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2019/20 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

MEDM5131M Animal Models of Disease

15 creditsClass Size: 35

Module manager: Dr Elizabeth Valleley

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

Pre-requisite qualifications

As per programme entry qualifications

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module will provide insights into the use of vertebrate animal models in disease research. Particular areas of focus will be the ways models are generated and their use in particular key fields.


Students will explore:
- The roles of animal models in investigating specific disease processes and novel therapies
- Consideration of animal welfare and ethics
- The legislation underpinning animal research in the UK
- The 3Rs in animal research

Learning outcomes
By the end of this module students will be able to:
- Evaluate the contribution that animal models have made, and continue to make, to our understanding of disease and biological processes, as well as the shortcomings and problems associated with them;
- Relate extensive knowledge of the types of animal models available to the relative advantages and disadvantages of the various models;
- Recognise the complexity of the ethics surrounding use of animals in research and consideration of non-animal alternatives;
- Design an animal experiment and control for the variables that can influence the outcome, including the use of online resources to assist in experimental design and analysis;
- Demonstrate practical familiarity with some model organisms.

Skills outcomes
Animal handling and basic surgical techniques
Basic rodent phenotyping


Animal handling and welfare (meets requirements for obtaining a Home Office Personal Licence to carry out animal experimentation)
History and strengths/weaknesses of specific animal models
Toxicology and pharmaceutical research

Animal Models of Disease:
Zebrafish, amphibians
Higher mammals

Generating genetically altered models:
Gene targeting in ES cells
RNA knockdown

Techniques used in animal model research:
Phenotyping assays including imaging
Basic animal genetics

Disease-specific models:
Cancer and PCD
Neuroscience and neurological disease
Stem cells and relationship to 3Rs

Experimental design and statistics:
Good design – randomization, sexes
Variables that can affect outcome
Power Calculations, statistical tests

The 3Rs

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours116.00
Total Contact hours34.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

Prior to most tutorials, practicals or site visit, students will have to do some background reading (ca. 5 hours in total).
For the presentation session, each student will be able to choose a topic from which they would need to do some background reading and preparation of presentation in order to present their work to the rest of the group (ca. 20 hours).
For the interactive tutorials, papers will be given in advance that must be read and critiqued (ca. 10 hours in total)
In addition to this, a major independent learning component will be the literature review for the assessed essay (ca. 50 hours).
Background reading is required for each seminar to ensure all students have the basic knowledge required to understand the lecture (3 hours before and after each lecture; 30 hours in total).

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Brief MCQs following some of the seminars will be used to assess progress.

The small practical assessment on animal handling and MCQ after the HO Modules 1-3 will act as a means of assessing progress (understanding and development of technical skills). The interactive tutorials and practicals will enable tutors to interact first-hand with the students and assess their progress.

Students will submit a draft version of their essay and presentation. Feedback will be given on all by Email or in person but will also include at least one 1:1 session will take place with each student at least 4 weeks prior to the submission or presentation date.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2000 words55.00
Oral Presentation10 minutes + 5 minutes for questions30.00
Computer ExerciseUsing online resources to complete a work sheet for an exercise in study design15.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Compensation applies

Reading list

There is no reading list for this module

Last updated: 30/04/2019


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