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

Postgraduate Course: Fundamentals of cancer with focus on infectious causes (BIME11161)

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 AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryInfection is a major cause of cancer worldwide. Indeed, viruses are associated with almost 20% of human cancers, which approximates to about 2 million new cases annually. Human papillomavirus (HPV), a focus of this course, is one of the primary causes of infection attributable cancer, with an estimated 8 cases per 100,000 person years.

All cancers arise when a regular cell becomes a rebel, hijacking the processes required for normal cell function and controlled cell growth, to eventually invade surrounding tissue and spread throughout the organism. This process is driven by a number of changes at the genetic, epigenetic and protein level. Understanding these changes, how they are induced by oncogenic viruses, and how they can be exploited to eliminate rebel cells, is essential for cancer treatment and prevention.

This integrated course will cover all aspects of cancer from initiation by viruses, oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes, tumour growth and metastasis, drug development, patient treatment, and prevention at a population level.
No matter what perspective the student brings, if they are a laboratory researcher, a clinician, a clinical trialist or a population based researcher, they will learn more about cancer biology.
Course description This SCQF Level 11 distance-learning course is designed to promote a deep understanding of all aspects of infection-driven cancer including detection and prevention, biomarkers and diagnosis, therapeutic targets, drug discovery and clinical trials.

There will be a strong emphasis on the use of cutting edge methodology and multi-disciplinary approaches to understand and combat this highly complex disease. The course will be delivered using the online Blackboard virtual learning environment with a combination of course materials, discussion boards and blogs.

Course materials will cover
1. Oncogenes, tumour suppressor genes and viral initiation of cancer,
2. The hallmarks of cancer,
3. Cancer at single cell resolution,
4. Drug development and precision oncology,
5. Cancer prevention - including socioeconomic influences.

The journey of a cervical cancer patient will be included within the course materials to bring together the various aspects of the course and provide students with an authentic learning experience. In this journey, students will be exposed to cancer prevention through vaccination, cancer screening, mechanisms of HPV-driven cancer, a patients perspective on cancer, treatment stratification and drug development.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Block 1 (Sem 1)
Course Start Date 16/09/2024
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 98 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) In-course assessment -100%

Written 60%
Online 40%

Specific assessment items will be developed each year to address the LOs from the course. This will allow flexibility in terms of the focus of assignments, to ensure the topics are current and of relevance/importance in this field of study.
For example:
1. Students discuss specific questions relevant to the weekly lectures posed and facilitated by the Course Team via an asynchronous discussion board. 20%
2. In order to stimulate engagement with the cervical patient journal a number of short answer questions will be posed at the end of this narrative. 20%
3. Students will choose from 4 given topics (recent seminal papers), research the topic and write a small grant proposal. 60%
Feedback Formative feedback will be available to students for both forms of assessment if required.

An open discussion forum (visible to all students on the course) will be available for each assignment where students can ask questions about what is required of them. They can check they have interpreted the assignment brief correctly and seek guidance on whether their general ideas are appropriate before they complete and submit their work.

Extensive summative feedback will be given for both assignments. The written assignment will be marked up directly in Grademark and additional summary feedback provided. Feedback for the online assignment will be in the form of general comments on the level of engagement, content and quality of postings.

In both cases, feedback will clearly identify both positives and areas for improvement.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the complexities of tumour initiation/growth and how viruses affect this process.
  2. Demonstrate a critical appreciation of the complexities of cancer epidemiology within the population and at an individual level.
  3. Synthesise and communicate the scientific challenge of cancer research, with identification of contemporary areas of advancement.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills The graduate will acquire skills in critical thinking, independent learning, communication, data analysis.
Keywordscancer biology,infectious diseases,oncology,population health,cervical cancer,HPV,papillomavirus
Course organiserDr Lesley Stark
Tel: (0131) 332 2471
Course secretaryMiss Debbie Grahames
Tel: (0131 6)50 3160
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