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Biological Basis of Illness - HEA00104M

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  • Department: Health Sciences
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Sarah Ashelford
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2019-20

Module summary

This module is designed for students to expand their knowledge of anatomy, physiology and pathology, and to explore how pathology relates to signs and symptoms in the individual, and how pathological processes may be treated or altered through contemporary health care.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2019-20

Module aims

Students will study anatomy and physiology to expand their existing knowledge of normal biological function using a body systems approach. They will then explore common pathological processes related to each system.
They will examine how pathology relates to signs and symptoms in the individual , and explore how these pathological processes may be altered and or corrected through contemporary health care. Students will also examine the theories around the development of mental illnesses and how these may present in practice.


Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module students will be able to :

  1. Demonstrate a detailed understanding of normal anatomy and physiology.
  2. Understand major pathological processes and be able to explain why these processes occur in the human body, according to current knowledge.
  3. Apply their knowledge of pathophysiology to predict what signs and symptoms patients with different conditions may present with in practice.
  4. Evaluate pathophysiological processes to in order to discuss how contemporary health care and/or other interventions may be able to alter the disease trajectory and alleviate signs and symptoms of illness.
  5. Have an understanding of the genetic basis of illness and implications for the individual and their care.
  6. Appreciate the interaction between the psychological, social and environmental basis of mental illness.


Module content

The cell and molecular biology. Immune and lymphatic system. Haematology. The nervous system, endocrine system, cardiovascular system, respiratory system, musculoskeletal system, the special senses, skin, genetics, theories of mental health and illness.
Major pathological processes related to the above and how they present in an individual including: Immuno deficiency, infection, cancers, cognitive impairment, neurological disorders, epilepsy, diabetes, thyroid disorders, heart disease, heart failure, arrhythmias, asthma, COPD, bone and muscles injury, (inflammatory) arthritis, gout, loss of sight/vision/balance disorders. Eczema, psoriasis. Anxiety depression and psychoses.
Discussion around how the above conditions might be treated/palliated in broad terms.





Task Length % of module mark
24 hour open exam
Biological Basis of Illness: MCQ and short answers
3 hours 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

The summative assessment will be in 2 parts:

Part A. Multiple choice questions forming 20% of the final marks. This will test knowledge of essential material that students must know.

Part B. Short answer questions as case studies which require students to interpret pathological process, signs and symptoms taught in the module. This section will form 80% of the total marks.


Task Length % of module mark
24 hour open exam
Biological Basis of Illness: MCQ and short answers
3 hours 100

Module feedback

Formative assessments will be part of each session, with short 'spotter' quizzes on anatomy and physiology at the start of taught sessions.
Case studies of patients presenting with different signs and symptoms will be available to students. Students will answer short answer questions on the relevant normal and abnormal physiological processes and relevant intervention for discussion in the taught sessions.

Practice questions will be made available to students prior to the summative assessment, with opportunity to discuss answers.


Indicative reading

  • Totora, G.J., & Neilson, M.T. (2014) Principles of human anatomy (13th edition) New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Barett, K.E. & Ganong, W.F. (2010) Ganong's review of medical physiology (23rd edition). New York, London: McGraw- Hill. Electronic resource.
  • Marieb, E.N. Hoehn, K. (2016) Human Anatomy and Physiology (10th edition) London:Pearson/Benjamin Cummings.
  • McCance, K.L. & Huether, S.E. (2010) Pathophysiology; the biologic basis for disease in adults and children (6th ed.) St Louis: Mosby Elsevier
  • Kumar, P., & Clark, M. (Eds.) (2017) Clinical medicine (9th Ed.). London: Elsevier
  • Millar, E., & Walsh, M. (2000) Mental health matters in primary care. Cheltenham: Stanley Thornes,

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.

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