Molecular Pathology and Cell Biology of Cancer

Module code: MB7401

Module Outline

Lectures and tutorials in this module introduce students to the basics of cancer cell biology and the principles of molecular pathology as applied to cancer. We will cover:

  • the key molecular changes happening during the transformation of normal cells to malignant cells
  • the process of tumour initiation and progression
  • de-regulation of signalling in malignancy
  • the ways in which apoptosis, angiogenesis and metastasis, genotoxicity and oxidative stress contribute to tumour development

These concepts are supported by four week-long laboratory sessions covering:

  • DNA damage
  • gene expression analysis of tumour samples
  • metastatic mechanisms
  • mechanisms of tumour cell sensitivity to chemotherapeutic agents

These practical sessions provide hands-on experience in gel electrophoresis, western blotting and the principles of human cell culture, confocal microscopy, fluorescence microscopy/image analysis and techniques of immunocytochemistry and immunofluorescence.

Lectures and tutorials embedded within the practical sessions provide background context to the laboratory work as well as guidance in data interpretation and scientific report writing.


  • 29 hours of lectures
  • 20 hours of seminars
  • 8 hours of tutorials
  • 120 hours of practical classes and workshops
  • 123 hours of guided independent study


  • Data interpretation exam, two and a half hours (60%)
  • Data analysis and critical interpretation 1, 1,500 words (15%)
  • Data analysis and critical interpretation 2, 2,500 words (25%)