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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Deanery of Biomedical Sciences : Biomedical Sciences

Postgraduate Course: Lifestyle, Genes and Cancer (BIME11189)

Course Outline
SchoolDeanery of Biomedical Sciences CollegeCollege of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryEnvironmental and inherited genetic factors impact on personal cancer risk. Understanding these factors, and how they interact, will shed new light on disease causation and allow disease reduction through preventative approaches and early detection. In this course, we will explore the mechanisms by which specific lifestyle factors increase cancer risk, what we have learnt from familial cancer syndromes and methodologies being used to identify new genetic variants that predispose to cancer. The emerging importance of gene-environment interactions and interventions that reduce cancer risk will also be covered.
Course description Academic description
It has been estimated that 4 in 10 cancer cases are linked to modifiable lifestyle factors and therefore, could be prevented. It is also estimated that inherited, genetic factors play a major role in 5-10% of all cancers. This course is designed to allow students to gain an understanding of the mechanisms by which lifestyle and inherited genetic factors contribute to cancer initiation and progression. Genome wide association studies (GWAS) studies have allowed scientists to identify rare genetic events that are linked to increased risk of developing specific cancer types. Students will learn about this methodology and GWAS data analysis, using local expertise in GWAS studies of colorectal cancer. Finally, the students will cover interventions that can reduce cancer risk such as exercise, vitamin D and use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Recorded lectures, written materials and interviews with trial nurses and specialist clinical scientists will be used to deliver the content outlined above. Problem solving exercises will also be used to develop skills in analysis of GWAS data.

Student experience
This course will cover mechanistic/molecular aspects of cancer, data analysis and clinical application. Contributions will come from scientists, clinicians and trial nurses. Therefore, the course will provide a rich, varied learning experience for the student that will leave them inspired about the topic and knowledgeable about how lifestyle factors promote cancer and the use of genetic data to determine cancer risk, an area that is gaining commercial traction.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2022/23, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Flexible
Course Start Date 08/08/2022
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Online Activities 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 58 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 100% Coursework

40% Online
60% Written

For example:
- A discussion forum (10%)
- Short answer questions (30%)
- A case report (60%)
Feedback Summative assessment consists of a written element, worth 60% of the total mark, and an online element worth 40%. In both cases, comprehensive written feedback is provided individually with 15 working days of the assessment deadline. Students are expected to reflect on their feedback, to seek additional clarification if appropriate, and to use this to improve on future assignments of a similar nature.

Formative assessment consists of discussion around what is expected of each piece of assessed work for the course. This is conducted in an open discussion forum for all students to contribute to and provides an opportunity to clearly understand the key requirements for each assignment before submission.

Any student can post questions about the assignment and a response will be posted on the discussion board by the course tutor within 3 working days.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Discuss and critically understand the concept of cancer risk and how the environment and genetic factors alter this risk
  2. Critically evaluate data from GWAS studies
  3. Communicate with peers on a wide range of cancer-related issues, becoming part of a global community of learners.
Reading List
Much of the focus of this course will be driven through student engagement. Resources will be provided as a starting point from which it is expected that students will begin to develop their own reading lists and share this information with others.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Online discussion with tutors and peers will develop confidence in communicating with others and the skills to engage in high level academic discourse.

The independent study aspect of the course will enhance the students abilities in time-management and self-motivation.

The written assessment provides the opportunity for creative problem solving, and the development of research and enquiry skill to identify and tackle problems relating to this subject area.
Course organiserDr Lesley Stark
Tel: (0131) 332 2471
Course secretaryMs Deborah Walker
Tel: (0131 6)51 1513
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