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Course Breakdown


Mid-Semester Test: 10%

Coursework (laboratory & online assignments): 45%

Exam: 45%

Course Information


Prescribed textbook: There is no specific textbook required for this course. Suggested textbooks that may be useful for further information and are held in the Philson Library include:

  1. General and Systematic Pathology (4th ed) - Underwood JCE,  Churchill Livingstone.

  2. Robbins and Cotran: Pathological Basis of Disease. (7th ed) - Kumar V, Abbas and Fausto, Elsevier Saunders

  3. Pathology. Clinicopathological Foundations of Medicine. (6th ed) - Rubin E, Farber J, Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins.


Other learning resources available are: WebPath, AMRF-Medical Sciences Learning Centre, PICTON and VSLIDE. Further information on how to access these will be in your Course Guide and Canvas once the course commences.

Official UoA Website: Link

Basic Information

Like its prerequisite predecessor MEDSCI 203, expect more of the same themes from its big brother MEDSCI 301: While the content is not particularly conceptually difficult to understand and very interesting there is still a lot of it. With that having been said, I found the workload much more manageable than I had thought despite taking two other molecular, content-heavy MEDSCI papers (302 and 314) and most likely you will too through a combination of both being more used to the content overload and learning how to study harder and smarter. So like most, if not all other people you too struggled with MEDSCI 203 please don't let this be the sole reason to put you off taking MEDSCI 301 - I personally don't think there is any one particular stage III MEDSCI paper which can be singled out as being particularly "easy" in all aspects that everybody agrees on. No surprises there.

​In 2015, MEDSCI 301 lectures took place three times a week, all of which were video recorded. There was a total of 34 lectures plus a course review, and the lectures were split into six broad classes or 'modules' of diseases:

1) Environmental/toxic injury in disease
2) Infectious Disease
3) Genetic Disease
4) Hypersensitivity and Autoimmune Disease
5) Lifestyle/Endocrine Disease
6) Neoplastic Disease

In 2015 the midsemester test took place after the midsemester break and consisted of entirely MCQs covering the first sixteen lectures (environmental/toxic injury in disease and infectious disease modules) taught in the first half of the semester. In the final exam, the MCQs were all from lectures in the second half of the semester with the written answer sections assessing content from both halves of the course.

​​If you enjoyed the content of MEDSCI 203 and/or wish to further your studies in the areas of human diseases at the molecular level, then this is the course for you. 


Laboratory Component

There were five laboratory assignments in MEDSCI 301 in 2015, each worth 5% of your final mark. Lab assignment sheets were submitted online via Turnitin and due two weeks after the practical laboratory session had been completed. The types and styles of the questions you are asked in these assignments are quite similar to the MEDSCI 203 laboratories - draw and label microscopic and gross features of pathology, answering short questions and filling in tables. Not the same format as physiology-style lab reports such as MEDSCI 205 and 206. A lot of the answers to your assignment questions will be given during the session so please pay close attention at all times.

The first lab was on liver pathology lead by our course director Associate Professor Nuala Helsby who also delivers the lectures on this topic. During this session we studied the biochemical manifestations of hepatic injury and observed the pathological effects of alcoholic liver disease. A simple calculations worksheet was given to us to complete and hand in before the end of the lab - don't panic, this is not very difficult and we had plenty of time to finish it during the lab. The experimental instructions and questions to be completed were made available to us in the Laboratory Manual and electronically for online submission. 

The second lab was on kidney pathology, where we studied a series of (real!!!) samples to determine the changes observed in kidney disease. From the data and information we gather we used it to determine the types of kidney diseases for each of the samples.

During our  third laboratory session, we spent it in the AMRF Medical Sciences Learning Centre selecting a specimen exhibiting the pathologies of a disease which will extend our knowledge of pathology - meaning tuberculosis and alcoholic liver disease specimens were not not permitted as eligible choices. Be careful and smart in your choices because this specimen will form the basis of an A3 poster which you will design and research yourself. After this has been submitted electronically, at our following laboratory 4 session we delivered a brief 5 minute presentation of our posters to a small group of our fellow classmates. We were marked on our overall presentation and response to a question to our poster asked by a fellow student in our group. The posters themselves were also assessed separately, which was based on the content as well as the adherence to style and size etc which were detailed in the preparation guidelines.

​The fifth and final laboratory session was on dermatopathology, where we learned about the (A) normal structure and function of the skin and the pathological consequences of (B) infection and immune mediated reactions which result in damage to different layers of the skin. Both microscope work and small group discussions of photomicrographs were involved. Like laboratories 1 and 2, this will be assessed by a more familiar worksheet-based assignment.


Lecture Content

1 Environmental/toxic injury in Disease

Taught entirely by your course director Associate Professor Nuala Helsby, the opening eight lectures covered the following topics in 2015:

  • Toxicant damage to Cells

  • Hepatotoxicity

  • Alcoholic Liver Damage

  • Pulmonary Toxicity

  • Mechanisms of physical damage

  • Pathology of drug abuse

In addition to her lecture slides, she also provides additional, comprehensive written notes in your course manual and updated versions on CECIL if need be giving you the perfect set of notes without moving a muscle. As you would expect, none of it is particularly difficult to understand but the downside is there is a lot of it. Can't make it too easy for you at stage III can we?


2 Infectious Disease

Associate Professor Nuala Helsby takes the first three lectures on this which are on Fungal diseases, Parasitic disease (malaria) and tuberculosis & mechanisms of tissue damage. 

Lectures on Group A Streptococcus and disease, followed by Microbial AB toxins and diseases are up next delivered by Associate Professor Thomas Proft.

The final three lectures were given by Dr. Simon Swift, based on the role of iron and its acquisition, the importance of effective iron acquisition in infection and targeting iron acquisition as treatments in infection control.

​Unlike Associate Professors Nuala Helsby and Thomas Proft, Dr. Simon does not give traditional lectures but rather holds practical discussion sessions where the relevant literature papers are provided for you to read and examine prior to the allocated 'lecture' time. We were expected to use these papers to answer questions given to us in the Course Guide and discuss these with our fellow classmates and himself (as well as our ever-helpful course co-ordinator Rachelle). Make sure you do the required work prior to session attendance otherwise you will not find your time productive and certainly don't expect the lecture recordings to be of a help either. 


3 Genetic Disease

Dr. Lynsey Cree gave the first four lectures on genetic disease which were on the following topics:

  • Mutational basis of disease

  • Mendelian disease

  • Non-Mendelian diseases

  • Mitochondrial DNA and disease

Professor Peter Browett gave one lecture on Haemochromatosis, while Dr. Sue McGlashan finished off the genetic disease component of the course with Cystic Kidney Disease. These lectures are more in line with what you'd expect of a "typical" lecture where the lecturer talks to you with a PowerPoint aid for the duration of the time.


4 Hypersensitivity and Autoimmune Disease

The shortest "module" of the course with consisted only of three lectures, with Associate Professor Malcolm Tingle lecturing about Allergic Drug Reactions and Dr. Martin Chopra on GvHD (Graft verses Host Disease) in bone marrow transplantation. Associate Professor Thomas Proft finished off on the Role of Microbial Pathogens on Autoimmune Disease.


5 Lifestyle/Endocrine Disease

​Professor Nicola Dalbeth starts off the lifestyle/endocrine diseases section of the course with a lecture on Gout, followed by two lectures on diabetes by Professor Peter Shepherd and finished by Associate Professor Srdjan Vlajkovic on a single Hearing Loss lecture.


6 Neoplastic Disease

The familiar and friendly Dr. Graeme Finlay returns to give three lectures on the genetic, epigenetic and inflammatory basis of cancers. Like he did in MEDSCI 203, his lecture notes and diagrams are all provided for you in the Course Guide in the perfect amount of detail. As you would expect, he also spends most of his lecture time explaining and drawing out diagrams on the document camera. 

​Professor Andrew Shelling is up next with a lecture on Familial and inherited cancer, with Professor Peter Browett returning to finish off the course with the final examinable lecture on leukaemia.

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