The search for new ways to diagnose and treat diseases is one of the most challenging and exciting areas of science. On our Medical Biology BSc(Hons) degree course, you’ll have the chance to explore cellular biology and molecular genetics and lay down the foundations for a fulfilling career in medical research, the pharmaceutical industry or other healthcare specialism.
If you want to make your mark on medical research and set yourself up to be part of the teams that could be making dramatic breakthroughs in the coming decades, studying with us could give you just the edge you need to succeed.
In the early stages of the degree, you’ll study alongside our other biological sciences students on certain modules, building up your knowledge to enable you to investigate advanced topics further down the line – topics such as molecular genetics, immunology and cancer.
Through lectures, seminars and specialised lab sessions, you’ll have the opportunity to learn from our expert staff with doctoral-level expertise in their subjects and experience across the biological sciences. In your third year, you’ll get the chance to step out of the classroom and into the real world on an optional placement year working for an organisation related to your areas of interest. This is when you’ll really be able to see your knowledge in action, pick up invaluable skills for your future career and boost your employability to help you hit the ground running after graduation. And as an extra bonus to add to your CV, if you choose to study on this course you'll be able to sign up for student undergraduate Associate Membership of the Biochemical Society and the Physiological Society (UK).
The tutors are really supportive in various aspects of university life, from help with my studies in the first year, to placement and personal support in my third and subsequent years.
Covadonga Fernandez-Valdes, Medical Genetics BSc(Hons)
The module is designed to give a basic introduction to cellular biology and genetics. You’ll have the opportunity to study the cellular basis of life, comparing the simple prokaryotes with much more complex eukaryotic cells - looking at the structure and function of many of the sub-cellular organelles. You’ll also be introduced to simple Mendelian genetics, together with more complex linkage analysis and its use in identifying genes. You will be assessed by coursework and exam.
This is a fundamental module for all biological sciences courses. Lectures and seminars provide insight into (i) the structure and function of biological macromolecules, including proteins and DNA; (ii) the processes by which the central biochemical pathways make energy, and build new cells from raw materials. Basic concepts in metabolism and metabolic regulation are introduced to show how biochemistry underpins a multitude of processes from athletic performance to human disease. Assessment is by coursework and exam.
This module covers the basic principles of chemistry that are encountered in our biological sciences degrees and food and nutrition degrees. The module starts with material covered at GSCE and progresses to AS-Level standard. The material covered includes units of measurement, atoms, moles, bonding, pH values, pKa values, organic molecules and spectroscopy. The module aims to help you to develop the necessary skills to be effective biologists and nutritionists. Assessment is by coursework and exam.
The aim of this module is to provide an introduction to normal and abnormal human bodily functions. The module introduces basic physiological concepts and the clinical relevance of these will be highlighted using clinical examples. This insight into human physiology is designed to enhance your understanding of related subject areas such as pharmacology . A variety of teaching activities will be used on this module including lectures, tutorials and laboratory classes. The laboratory sessions help you to gain basic laboratory skills in physiological measurement through assessed written practical reports. You’ll also be assessed by a final examination.
This module aims to introduce you to the full range of microbial life and the techniques used to study microorganisms. The course begins by introducing the diversity and countless activities of microbes. Subsequently, the structural and functional components of the cell and the similarities and differences of prokaryotes and eukaryotes are highlighted. Control of microbial growth, nutritional categories of microbes and environmental factors influencing the growth and viability of microbes are also investigated. The module then examines the biology of eukaryotes (fungi, algae and protozoa) by exploring classification, growth, asexual and sexual reproduction and nutritional adaptations. Finally, the classification of microorganisms is reviewed along with the criteria for the identification of microbes. The associated practical classes are designed to develop your laboratory skills and familiarity with the basic microbiological methods. Assessment is by coursework and exam.
This module enables you to develop the requisite background skills for successful completion of an Honours degree in which understanding of scientific research methods plays an important part. The type of skills that you’ll be encouraged to develop during the year can be divided into two areas, numerical skills and information and communication skills. The numerical skills component begins with some basic mathematical skills such as rearranging equations and working with logarithms and exponential data. You’ll then be introduced to a variety of statistical methods during lectures and tutorials. Assessment is by a series of coursework.
This module gives you an understanding of the fundamental processes involved in replicating and expressing genes in all living organisms and how this expression is controlled. You’ll have the chance to learn about the techniques used in biology to isolate and analyse genes for genetic manipulation. You’ll also have opportunities to learn this from a practical point of view, through tutorials based on experiments and by taking part in several practical sessions, involving actual genetic manipulation and analysis techniques. Assessment will be by coursework and exam.
Physiology is the study of how the body works. It uses information from disciplines ranging from biochemistry to anatomy to explain how cells work and form organ systems, which are integrated to enable the body to function. In your first year you’ll have had the opportunity to learn about basic physiological concepts. This second year module covers the control and integration of physiological functions by the nervous and endocrine systems. Practical laboratory classes complement the lectures and tutorials. The module is assessed by reports and an exam.
The module will start with an overview of fundamental concepts in pharmacology including the absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination of drugs (ADME). The module will then explore the molecular aspects of drug action, with detailed examples of various targets (including receptors, ion channels, enzymes and transporters). You'll then have the opportunity to investigate the theoretical relationship between ligand concentration and binding-site occupancy (Hill-Langmuir equation). This will be combined with discussion in lectures of protein-ligand interactions and what factors may influence binding affinity. You'll also have the chance to learn about biopharmaceuticals and gene therapy. The module will conclude with a brief overview of the drug discovery industry and technologies involved (chemical screen libraries, assay development), including high throughput screening. The stages of development of a new drug with details of initial lead-finding, optimization, pre-clinical development, phase I, II, III trials and regulatory approval will be discussed.
Understanding and interpreting modern scientific data and literature is an important skill needed for modern careers in biological sciences. This module is designed to help you to develop key research and presentation skills that help prepare you for your final year research project, and also for interviews and careers in science. Topics are individually selected with guidance from the module leader. The main objective is to develop the core scientific skills of researching appropriate peer-reviewed literature, interrogating the primary research, meta-analysis and then building a detailed and focused report and scientific presentation.
This module aims to provide an understanding of how the eukaryote genome is organized and how the information contained within it has changed and evolved over time. It describes the arrangement of genetic information in the major groups of living organisms, and recent fundamental changes in our understanding of them. The module introduces the concepts of sequence assembly and phylogenetic reconstruction, applying this to problems in molecular evolution, focusing ultimately on human origins. Theoretical aspects include Neutral Theory and some of the difficulties experienced when applying the ‘molecular clock’. Assessment is by coursework and exam.
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This module is an extension of the Molecular & Cellular Biology) module. You’ll be encouraged to study both cells and tissues in some depth, paying particular attention to the complex ways in which cells have evolved to communicate with each other at both intercellular and intracellular levels. You’ll also compare connective tissues and epithelial tissues, paying particular attention to the extracellular matrix proteins, which give each type of tissue is own unique properties. The module is assessed by an extended practical report and an examination.
This module expands on your previous knowledge of protein structure and function. This is followed by an account of protein folding and how mis-folded proteins can cause disease. You’ll be introduced to more advanced techniques for studying protein structure such as X-ray crystallography, NMR and circular dichroism. The advantages and limitations of each technique are discussed. The structure and functions of mitochondria and chloroplasts are covered, including respiration and photosynthetic pathways, focusing on electron transport chains. The design of enzyme assays and kinetics of enzyme catalysis are described in lectures and problem based tutorials. You will be assessed by exam and practical laboratory exercises.
Epidemiology is the study of epidemics in the population. In this module you’ll investigate the extent and distribution of diseases and the factors that influence these distributions. By conducting epidemiological studies we can assess factors that may be causative of diseases in the population and therefore reduce the risk. You’ll look at the different kinds of studies used to obtain such information. Assessment is by coursework and exam.
This placement year allows you to experience employment within an organisation related to your chosen course. The placement is usually 48 weeks in duration.
This module provides you with the experience of working independently on an open-ended research project depending on your career aspirations or interests. There is a choice available from a wide range of cellular, genetic, physiological and biochemical topics. You’ll be assigned to a supervisor who will give advice on both the day to day running of the project and the writing of the report. Tutorial support covers health and safety risk assessments, project planning, literature searching, writing a report and referencing. The module is assessed by coursework.
The aims of this module are to introduce you to a range of chronic diseases and their global significance. To explain in detail the molecular and cellular mechanisms that are responsible for the development of chronic diseases, and describe the symptoms and progression of chronic diseases including modern methods in diagnosis and screening. This module also discusses the targets and treatments for therapeutic intervention in chronic diseases.
After a brief introduction to the nature of the immune system with an emphasis on clonal selection, antibody structure is studied in fine detail. The incredible ability of the vertebrate immune system to produce a vast range of antibody specificities is discussed and the genetic mechanisms by which this repertoire is generated receives an in depth coverage. Following this, the properties of the various types of T cell are explored with a discussion of the role of the Class I and Class II MHC molecules in recognising virally infected cells. The module progresses to consider what happens when the immune system "goes wrong" and a number of pathological conditions are considered. The subsequent part of the module outlines the molecular and cellular interactions between infectious organisms and the host immune system. Selected infectious organisms and agents, including a range of bacteria, viruses, prions, protozoa and parasitic worms will be studied in detail to illustrate the complexity of the host/pathogen interaction. The way these organisms have evolved to overcome detection by the immune system will be discussed. The life cycles of selected viruses, protozoa and parasitic worms will be covered in detail. Finally, the use of vaccines to combat infection will be covered. Assessment is by coursework (poster and interview) (30%) and a three hour exam (70%).
The module investigates renal endocrine physiology developing an understanding of the osmoregulatory role of the kidney. The renin angiotensin system (RAS) is studied including the structure of angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) and its role in blood pressure regulation and athletic performance. Epithelial transport, maintenance and differentiation will be covered in detail, focusing on the intestinal tract and the skin. This will introduce the diverse molecular mechanisms of intestinal transport, encompassing ion channels and pumps, water movement, lipid transport and amino acid transporters. The importance of stem cells in maintaining epithelial tissue homeostasis will be introduced, using the skin and intestinal tract as examplars. The physiology and pathophysiology of the skin will be discussed in detail, leading onto topics covering wound healing and common skin and hair follicle disorders. Leading on from this, both the novel concepts of gut-brain and gut-skin axis will be described. Other areas of study will include the physiological relationship between the mother and the fetus with particular regard to the in-utero programming of disease. Finally, the physiological role for angiogenesis in the development of cancers will be covered.
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This module provides an in-depth description of many of the current applications of molecular genetics. Major areas covered are expression vector systems, next generation DNA sequencing techniques, advanced PCR methods and site-directed mutagenesis techniques. The application of molecular genetic techniques for medical research, the production of pharmaceuticals, the generation of transgenic organisms, metabolite engineering and protein engineering are described with illustrations of current research in these areas. Tutorials reinforce salient points in lectures and help you to develop problem solving and investigative skills. Assessment is by coursework and exam.
The module starts with the basic definitions of the transcriptome, proteome and metabolome. There is then an overview of protein structure and how this is related to function. Protein supersecondary structure is discussed alongside various computational methods for secondary structure prediction (including alpha helix, beta strand, Coil-Coil, and disordered regions). This is followed by a description of domain classification schemes (SCOP & CATH). The concept of a priori protein structure prediction is introduced at a basic level. The computational challenge of finding the global energy minimum is described alongside attempts to simply the problem. The importance of membrane proteins in biology is illustrated with examples of bacterial, eukaryotic and mitochondrial proteins. Included in this are details of conformational change, control of protein activity and protein-lipid interactions. The use of X-ray crystallography, Cryo-EM, NMR and mass spectroscopy to solve chemical and macromolecular structures will be described, together with the use of this data in computational research. Structural databases (The Protein Databank) and molecular modelling software will be used to explore the 3D structure of proteins and molecular interactions of macromolecules and small compounds (e.g. enzyme-inhibitor complexes). You'll have the opportunity to will gain hands on experience of X-ray refinement using the widely used program COOT. You'll then have the chance to rebuild and optimise a model to maximise the fit to real experimental data. Structure will be related to protein function in areas such as metabolic regulation, chromatin remodeling and signalling. You'll have the opportunity to learn how protein structures reveal mechanisms of glucose regulation in the body. Examples will include the pioneering work of Dorothy Hodgkin on insulin, the domain structure of glucagon G-protein coupled receptor and the more recent atomic structure of human glucose transporter GLUT1. These structures reveal how mutations may lead to various metabolic diseases. You'll also study how structural genomics approaches to study chromatin remodeling complexes and protein kinases have informed the development of small molecule inhibitors and drugs.
This module introduces you to genome and population–level biology. It concentrates on nucleic acids biology and introduces contemporary methods for DNA and RNA sequence acquisition and the multitude of genome sequencing and variation projects undertaken by the research community. It explores various technical aspects underpinning high–throughput methods and presents applications and challenges of genomic research using examples from a wide variety of model systems and application approaches. Finally, it considers the achievements and challenges of high-throughput biology and explores their societal and ethical implications. The computer laboratory part of the module concentrates on exploratory analysis of high–throughput data using publicly available databases and resources.
The module introduces you to molecular genetic and cytogenetic techniques. You'll start with DNA technology in disease, gene mapping, cloning and sequencing, and the latest modern methods for disease diagnosis, including DNA chips. You'll then move onto prenatal diagnosis, population screening and developmental mutations, and will consider the current state of gene therapy and animal models for human disease. The module focuses on two particular diseases - cystic fibrosis and diabetes. Finally, you'll have the opportunity gain further understanding of the role of ethics in medical genetics. Understanding/problem solving will be assessed by examination (and via an in-class problem solving assessment).
The first year shares modules with our other biological sciences courses and lays the foundation for you to study advanced topics such as molecular genetics in Year 2 and immunology and cancer in the final year.
35% of the study time on this course is spent in lectures, tutorials, laboratory sessions etc.
You will be taught through a series of lectures, tutorials and laboratory work. Assessment will include written exams, multiple choice questions, problem solving exercises, oral presentations and assessment of laboratory skills. The final year research project contributes to your degree classification.
Your module specification/course handbook will provide full details of the assessment criteria applying to your course.
Feedback (usually written) is normally provided on all coursework submissions within three term time weeks – unless the submission was made towards the end of the session in which case feedback would be available on request after the formal publication of results.Feedback on exam performance/final coursework is available on request after the publication of results.
Huddersfield is the UK’s only university where 100% of the permanent teaching staff are fellows of the Higher Education Academy.*
*permanent staff, after probation: some recently appointed colleagues will only obtain recognition in the months after their arrival in Huddersfield, once they have started teaching
The teaching year normally starts in September with breaks at Christmas and Easter, finishing with a main examination/assessment period around May/June. Timetables are normally available one month before registration.
Your course is made up of modules and each module is worth a number of credits. Each year you study modules to the value of 120 credits, adding up to 480 credits in total for a bachelor’s qualification, or 360 credits in total should you choose not to take the supervised work experience year. These credits can come from a combination of core, compulsory and optional modules but please note that optional modules may not run if we do not have enough students interested.
If you achieve 120 credits for the current stage you are at, you may progress to the next stage of your course.
*Permanent staff, after probation: some recently appointed colleagues will only obtain recognition in the months after their arrival in Huddersfield, once they have started teaching; research degrees applies to those on contracts of more than half-time.
At the University of Huddersfield, you'll find support networks and services to help you get ahead in your studies and social life. Whether you study at undergraduate or postgraduate level, you'll soon discover that you're never far away from our dedicated staff and resources to help you to navigate through your personal student journey. Find out more about all our support services.
We will always try to deliver your course as described on this web page. However, sometimes we may have to make changes as set out below.
We review all optional modules each year and change them to reflect the expertise of our staff, current trends in research and as a result of student feedback. We will always ensure that you have a range of options to choose from and we will let students know in good time the options available for them to choose for the following year.
We will only change core modules for a course if it is necessary for us to do so, for example to maintain course accreditation. We will let you know about any such changes as soon as possible, usually before you begin the relevant academic year.
Sometimes we have to make changes to other aspects of a course or how it is delivered. We only make these changes if they are for reasons outside of our control, or where they are for our students’ benefit. Again, we will let you know about any such changes as soon as possible, usually before the relevant academic year. Our regulations set out our procedure which we will follow when we need to make any such changes.
When you enrol as a student of the University, your study and time with us will be governed by a framework of regulations, policies and procedures, which form the basis of your agreement with us. These include regulations regarding the assessment of your course, academic integrity, your conduct (including attendance) and disciplinary procedure, fees and finance and compliance with visa requirements (where relevant). It is important that you familiarise yourself with these as you will be asked to agree to abide by them when you join us as a student. You will find a guide to the key terms here, where you will also find links to the full text of each of the regulations, policies and procedures referred to.
The Higher Education Funding Council for England is the principal regulator for the University.