Pharmacology BSc/MSci

Cancer Immunopharmacology 4B option BIOL4289

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Cardiovascular and Metabolic
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

Immunotherapy has changed the face of cancer treatment in the last ten years and immunopharmacology is a critical and rapidly growing area of cancer research. This course will explore the role of the immune system in providing protection from cancer, and the way that it contributes to the development, progression and spread of this disease. We will examine how tumours evolve ways of evading or suppressing protective anti-cancer immune responses and investigate some of the key cells and molecules involved in these processes. A central feature of the course will be an exploration of how our understanding of crosstalk between immune cells and cancer cells is being exploited to develop immunotherapies for the prevention or treatment of cancer. Ground-breaking cell-mediated and antibody-based immunotherapies will be explored in depth, covering various key aspects of these drugs, such as development, application, mechanisms of action, side effects and pharmacoeconomics.


This option is assigned to block S2-B.

3-hours of teaching will take place each week during Semester 2. This is likely to be split into 3 x 1-hour blocks or 1 block of 1 hour and 1 block of 2 hours depending on the staff running each session.

Excluded Courses

BIOL4023 Cancer 4B option and BIOL4189 Immunology of Infection 4A option.




The course will be assessed by a 2-hour examination (75%), consisting of 2 essay questions from a selection of 6 essay titles, and a poster session (25%).

The poster session will consist of a short "flash presentation" of the poster to peers and staff. The poster will be assessed on the presentation as well as the content, clarity, design and understanding of the poster itself.

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. Where, exceptionally, reassessment on Honours courses is required to satisfy professional/accreditation requirements, only the overall course grade achieved at the first attempt will contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

Immunotherapy has transformed the treatment of cancer patients and is currently one of the fastest growing areas of therapeutics. One of its advantages is the potential for selective cancer therapies personalised towards each patient's specific type of tumour, with reduced side effects and greater chance of remission, compared with current chemotherapy. The aim of this course is to provide an understanding of the importance of the immune system in providing protection from cancer and examine its role in shaping the development and progression of this disease. The course will explain how the immune system can be exploited to develop new weapons that aim to prevent or treat cancer, such as anti-cancer vaccines, cell-based 'living drugs' and therapeutic antibodies.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ Evaluate the characteristic features of cancer and discuss the roles that microbes, inflammation and the immune system can play in this disease;

■ Detail the diverse populations of tumour-associated leukocytes and critically evaluate the pro- and anti-tumorigenic characteristics of some of these cell types;

■ Critically evaluate state-of-the-art cancer immunotherapies;

■ Appraise the rationale for, and the mechanisms of action of, cell-based therapies and vaccination as a strategy to treat or prevent cancer.

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.