Molecular Basis of Cancer

The details
Life Sciences (School of)
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Monday 13 January 2025
Friday 21 March 2025
16 February 2024


Requisites for this module
BS225 or BS238



Key module for


Module description

This module will discuss general aspects of cancer biology (cancer statistics and risk factors, cancer classifications, origins and multistage nature of cancer).

The module will explore the hallmarks of cancer, which describe the biological capabilities acquired by cells during tumour development. They will include replicative immortality, genome instability, induction of angiogenesis and metastasis, immune response, inflammation and metabolic changes in cancer.

Module aims

The aim of this module is:

  • To provide students with current knowledge and understanding of cancer.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Describe the fundamental mechanisms that underlie eukaryotic cell multiplication, cell senescence and cell death, senescence, angiogenesis, including the alterations that are involved in the initiation of uncontrolled growth and tumourigenesis.

  2. Discuss the cellular mechanisms involved in the surveillance of genome integrity and tumour suppression and how this is integrated with the cell cycle.

  3. Discuss the transduction and integration of extracellular signals that regulate cell proliferation, angiogenesis and metastasis.

  4. Discuss therapeutic approaches to treat cancer.

  5. Demonstrate competence in (a) the analysis and interpretation of data and (b) the collation, synthesis and communication of material in the form of essays.

Skills for your Professional Life (Transferable Skills)

  1. Analysis and interpretation of survival, proliferation and flow cytometry data.

  2. Self-directed reading, and interpretation of, the scientific literature.

Module information

This module will discuss cell cycle and apoptosis and their role in the maintenance of normal cell populations and in the emergence of cancer. The identification and isolation of oncogenes and tumour suppressors and the mechanism of action of their products will be analysed. The principles of some of the current approaches in cancer therapy will be discussed. Introduction to modern technologies, on-line information retrieval services and specific web sites used in cancer research will be given. The module is continuously updated so that recent advances in the molecular analysis of tumourigenesis are reflected in the content.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • Eighteen 1-hour lectures.
  • One 2-hour class for data analysis and interpretation.
  • Student managed learning.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Exam  Main exam: In-Person, Closed Book, 180 minutes during Summer (Main Period) 
Exam  Reassessment Main exam: In-Person, Closed Book, 180 minutes during September (Reassessment Period) 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
0% 100%


Coursework Exam
0% 100%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Greg Brooke, email:
Dr Ralf Zwacka
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
Of 8 hours, 8 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.


Further information
Life Sciences (School of)

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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