Skip to main content

Unit information: Health Sciences: Pathology and Microbiology in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Health Sciences: Pathology and Microbiology
Unit code ORDS20011
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Sohail
Open unit status Not open




School/department Bristol Dental School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

The course consists of a series of 50 lectures interspersed with a series of 6 practicals and 5 tutorials. It has been put together to follow a natural progression through distinct although clearly interlocking subject areas.

These are:

A. Inflammation and repair

B. Immunology (basic and applied)

C. Principles in Microbiology

D. Control of infectious disease & Infectious diseases of the body systems

E. The molecular and cellular basis of cancer


The aim of this course is to introduce the student to the concepts that underlie cellular pathology and the scope of human infectious disease and cancer. To introduce terminology which will form the backbone to the rest of their studies.

In order to achieve this, the course will provide basic information concerning:

  • the non-specific events surrounding the inflammatory response, linked to a study of the organisation and function of the immune system;
  • cellular responses to injury and in healing;
  • how man adapts to prevent infection following damage;
  • the way in which the immune system is involved in clearing infectious material, coupled with information concerning how the immune response may actually be damaging to the host (hypersensitivity and autoimmunity);
  • the biology of the groups of organisms that are capable of causing disease in man (bacteria, viruses, and fungi) and how they have evolved to use the human body as a site for growth;
  • how perceived normal flora can become harmful in other sites of the human body and cause disease;
  • how infectious diseases are spread and may be controlled within the community through preventing spread, preventing infection and eliminating disease;
  • how antibiotics interfere with bacterial cell growth and how bacteria evolve to become antibiotic resistant;
  • the normal and abnormal proliferation and differentiation of cells together with the alterations which can lead to the development of cancers;
  • environmental factors associated with cancer and principles of prevention and treatment.

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of the course students should be able to:

  • Understand the pathological processes of inflammation, cell and tissue damage, and repair at the tissue, cellular and molecular level;
  • Understand the role of inflammation in bringing in and activating components of the immune system;
  • Discuss the distinct components of the humoral and cell mediated immune response and the importance of the interactions between them;
  • Understand how the immune response may be involved in causing pathology as a result of its inappropriate activation to foreign components (allergy) and self proteins (autoimmunity);
  • Describe the structure and physiology of micro-organisms, comparing them with each other and with human cells;
  • State the organisms involved in common infective processes;
  • Discuss the concepts of commensalism and pathogenicity, the microbial properties relating to pathogenesis and the links between commensalism and opportunist infections;
  • Describe the transmission of micro-organisms and the epidemiology of common infections in the hospital and community;
  • Understand the principles underlying methods of sterilisation and disinfection and aseptic procedures;
  • Describe the mechanisms of action of the major antimicrobial agents used in dentistry and their spectra of activity;
  • Discuss the acquisition of resistance to antimicrobial agents and the major mechanisms involved;
  • Understand the principles controlling the proliferation and differentiation of cells and how these processes can fail;
  • Explain how tissues are maintained through stem cells, cell proliferation and cellular differentiation using the oral epithelium as an example;
  • Explain how the cell cycle is regulated in normal cells;
  • Understand how cell proliferation and differentiation is controlled and how these control mechanisms can fail;
  • Understand that neoplasia is a multi-step process characterised by sequential alterations in a number of oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes;
  • Discuss the reasons why different groups of people are more susceptible to particular cancers, particularly oral cancers;
  • Define the role of environmental factors, including viruses, in carcinogenesis;
  • Describe the nomenclature and broad classification of tumours, and the general characteristics of tumours in terms of clinical behaviour, morphological changes, molecular biological and cytogenetic features;
  • Describe the routes and mechanisms by which cancers spread;
  • Describe the relationship between many tumours and certain hormones;
  • Understand the principles of prevention and treatment of cancer.

Teaching Information

Lectures, practical classes, tutorials

Assessment Information

Summative assessments:

Students are required to achieve an overall of 50% and to achieve a minimum of 40% in the final MCQ and written exam in January to pass.

  • If students obtain less than 50%, they will, under normal circumstances, be required to take a resit of the final examination.
  • 2 MCQ examinations, both 40 minutes in length.

The mid-sessional MCQ in November will cover sections A and B of the Unit (2 x 10% contribution to end of year score)

  • Prepared essay.

Students are given 30 minutes to write this essay (without notes) following the MCQ examination. This will provide practice for the written examination at the end of the course. The essay will be marked out of 10 and the mark will count towards the end of year total. (marked out of 10, 10% contribution to end of year score)

  • Microbiology practical eBiolab.

The marks for the pre and post lab quizzes in eBiolabs together contribute 10% of the marks for the unit. The mid-unit assessment and summer exams may ask questions relating to the practical classes. Therefore, the online eBiolabs resources and the notes made during practical classes in the lab book will be valuable for exam revision purposes.

  • Oral presentations.

Each student will give an oral presentation in examination conditions and the marks will be counted towards a maximum of 10% of the total final marks.

  • Final examination paper and final MCQ.

This is, in total, a 3hr. 20min examination that is split into two parts to be sat in January. Part 1 (worth 10%) is a final MCQ covering all the material taught throughout the unit which will last for 40 minutes. And part 2 (worth 50%) is a written examination where students will be required to answer a total of 4 short answers and 4 essay questions which will last for 2 hrs. and 40 minutes. The marks will be distributed in a ratio of 1:4 between short notes and essays.

Reading and References

  • Goering R, Dockrell H, Zuckerman M, Roitt I, Chiodini PL. 5th ed. Mim’s Medical Microbiology. Elsevier Saunders; 2012. ISBN 9780723436010.
  • Murray P, Rosenthal K, Pfaller M. 7th ed. Medical Microbiology. Elsevier Saunders: 2012. ISBN 9780323086929.
  • Janeway CA, Travers P, Walport M, Schlomchik MJ. 6th rev ed. Immunobiology: The immune system in health and disease. Churchill Livingstone; 2004. ISBN 9780443073106.
  • Sheffield EA. Pathology in dentistry. Oxford University Press; 1996. ISBN 0192624210.
  • Underwood JCE, Cross SS. 5th ed. General & Systemic Pathology. Churchill Livingstone; 2009. ISBN 9780443068881
  • Kumar V, Abbas A, Fausto N, Aster J. 8th ed. Robbins and Cotran’s Pathologic Basis of Disease. Elsevier Saunders; 2009. ISBN 9781416031215.
  • Kumar V, Abbas A, Aster J. 9th ed. Robbins basic pathology. Elsevier Saunders; 2012. ISBN 9781437717815.