study hours
Independent study 80

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Donald Ward Unit coordinator

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