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Molecular and Cellular Basis of Human Disease
School of Biosciences,
Faculty of Science
Whole genome sequencing has opened up a new era of studies into the molecular and cellular basis of human disease.
The new molecular genetic and cellular approaches to understand human disease and disease processes in model systems are well established in our department, with some of the world’s foremost research in these areas being conducted in Sheffield.
As the research base broadens and industry begins to adopt new technologies, the demand for this type of specialist training is strong across the healthcare industry and academia.
We accept medical students who wish to intercalate their studies. Find out more on the Medical School website.
- Ethics and Public Awareness of Science
Those working within public health need to be familiar with secondary data sources that support research, management and practice. This module will consider the main types of secondary data - relating to demography, epidemiology, clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness. Strengths, uses, interpretation and limitations of secondary data sources will be examined, assessing these with regard to completeness, accuracy, relevance and timeliness. Students will explore these issues in connection with a case study for a specific country. Scenario planning, confidentiality and the use of computers are other key topics that are illustrated and explored within the module.The module will begin with an introduction to the areas in which legislation impinges on biomedical research. We will then proceed to analyse the processes by which such legislation is made including, especially, the ethical bases for such legislation. To do this we will introduce the students to the philosophical bases of ethical thought and get them to analyse existing laws to discover the ethics that underlies these laws. The students will then be asked to discuss the ethics of specific topics in the form of a formal debate. In addition, we examine how society perceives science and how the process of science itself works and how this influences scientists' abilities to present their work to the wider community.15 credits
- Advanced Scientific Skills
This module builds on existing, and further develops, generic scientific skills to equip postgraduate taught students with strong competences in presenting and reporting their research work using written and oral formats, in analysing data and the scientific literature, and in acquiring and extending their critical analysis skills. Teaching will be delivered using a blended approach with a combination of lectures, workshops, tutorials and seminars together with independent study and on-line teaching.15 credits
Taught throughout the academic year, the module will be articulated around three units addressing:
Unit 1) Scientific presentation skills. In this unit, students will explore how to develop their academic (writing and oral) presentation skills. Some of the topics taught may include how to formulate a research question and hypothesis, how to find information, and how to structure a scientific essay or report. Students will learn how to communicate effectively their research to a scientific, as well as lay, audience. Emphasis will be placed on short oral communications and poster preparation and presentation. The learning objectives will be acquired through lectures, workshops, tutorials and independent study.
Unit 2) Critical analysis skills. This unit prepares students to develop their ability to analyse and appraise the scientific value of the published and unpublished literature. Workshops and lectures will introduce students to the process of critical appraisal of scientific work.
Unit 3) Statistics and data analysis skills. In this unit, students will learn methods to gather and analyse large datasets. In particular, workshops and lectures will teach students the basics of R coding and statistics for application in biosciences. The unit may also deliver other forms of data analysis relevant to the programme of study. Teaching within this unit will be delivered mainly through on-line material, lectures and workshops. Independent study will be essential to complete the acquisition of skills.
- Critical Analysis of Current Science
This module is designed to develop the student's ability to read and understand the scientific literature relating to their own research area and also enable them to integrate their own work into the wider scientific field. The module consists of the following components; a seminar and seminar analysis programme designed to develop student skills in listening, understanding and appraising scientific research presented by external invited speakers; contribution, preparation and presentation of journal clubs reporting on the literature published in the field of biomedical science. In the latter component, students will be expected to demonstrate critical analysis skills, which will be encouraged through questions and discussions in classes. Each component is assessed through formal examination and oral presentation.15 credits
- Modelling Human Disease and Dysfunction
The module will provide students with an understanding of how post-genomic biology impacts on our ability to understand, and treat, chronic diseases of the body. Students will be introduced to major experimental systems and approaches that are pertinent to disease modelling. These include genetically-tractable animal model and in vitro cellular systems (including stem cells). We will explore the principles involved in how these systems are exploited to develop new strategies for intervention, including new therapeutics. Critical evaluation of research papers will allow students to gain experience of analysing experimental work, data presentation and interpretation of results.15 credits
- Cancer Biology
The unit will provide a description of the nature of genomic complexity as revealed using next generation sequencing technology. It will explore cancer genotypes and phenotypes in the context of 8 essential characteristics that are common to all cancers, and which collectively dictate malignant growth. These characteristics are : self-sufficiency in growth signals, insensitivity to growth-inhibitory signals, evasion of programmed cell death, limitless replicative potential, sustained angiogenesis, tissue invasion/metastasis, avoidance of immune destruction, and de-regulated cellular energetics. It will discuss how genome instability arises, and together with tumour-promoting inflammation, how these enable the emergence of all other cancer characteristics. It will utilize this conceptual framework to discuss recent and future developments in cancer therapeutics. A brief review of fundamental principles in genetics and molecular cell biology will be given. Nevertheless, students should have a basic understanding of genetics, molecular biology and cell biology.15 credits
- Practical Cell Biology
The practical unit will provide students with experience of practical cell biology. Students will be given the opportunity to establish and optimise ELISA-based assays for fundamental cellular processes, specifically the endocytic pathway. Particular emphasis will be placed on the development, execution and interpretation of experimental protocols as is standard practice in a research laboratory.15 credits
- Practical Developmental Genetics
The practical unit aims to provide students with experience of research techniques in developmental biology. Students will perform experiments designed to reveal molecular and cellular principles underpinning developmental mechanisms. Emphasis will be placed on exploiting classical genetic and molecular resources available in model organisms such as zebrafish, Drosophila melanogaster, and chick for studying gene function in development. Students will gain experience of performing experimental work, data collection and interpretation of results.15 credits
- Literature Review and Research Proposal
This unit involves an in-depth survey of the current literature relevant to the student's research project. Students will carry out an exhaustive search of the literature relevant to their project using the resources of the University, including appropriate databases and specialist search engines, as well as paper-based resources in the University Library. Based on primary research articles, review articles and textbooks, students will work independently under the supervision of the project supervisor to produce a document reporting on the background literature underpinning their research project. The literature review should demonstrate an ability to comprehend and synthesise the experimental evidence presented in the literature, to critically appraise previous studies and identify gaps in the knowledge, and to describe the experimental design of the research project. To prepare their literature review, students will meet at regular intervals with their supervisors to discuss their progress.15 credits
- Research Project
The module aims to provide students with experience of conducting a research project, and develop analytical and organisational skills required for a career in science. Students undertake a research project which reflects the research activities in the Department/Faculty/University. Projects will be supervised by a member of the academic staff, although students may have additional contact with various staff contributing to their training. Students will gain experience of experimental design, and in execution, collation, interpretation and presentation of scientific data.60 credits
Assessment of the project will be based on a written dissertation, an evaluation of the research skills developed during the tenure of the project, including keeping a lab book, and delivery of an individual poster presentation.
The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption. We are no longer offering unrestricted module choice. If your course included unrestricted modules, your department will provide a list of modules from their own and other subject areas that you can choose from.
An open day gives you the best opportunity to hear first-hand from our current students and staff about our courses. You'll find out what makes us special.
1 year full-time
Throughout your degree, you’ll be taught through lectures, practical sessions, lab placements, tutorials and seminars. In small group teaching classes you’ll discuss, debate and present on scientific and ethical topics. The biggest part of the course will be your individual research project, working alongside professional scientists.
Our teaching covers ethics, practical scientific skills and an overview of the current literature. You’ll also develop useful career skills such as presentation, communication and time management.
I work on the disease cystic fibrosis (CF), which is one of the most common inherited diseases in caucasians, with an incidence of 1 in 2,500 live births. In CF a faulty gene means that the protein CFTR does not work properly. My research is looking at how CFTR is regulated normally, and what happens with faulty CFTR. In addition I am in the process of setting up a new diagnostic tool, with the aim of helping our CF clinic in the early diagnosis of children suffering from CF.
Dr Louise Robson
Assessment is by formal examinations, coursework assignments, debates, poster presentations and a dissertation.
A 2:1 honours degree in a biomedical-related subject.
We also accept medical students who wish to intercalate their studies.
Overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or equivalent.
If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.
Fees and funding
You can apply for postgraduate study using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.
+44 114 222 2341
Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.
Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.