module specification

BM7047 - Molecular Oncology (2020/21)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2020/21
Module title Molecular Oncology
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 30%   Comprehension
Unseen Examination 50%   Unseen exam
Coursework 20%   Practical report
Running in 2020/21
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Tuesday Afternoon

Module summary

This module provides an advanced understanding of cancer at the molecular level.

The key aim of this module is to inform students on sub-cellular aspects of cancer, focusing on molecular changes within cells which are associated with oncogenesis and the wide variety of different mechanisms within the cell which can be affected. Reference will be made to not only the understanding of key molecular mechanisms involved but also to identifying possible targets for diagnosis and therapy.


LO 1 - 4

DNA – mutations and repair mechanisms; carcinogens.
Cell cycle
Key intracellular signalling pathways
Oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes
Molecular aspects of apoptosis
Mitochondria and cancer
Telomerase and immortality
Cancer genomics and use of databases

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), investigative practicals (4 hours) and small group tutorials exploring realistic problems/case studies (18 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. demonstrate an in-depth understanding of key molecular mechanisms within the cell which are subverted in oncogenesis;
2. research and critically appraise existing and emerging aspects of this area;
3. collect, analyse and interpret relevant data from the laboratory or computer-based sources;
4. evaluate published relevant research material using up-to-date primary sources.

Assessment strategy

The module will be summatively assessed by a comprehension exercise on a selected relevant published paper (30%), by an end of module exam (50%) comprising short answer questions, and a practical report (20%).

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

Component    Learning outcomes
Comprehension 1,2,4
Exam                 1
Practical             1,2,3,4


Where possible, the most current version of reading materials is used during the delivery of this module.  Comprehensive reading lists are provided to students in their handbooks.  Reading Lists will be updated annually.


Core Text:
• Weinberg, R.A. (2013). The Biology of Cancer. 2nd ed. Garland.

Other Texts:
• Pecorino, L. (2016). Molecular Biology of Cancer. 4th ed. OUP.
• Weinberg, R.A. (2013). The Biology of Cancer. 2nd ed. Garland.
• Wagener,C. et al. (2016). Cancer Signaling: From Molecular Biology to Targeted Therapy. Wiley.

Nature Reviews Cancer   
Cancer Letters
British Journal of Cancer
European Journal of Cancer
Cancer Research


Examples of reviews
• Cooke, M. et al. (2017). Protein kinase C in cancer: the top five unanswered questions. Mol Carcinog. 56(6): 1531–1542.
• Wenzel, E. and Singh, A. (2018). Cell-cycle Checkpoints and Aneuploidy on the Path to Cancer. Intl J. Exp. Clin PAth. and Drug Res., 32 (1) 1-5.
• Attarian, S. et al. (2017). Emerging uses of biomarkers in lung cancer management: molecular mechanisms of resistance. Annals. TRans. Med. 5:(18). 377.
• Tomczak,K. et al. (2015). Review:  The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA): an immeasurable source of knowledge.