Molecular and Developmental Immunology

The details
Life Sciences (School of)
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Sunday 17 January 2021
Friday 26 March 2021
04 October 2018


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

Immunology touches almost all areas of biomedicine, including cancer and metastasis, nutrition, autoimmunity, senescence, reproduction and fertility etc. The application of molecular techniques in cell biology has given way to the new science of immunology based on genomics, proteomics bioinformatics and structural biology. There is still much knowledge to be gained; many areas of immunology are poorly understood. Immunology has not cured cancer with a single 'antibody bullet' as it was originally thought; AIDS remains, in a large part an intractable condition, except by taking anti-retroviral drugs; immunotolerance and feto-maternal tolerance are still not understood at molecular level. The majority of the concepts in immunology have been derived from in vitro assays, in most cases using non-primate animal models. There is therefore a need for understanding in vivo immune responses in primates and in particular in humans.

The BS326 module will concentrate on Recognition, what immunologists call Immunorecognition. This is a question that has puzzled immunologists for decades. How does the immune system 'know' when to initiate a response and how are these responses regulated. Cell surface receptors such as the MHC and T-cell receptors will be discussed in detail. Ligand-receptor interactions and cytokines (the hormones of the immune system) will also be studied. Most specific immune responses involve lymphocyte proliferation through signal transduction, via Ca+2 release, PKC, IP3 and cell adhesion receptors that work as co-stimulatory molecules. Cell mediated immunity, via macrophage activation, T-helper and T-cytotoxic cells will also be studied. HLA genes and products will be discussed in relation to antigen presentation, organ transplantation (e.g., kidney) and associations to disease (e.g., diabetes). The fetomaternal paradox will be discussed from the point of view of the fetus as a hemi-allograft in the mother carrying 50% of non-self genes from the father. In addition, the module will touch on aspects of developmental immunology including immunosenescence, and how the immune response has evolved in the Animal Kingdom.

Module aims

No information available.

Module learning outcomes

To pass this module, students will need to be able to:

1. describe the way cellular and molecular components of the immune system are integrated to provide immunorecognition in health and disease;
2. demonstrate how current landmark concepts in immunology evolved from hypothesis to experimental discovery;
3. to show an understanding on current developments in immunology and highlight controversial areas of knowledge;
4. to explain developmental aspects of immunity, both in the individual organism from conception to old age, and in evolution;
5. escribe and discuss the way clinical intervention or immunotherapy can enable scientists to manipulate the immune system;
6. demonstrate competence in information retrieval and data analysis and interpretation.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

Lectures: 18 x 1h including 2hr data analysis and interpretation. Classes 2 x 1h Student managed learning: 130 hrs per module Total: 150 hours


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
0% 100%


Coursework Exam
0% 100%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Nelson Fernandez, email:
Prof Nelson Fernandez
School Undergraduate Office, email: bsugoffice (Non essex users should add to create the full email address)



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information
Life Sciences (School of)

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