module specification

BM7047 - Molecular Oncology (2018/19)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2018/19
Module title Molecular Oncology
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 30%   Comprehension exercise
Coursework 20%   Practical report (500 words)
Unseen Examination 50%   Exam (1.5h)
Running in 2018/19
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.

Prior learning requirements


Module aims

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.


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

Learning and teaching

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.

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. 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


Pecorino, L. (2012). Molecular Biology of Cancer. OUP.
Weinberg, R.A. (2013). The Biology of Cancer. Garland.
Weber, G.F. (2007). Molecular Mechanisms of Cancer.  Springer

Journals ( ~160 cancer-related E-journals accessible via library)
Nature Reviews Cancer   
Cancer Letters
British Journal of Cancer
European Journal of Cancer
Cancer Research


Examples of Reviews
Koivunena,J.,Aaltonena, V. and Peltonena,J.(2006). Protein kinase C (PKC) family in cancer progression. Cancer Letters, 235: 1-10.
Malumbres, M. and Barbacid, M. (2009). Cell cycle, CDKs and cancer: a changing paradigm. Nature Reviews Cancer. 9: 153-167.
Sierra,J. Cepero,V. and Giordano,S.(2011). Molecular mechanisms of acquired resistance to tyrosine kinase targeted therapy. Molecular Cancer, 9:75-87.
Stratton, M. et al. (2009). The cancer genome. Nature 458, 719-724