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Study information

Cellular Basis of Immunity

Module titleCellular Basis of Immunity
Module codeBIOM515
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Professor Christopher Thornton (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

In this module you will explore the science of immunology, and how the major cellular and humoral (soluble) components of the innate and adaptive immune systems work together to deliver immunity to infectious diseases. You will develop an understanding of how monoclonal antibodies are generated and engineered in vitro for use in the diagnosis and treatment of human diseases, and the various ways antibodies are used as research tools in the Life Sciences. Lecture content is supported by animations and movies that illustrate key concepts of immunity including cellular interactions during the inflammatory response, and the role of cytokines and chemokines as chemical messengers.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to introduce you to the science of immunology. Key components of the immune system are explored in the context of infectious diseases (viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections) and allergy, and current research topics used to illustrate how monoclonal antibodies are generated and engineered for use in the detection and treatment of diseases in medicine, and their deployment in the Life Sciences. Much of the content is research-led owing to the convenor’s research expertise in hybridoma technology, monoclonal antibody production and the generation, protection and exploitation of intellectual property in the arena of medical diagnostics.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the innate and adaptive immune systems, antibody structure and function, and the immune response to allergy and infectious diseases
  • 2. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the defining characteristics of mouse hybridoma technology and other technologies (e.g. antibody combinatorial libraries through phage display) for monoclonal antibody generation and humanisation
  • 3. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how antibodies are used in various aspects of medicine and the Life Sciences (e.g. diagnostics and therapeutics)

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 4. Critically evaluate our current understanding of the science of immunology with reference to lecture material and/or primary literature, reviews and research studies
  • 5. Critically evaluate (independently) current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline, and evaluate and synthesise research-informed examples from the literature into written work

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 6. Effectively communicate arguments, evidence and conclusions using written means in a manner appropriate to the intended audience
  • 7. Devise and sustain, with minimal guidance, a logical and reasoned argument with sound, convincing conclusions
  • 8. Independently analyse and evaluate appropriate data

Syllabus plan

  • Innate and adaptive immunity; the cellular and humoral components of the immune system; innate killing mechanisms
  • Toll-like receptors
  • Myeloid, lymphoid and erythroid lineages of the haematopoietic stem cell;
  • Antigen presenting cells (APCs), dendritic cells, macrophages, neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils, Natural Killer cells, B-cells, CD4+ T-cells and sub-sets, CD8 T-cells;
  • Cytokines, Chemokines and the Inflammatory response;
  • MHC Class I and II molecules and T-cell receptors;
  • The B cell receptor and receptor editing, ITAMs;
  • Antibody molecules – structure and function;
  • the Complement system and complement activation;
  • The immune system and allergy;
  • The immune response to infection by viruses, fungi, bacteria and parasites;
  • Hybridoma technology and the production of murine monoclonal antibodies (mAbs);
  • Alternative procedures for the development of mAbs including Phage Display Technology and Human Immune System (HIS) mice;
  • Chimeric antibodies and Humanisation (CDR grafting) of mAbs for use as therapeutic agents in the treatment of cancer;
  • Adoptive T-cell therapy; Immune checkpoint proteins; Chimeric Antigen Receptor-T cell technology;
  • Immunoassay formats including Immunofluorescence, Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA), Immuno-gold electron microscopy, Western blotting, Lateral-Flow Technology;
  • Immunodiagnostics in Medicine;
  • Immunodiagnostics in environmental studies including detection of emerging pathogens and monitoring of human allergenic, toxigenic and pathogenic fungi;
  • IP protection of antibodies and commercialisation through spin-out

This module is delivered through in-person lectures  on campus. It does not have any exceptional accessibility requirements.

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 and Teaching22Lectures (22x 1hr)
Guided Independent Study66Lecture consolidation and associated reading
Guided Independent Study62Completion of formative and summative assessments

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Practice short answer testsAd hoc1-3, 4, 8Model answers on ELE
Example problem-based articleAd hoc4-8Oral

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
Short answer test to involve data interpretation401 hour1-3, 4, 8Model answers on ELE
Commentary on published research study 602,500 words4-8Written feedback on script

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Short answer test to involve data interpretationShort answer test to involve data interpretation (40%) 1-3, 4, 8August Ref/Def
Commentary on published research studyCommentary on published research study (60%)4-8August Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons that are approved by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. If deferred, the format and timing of the re-assessment for each of the summative assessments is detailed in the table above ('Details of re-assessment'). The mark given for a deferred assessment will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral - if you have failed the module (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 50%) and the module cannot be condoned, you will be required to complete a re-assessment for each of the failed components on the module. The format and timing of the re-assessment for each of the summative assessments is detailed in the table above ('Details of re-assessment'). If you pass the module following re-assessment, your module mark will be capped at 50%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Murphy K (2012) Janeway’s Immunobiology. 8th Edition. Garland Science, Taylor and Francis Group, London and New York. ISBN 978-0-8153-4243-4

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

  • ELE page:

Key words search

Immunology, immunity, medicine, infectious diseases, cancer, therapeutics, monoclonal antibody, diagnostics, therapeutics, theranostics

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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