Clinical Biochemistry and Cellular Pathology


This module is formulated to enhance knowledge and understanding of the cellular, tissue and molecular bases of disease and dysfunction in humans. It considers general processes and approaches available for diagnosis and monitoring, and then focuses on selected pathologies in an integrative (ie. pathogenesis, diagnosis/monitoring, clinical consequences, etc)context. It is primarily designed for students on biomedical sciences or similar degrees. 


The aim of this Module is to provide the student with an understanding of (i) cellular, molecular and systemic processes in human disease; (ii) techniques available for diagnosis and clinical management; and (iii) the conceptual framework for understanding human dysfunctions. 

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  Differentiate between the core techniques of histo-/cytopathology, and evaluate their theoretical basis, applications, and strengths and weaknesses. 

2.  Relate the fundamental principles of pathology eg. Central dogma, nomenclature, disease types, core characteristics to the categorisation and evaluation of disease states. 

3.  Critically appraise the major mechanisms and clinical sequelae of: cell injury; inflammations/repair; growth disorders, ischaemia/infarction; adaptive changes; neoplasia; immunopathology.

4.  By reference to examples taken from the GIT, hepatobiliary and female reproductive systems critically analyse relationships between cell/molecular changes and the main associated diseases.

5.  Relate the pathogenesis and clinical profiles of major biochemical dyfunctions/diseases to their diagnostic tests and clinical management (Ex. Diabetes, liver/kidney, electrolyte imbalances) 

6.  Distinguish between techniques and technologies clinical biochemistry and pathology including emergent technologies and applications, and evaluate their strengths, weaknesses and challenges. 

Indicative Content

1 Basic Principles of Pathology

Structural-functional correlations, signs, symptoms and syndromes; pathological terms and terminology; organisation of pathology services. The role and future of molecular pathology. The vital role of imaging in pathology. 

2 Core Techniques in Clinical Biochemistry

Introduction: Range of diagnostic, monitoring and screening tests; basics of test design, sample handling and test interpretation. Evaluation of analytes in selected specific conditions (diseases and dysfunctions) eg. carbohydrate and lipid disorders, and for specific organ/system functions eg. liver, kidney, heart. Water, electrolytes and acid-base balance. Tumour markers. 

3 Core Techniques in Cytopathology and Histopathology

Histotechnique: Types of microscopy and applications in cyto-/histopathology; preparation of cells and tissues; microtomy, cryomicrotomy and ultramicrotomy; range of routine and special stains; practical challenges of staining; reporting procedures. Structure/ultrastructure of normal cells and tissues; structural/ultrastructural correlates of disease. Immunocytochemical approaches eg probe range, FISH. Role of imaging in pathological screening, diagnosis and monitoring. 

4 Understanding Neoplasia

Distinctive characteristics of neoplasms; Benign- malignant spectrum; cancer classification systems; terminology; characteristics of cancer cells (and their use in diagnosis). Molecular pathogenesis/multi- step nature of neoplasia.Metastasis. Clinical consequences of established malignancies eg.paraneoplastic syndromes 

5 Cellular Pathology: Cell Injury, Adaptation and Death

Cellular homeostasis. Dysregulation of the cell cycle, DNA damage and repair and associated diseases. Responses to injury. Necrosis and apoptosis. Patterns and types of of necrosis. Adaptive responses to injury eg. hyperplasia, atrophy,metaplasia, dysplasia (Neoplasia considered under separate heading). Abnormal deposition; calcification. 

6 General Pathology: Inflammation and Repair

Acute inflammation - Sequence, vascular dimensions, mediators. Chronic inflammations. Tissue repair processes (At tissue, cellular and molecular levels). Repair of selected tissues eg. skin, bone. New developments in tissue repair. Effects of aging on repair. Immunopatholgical dimensions. 

7 Systemic Pathology: Selected Dysfunctions

Selected systems - In-depth illustrations of the integration of (1) Cellular, molecular and systemic approaches;(2)Investigative techniques; and (3) Management of clinical consequences. Examples will be taken from: (1) Colorectal carcinomas, IBDs, stomach cancers; (2) Female reproductive cancers; (3) Hepatocellular failures and other hepatobiliary dysfunctions; and (4) Renal pathologies. [Respiratory areas expressly excluded as covered at Level 10]. 

Statement on Teaching, Learning and Assessment

This module will be delivered as a series of lectures and associated tutorials from Abertay staff and from laboratory services specialists (Blood Sciences, Pathology) in Ninewells and/or other hospitals.Students will undertake enquiry-based learning(group/individual)for selected lectorials study work. In all topic areas directed IST reading - chiefly from specified text(s)with web-based learning support will assist students in developing their integrative and analytical skills for pathological sciences. Students will be expected to have access to these specified texts. Delivery will use additional external clinicians and capitalise on internal expertise in particular focus areas. Formative exercises will normally be provided within the teaching time hourage, and help prepare class members for the format/style of the mix of assessment types eg. tissue micrograph interpretation, clinical MCQs. Please note that the Supportive Reading List entries are limited to three examples but, due to the diverse nature of the subjects in this module,further key reading sources will be used. Principal sources will be advised to class members at or near the start of the module delivery. The following "Graduate Attributes" are linked to LOs or otherwise covered in the module: Confident Thinkers, Determined Collaborators, Flexible Creators, Ambitious Enquirers. 

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Total 200
Lecture 33
Tutorial/Seminar 6
Supervised Practical Activity 0
Unsupervised Practical Activity 0
Assessment 50
Independent 111

Guidance notes

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2019/10 , and may be subject to change for future years.