Modelling Human Disease BIOL5226

  • Academic Session: 2019-20
  • School: School of Life Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

The course aims to provide an understanding of disease processes and how these are modelled in research. Model organisms, from the simple unicellular yeast, to our most closely related laboratory animal, the mouse, have been hugely informative in the investigation of human disease and in shaping current therapeutic approaches.


There will be five initial student-directed learning sessions to explore the nature of mutation, the use of genetic manipulation and key model organisms used in the study of human disease. Subsequently there will be 4 double sessions covering (1) yeast and C. elegans to study cell cycle proteins implicated in human diseases including cancer; (2) the use of Drosophila as a model organism to study human disease; (3) the study of aging, sleep disorders and metabolic diseases and the implication of the circadian clock in mammals; (4) methods generating therapeutic antibodies, ranging from phage display to the most contemporary mouse models.


As arranged within teaching weeks 17-22. The first sessions are in SDL format. Following this, each topic will be introduced by a lecture after which students will work in groups to prepare for a follow up seminar, at which students will give a presentation to expand on the topic and/or criticise published papers. 

Requirements of Entry

This course is open to students on postgraduate taught programmes in the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences.


Students will be expected to write a 4000-word critical essay on a topic or title provided by those teaching the course. 

Course Aims

The aims of the course are:

■ To consider current challenges and concepts in the field of biomedical sciences and the means to investigate these; 

■ To provide practical experience in evaluating the relevant scientific literature. 

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

■ select and critically investigate a contemporary topic in biomedical research, using library and online sources effectively;

■ critically analyse, evaluate and summarise the literature and other factual information on the topic;

■ develop and appraise either solutions to resolve, control or contain the current challenge, or explanatory hypotheses and plans for further research, as appropriate to the topic chosen;

■ work effectively in autonomous groups, and reflect critically on their role and performance within the group;

■ produce written work and presentations which discuss and critique topics in biomedical research for scientific and lay audiences. 

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.