Understanding Health & Disease - BIO00055I

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  • Department: Biology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Katie Smith
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21

Module summary

This module will use exemplar models of human diseases to provide an in-depth and integrated understanding of pathogenic mechanisms, and of the methodologies used in biomedical research.

Related modules

Co-requisite modules

  • None

Prohibited combinations

  • None

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2020-21 to Summer Term 2020-21

Module aims

The module aims to provide an in-depth and integrated understanding of factors contributing to disease; knowledge of methodologies used in Biomedical Science research, insight into specific intervention strategies, and an awareness of ethical considerations related to this research.

A limited number of diseases will be studied using an integrated approach with the aim to integrate a broad range of knowledge and scientific principles as they apply to understanding the cause of diseases. Insight into the contribution of traits of genetic background of the host, specific cell and organ properties, and systems biology for example will be drawn upon to understand the effects of disease on the human body. The diseases will be chosen to provide broad knowledge and understanding of health and disease, drawing on areas of research expertise in the contributing Departments: e.g. cancer, neuroscience. Disease specific epidemiological principles will be identified, and approaches and principles for prevention and intervention discussed. An understanding of the relationship between brain and behaviour in health and disease will be gained by the integration of basic neuroscience. Key scientific approaches and techniques employed in modern research in these areas will be discussed, and the use of model systems will be addressed. Throughout the module, ethical considerations that are of particular importance to research in Biomedical Sciences will be identified and discussed. The content of this module will complement and integrate the understanding of specific areas gained from parallel modules e.g. Immunology and cell biology.

Module learning outcomes

At the end of the module the student will be able to:

  • Describe the molecular, physiological and clinical basis of exemplar human diseases.
  • Discuss the relationship between brain and behaviour in health and disease.
  • Identify areas and strategies for intervention and prevention of disease and give examples.
  • Give evidence of understanding approaches and techniques that are used in different disciplines to understand health and disease.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of epidemiological study design and methodologies and their importance in understanding disease pathogenesis.
  • Describe advantages and disadvantages of using model systems to gain insight into human health and disease.
  • Provide examples of ethical issues of basic, translational and clinical research in Biomedical sciences.

Module content

This module builds on the physiological concepts that were covered in the module ‘Introduction to Biomedical Sciences’. In stage 1, students were taught the fundamentals of anatomy and physiology, in addition to introductory epidemiology. This stage 2 module will build on these core concepts by advancing the understanding of pathophysiology using exemplar diseases to provide an in-depth account of each condition. The practical, analytical, and team skills that students developed in stage 1 will also be built upon in practical and workshop activities.

This module will prepare students for a range of stage 3 modules, in particular ‘Mechanisms to Therapies’. Students will develop skills in written and oral communication, and in the critical analysis of scientific literature. In addition, the grant proposal open assessment will encourage students to consider appropriate experimental techniques as well as planning and design. These skills will prepare students for a range of stage 3 modules, including the research project.



Task Length % of module mark
Grant application
N/A 40
University - closed examination
Understanding Health & Disease
1.5 hours 60

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Workshops will take place in each teaching block and will include formative activities to support the lecture content. There will also be a workshop at the end of block 2 to prepare students for the grant proposal assessment. The lectures in blocks 1-4 will be supported by formative VLE based MCQs where appropriate.


Task Length % of module mark
Grant application
N/A 40
University - closed examination
Understanding Health & Disease
1.5 hours 60

Module feedback

Cohort-level feedback will be provided on performance in closed exams and made available via the VLE. Marks for open assessments will be made available to you and your supervisor via e:vision. Individual comments will be added to your script and/or on separate summary feedback document.  Histograms of module marks will be posted on the notice boards outside the Biology Student Services office. Individual marks will be made available to you and your supervisor via e:vision. Exam scripts will be made available at the end of either the Spring or Summer terms. You should take the opportunity to discuss your marks and feedback with your supervisor.

During the teaching of the module you will receive feedback that may be at a whole class or individual level. Forms of feedback may include: model answers and discussion of workshop questions, summaries of performance in practicals, VLE-based quizzes, individual spoken comments during workshops, individual written comments on formative work.   

Indicative reading

These are accessible through the VLE module site.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.