Molecular Pathology (MSc by Research)

 
  

Fact file

Qualification
MSc by Research
Duration
1 year full-time or maximum 3 years part-time

(All taught modules in Year 1 over a 3-month span; Research module in Year 2 - 7 months full-time; maximum deferral to Year 3 - 7 months full time)

Entry requirements
2.2 in a science degree or Pass in a medical degree
IELTS
6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element) If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
September
Campus
Medical School QMC and City Hospital
School/department
Division of Cancer and Stem Cells, School of Medicine
Other requirements

Research overview

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.

Key facts

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

The extensive research project of 7 months duration will be undertaken in laboratories of repute within the Division of Cancer and Stem Cells, School of Medicine and the Nottingham Molecular Pathology Node (NMPN).

Find out more about research under the Cancer and Stem Cells theme in the School of Medicine, and established workstreams within the NMPN.

 
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.

 

 

Course details

1. Course directors
Professor Mohammad Ilyas and Dr Abhik Mukherjee, Division of Cancer and Stem Cells, School of Medicine
 
2. Structure

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.

 
3. Modules

Core modules

  • Genetics and Gene regulation
  • Statistics and Bioinformatics
  • Theoretical & Applied Molecular Diagnostics in the NHS
  • Research Module                                 

Notes:

  • 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 
 

FAQs

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.

Part-time students

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.]

 

 

 

Facilities

The laboratories in the School of Medicine where the research will be based all have state-of-the-art facilities which include tissue culture suites including hypoxic incubators and irradiation equipment, polymerase chain reaction suites, Western blotting areas, immunohistochemistry including micro and macro-dissection facilities, tissue micro-arrayers, automated stainers and flow cytometers.

Computational facilities are available for digital pathology analysis and bioinformatics support provided through collaborating schools.

 

Research support

All research projects will have a project supervisor and a bench supervisor.

The project supervisor will oversee the hypotheses building, literature review, experimental plan and analyses and interpretation. The bench supervisor will provide the necessary training and technical support.

Where a project has been offered in collaboration with an external collaborator (industry) there will always be a named UoN lead supervisor and an on-site supervisor.

Consumables will be provided through established laboratory administration procedures. A detailed laboratory induction procedure including health and safety assessment is always provided as per University protocols. If the project requires special analyses such as statistics/bioinformatics, collaborative support will be ensured at the onset.

Students have both formal and informal meetings with supervisors for input throughout the duration of the project. For overall development, students are encouraged to attend divisional seminars and journal clubs and will be encouraged to present their research findings at laboratory and divisional meetings.

There may be opportunities for publication of results either in a peer reviewed journal or in the form of conference abstracts. The overall educational supervisor and the module convenor are also available for addressing student concerns during their research project. The UoN library facilities provide either hard copies of journals or e-journals for most publications of repute. 

 

Find a supervisor

We encourage you to get in touch with a member of academic staff about your research proposal before submitting an application. They may be able to help you with your proposal and offer support to find funding opportunities in your area.

View details of research supervisors in the School of Medicine.

 

Funding

Course bursary

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.

Home/EU students

The Graduate School website at The University of Nottingham provides more information on internal and external sources of postgraduate funding. 

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 have received an offer of study to apply for scholarships. Please note the closing dates of any scholarships and make sure you submit your masters course application in sufficient 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.

 
 

Careers

The MSc Molecular Pathology is unique in its blend of scientific and clinical expertise and benefits from strong ties between the clinical and laboratory aspects of Histopathology including Molecular Pathology. 

It is particularly suitable for graduates wishing to pursue a career in molecular pathology research or in industry (especially molecular diagnostics).
For those who are medically qualified, they will proceed to be consultants or clinical academics in histopathology, oncology etc.

Students from our course are envisaged to go on to a wide variety of positions including: 

  • PhDs
  • clinical careers in histopathology
  • Molecular Diagnostics industries
  • pharmaceutical industries
  • postgraduate medicine programmes
  • patent lawyers
  • recruitment consultants
  • clinical trials

Average starting salary and career progression

As the course is in its first intake, course-specific data is not available at this iteration.

However, indicators are available from other postgraduate courses within the school.

In 2016, 92.6% of postgraduates from the school who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £26,847 with the highest being £70,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates, 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

 

Career prospects and employability

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers* and can offer you a head-start when it comes to your career.

Our Careers and Employability Service offers a range of services including advice sessions, employer events, recruitment fairs and skills workshops – and once you have graduated, you will have access to the service for life.

The Graduate Market 2013-2016, High Fliers Research

 
 

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Disclaimer
This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

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