Epigenetics in Human Health and Diseases


The field of epigenetics provides a mechanism for the interaction of the genome with environmental exposures. This module will provide you with a solid foundation in understanding the role of the epigenome in health and disease and how the epigenome changes with age and in response to a plethora of environmental and psychosocial factors.

This module has been developed by the provider to be offered in addition to the National Genomics Education Programme Core and Optional modules.

Course Description

This module will provide an in-depth understanding of the structure (e.g. DNA methylation, histone modification and chromatin remodelling), function (regulation of gene transcription) of the epigenome and its relationship to the genome.  Covering basic epigenetics principles, it will prepare you to understand the role of epigenetic variation in health and disease and how epigenomic information can facilitate discovery of underlying disease mechanisms. The malleable nature of the epigenome in response to aging and environmental factors will be critically evaluated and potential pitfalls in current epigenetic research will be discussed.  The next part of the module will focus on how the field of epigenomics is currently applied in the diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of certain cancers (e.g. prostate cancer). The final part of the module will compare and contrast the different genomic technologies and bioinformatics techniques used to interrogate the epigenome in the context of human health and disease.

Outline of Syllabus

  • The epigenome – the biology concerto in our cells:
    • Epigenetic modifications (DNA methylation, histone modification, chromatin remodelling, non-coding RNAs).
    • Cellular maintenance of the epigenome.
    • Epigenetic control of gene expression.
    • Epigenetics and development.
    • X inactivation and genomic imprinting.
  • Exploring the relationship between the genome and the epigenome:
    • Epimutations
    • Methylation quantitative trait loci (mQTL).
  • Epigenomic plasticity – how aging and environmental factors can alter the epigenome:
    • Epigenetics and ageing.
    • Epigenetics and the environment.
  • Epigenetic variation (special focus on DNA methylation) in human health and disease:
    • Monozygotic twins – same genome, different
    • Epigenetics and brain disorders.
  • The seven plagues of epigenetic epidemiology.
  • Cancer epigenetics :
    • Epigenetic biomarkers in cancer.
    • The emergence of epigenetic therapeutics in cancer treatment.
  • Interrogating the epigenome – experimental techniques and bioinformatics research tools.

Additional information

Course Options

CPPD (15 credits)

Type of Course

CPPD Module


Part Time



Mode of Study


University Providers

University of Exeter


Start Date 1Start Date 2
University of Birmingham
Newcastle University
University of Manchester
University of Sheffield
Imperial College London
Queen Marys University of London / University College London
St George’s, University of London / King’s College London
University of CambridgeApril 2017
University of Southampton
University of ExeterMay 2017

Please check the university providers websites for more detailed information about start dates, length and mode of study.

Funding Rules

Funding is limited to NHS healthcare professionals working in England from the full range of professional backgrounds and groups (such as medicine, nursing, healthcare scientists and technologists).  For those interested in CPPD modules, university entry requirements may include criteria around existing understanding and minimum English language requirements.

The Genomics Education Programme are limiting funding to a maximum of 3 stand alone modules in any one academic year. If your intention is to build up credits for a Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert), a Postgraduate Diploma (PG Dip) or to gradually work towards a full Master’s, please apply for funding from the Masters in Genomic Medicine.

Not all universities offer the same CPPD modules. Please check with your preferred university to obtain details of the programme modules, entry criteria and timing before going through the funding application process.

The funding application process in full

To apply for HEE-funded CPPD modules in Genomic Medicine you will need to first apply to the Genomics Education Programme for funding to cover the module fees and you will also need to go through the CPPD module application process with your chosen university.

CPPD module applications will need to be made directly to the individual university concerned, according to their own criteria and processes.

The process for applying comprises 6 steps. Please complete all of steps 1 to 4 to ensure your application is dealt with as quickly as possible.

  1. First, check that you are eligible for HEE Master’s funding according to the funding rules outlined above.
  2. You should then decide which of the universities you will be applying to. A full list university providers are identified below. Click on their logos for more information.
  3. You should discuss your proposed application, as well as your application for HEE funding with your line manager.
  4. Having secured your manager’s approval to undertake the Master’s module(s), you should complete the appropriate university application process in addition to the HEE funding application.
  5. HEE Genomics Education Programme will assess completed funding applications within two weeks of receipt of your managers approval. Funding decisions will be made by the Genomics Education Programme team and ratified by the Senior Responsible Officer.
  6. If funding is approved, HEE Genomics Education Programme will inform:
    1. The applicant
    2. The employer
    3. The relevant training lead within the applicant’s HEE Local Education and Training Board
    4. The applicant’s NHS England Genomic Medicine Centre (where applicable).

Frequently Asked Questions

The NHS trust that employs me is not part of a designated Genomic Medicine Centre (GMC). Can I still apply for funding?


I have been awarded funding, started the programme but I am unable to complete the programme. What are my options?

Funding is awarded for the period specified in the application form and there is no automatic ability to defer completion of the programme. You should speak to your preferred University provider in the first instance about your situation and also contact the Genomics Education Programme team regarding funding.

You may choose to reduce the workload of your programme by switching from a full MSc to a Diploma or Certificate. See the relevant pages of this website for more information or contact your course provider.

How much study time is required to undertake this programme?

Study time will vary across the delivery partners. You are advised to visit your preferred University website site for more information or to contact the relevant course lead. Most modules generally involve approximately 5 days of face to face teaching, followed by between 2-4 weeks of independent study and assessment preparation.

A distance learning option is provided at Queen Mary University of London.

Can I build up my CPPD modules to a full Master’s, PGDip or PGCert qualification?

The process and ability to do this will be dependent on your preferred University and you should contact them to discuss available options.

Is there any funding provision for students due to complete after September 2018?

Our current funding programme runs until 2018 and all taught modules must be completed by the end of September 2018 to be eligible for HEE funding. Research modules must be completed by the end of March 2019. Courses must also be completed within the time limits stated for each course. You can defer your course if required as long as you complete by the above dates but please be aware that universities may not be able to offer a place at a later date due to demand. Please take this up with your course provider and let us know if you defer your place for any reason.

I am eligible but have been refused a commissioned place – why?

This may be due to the following potential reasons:

  • The University you have applied for has used up all its commissioned allocations
  • The total number of available national commissions have been fully allocated
  • We are now applying controls to the commissioned places based on healthcare profession roles to provide some equitable access across professions on a national scale
I am not eligible for a HEE funded commissioned place – can I self-fund?

This should be discussed with your preferred University

Do you have to have the university place confirmed before you submit an application for funding?

No – as long as the programme start date for your preferred University falls within the specified academic year for the funding application period.

I work for an organisation that provides services to the NHS – am I eligible to apply?

Yes – please provide details in the additional information section of the funding application form.

University Providers

The logos below indicate the university providers that are ready to receive applications for this course. Follow the links provided to begin your university application process.

University of Exeter