The Molecular Pathology (MSc by Research) is a high quality masters course designed to meet NHS and industry needs for molecular pathologists in the genomic medicine era.
1. For both medically qualified graduates and non-medical science graduates
Science graduates mainly in life-sciences, genetics, biomedical sciences, pathology, biochemistry and microbiology are expected to find the course useful. The course will:
- provide training for a career in life sciences/allied disciplines (including the area of molecular diagnostics)
- improve employability in the rapidly expanding market of molecular diagnostics
- be a source of continuing professional development for persons already employed in the molecular diagnostics or biotechnology industry
- be a firm foundation for NHS clinical scientists and biomedical staff in pathology to complete higher research training
For the medically qualified, the course would be most suitable for those undertaking/wishing to specialise in disciplines such as histopathology and allied disciplines, such as oncology and clinical genetics.
- For histopathologists in training, this course will be an excellent opportunity to learn in-depth about molecular pathology, currently included in the Royal College of Pathologists, UK, curriculum and examined in the Year 1 OSPE and FRCPath exams.
- For qualified histopathologists, this training programme can be part of professional development to stay abreast of latest developments in molecular pathology.
- Medical staff from allied disciplines, such as oncology and clinical genetics who wish to add on in-depth experience of molecular diagnostics to incorporate into patient care, will also benefit from this course.
- Fresh medical graduates may also undertake this course as a career development initiative.
Overall, we aim to create a research-active clinical academic base in future pathology services.
2. A high-quality flexible programme including distance-learning for the taught component
- The MSc in Molecular Pathology (180 credits) is a unique highly flexible blended programme with the taught component (60 credits) being delivered and assessed entirely as a distance learning programme whilst the research component (120 credits) is undertaken either in the University/industry/NHS.
[*Please note that the 60 credits of taught modules are also available as a stand-alone PGCert for those who wish to undertake the taught component only.]
- The distance learning delivered taught component can be undertaken from ANY location i.e., offering flexibility to students to learn from their home/job location etc. and hence offering indirect advantages of cost savings on relocation/subsistence etc. for about three months.
- Further, the taught component of the course is truly multi-disciplinary. The discipline of molecular pathology as we know today is multidisciplinary involving clinicians, histopathologists, geneticists, bio-informaticians, statisticians and industry. Both the research and taught modules on the course, promote inter-disciplinary interactions and utilises the expertise of specialist staff. The training will be delivered using a variety of different methods (lectures, tutorials, problem solving, discussion forum, workshops). The on-line training will be supplemented with regular “live sessions” with module convenors.
- The research component of the course is substantial for an MSc programme (7 months full time), during which time students will acquire a considerable number of transferable laboratory-based and general scientific skills.
3. Research project in world-leading laboratories
4. Potential research placements in industry
Some of the research projects that will be offered on the course will be collaborative placements in industry including research partners such as Astra Zeneca and Source BioScience. For such projects, there will be a named University supervisor and an industry based supervisor who will work in close collaboration. This will be particularly beneficial for those who will seek further career in industry.
5. The course aligns with prestigious UK initiatives
The course has been specifically tailored to address a critical skills gap (molecular diagnostics in pathology) identified by the MRC, EPSRC and Royal College of Pathologists (RCPath), UK.
The course is an established activity of the Nottingham Molecular Pathology Node (NPMN), which is one of the six nodes in the UK, funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to develop molecular pathology tests which will help deliver better targeted, more effective treatments - known as 'stratified medicine' - across a wide range of disease areas.
6. Holistic approach compared to similar UK courses
The advantages of the University of Nottingham MSc Molecular Pathology by Research programme are as follows:
- Blended delivery; not either a research only or taught only programme
- Flexibility of distance learning for the taught component
- Focussed delivery of the taught component within ~3 months, helping especially histopathologists, who would need a focussed delivery to supplement preparation for the Royal College Exams
• Both clinical and molecular aspects including statistics and bioinformatics are balanced in coverage.
7. Fee support for Home/EU students
A few course bursaries will be available per year to Home/EU students for the MSc Molecular Pathology/Companion PGCert.
Up to 5 bursaries worth £2000 each will be available per year to offset the cost of tuition fees. Each student will be considered individually for a bursary on a competitive basis.
International students will be eligible for the International Office administered scholarships.
1. Course directors
You will take 60-credits’ worth of taught modules, and a 120-credit research project leading to a dissertation.
The course consists of three taught modules (compulsory) and an extended laboratory-based project.
- Genetics and Gene regulation
- Statistics and Bioinformatics
- Theoretical & Applied Molecular Diagnostics in the NHS
- Research Module
- There are no optional modules on the course
- All module details are subject to change
- The modules we offer are inspired by the RCPath curriculum, molecular diagnostics developments and research interests of our staff and hence may change for reasons of, for example, national curriculum/legislation changes and future research developments. This list enlists the current modules we offer.
4. Research project
The research project enables students to experience contemporary research methods by engaging them to design a research programme and perform experiments, surveys, or other research activities aimed at solving a specific molecular pathology problem. Each student will be allocated an academic supervisor with whom they will discuss the project prior to commencement. Students will first collect, analyse data, read and collate previous results relevant to their project, then embark on a period of laboratory based research before preparing, writing and submitting a scientific paper. They will write a clear and concise report and will discuss their work with academic members during an oral presentation. The principal activities will be completion of the practical work and submission of a final report in the form of a dissertation and presentation.
Possible research projects
List of research projects for the year will be available to students on commencement of the course. They are likely to be based broadly on the following topics (not prescriptive):
- Molecular characterisation of cancers (including colorectal, breast, ovarian, melanomas, hepato-biliary)
- Molecular Pathology of non-malignant lung disease (obstructive and chronic fibrotic lung diseases)
- Molecular Pathology of liver disease (incl. hepatitis, fatty liver disease etc.)
- Molecular Pathology of Inflammatory GI Disorders including H.pylori gastritis, inflammatory bowel disease
- Computational data analytics
- Intelligent Search Informatics
- Histogenic Molecular Mapping
- Companion diagnostics to novel targeted therapy in cancers
- Novel tumour-associated cytokines
- Characterisation of tumour antigens
- Tumour hypoxia
- Development and biological assessment of cancer vaccines
- Development of novel prognostic screening techniques
1. How will I learn?
Taught course material is delivered online, including lectures and practical sessions. The students will be supported throughout the course through a combination of the follows:
- Online weekly “open classrooms” for lecture support
- E-fora for discussion groups
- Problem based learning scenarios
- Formative MCQs
- Other relevant e-learning resources for each module.
During the research component, students will use advanced literature search techniques and bibliography generation tools, engage in an extended period of practical laboratory work and extensive statistical analyses and learn effective presentation skills. During this period on campus, they will have access to the Greenfield Medical Library that houses a broad 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. In addition, students will be able to access the George Green Library, Djanogly Learning Resource Centre and James Cameron-Gifford libraries for access to relevant material.
2. Who teaches on the course?
The course is convened by academics within the Division of Cancer and Stem Cells, School of Medicine. The School of Life Sciences and School of Veterinary Medicine and Science also contribute to teaching. There are also several external lecturers from reputed institutions around the UK who contribute to the course.
3. How will I be assessed?
The taught component is assessed using several different methods including essays, online timed coursework, recorded oral presentation, online poster presentation and viva voce.
The research project is examined by project supervisor feedback, viva voce (oral) examination, as well as presenting the project as a dissertation.
4. How is the course evaluated?
The quality of teaching in the course is monitored through University protocols, including student evaluation of teaching (SET), student evaluation of modules (SEM) and student evaluation of the course (SEC). In addition, the school regularly conducts peer review of teaching to maintain high standards. An external examiner ensures that the content is relevant, assessments appropriate and standards comparable to other postgraduate teaching in the UK.
A student representative, elected by students, is responsible for passing on feedback to the management group and raising awareness to issues, if any.
5. What support is available?
Students are well supported throughout the programme, whether on the taught or the research component. We want students to enjoy their tenure with us. You are guaranteed support, both personally and academically, and in accordance with the University's Equal Opportunities Policy.
Apart from formal academic support through online tutorials, discussion fora and project supervision, the course directors, Professor Mohammed Ilyas and Dr Abhik Mukherjee would be responsible for the general management and organisation of the course. Any issues with any part of the course can be referred to them in the first instance.
Each student is 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.
In addition to this, students are encouraged to use the University’s central services in the form of counselling, academic support and student guidance, if needed. The International Office provides additional support for overseas students.
6. What is the course timetable like?
The online taught modules are delivered from end September to December. Lectures for the week are available online from the beginning of the week for students to direct learning flexibly at their own pace and ensures that there is enough time for self-directed learning and preparation for assessments. A weekly online tutorial discusses any queries that the students may have from the week’s lectures. Assessments for the taught component takes place mainly in December apart from any essays which may have a deadline.
Research projects commence immediately following allocation in January, for five days a week, until the end of July. The research vivas are held in early September.
For students undertaking the course part-time, there will be the option of undertaking all the taught components (3 months full time) in Year 1 and deferring the research component (7 months full time) in the next academic year (Year 2) (for science graduates) or Year 2/3 (for histopathologists in training). [Please note that both the taught component and the research component must be undertaken in full during the academic year it is pursued.]