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Subject Summary: Part II Pathology

This course offers study in the main constituent disciplines of Pathology. In order to facilitate study in depth each discipline is presented as an optional subject. Students take any two options (except the combination of options 1 and 5, which is precluded). 

  1. Cancer and Genetic Diseases: This option deals with the cellular and genetic basis of disease using a number of different examples. Topics include cancer biology, genomic instability, epigenetics and the genetics of inherited disorders.
  2. Immunology: This aims to give a comprehensive course in Immunology, dealing with such topics as innate immunity, the molecular and cellular basis of the immune response and its genetic control, effector mechanisms, and immunopathology.
  3. Microbial Microbiology and Parasitic Disease Parasitology: This option is concerned with the fundamental processes involved in bacterial and parasitic disease. The course includes molecular details of bacterial pathogenicity and explores host-parasite interactions for a range of parasite protozoa and helminths.
  4. Virology: This deals with molecular and general virology including structure and function of the virion, the processes of replication and its control, virus genetics, pathogenesis, epidemiology, and oncogenesis.
  5. Dynamics of Infectious Diseases: This option covers infectious disease of animal pathogens as it applies to acute and chronic infectious disease across a range of scales, from individual molecular interactions to the dynamics of global epidemic transmission. 

In addition to lectures, students attend discussion classes in each of their chosen options and undertake a research project in one of these. The course is a suitable prelude for those wishing to make research careers in the biological sciences as well as for those going on to do clinical and veterinary medicine. There are no particular requirements for entry though Part I courses in one or more biological disciplines are essential. Similar experience is required for entry by Affiliated Students. 

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

  1. have a specialised knowledge and understanding of key aspects of the scientific basis of disease;
  2. have 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. have 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);
  • two unseen data-handling examinations (for aims 1-3 and learning outcomes 1-3);
  • a dissertation of no more than 25 pages based on a 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.