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Cellular Basis of Immunity

Module titleCellular Basis of Immunity
Module codeBIOM515
Academic year2021/2
Module staff

Professor Christopher Thornton (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

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 videos 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 current research topics used to illustrate how antibodies are engineered and used in the diagnosis of pathogens and treatment of diseases in contemporary medicine and environmental sciences. Much of the content is research-led owing to the convenor’s research expertise in hybridoma technology, monoclonal antibody production and the generation and protection of intellectual property in the arena of medical diagnostics.

The skills you gain from lectures and seminars will develop or enhance your employability. Transferable skills to other sectors include: problem solving (linking theory to practice, responding to novel and unfamiliar problems, data handling), time management (managing time effectively individually and within a group), collaboration (taking initiative and leading others, supporting others in their work), self and peer review (taking responsibility for own learning, using feedback from multiple sources) and audience awareness (presenting ideas effectively in multiple formats).

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Evaluate critically our understanding of the innate and adaptive immune systems, antibody structure and function, and the immune response to infectious diseases
  • 2. Describe in detail and analyse the defining characteristics of mouse hybridoma technology and other technologies e.g. phage display for monoclonal antibody generation and use in diagnostics and therapeutics
  • 3. Explain the use of antibodies in various aspects of medicine and environmental sciences

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 4. Evaluate in detail approaches to our understanding of immunology with reference to primary literature, reviews and research articles
  • 5. Analyse in detail essential facts and theory in a sub-discipline of the biosciences
  • 6. Evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline, and evaluate and synthesise research-informed examples from the literature into written work
  • 7. With limited guidance, deploy established techniques of analysis and enquiry within the biosciences

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 8. Communicate effectively arguments, evidence and conclusions using written means in a manner appropriate to the intended audience
  • 9. Devise and sustain, with minimal guidance, a logical and reasoned argument with sound, convincing conclusions
  • 10. Analyse and evaluate appropriate data with minimal guidance

Syllabus plan

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
  • 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

Learning and teaching

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 Teaching19Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 2Q&A sessions
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 1Data handling practice session
Guided Independent Study1MCQ practice paper
Guided Independent Study35Web-based activities (animations and videos located on ELE) – preparation for lectures
Guided Independent Study92Guided reading of literature, literature research and revision


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
20 multiple choice questions1 hour1, 4-5, 10Model answers on ELE

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 handling401 hour1-5, 7-8, 10Model answers on ELE
Literature review603000 words1-6, 8-10Written 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 handlingShort answer test to involve data handling1-5, 7-8, 10August Ref/Def
Literature reviewLiterature review1-6, 8-10August Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral 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 overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 50%) you will be required to submit a further literature review. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will count for 100% of the final mark and 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: (Primary research publications and review articles associated with each lecture can be obtained from ELE. Also available on ELE are animations and videos used in the lectures.)

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

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

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date