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Subject Summary: Part IB Biology of Disease 

Biology of Disease is concerned with the scientific study of disease, and is one of the foundations of medical science and practice. It encompasses all aspects of disease, including knowledge of the causes and effects of disease, and the organism's response to disease. The cause of a disease is often an injurious agent, but defects and deficiencies may also cause disease. Knowledge of how an organism responds to disease is important, as sometimes disease may arise as a result of an innate response of the organism to injury or infection. 

The overall aim of the Part IB Biology of Disease course is to explore the underlying general principles of Pathology and illustrate them using specific examples. This endeavour encompasses a broad range of biological disciplines, including cellular and genetic pathology, immunology, microbiology, parasitology, and virology. The lectures in these topics are closely integrated with practical sessions that take place twice each week. The course is equally suitable for all biological, medical, and veterinary students.

Programme Specification: Part IB Biology of Disease

This course is taught by the Department of Pathology


  1. to describe the mechanisms of disease processes and to convey to the student an understanding of the natural history and dynamic nature of disease processes;
  2. to produce a stimulating and challenging learning environment where teaching is informed by research and encourages the student to develop skills of observation, analysis and deduction;
  3. to enable students to acquire a knowledge and understanding of the scientific basis of disease, and to progress to the Part II courses in biological sciences.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students should be able to:

  1. demonstrate a knowledge of the nature of the response to injury;
  2. demonstrate a knowledge of innate and adaptive immunity, including the process of inflammation;
  3. demonstrate a knowledge of how microbial pathogens (viruses, bacteria, and parasites) evade host defences and cause disease;
  4. demonstrate a knowledge of how deregulation of cellular growth and differentiation cause disease;
  5. demonstrate a knowledge of the pathobiology of the circulation, including the process of thrombosis and infarction.
  6. demonstrate a knowledge of interactions between infectious organisms and their hosts, with particular reference to emerging infections;
  7. identify and concisely describe basic pathological processes from the study of microscopic tissue structure;
  8. recognize and identify a number of common bacterial species that may be associated with human and animal diseases.

Teaching and Learning Methods

These include lectures, practical classes, supervisions, and small group teaching.


Assessment for this course is through:

  • one unseen written examination (for aims 1-3 and learning outcomes 1-6);
  • one unseen practical examination (for aims 1-3 and learning outcomes 1-8)

Courses of Preparation

Essential: None.

Recommended: NST Part IA Biology of Cells; NST Part IA Physiology of Organisms.

Additional Information

Further informationis available on the Course Websites pages.