module specification

BM7045 - Cancer Pharmacology (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Cancer Pharmacology
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Human Sciences
Total study hours 200
156 hours Guided independent study
44 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 40%   Essay (2000 words)
Unseen Examination 60%   Exam (2h)
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Wednesday Afternoon

Module summary

This module provides an advanced understanding of the pharmacodynamics of therapeutic agents in the treatment of cancer.

Prior learning requirements


Module aims

The key aim of this module is to provide students with in depth analysis of how the key classes of anti-cancer drugs mediate their effects, including a consideration of aspects of drug discovery, pre-clinical and clinical trials, and possible future avenues of drug treatment.


• Drug discovery to clinical use – specific examples;
• the quest for selectivity;
• tumour targeting strategies;
• mechanism of action of specific antimetabolites, antitubulin agents, DNA-interactive agents, cell signalling inhibitors, hormonal agents, biological agents;
• drug resistance;
• personalised medicine and future therapies,

Learning and teaching

Students will be guided in their learning using a combination of private study (132 hours), interactive lectures (22 hours) and small group tutorials exploring realistic problems/case studies (22 hours). Preparation for assignments (24 h) will enable students to reinforce and expand their knowledge base and develop subject skills and competences. They will be able to assess and reflect upon their understanding of the material through the completion on-line quizzes.

On completion of this module students provide an evaluation of how the module enabled them to develop skills such as using information technology, team building, communication, time management, and working under pressure.

Learning outcomes

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

1. distinguish between the main classes of anticancer drugs on the basis of their mechanism of action;
2. differentiate between the different ways in which drug resistance can arise;
3. discuss how future chemotherapy might look;
4. evaluate published relevant research material and put together a balanced review of a selected topic; relating to cancer chemotherapy, using up-to-date primary sources.

Assessment strategy

The module will be summatively assessed by the completion of a 2000 word essay on a selected relevant topic (40%),  and by an end of module exam (60%) comprising short answer questions.

To pass the module students need to achieve a minimum aggregate mark of 50%.

Component    Learning outcomes
Essay   2, 5
Exam    1,2,3, 4


Airley,R. (2009). Cancer Chemotherapy: Basic Science to the Clinic. Wiley-Blackwell.
Hill, R. and Rang, H. (2012). Drug Discovery and Development: Technology in Transition (2e). Churchill-Livingstone
Neidle, S. (2008). Cancer: Drug Design and Discovery. Academic Press.
Rang, H.P. et al. (2011).  Rang and Dale's Pharmacology (7e). Churchill Livingstone.
Thurston, D.(2013). Chemistry and Pharmacology of Anticancer Drugs (2e). CRC.

Journals (E-Journals accessible via library). 
Nature Reviews Cancer   
British Journal of Pharmacology
Biochemical Pharmacology
British Journal of Cancer
European Journal of Cancer
Cancer Research
Cancer Therapy
Pharmacological Reviews

Examples of Reviews
Aggarwal, B. Danda,D. and Gupta,S., Gehlot, P. (2009). Models for prevention and treatment of cancer: Problems vs promises. Biochemical Pharmacology, 78: 1083-1094.
Kohno,M., Tanimura,S. and Ozaki, K. (2011). Targeting the Extracellular Signal-Regulated Kinase Pathway in Cancer Therapy. Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin 34: 1781-1784.
Mandery,K. et al (2011). Interaction of innovative small molecule drugs used for cancer therapy with
drug transporters. British Journal of Pharmacology, 165: 345-362.