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Unit information: Molecular basis of disease in 2021/22

Unit name Molecular basis of disease
Unit code SOCS30003
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Welsh
Open unit status Not open




School/department Bristol Medical School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will address the biochemistry and molecular genetics of disease processes. Understanding the pathways that contribute to aberrant cellular and physiological processes will add to the body of knowledge of the underlying mechanisms of disease, thus enabling identification of drug targets for treating disease or identification of novel biomarkers of disease. The students will be introduced to concept of drug discovery and how basic scientific innovation can be translated to the improvements in clinical care. The topics that this unit will cover include the molecular basis of cancer, diseases of the renal system and cardiovascular medicine.

The unit aims to: (i) Introduce students to receptor signalling, intracellular pathways and gene expression; (ii) Provide students with fundamental knowledge on the molecular basis of cancer, with a focus on breast and prostate cancer; (iii) Introduce students to drug discovery and illustrate how basic laboratory research can be translated to the bedside; (iv) Provide students with knowledge on the current research in renal medicine, including tubular disease, glomerular disease, paediatric renal medicine and diabetic neuropathy; (v) Provide students with knowledge on clinical problems in cardiovascular medicine such as coronary heart disease, hypertension, vascular diseases and paediatric heart diseases.

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of this unit the student should be able to: (i) relate receptor signalling to intracellular signal transduction and its effects on cell function (ii) describe the molecular basis of specific types of cancer (iii) describe the molecular basis of key renal disorders and discuss the current research advances in this area (iv) describe the clinical problems in key cardiovascular diseases and to discuss current and emerging therapeutics for these conditions

Teaching Information

This unit is taught through lectures and tutorials (which may be online or face-to-face, where appropriate). Independent study: students are expected to study the recommended literature.

Assessment Information

The unit will be assessed by timed summative assessments in May/June. Students will be expected to answer 2 essay questions, which will assess their knowledge and critical understanding of the field, and their ability to gather information from the primary scientific literature.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. SOCS30003).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.