Skip to main content
Unit of study_

AMED3901: Cancer (Advanced)

What does it mean when someone tells you: you have cancer? Initially you're probably consumed with questions like: how did this happen? and will this cancer kill me? In this unit, we will explore all aspects of the cancer problem from the underlying biomedical and environmental causes, through to emerging approaches to cancer diagnosis and treatment. You will integrate medical science knowledge from a diverse range of disciplines and apply this to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer both at the individual and community level. Together we will explore the epidemiology, aetiology and pathophysiology of cancer. You will be able to define problems and formulate solutions related to the study, prevention and treatment of cancer with consideration throughout for the economic, social and psychological costs of a disease that affects billions. Face-to-face and online learning activities will allow you to work effectively in individual and collaborative contexts. You will acquire advanced skills to interpret and communicate observations and experimental findings related to the cancer problem to diverse audiences. Upon completion, you will have developed the foundations that will allow you to follow a career in cancer research, clinical and diagnostic cancer services and/or the corporate system that supports the health care system. This advanced version of Cancer has the same overall concepts as the mainstream unit but material is discussed in a manner that offers a greater level of challenge and academic rigour. Students enrolled in the advanced stream will participate in alternative components which may for example include guest appearances from leading cancer experts. The nature of these components may vary from year to year.


Academic unit
Unit code AMED3901
Unit name Cancer (Advanced)
Session, year
Semester 1, 2020
Attendance mode Normal day
Location Westmead, Sydney
Credit points 6

Enrolment rules

A mark of 70 or above in [12cp from (IMMU2101 or MEDS2004 or MIMI2002 or MIMI2902 or PHSI2005 or PHSI2905 or PHSI2006 or PHSI2906 or PHSI2007 or PHSI2907 or MEDS2001 or PCOL2011 or PCOL2021 or MEDS2002 or BCMB2001 or BCMB2901 or MEDS2003)] or a mark of 70 or above in [BMED2401 and 6cp from (BMED2402 or BMED2403 or BMED2404 or BMED2405 or BMED2406)]
Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff and contact details

Coordinator Geraldine O'Neill,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Analysing data and communicating like a professional
Journal article title and abstract
10% Week 07 1 page
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Assignment Multimedia communication
Multimedia with accompanying description
15% Week 09 Short video + 2 page accompanying text
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Assignment group assignment Cancer Case Study
Preparation and submission of a poster
15% Week 11 Preparation and submission of a poster
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO9 LO8 LO7 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Tutorial quiz In-class quiz
Multiple choice questions covering lecture material from Module 4
20% Week 13 1 hour
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Assignment Writing your own research proposal
Research grant proposal
30% Week 14 (STUVAC) 5 pages
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO5 LO9
Small continuous assessment Workshops and practicals
Range of quizzes, pre-class and post-class activities
10% Weekly weekly
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO7 LO6 LO4 LO3 LO2
group assignment = group assignment ?
  • Analysing data and communicating like a professional. Students will be provided with a journal article with the title and abstract redacted and will be required to write a title and abstract for the article in their own words.
  • Multimedia communication. Students will create a 90 second video addressing a particular aspect of cancer for a defined audience. The video will be supported by an accompanying document detailing the scholarly sources used as evidence for the video.
  • Cancer Case Study. Students will workonline in a group preparing the answers to the cancer case studies and creating a poster describing their findings.
  • In-class quiz. A multiple choice quiz covering the lecture material in Module 4.
  • Writing your own research project. Small groups of students will work with an academic lead to identify a research question. They will research the question and propose an experimental approach to answering the research question. This will then be written in the format of research grant proposal.
  • Workshops and practicals. Throughout the semester there are a number of pre-class and post-class activities. Each activity completed (on time) will be awarded a mark of 1, to a total of 10 points. Relevant activities highlighted in pink on homepage table

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

Mastery of topics showing extensive integration and ability to transfer knowledge to novel contexts; treatment of tasks shows an advanced synthesis of ideas; demonstration of initiative, complex understanding and analysis; work is very well presented; all criteria addressed and learning outcomes achieved to an outstanding level


75 - 84

Excellent achievement, consistent evidence of deep understanding and application of knowledge in medical science; treatment of tasks shows advanced understanding of topics; demonstration of initiative, complex understanding and analysis; work is well-presented; all criteria addressed and learning outcomes achieved to a superior level


65 - 74

Confident in explaining medical science processes, with evidence of solid understanding and achievement; occasional lapses indicative of unresolved issues; treatment of tasks shows a good understanding of topic; work is well-presented with a minimum of errors; all criteria addressed and learning outcomes achieved to a high level


50 - 64

Satisfactory level of engagement with and understanding of topic; some inconsistencies in understanding and knowledge of medical science; work is adequately presented, with some errors or omissions, most criteria addressed and learning outcomes achieved to an adequate level


0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Special consideration

If you experience short-term circumstances beyond your control, such as illness, injury or misadventure or if you have essential commitments which impact your preparation or performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Multiple weeks Module 1: The patient journey Online class (4 hr) LO1 LO4 LO5
Module 1: The patient journey Workshop (6 hr) LO1 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Module 2: Communicating about cancer to diverse audiences Workshop (8 hr) LO4 LO5 LO6 LO8
Module 3: Tumour pathology Online class (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Module 3: Tumour pathology Workshop (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Module 3: Tumour pathology Practical (6 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Module 4: Molecular basis of cancer Online class (9.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO9
Module 4: Molecular basis of cancer Workshop (10 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO9
Module 5: Project-based Learning Online class (2 hr) LO1 LO4 LO5 LO9
Module 5: Project-based Learning Project (10 hr) LO1 LO4 LO5 LO9

Attendance and class requirements

  • Laboratory equipment: You are required to bring a laboratory gown, closed-toe shoes and safety glasses for all the laboratory practicals.
  • Additional materials: You will need a wireless-enabled, fully charged, electronic BYO device that you can type on (e.g. laptop), that has word processing package (preferably Microsoft word) and a web browser. You must also bring a pen and paper to the workshops for off-line activities.
  • Attendance: The University of Sydney Coursework Policy 2014 states:
    55 (2) A student enrolled in a unit of study must comply with the requirements set out in the faculty resolutions, award course resolutions or unit of study outline about undertaking the unit of study, including on matters
    such as: (a) attendance at and participation in lectures, seminars and tutorials; and (b) participation in practical work.
    The Faculty of Science resolutions states:
    9(1). Students are expected to attend a minimum of 80% of timetabled activities for a unit of study, unless granted exemption by the Associate Dean. The Associate Dean may determine that a student has failed a unit of
    study because of inadequate attendance. Students are advised that they are required to participate appropriately, in all classroom and examination tasks and group work involving all genders. The Faculty is unable to
    exempt students from these tasks for legal reasons.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

All readings for this unit can be accessed on the Library eReserve link available on Canvas.

  • Weinberg (2013) The Biology of Cancer, 2 Garland Science.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University’s graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. identify, appraise, and debate major questions of fundamental and translational importance in cancer
  • LO2. examine the ways in which multiple cellular and molecular pathways act together to allow tumour cells to overcome the constraints of normal cellular physiology, evade immune destruction, and ultimately metastasise
  • LO3. investigate the ways in which you can therapeutically target various cells and molecules for the prevention and treatment of cancer
  • LO4. evaluate the tools used to tackle contemporary cancer research questions
  • LO5. apply analytical skills to evaluate evidence from multiple sources including experimental data sets, as well as that published in the scientific literature
  • LO6. evaluate the key public health measures that are known to reduce cancer risk, and design new approaches that could increase the success of these campaigns
  • LO7. examine the ethical and political issues related to equitable patient access to the next generation of cancer diagnostics and treatment options
  • LO8. demonstrate an ability to work effectively with colleagues from different areas of specialisation
  • LO9. formulate hypotheses and select translatable medical science approaches to improve cancer outcomes for patients, their families, and the wider community.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities
This is the first time this unit has been offered.

Students must bring their own electronic device. All course material and workshop activities are accessed via Canvas.

Work, health and safety

We are governed by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 and Codes of Practice. Penalties for non-compliance have increased. Everyone has a responsibility for health and safety at work. The University’s Work Health and Safety policy explains the responsibilities and expectations of workers and others, and the procedures for managing WHS risks associated with University activities.

General Laboratory Safety Rules

  • No eating or drinking is allowed in any laboratory under any circumstances 
  • A laboratory coat and closed-toe shoes are mandatory 
  • Follow safety instructions in your manual and posted in laboratories 
  • In case of fire, follow instructions posted outside the laboratory door 
  • First aid kits, eye wash and fire extinguishers are located in or immediately outside each laboratory 
  • As a precautionary measure, it is recommended that you have a current tetanus immunisation. This can be obtained from University Health Service:


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.