module specification

BM7045 - Cancer Pharmacology (2020/21)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2020/21
Module title Cancer Pharmacology
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Human Sciences
Total study hours 200
44 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
24 hours Assessment Preparation / Delivery
132 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 40%   Essay
Unseen Examination 60%   Unseen exam
Running in 2020/21
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.

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, clinical trials, adverse effects, and possible future avenues of drug treatment.


LO 1 - 4

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

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

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.

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 pharmacology 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 long answer questions.

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

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


Core Text:
Neidle, S. (2013). Cancer: Drug Design and Discovery (2E). Academic Press.

Other Text:
Perry, M.C. (2012). Perry's The Chemotherapy Source Book (5e). Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

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

National Cancer Institute:
Journal of cancer Science & Therapy:

Examples of Reviews
• Gatzka, M.V. (2018). Targeted Tumor Therapy Remixed—An Update on the Use of Small-Molecule Drugs in Combination Therapies.  Cancers. 10(6): 155.
• Seidel. J.A. et al.  (2018). Anti-PD-1 and Anti-CTLA-4 Therapies in Cancer: Mechanisms of Action, Efficacy, and Limitations. Front Oncol. 2018; 8: 86.
• Merseburger AS et al (2016). Androgen deprivation therapy as backbone therapy in the management of prostate cancer. Onco Targets Ther. 9:7263-7274