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Subject Summary: Part II Pathology

The Part II Pathology course focuses on the mechanisms that regulate cells and tissues at the cellular, genetic and molecular level, and how these are disrupted in disease processes. Research and teaching in Pathology is, of necessity, multidisciplinary and draws upon elements from a broad range of subjects. The courses we offer are naturally relevant to medicine and veterinary students because a proper understanding of the molecular basis of disease is an essential adjunct to clinical expertise. However, the courses have also proven exciting and challenging to natural science students. The course offers eight modules that fall into three main areas: (i) Immunology (ii) Infection Biology, (iii) Cancer Biology and Genetics of Disease. Students take four one-term modules, two in Michaelmas Term and two in Lent Term.

In addition to lectures, students taking NST Part II Single Subject Pathology attend research seminars, supervisions, data-handling classes and undertake a research project. Pathology can also be taken as a major subject in NST Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS), in which students take four Pathology modules, plus a fifth minor subject module. Instead of undertaking a research project, BBS students write a dissertation, which takes the form of a literature review.

There are no essential requirements for entry, though students entering have typically taken Part IB Biology of Disease as part of the Natural Sciences Tripos, Veterinary Sciences Tripos or Medical Sciences Tripos.

Programme Specification: Part II Pathology

This course is taught by the Department of Pathology


  1. to provide students with the opportunity for detailed study of the core principles of Pathology and to acquire specialised knowledge and understanding of selected aspects of Pathology;
  2. to provide a stimulating and challenging learning environment where teaching is informed and enhanced by research, and to provide training in scientific principles and experience in the evaluation and practice of research;
  3. to provide students with analytical and presentational skills.

Learning outcomes

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

  1. demonstrate specialised knowledge and understanding of key aspects of the scientific basis of disease;
  2. demonstrate developed skills in the analysis of arguments and data from research papers and of reasoned argument in written and oral presentation of scientific investigations;
  3. demonstrate they have gained research experience and developed basic skills by means of a project.

Teaching and Learning Methods

These include lectures, research seminars, supervisions, data-handling classes, small group teaching and experimental research.


Assessment for this course is through:

  • four unseen written examinations (for aims 1-3 and learning outcomes 1-3);
  • one unseen data-handling examination (for aims 1-3 and learning outcomes 1-3);
  • an extended essay and written report based on the same research project undertaken by the student over the Michaelmas and Lent Terms (for aims 1-3 and learning outcomes 1-3).

Courses of Preparation

Essential: None.

Recommended: NST Part IB Biology of Disease

Additional Information

Further information is available on the Course Websites pages.