Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health Professions


New Therapeutic Targets in Cancer

Module titleNew Therapeutic Targets in Cancer
Module codeCSC3030
Academic year2021/2
Module staff

Dr Seb Oltean (Convenor)

Dr Vikki Moye (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

In the last 10-20 years there has been an explosion of novel therapeutic ideas on how to tackle cancer, some already applied in the clinic, others currently in advance trials. Aside from the classical chemo and radiotherapies, a plethora of targeted treatments have appeared. This module explores the new advances in understanding the pathogenesis of cancer and how novel, rational approaches are used to design new therapies.

In order to take this module, you must have taken at least one of  the following Stage 2 modules: CSC2005 (Introduction to Pharmacology), CSC2012 (Disease Diagnostics & Therapeutics) BIO2088 (Advanced Cell Biology), BIO2089 (Molecular Biology of the Gene)

This is an optional module if you are a student on BSc Medical Sciences, Biosciences and Flexible Honours, provided the prerequisites have been met.

The primary intention is to have as much as possible of the module delivered on campus; if this is not possible, we will move online, with a combination of synchronous and asynchronous activities: lectures will be either delivered live on Teams or Zoom apps and you may login live (with recordings being made available) or, they will be pre-recorded in chunks of 15-20 minutes and can be reviewed by you at any time; there may be additional movies/slides placed online to be consulted at any time by you.  The same approach with tutorials – if not possible on campus, they will be delivered on Teams/Zoom.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim of the module is to gain in-depth knowledge on advances in molecular understanding of cancer cells properties and how this knowledge is used to design new treatments. The module will be divided into two main parts: one following the therapeutic targeting of hallmarks of cancer (e.g inhibiting angiogenesis, blocking invasion and metastasis, reactivating apoptosis); the second part will be looking from a different angle at ideas of diagnosis, prognostic or therapies based on different levels of gene expression and regulation (e.g epigenetics, circulating DNA, RNAi, miRs, splicing).

The content of this module is intended to build on learning in other modules, such as Introduction to Pharmacology, Disease Diagnostics & Therapeutics, Advanced Cell Biology or Molecular Biology of the Gene. It will also complement other final year modules such as Rational Drug Design.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Apply knowledge from various scientific disciplines to the identification of potential targets for novel cancer therapies
  • 2. Explain the fundamental principles of cancer biology (e.g. hallmarks of cancer)
  • 3. Evaluate and select appropriate methodology to test the effectiveness of potential new drugs
  • 4. Evaluate and give examples of therapeutic agents (drugs, biologics etc) that have been developed as targeted anti-cancer therapies

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Retrieve and evaluate relevant literature in the area of cancer therapeutics
  • 6. Identify opportunities for cancer therapeutics research based on current understanding
  • 7. Develop a plan of research to test a hypothesis in the area of cancer therapeutics

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 8. Work effectively as part of a team
  • 9. Evaluate information and summarise it accurately
  • 10. Communicate ideas clearly and concisely by oral and written means

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, an example of an overall structure is as follows:


  • Each week will involve expert-provided lectures explaining the important concepts relating to particular properties of cancer cells (e.g. hallmarks of cancer) or various gene regulation processes hijacked by cancer cells to their own advantage (e.g. aberrant splicing), along with examples of where these concepts have been relevant in drug design.  
  • Group tutorial sessions will also be held to explore how the information delivered in the lecture can be transferred and applied to an existing clinical science problem through generation of a hypothesis-driven research plan 
  • Supplementary to this teaching, computer-based workshops and/or video recordings will be used where appropriate to demonstrate some of these principles in action.  


Beside this core teaching, you are asked to work on a research proposal or a new idea of cancer therapeutics. In preparation for this you will be guided during tutorial sessions; in addition, a formative assessment will be organized in which you will present your project in an oral presentation and will receive feedback from the module lecturers. 

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning & Teaching activities12Lectures (12x 1 hr); on-campus sessions or online
Scheduled Learning & Teaching activities12Workshops and/or video recordings (12 x 1 hr)
Scheduled Learning & Teaching6Group learning tutorials; on campus sessions or online
Guided independent study60Literature searches for group learning tutorials
Guided independent study60Further reading, coursework and revision


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Research proposal outline - oral presentation 15min presentation1-10Oral
Practice short answer questions3-5 questions1-7, 9, 10Group

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Research proposal 501000 words1-10Written
Short Answer Question paper502 hours1-7, 9, 10Written


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Research proposal (50%)Research proposal (50%)1-10August Ref/Def
Resit of Short Answer Question paper (2 hours)Resit of Short Answer Question paper (2 hours)1-7, 9, 10August Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Please refer to the TQA section on Referral/Deferral:


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

The biology of cancer. Robert A Weinberg. Second edition 2014.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

see ELE

Module has an active ELE page

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

see ELE

Key words search

Cancer biology, Cancer Therapeutics, Drug Design

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

At least one of: CSC2005, CSC2012, BIO2088 or BIO2089

NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date