Postgraduate taught 

Stem Cell Engineering for Regenerative Medicine MSc

The Cancer Microenvironment and Biomarkers BIOL5380

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Cancer Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

It is increasingly recognised that key features of the tumour microenvironment are implicated in the pathogenesis of cancer and response to treatments. Knowledge and understanding of the underlying biology and molecular mechanisms of the tumour microenvironment has led to the discovery of important biomarkers for disease outcome and therapies. This course will focus on key aspects of the tumour microenvironment, including tumour-stroma interactions; angiogenesis; invasion and metastasis; and infiltration of immune cells. The course will also highlight the processes involved in the study of existing and development of new biomarkers for cancer and introduce the rapidly expanding field of immunotherapy.


Teaching will take place over 5 weeks in semester 2 and comprises of lectures and tutorials which are 1-2 hr in duration.

Excluded Courses





40% - Annotated bibliographies (3 entries; 1500 words total) (ILOs 1, 2)

60% - Structured essay (2500 words) (ILOs 3-5)

Course Aims

This course aims to provide students with:

1. A detailed knowledge and understanding of how tumours are influenced by the microenvironment and how these processes contribute to disease progression and treatment resistance.

2. An appreciation for the need to identify novel biomarkers for cancer and knowledge of research strategies which are conducted in studies to optimize and validate biomarkers.

3. A detailed introduction to the molecular and cellular basis of immunotherapy.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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


1. Critically evaluate the key components of and underlying molecular mechanisms that occur in the tumour microenvironment.

2. Critically discuss the relationship between the tumour microenvironment and cancer disease progression and its implications for response to therapy.

3. Critically appraise the definition of biomarker types and rationale for the discovery and development of biomarkers.

4. Critically evaluate the methods used to identify, optimise and validate new and better biomarkers.

5. Critically appraise immunotherapy strategies and their application in the cancer field.

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.