Module details for 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 to the categorisation and evaluation of disease states.

3.  Critically appraise the major mechanisms and clinical sequelae of selected conditions or pathologies.

4.  Critically analyse relationships between cell/molecular changes and the main associated diseases associated within selected body systems.

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. Immunopathological 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]. 

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Teaching and Learning Method Hours
Lecture 33
Tutorial/Seminar 6
Practical Activity 0
Assessment 50
Independent 111
Total 200

Guidance notes

SCQF Level - The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework provides an indication of the complexity of award qualifications and associated learning and operates on an ascending numeric scale from Levels 1-12 with SCQF Level 10 equating to a Scottish undergraduate Honours degree.

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 2021/22 , and may be subject to change for future years.