Module Overview

Biological Basis of Disease

In this module learners will be introduced to the biological basis of disease. The learner will be able to describe the pathogenesis of human diseases and relate to the patient and the diagnostics used.

Module Code

BIOL 2011

ECTS Credits


*Curricular information is subject to change


The module will begin with an introduction to the epidemiology and aetiology of disease, genetic, congenital and acquired. Inheritance patterns and influence of patient factors such as age, gender, immune function will also be outlined. The molecular and cellular pathogenesis of major disease categories will be explored, including genetic, immune, infectious, metabolic and neoplastic disorders.

These topics will include:

Genetic Mechanisms of Disease

  • The Inheritance patterns of monogenic disease (Mendelian and non-mendelian (mitochondrial)
  • Non-Mendelian Polygenic and multifactorial disease with examples


  • Acute inflammation including vascular changes, exudate, soluble mediators and effector cells. Resolution and other outcomes. Chronic inflammation: Organisation and repair mechanism, granulomatous inflammation with disease examples.

Immune disorders: The hypersensitivity reactions and their roles in human disease.

Innate lymphocytes in disease: The role of natural killer cells in viral infection, cancer, immunodeficiency and pregnancy-related disorders.

Infections and Disease – the role of the microbiome in disease.

Metabolic Disorders

  • Chronic cardiovascular adaptations in disease. Pathophysiology of atherosclerosis, arteriosclerosis, hypertension, coronary heart disease. Relationship between metabolic dysfunction and cardiovascular disease.
  • Cardiovascular diagnostic tools and risk factor stratification.
  • Inherited errors of metabolism.


  • Pathogenesis and molecular pathways in neoplasia. Classification of neoplasms by morphology, immunophenotype and genotype. Key categories of neoplasia - Leukaemias, Lymphomas, Carcinomas, Soft tissue and Neural tumours.

Workshop Sessions will cover the following aspects of Disease Pathogenesis and Molecular Pathways

  • Cellular response to stress, trauma, injury, adaptations, proliferation, apoptosis, necrosis (Ischemia, hypoxia, metaplasia, hyperplasia).
  • Cell membrane, organelle and cytoskeletal disorders with disease examples (atrophy, hypertrophy, anaemias),
  • Disorders of metabolism, cellular accumulations, tissue alterations (cirrhosis, fibrosis, amyloidosis).
  • Infections and inflammatory responses (acute and chronic inflammation).
  • Neoplasia – benign and malignant cells and tumours, leukaemia, lymphoma, carcinoma and sarcoma classification, cellular and molecular features.
  • Models of disease – interactive student sessions investigating epidemiology, aetiology and diagnosis of selected disease models related to the major categories of disease.

This module will be delivered over both semesters with a total of 44 contact hours. The module will use a mixture of lecture (20h), laboratory/workshops (15h), and tutorials (9h). A mix of case study workshops, student-directed research projects and presentations will be used. Attendance at laboratory sessions is mandatory.

Module Content & Assessment
Assessment Breakdown %
Other Assessment(s)100