module specification

BM7048 - Cancer Immunotherapy (2020/21)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2020/21
Module title Cancer Immunotherapy
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Human Sciences
Total study hours 200
135 hours Guided independent study
65 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Report (2000 words)
Unseen Examination 50%   Unseen exam
Running in 2020/21
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Tuesday Afternoon

Module summary

This module explains the existing cancer therapies, including radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery and expands into growing fields in cancer biology and oncology of the role of the immune system in cancer development, especially the roles of inflammation and immunoevasion.  Cancer Immunotherapy will enable an understanding of the underlying mechanisms of cancer growth and enable these concepts to expand into an understanding of the concepts behind developing targeted cancer immunotherapies.

Module aims

This module will start with a brief historical perspective and origins of cancer immunotherapy. This module will provide an understanding of the immunology of the tumour microenvironment, specifically the roles of myeloid suppressor cells, macrophages, T cells and mechansims of tumour immunosuppression. This fundamental understanding will then lead into an in depth study, knowledge and practical application into practicses that can reverse the inflammatory tumour microenvironment to enhance traditional cancer therapies. This module will also reinforce analytical, evaluative and scientific communication skills. The module will also enable students to undertake a practical assessment investigating the effects of immunomodulation of cancer cells compare the outcomes with published research, present it at an appropriate level and the examination will reflect on the topics studied and their application in biomedical practice.


Review of the immune system and the tumour microenvironment
Cancer therapies: Where are we now? Where are we going?
Study the use of monoclonal antibodies in cancer therapy and prevention, the use of DNA and dendritic cell vaccines as well as adjuvant development, immuno-chemotherapy (Synergy: immunotherapy-containing combination therapy) and understand about the microbial causes of cancer.
Clinical immunotherapy across tumour types
Modulating the tumour-microenvironment-immune system interface
Adoptive T cell therapy and epigenetics and cancer (to improve immunotherapy)
State-of-the-art immunotherapy: basic science updates
Practical challenges in expanding and commercializing immunotherapy

Learning and teaching

Students will be guided in their learning using a combination of private study (135 hours), interactive lectures (20 hours), online quizzes to assess progress, investigative practicals (6 hours) and small group tutorials exploring realistic problems/case studies (14 hours). Preparation for assignments (25 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 information technology, organisational skills, team building, communication time management, and working under pressure.

Learning outcomes

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

  1. Understand the immunology of the tumour microenvironment in relation to tumour growth, angiogenesis, drug resistance and metastasis.
  2. Critically evaluate the differences between traditional cancer treatments and immunotherapy.
  3. Recognise all cancers’ abilities to suppress and evade immune effector mechanisms to be able to understand existing and prospective therapies that can inhibit tumour-derived immuno-tolerance and immuno-suppression.
  4. Apply critical thinking to analyse and solve immunological problems in cancer development and spread with a view to developing therapeutic solutions.

Assessment strategy

The module will be summatively assessed by the completion of a 2,000 word practical report from a lab session (50%, covering learning outcomes 1, 2,4) and by an end of module test (50%, covering learning outcomes  1, 2, 3, 4) comprising essay style questions. Complete weekly quizzes

To pass the module students must achieve a minimum aggregate mark of 50%


Abbas, A.K., Lichtman, A.H. and Pilal, S. (2015) Basic Immunology Functions and Disorders of the Immune System E-Book, 5th Ed. Elsevier
Alberts B, Johnson A, Lewis J, Morgan D, Raff M, Roberts K, Walter P. (2014)  Molecular Biology of the Cell 6th Ed. Garland Science. London.
Curiel, T.J. (2014) Cancer Immunotherapy, Paradigms, Practise and Promise, Springer.
Dranoff, G. Ed. (2011) Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy, Springer.
Hall, A., and Yates, C. (2010) Immunology (Fundamentals of Biomedical Science), Oxford University Press.
Hay, F.C. and Westwood, O.M.R (2009) Practical Immunology, 4th Ed. Blackwell Publishing
King, R.J.B. and Robbins, M.W. (2006) Cancer Biology, 3rd Ed. Pearson Prentice Hall.
Owen, J.A., Punt, J. and Stranford, S. (2013) Kuby Immunology 7th Ed. Macmillan Higher Education.
Pecorino, L. (2016) Molecular Biology of Cancer: Mechanisms, Targets, and Therapeutics. 4th Ed. Oxford University Press
Prendergast, G.C. and Jaffee, E.M. (2013) Cancer Immunotherapy: Immune Suppression and Tumor Growth., 2nd E. Academic Press.

Journals and online resources – will be kept up-to-date on WebLearn but include materials such as:
Tumour immunology & immunotherapy from Nature Reviews Cancer and Nature Reviews Immunology
Harnessing Immunotherapy against Cancer
Cancer Immunotherapy, The journal of clinical investigation