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MMB8007 : Cancer Studies

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Felicity May
  • Lecturer: Dr Nicola Cresti, Professor Gareth Veal, Dr Yvette Drew, Dr Tobias Menne
  • Owning School: FMS Graduate School
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The module aims are:

•       to develop a thorough awareness of clinical and scientific aspects of cancer as a disease
•       to introduce clinico-pathological concepts of disease onset and progression with focus on major types of human cancer
•       to increase understanding of current therapeutic options and how their benefit is evaluated
•       to ensure knowledge of the molecular mechanisms that underlie specific aspects of tumour progression such as angiogenesis and metastasis
•       to explore key signalling pathways active in major human cancers that have been targeted therapeutically
•       to explain how agents that damage DNA have been targeted therapeutically
•       to consider strategies for the development of novel biotherapies and report on how these are being introduced into clinical practice.


The Cancer Studies Module is designed to develop the understanding and knowledge acquired by students during their undergraduate studies. The module is suitable for students with a background in biological or medical sciences, medicine or dentistry. This systematic and integrated course is delivered by clinicians and scientists with appropriate expertise.

The Cancer Studies Module encompasses clinical and pathological aspects of cancer, underlying molecular mechanisms that can establish and promote cancer, current treatment options and how research is translated into novel treatment of patients. This module covers an area of major clinical import and aims to give students a broad systematic understanding of clinical and pathological aspects of the disease, its underlying molecular causes and its clinical management. Teaching will be themed around three major human cancers: breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and to a lesser extent leukaemia. The module aims to equip M level students with an insight into current research in cancer biology and how this is translated into the development of novel clinical therapies.

Outline Of Syllabus

The cancer studies module will cover:

      •       general terminology of cancer classification
      •       screening programmes and clinical diagnosis
      •       genetic and sporadic incidence
      •       clinical management: a surgeons perspective
      •       the underlying pathology of cancer
      •       molecular aspects of angiogenesis and metastasis
      •       hormone-dependency of human cancer
      •       signalling pathways operative in driving tumour progression
      •       current chemotherapeutic options
      •       pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic monitoring of chemotherapy
      •       identification of novel therapeutic targets
      •       development of novel drugs
      •       clinical management: an oncologists perspective
      •       introduction of novel drugs into the clinic.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture201:0020:00Lectures
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion132:0032:00Critical Appraisal
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion140:0040:00Development Proposal
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion150:0050:00Revision for Examination
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical12:002:00Practical
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching21:002:00Tutorials
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching41:004:00Seminars
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study150:0050:00Preparing Notes from lectures and Reading
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Interactive lectures will provide the students with specific knowledge from which to develop their private study. Together with the assignments these lectures will encourage the students to reflect both individually and in small groups on current research and clinical management of cancer. Students will practice critical appraisal, data interpretation, innovative thinking and presentation skills (all key skills outcomes). All of these activities relate directly to the learning outcomes above.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination601A60N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M20Critcial appraisal of research paper
Report1M20Proposal for drug development
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The unseen written paper tests the student’s knowledge base, comprehension and ability to discuss the subject knowledge critically. The appraisal of scientific literature tests application of knowledge, understanding and ability to critically evaluate and interpret a given set of research data. The written presentation tests the student’s ability to assess a clinical need, research and appraise the current literature, identify a potential therapeutic target and make a financial justification for their proposal (interrogative and communication skills) and the level of their understanding of a particular example in the context of the subject.

Reading Lists