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Last modified: 22 May 2019 17:07

Course Overview

  • This advanced course explores the essential role of epithelial cells in renal, gastrointestinal and respiratory function;
  • You will gain valuable practical experience and understanding of the electrophysiological techniques required for study of epithelial transport; 
  • You will develop your writing, data analysis and reporting skills with the production of a detailed practical report;
  • You will hone your critical analysis skills for the interpretation of published scientific material; 
  • You will prepare a presentation on a selected scientific paper, deliver it during a class-led symposium on cutting edge epithelial physiology research

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 3
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus None. Sustained Study No
  • Professor Gordon McEwan

Qualification Prerequisites

  • Either Programme Level 3 or Programme Level 4

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?


Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

Epithelial transport is essential for the maintenance and propagation of life. In this course you will explore the features of transporting epithelial cells which make them uniquely suited for mediating the controlled, directional passage of ions, nutrients and water across the walls of the alimentary, renal and respiratory systems. The importance of these processes to the normal physiological function of these organ systems is reflected by the pathophysiological symptoms which manifest themselves when transport regulation breaks down. For example, infectious diarrhoea occurs as a result of excessive intestinal fluid secretion and accounts for more than five million child deaths per year in developing countries. At the other extreme, the most common genetic disease of the developed world, cystic fibrosis, is caused by a failure of epithelial tissues to secrete any fluid at all resulting in malnutrition, infertility and ultimately, respiratory failure and death. The course will initially examine the common features of transporting epithelial cells and the technologies available for their study. Following on from this, the role of epithelial cells in the kidney, gastrointestinal tract and respiratory system will be examined in detail. Emphasis is placed on understanding the cellular transport mechanisms required for the normal physiological function of these systems in health. Where insight into these processes has been enhanced by the study of disease models, these will be highlighted.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt: 1 one and a half hour essay examination (70%) and in-course assessment (30%). Continuous assessment comprises: 1 laboratory report, 1 oral presentation of a research paper. Resit: 1 one and a half hour essay examination (70%) and previous continuous assessment (30%).

Formative Assessment

- Assessment forms with grading criteria discussed in full with class prior to completion of laboratory report and oral presentation exercises.


- Practical reports will be graded with structured written comments. - General class feedback session following return of graded reports. - Written and verbal feedback provided following grading of oral presentation exercise. - General class feedback session on oral presentation exercise. - Exam information session delivered with advice for successful study.

Course Learning Outcomes


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