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Course Code: BIOL 3103
Faculty: Science & Technology
Department: Biology
Credits: 4.0
Semester: 15 weeks
Learning Format: Lecture, Lab
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

The fundamental principles of immunology are introduced. Cellular, molecular and regulatory mechanisms of innate and adaptive immunity are presented by exploring immunological reactions to infectious agents, allergens, auto-antigens, cancer cells and transplant tissue.

Course Content

1. Components of the immune system and their roles in immunity

  • Microbiota versus pathogenic organisms

  • Barriers against infection

  • Inflammation – a stereotyped response to tissue injury

  • Characteristics of innate and adaptive immunity

  • Cells of the immune system and their origins

  • Adaptive immunity - B and T lymphocyte receptors: immunoglobulins and T cell receptors, respectively.

  • Overview of effector mechanisms of B and T lymphocytes

  • Lymphoid tissues

2. Induction of innate immunity in response to infection

  • Physical barriers and commensal microbiota contribute to resist invasion by pathogens

  • Comparison of immune responses to intracellular versus extracellular pathogens

  • The complement system - its activation and roles during infection

  • Timing of phagocyte activation during infection

  • Cellular and humoral mechanisms of inflammation

3.  Effector mechanisms of innate immunity

  • Pattern recognition receptors and microbial associated molecular patterns in host discrimination of “non-self” from “self”

  • Macrophage phagocytic and signaling receptors activation in response to infection

  • Cytokines and acute phase proteins in infection

  • Detection of four main groups of pathogens by toll-like receptors

  • Linkage of resistance and susceptibility to disease to genetic variation in toll-like receptors

  • Innate resistance to viral infections

4. Immunoglobulin structure and generation of B cell diversity

  • Structural basis of antibody diversity

  • Overview of generation of immunoglobulin diversity in B cells prior to antigen encounter

  • Diversification of antibodies after B cell antigen activation

5. T lymphocytes and antigen recognition

  • Diversity of the T-cell receptor (TCR)

  • Antigen processing and presentation

  • Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) and associated molecules

  • Function of MHC class I and MHC class II molecules in different intracellular compartments

  • Variation in expression of MHC class I and class II molecules in different cell types

6. B lymphocyte development

  • Overview of B cell development in the bone marrow

  • Selection and further development of the B-cell repertoire

7.  T lymphocyte development

  • Overview of T cell development in the thymus

  • Positive and negative selection of the T-cell repertoire

8. T cell mediated immunity

  • Naive T cell activation by antigen

  • Characteristics and roles of effector T cells

9. B cell mediated immunity and immunoglobulins

  • Antibody production by B lymphocytes

  • Antibody effector functions

10. Mucosal immunity

  • Mucosal surfaces as barriers and site of gut microbiota

  • Protective mechanisms at gut mucosal surface

  • Induction of a TH2-mediated immune response to helminthic infections

11. Immunological memory in adaptive immunity and vaccination

  • Immunological memory and the secondary immune response

  • Memory B and T cells

  • Immunological memory and viral infections

  • Immunological basis for the protective effect of vaccination

  • Adjuvants and vaccines

  • Current approaches to vaccine production

  • Influenza vaccines

  • Vaccination and public health

12. Co-evolution of innate and adaptive immunity

  • Regulation of NK-cell function

  • Maintenance of tissue integrity by gamma:delta T cells

  • Restriction of alpha:beta T cells by non-polymorphic MHC class I-like molecules

13. Failure of immunity against microorganisms

  • Pathogen evasion and subversion of the immune system by microorganisms

  • Inherited immunodeficiencies

  • Acquired immune deficiency syndrome

14.  Allergens and allergic responses

  • Hypersensitivity reactions and their effector mechanisms

  • IgE in immunity and allergy

  • IgE-mediated allergic disease

15. Transplantation immunology

  • Triggering of hyposensitivity reactions by allogeneic transplantation

  • Solid organ transplantation 

  • Hematopoietic cell transplantation

16. Immunopathology due to adaptive immune responses

  • Immunological basis of auto-immune diseases

  • HLA genotype influences auto-immune disease susceptibility

  • Autoimmune diseases due to auto-antibodies against cell-surface receptors

  • Intravenous immunoglobulin in the management of auto-immune diseases

  • Rheumatoid arthritis immunopathology and treatment strategies

  • Precipitation of auto-immunity by immune response to infectious and noninfectious agents

  • Noninfectious environmental factors affect the development of auto-immune disease

  • Thymus and T cell senescence contribute to auto-immunity

  • Auto-inflammatory diseases of innate immunity

17. Tumor immunology

  • Cancer and mutations related to uncontrolled cell growth

  • Number of accumulated mutations and origin of cancer in single cells

  • Immunological responses to cancers

  • Requirement of tumors for evasion and modulation of the immune response

  • Vaccination as a strategy to prevent some cancers (e.g. cervix, liver)

  • Immunotherapy

18. Immunological tools and techniques explored through laboratory activities will include the following:

  • Uses of antibodies as tools for diagnosis and research

  • Cell-based assays

Methods of Instruction


Laboratory activities

Discussion groups

Readings from scientific journal articles

Guest lectures

Projects (e.g. poster presentation, research paper presentation on a topic of current interest)

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy. The instructor will present a written course outline with specific evaluation criteria at the beginning of the semester. Evaluation will be based on the following:

Evaluation Marks
Quizzes & presentations 15-25
Laboratory assignments  15-25
Comprehensive examination - midterm  15-25
Comprehensive examination - final 25-35


Learning Outcomes

 Following completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. Describe the components of the immune system and explain their functions during immunity.

  2. Describe the role of innate immunity as the first line of defense against infections.

  3. Describe the physical, chemical and cellular effectors of innate immunity.

  4. Describe immunoglobulin structure and the generation of B cell diversity.

  5. Describe the cellular and molecular basis for T lymphocyte recognition of antigens and the role of Major Histocompatibility Complex proteins.

  6. Describe the development of B lymphocytes in bone marrow and deletion of auto-reactive clones.

  7. Describe T lymphocyte development in the thymus including positive and negative selection of the T cell repertoire.

  8. Explain the basis for T cell mediated immunity and production of distinct effector T cell phenotypes in response to particular types of pathogens.

  9. Describe B cell mediated immunity, antibody production and functions of immunoglobulin isotypes.

  10. Explain the basis of mucosal immunity, including the importance of the gut microbiota.

  11. Describe the development of immunological memory during adaptive immunity and explain the rationale for vaccination.

  12. Describe the co-evolution of innate and adaptive components of the immune system.

  13. Explain mechanisms of immunological failure in response to microorganisms and outline the pathogenesis of immunodeficiency disorders, including human immunodeficiency virus infection.

  14. Describe the immunopathology of allergy and allergic disorders.

  15. Describe the host responses to alloantigens and the immunological basis for transplant rejection.

  16. Describe the immunopathology of auto-immunity, including rheumatoid arthritis.

  17. Describe the immune response to tumours and explain mechanisms of tumour evasion in the immune response.

  18. Describe the utility of immunological tools and techniques in research.

  19. Analyze immunological case studies using clinical examples. (optional content)

course prerequisites

BIOL 2321 and BIOL 2421 and either (BIOL 1103 & 1203) or (BIOL 1109 & 1209) or BIOL 2103



curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.