BSc Medical Biochemistry / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Molecules and Cells in Human Disease

Course unit fact file
Unit code BIOL21351
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by
Available as a free choice unit? No


You will learn about the basic cellular mechanisms underlying common human diseases and understand how drugs act on cellular and tissue dysfunctions to treat these diseases. You will study topics including autoimmune disease, cancer and arthritis.


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
From Molecules to Cells BIOL10232 Pre-Requisite Recommended
Drugs: From Molecules to Man BIOL10822 Pre-Requisite Recommended


To introduce cellular and molecular mechanisms of human disease.

Learning outcomes

Students will acquire knowledge of the basic cellular mechanisms underlying common human diseases and will understand how drugs act on cellular and tissue dysfunctions to ameliorate these diseases.


The course examines the cellular and molecular causes of a wide variety of human diseases such as fibrosis, inflammation and cancer. It aims to show how understanding a disease at the molecular level explains its pathology and allows the design of therapeutic strategies. Specific topics will include:
•    Cell death mechanisms and disease
•    Cell adhesion and its pathological defects of connective tissues
•    Genetics of complex disease 
•    Inflammation and anti-inflammatory drugs
•    Molecular pathology of cancer
•    Cancer chemotherapy

eLearning Activity
Each set of lectures will be followed by an online quiz to provide formative feedback on your understanding of the material
A graphical exercise on diabetes will be provided on Blackboard. This includes example essay and short answer questions on the subject of diabetes and its pharmacology.

Employability skills

Students have to carry out additional reading for each lecture.
Meeting multiple deadlines. Students have a number of on line activities to completes, with fixed deadlines. Students have to manage these deadlines.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 10%
Written exam 45%
Written assignment (inc essay) 45%

Other - 10%
Course work essay - 45%
Written exam - 45%

3 page course work essay, worth 45% of the unit mark. Essay titles to be set in week 12 and to be submittedin January one week prior to the exam period.

1.5 hour written Exam worth 45% of the final unit mark, comprising short answer questions. 
eLearning activities worth 10% of the final unit mark.

Feedback methods

The eLearning activities will provide on line feedback. Advice on the example exam questions on the eLearning resource will be provided if requested. Feedback will be given on the MCQ assessment before the end of the course. Post-exam guidance will be provided.

A formative mid-semester miniexam

A formative mock exam

Recommended reading

The following general texts will provide useful background include. However, no one textbook will cover all the material presented in the lectures, due to the diverse nature of the course. Each lecturer will therefore provide specific reference articles for their lecture material.
Recommended Reading

1.    Alberts B, Johnson A, Lewis J, Raff M, Roberts K & Walter P, Molecular Biology of the Cell (7th edition), Garland Science, 2015, Recommended
2.    Rang HP, Ritter JM & Flower, R, and Henderson Rang & Dale’s Pharmacology (8th Edition), Elsevier, Recommended

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 1.5
Lectures 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 76.5

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Andrew Gilmore Unit coordinator

Return to course details