The biggest modern breakthrough for cancer treatment has been antibody therapies. An increasing number of biotechnology companies have antibody - or vaccine-based cancer therapies in development. This course aims to attract students interested in tumour immunology who wish to pursue a career either in industry (biotechnology) or academia.
The course covers both antibody and vaccine cancer therapies and explores the immunology of the tumour host interface. In addition, students will learn about intellectual property and how to exploit scientific research in scientific writings, patents and in development of business plans applicable to the biotechnology industry. To gain practical experience in research, students will carry out a research project in the field of tumour immunology.
- Acquire a specialised knowledge in tumour immunology with particular reference to monoclonal antibody and cancer vaccines
- Develop the critical and analytical power to evaluate scientific literature
- Perform a scientific research project
- Acquire the ability to communicate scientific results orally and in writing
- Learn about business exploitation of cancer therapy
Innovative features of this course
- The only MSc course based entirely on tumour immunology.
- Students undertake a substantial research project, during which time they acquire a considerable amount of laboratory-based skills.
- A module based entirely on scientific writing and the development of a business plan.
- Individuals from industry lecture on the course.
- It is suitable for graduates in life sciences, biomedical sciences and allied subjects, and also for people already in suitable employment who wish to improve and update their knowledge and experience.
- This course attracts students from the UK and worldwide.
I really enjoyed the course. At first I thought it might be too much of a challenge for me to catch up with everyone because I did not do much molecular science, but the lecturers and staff were really helpful. They made sure everyone was on the same level and there was always someone with whom you could speak to if you had any problems. Let's just say they are always there if you need help.
The course also focused on the business side as well, which was a nice change. We were also given lectures by people from the industry. All in all, I would have no hesitation in recommending this course to anyone seeking to develop their scientific knowledge, skills and enhance their career prospects.
The course prepared me for the cut-throat business of securing research funding, patents and the enormous opportunities available in this new and fascinating field.
Nottingham is a wonderful place to study with excellent academic support and several postgraduate social events throughout the year. I thoroughly enjoyed my one year here.
Comments from potential employers (biotechnology companies)
This subject is currently undergoing massive expansion and yet qualifies graduates are difficult to find. The industry as a whole would benefit from having a source of students with this qualification and from our point of view, such a course may provided candidates that are potentially useful to our company.
A course in cancer immunotherapy would provide valuable training for people wanting to seek a career in the biopharmaceutical industry where much of the research and development effort is focussed on targeted biological therapies for cancer.
The MSc Cancer Immunology and Biotechnology is taught on a full-time basis over one year (September to late August).
You will take 120 credits worth of taught modules, as well as a 60-credit research module which will enable you to experience contemporary research methods by designing a research programme and performing experiments, surveys, or other research activities aimed at solving a specific biomedical problem.
This course requires you to complete the following taught modules:
- Immunity and the Immune System
- Molecular Basis of Cancer
- Tumour Immunology
- Cancer Vaccines
- Scientific Writing and Business Development
- Monoclonal Antibodies
- Host-Tumour Interface
- Library Dissertation
Please note that all module details are subject to change.
Course material is delivered in a variety of ways, including lectures, practical sessions, tutorials and problem-based learning sessions. The online MSc database provides a central point for students to access their timetables, assessment results and easy access to additional module resources provided by staff. Students will be expected to work independently, and as part of a group.
The Greenfield Medical Library houses a broadly based collection of biomedical, nursing and healthcare related books and periodicals and holds current subscriptions to 780 journals, reports and series titles. In addition to the print versions housed in the library, the majority of journals can be accessed electronically.
The majority of modules are assessed by both written examinations and a combination of oral presentations, a practical and essays. The exceptions to this are the library dissertation, the research project and the scientific writing and business development modules where there are no written examinations. The library dissertation is assessed by a thesis and an oral presentation. The scientific writing and business development module is assessed by a business plan. The research project is assessed by a research paper, practical work and viva voce.
Who teaches on the course?
The MSc Cancer Immunology and Biotechnology is coordinated by academic staff within the Division of Oncology
, which is located within Nottingham City Hospital. In addition, lectures are given by individuals working in industry, and from other members of academic staff in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.
What support is available?
A welcome reception and series of induction sessions are held at the commencement of the course to disseminate key course documentation to introduce students to key staff and inform them of the University-wide and course pastoral and social support mechanisms, how to use library resources, email and computing resources.
Each student is also allocated a personal tutor within two weeks of starting the MSc, and they are required to have at least two documented meetings per semester. The personal tutors are members of academic staff within the school, and are available for both academic guidance and pastoral care. Conversations are always confidential, unless it is jointly agreed that others need to be contacted.
Each module has a convenor that is responsible for all matters concerning that particular module.
Project supervisors are assigned to each student for the research project.
Students are requested to elect a representative to liaise between the course co-ordinator and the class.
The School of Medicine has strong IT facilities. These range from school-only resources to resources provided by central University for all University of Nottingham students.
In addition to this support, the University provides central services in the form of counselling, academic support and student guidance. The International Office provides additional resources for overseas students.
Immunity and the Immune System
This 10 credit module provides an overview of the mechanisms and concepts underpinning the science of immunology.
Molecular Basis of Cancer
This 20 credit module is made up of a series of lectures giving students an in-depth understanding of normal cell regulatory mechanisms and how these are altered during the carcinogenic process.
This 10 credit module gives an overview of immunological approaches to cancer immunotherapy and immunological mechanisms and how these may be used to optimise therapeutic approaches.
This 20 credit module is made up of a series of lectures and discussion groups providing information on cancer vaccines. Topics include: what makes a good vaccine; different vaccine designs; animal models and immunological techniques. This module will cover subjects that have been introduced on the tumour immunology module in more depth.
Scientific Writing and Business Development
The 20 credit module focuses on the commercialism of research with lectures also on intellectual property. Invited speakers from industry will contribute to this module. In addition, students will learn how to write a business plan on a cancer immunotherapy concept. Students will work in groups to represent individuals in a company and they will develop their own novel concept and write a business plan.
This 20 credit module will provide information on the generation of monoclonal antibodies, clinical trials involving antibodies and the future uses of antibody therapy in cancer prevention.
This 20 credit module will highlight the current understanding of the immunobiology of tumours. This will include the following topics: immunosurveillance, tumour resistance, regulatory T cells. antigenic targets, cytokine therapy, non-specific immunity and animal models.
The research project is worth 60 credits. It will be undertaken on a tumour immunology related subject and will allow the student to learn the practical and intellectual skills necessary for scientific investigation. The student will also gain experience in project management and acquire more specialised skills related to the project. Students may be able to perform their projects in industrial placements. The module is assessed on progress reports (practical skills), an oral presentation and a write-up in the style of a scientific paper.
Examples of previous research projects
- Production of a monoclonal antibody that kills ovarian cancer cells
- An anti-endothelial vaccine targeting endothelin receptor B
- Modulation of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor signalling on human dendritic cells to improve anti-cancer immune responses
- Generation of recombinant ligand Fc fusion proteins to co-stimulate CD55 on T cells
- Microencapsulation of Hepatitis B surface antigen protein and DNA using supercritical fluid technology
- Perturbation of MAPK signalling pathways following exposure of dendritic cells to melanoma lysates
- Identification of antigen specific T regulatory epitopes
- Regulation of IL12, IL23 & IL27 gene expression in dendritic cells by malignant melanoma
- Interleukin (IL)- 27 modifies CD28 and CD55 mediated costimulation of naïve CD4+ T cells
- Tumour-mediated regulation of dendritic cell interaction with lymphendothelium
- Investigation of the effect of IL17 on MMP2 & 9 in breast cancer
- Antigen specific generation of Tr1
- Immune responses to tumour associated antigens in cancer
- The role of CD55 in mouse colorectal cancer
- Analysis of the tumour suppressor LIMD1 in breast cancer
- Investigation of encapsulated tetanus toxoid antigen to generate a single-dose vaccine to tetanus
For more details on our modules, please see the module catalogue.
Several scholarships for home/EU students may be available from the School of Medicine.
The Graduate School website at The University of Nottingham provides more information on internal and external sources of postgraduate funding.
Please also visit the online funding database.
International and EU students
The University of Nottingham offers a range of masters scholarships for international and EU students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study.
Applicants must receive an offer of study before applying for our scholarships. Applications for 2016 entry scholarships will open in late 2015. Please note the closing dates of any scholarships you are interested in and make sure you submit your masters course application in good time so that you have the opportunity to apply for them.
The International Office also provides information and advice for international and EU students on financing your degree, living costs, external sources of funding and working during your studies.
Find out more on our scholarships, fees and finance webpages for international applicants.
The MSc Cancer Immunology and Biotechnology attracts students who are interested in pursuing a career in academia and also those who wish to enter the pharmaceutical industry.
Graduates from our course have gone on to do the following:
- PhD at the University of Oxford
- PhD at The University of Nottingham
- PhD at the Univeristy of Birmingham
- PhD at the University of Leeds
- Work for Medimmune (Worldwide biologics business of AstraZeneca)
- Research technicians
- Postgraduate medicine programs
- Patent lawyer
- Recruitment consultant
Average starting salary and career progression
In 2014, 98% of postgraduates in the School of Medicine who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £31,261 with the highest being £75,000.*
*Known destinations of full-time home and EU postgraduates, 2013/14.
Career prospects and employability
The acquisition of a masters degree demonstrates a high level of knowledge in a specific field. Whether you are using it to enhance your employability, as preparation for further academic research or as a means of vocational training, you may benefit from careers advice as to how you can use your new found skills to their full potential.
Our Careers and Employability Service will help you do this, working with you to explore your options and inviting you to attend recruitment events where you can meet potential employers, as well as suggesting further development opportunities, such as relevant work experience placements and skills workshops.