BMS2014 : The Biology of Ageing

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module is designed to offer students an overview of the key biological mechanisms that effect ageing. It draws on evidence from the latest developments in a rapidly changing research base. It will also make reference to wider aspects of ageing in relation to society and medicine. The specific aims of the module are:

1. To consider why ageing occurs in almost all organisms and why ageing is particularly slow in humans
2. To consider the essential mechanisms of ageing
3. To explain the role of intrinsic and extrinsic stress in ageing
4. To consider aspects of ageing in health and disease

Outline Of Syllabus

The module covers the following subjects:
Understanding ageing including:
1. Current theories of ageing
2. Evolution and ageing
3. Epidemiology of ageing
4. Healthy ageing
5. Future of ageing

Molecular biology of ageing including:

1. How to understand senescence
2. The genetics of ageing
3. Oxidative stress
4. DNA repair and damage
5. Epigenetics
6. Protein homeostasis
7. Age-related molecular diseases

Cellular biology of ageing including:

1. Cell biology of ageing: telomeres and telomerase and senescence and apoptosis
2. Mitochondria in health and disease
3. Cell signalling

Organs and organisms including:

1. Hormonal control and ageing
2. Nutrition and ageing
3. Reproductive ageing
4. Brian ageing
5. Biology of motor function and mobility
6. Biomarkers
7. Systems Biology

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion201:0020:00The poster preparation and presentation
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture261:0026:00Lectures will be used as the primary method for knowledge transfer.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching12:002:00Scientific paper interpretation workshop
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching21:002:00Seminars will consist of 1)PhD students presenting their research 2)Research seminar systems biology
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity1101:00110:00Reading on subject using references from lecturers and other sources.
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity401:0040:00Writing notes and reflecting on lectures based on text books and RECAP lectures.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will introduce the majority of the knowledge base. Students will have an opportunity to consider and discuss current research in the two seminars. The lectures should stimulate the students to reflect and do further reading and the seminar should stimulate the students to reflect and critically consider the subject and the societal challenges in the ageing population. The interpretation workshop will help prepare the students for the final examination. The poster will encourage the students to read and to apply their knowledge. The poster will also allow the students to work in groups and to develop their presentation skills.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1202A80Unseen – 50% EMI and 50% scientific paper interpretation exercise.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report2M10Guided interpretation of a primary research paper (500-1000 words)
Poster2M10Poster presentation in groups (10 minutes) summarising experimental data from a scientific paper
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The EMI section of the examination will asses the students breadth of knowledge and understanding; the scientific paper interpretation section of the examination will asses the students ability to use their knowledge and understanding of the topics to interpret data presented in a scientific research paper.

The poster enables the students to develop and demonstrate their presentation and writing skills and their ability to prepare and organise work independently and in groups. Presentations in particular help the students to develop their personal confidence. The report help the students develop their writing skills and encourage them to read. The feedback on the short report will help the students to further develop their writing skills and prepare for the scientific paper interpretation element of the examination.

Reading Lists