Skip to main content


BMS2015 : Health and disease at mucosal surfaces

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Robert Hirt
  • Lecturer: Professor Anthony De Soyza, Dr Elisabeth Lowe, Dr Iram Haq, Dr Chris Lamb, Dr Malcolm Brodlie, Dr David Bolam, Dr Peter Chater, Dr Anjam Khan
  • Other Staff: Professor Christopher Ward
  • Owning School: Biomedical, Nutritional and Sports Scien
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


Breathing, feeding and reproduction are all dependent on healthy mucosal surfaces that have evolved over millions of years to mediate simultaneously two fundamentally contradictory functions: facilitating exchanges between the inside and outside of the human body and protect us from infectious diseases. When the balances/homeostasis of these mucosal functions are disrupted important and a broad diversity of pathologies can develop.

The module aims to develop knowledge and understanding of the:

•key features of the human mucosal innate and adaptive immune systems and their dynamic interactions with the microbiota in the digestive, reproductive and respiratory tracts and their roles in health and disease
•molecular and genomic techniques used to investigate the human microbiota including its taxonomic diversity and metabolic capabilities
•complex interplay between the mucosal immune systems, the microbiota and pathogens – including selected viruses, bacteria and microbial eukaryotes (protozoa and fungi)
•clinical importance of selected diseases of the digestive and respiratory tracts
•physiology of the lung, and pathogenesis of a range of lung diseases
•molecular and pathological changes in lung disease and the diagnostic tools and treatments available for these.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module will be structured into 2 strands;

Strand A: Human-microbe interactions in health and disease at mucosal surfaces which will provide;

•introduction to mucosal surfaces including epithelial/immunocyte/microbiota interaction at the different mucosal surfaces in health and disease
•Bacteroidetes and glycan metabolism
•microbiota-bacterial/fungal/protozoa/viral pathogen interactions

Strand B: Respiratory disease which will provide;

•a review of the structure of the lungs, the mechanics of breathing and the techniques applied to the assessment of lung function
•drugs affecting the respiratory system
•obstructive and restrictive lung disease
•occupational and infectious lung disease
•pathophysiology of cystic fibrosis

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture281:0028:00In person
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials21:002:00Non-synch online lectures in strand B to accommodate the clinical workload of Prof De Soyza
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching22:004:00In person- Seminars 2&3 - review material/train in paper reading/Q&A session - material from strand A & B
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching11:001:00In person - S1 prep for extended essay & paper reading (S2&3) at beginning of module in 1st week of course
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1165:00165:00Writing up lecture notes, revision and general reading
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures and lecture materials will provide students with key information to achieve the learning outcomes of the module. The first seminar session will prepare students for the in course assessment consisting of an extended essay and provide papers and questions to be read in advance of seminars 2 and 3. Seminars 2 (end of strand A) and 3 (end of strand B) will familiarise the students with reading scientific papers and prepare them for the final MCQ style exam questions and increase their understanding of the taught materials through discussion and a Q&A session.

Private study and active learning on the part of the students is essential. These will allow students to extend their knowledge through reading of textbooks, journal articles and other recommended reading.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination602A42In person invigilated written timed essay exam (60 mins) (42%) 2 questions from a choice of 4 & Inspera invigilated MCQ (60 mins) (28%) max 60 questions. Part 1 Inspera, Part 2 Written, exams to be scheduled together. (Inspera to be open for the duration of the examination - 120 mins)
Digital Examination602A28In person Inspera invigilated MCQ exam (60 mins) (28%) max 60 questions & Written timed essay exam (60 mins) (42%) 2 questions from a choice of 4. Part 1 Inspera, Part 2 Written, exams to be scheduled together. (Inspera to be open for the duration of the examination - 120 mins)
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M30Extended Essay (2000 words)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The examination provides evidence of individual knowledge and understanding of the topics. The extended essay supports the students’ development in finding and critically analysing current literature and their written communication skills.

Reading Lists