BMS109 - Pathobiology (10 credits)

Module Co-ordinator: Dr. Vincent Cunliffe

Available as an individual module to students outside the department of Biomedical Science  as BMS106


This module aims to introduce the key mechanisms at the molecular, cellular and tissue level that underlie the pathogenesis of disease. It demonstrates why treatment options require an understanding of both the extrinsic agents as well as the internal alterations that occur during disease. It provides context for other units in the department and gives important insights into the reason for studying Biomedical Science.


This unit aims to introduce students to the key mechanisms and their interplay that underlie the disease process. Students will learn about microbial pathogens that cause infection, the inflammatory response and the role of the immune system in fighting disease. Students will also gain insight into the genetic and environmental basis of disease with special reference being made to cancer. The module will also discuss how diseases such as AIDS can have a profound effect on society as well as on the individual. Teaching and learning will take place in a formal lecture environment and will be supported by web-based materials. Assessment will be by formal examination.


By the end of the unit, a candidate will be able to demonstrate a range of knowledge. They should be able to:

  • appreciate that the disease process results from abnormalities in homeostasis and be able to provide examples of this.
  • list the differences between apoptotic and necrotic cell death
  • note the different features of biological agents that are pathogenic
  • relate the changes in acute and chronic inflammation to cellular events
  • list the key components in the humoral and cell-mediated immune response
  • list the different forms of vaccination and appreciate why some work better than others
  • discuss how genetic and environmental risk factors associated with disease traits, susceptibility and resistance
  • outline how some diseases (eg AIDS) can have a profound effect on certain society
  • relate the differences in benign and malignant tumours and demonstrate a basic understanding of oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes
  • outline the cellular and genetic processes involved in tumour progression and provide an overview of therapeutic options available
  • discuss how disruption of a single system (e.g the cardiovascular system) can have pronounced effects on the whole body

Teaching Methods

The module will involve lecture-based sessions and a tutorial supported by web-material, including formative assessment exercises.

This didactic approach aims to deliver key knowledge and concepts to a large number of students in an effective manner.


Applies only to non-BMS students taking these sessions as the free-standing module BMS106.

Assessment will be by a 1.5 hour, formal, multiple-choice question paper that will be `guess corrected´.
MCQ examinations are well established as a reliable and discriminating method of assessing factual knowledge such as that to be imparted by this module.

Formative assessment quizzes will be made available via the web. These, combined with the module tutorial and class questions asked by lecturers will provide student feedback.