Cancer genes

Inside cancer: how genes influence cancer development

An ideal introduction for those interested in understanding how genetics influences the development and spread of cancer.

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About the course

As a ‘Genes and Cancer’ student you will explore the fundamental principles that inform the current understanding of cancer and the spread of cancer within the body, supported by teaching from the University of Bath’s world-class cancer researchers.

As a class we will explore the fundamental differences between cancer cells and normal cells in terms of their genetics and behaviour. We’ll introduce the concept of DNA mutations, and how tumours originate from the selective survival of cells where DNA mutations create an advantage allowing division and growth.

We will cover the role of viruses in specific cancers, and will discuss this in the context of cancer development. We will also look at how the cellular signals controlling cell division and cell death are disrupted in cancer cells.

Students on this course will be taught by current cancer researchers, so will benefit from learning about other cancer hallmarks of stimulating new blood vessel growth and tumour spread. There will also be a brief exploration of some of the current challenges associated with current and new treatments for cancer.

Ultimately, this course will show you how genetics can influence a change in the behaviour of cells to make them cancerous.


This is an introductory level course and will be suitable for students who studied biology at school, although those with more experience will also find the content interesting.

Those who successfully complete this course may be interested in continuing their studies with the University of Glasgow course “Cancer in the 21st century” that builds on this subject matter.