Triangle

Course overview

Join the fight against cancer and learn more about the biological and molecular aspects of the disease as well as the diagnosis and treatment of oncology.

Taught by internationally recognised scientists and clinicians in cancer research, you examine everything from the cellular and molecular biology of cancer to the techniques used in cancer research before focusing on cancer treatment and novel cancer drug development.

You’ll deepen your knowledge in all areas of cancer research and choose a project in an area you are particularly interested in. You'll join a research group working in that area and conduct an in-depth six-month independent research project making use of some of the latest technology in oncology and strengthening your ability to successfully evaluate and interpret cancer research data.

For over 20 years our Oncology MSc has been providing up-to-date knowledge and training to students in clinics and labs, giving them a unique approach to the study of cancer.

At Nottingham, you'll receive a thorough grounding in oncology that will help you succeed in your career tackling one of the world's biggest killers.

View our alumni profiles page to see what previous students say about their experience on the course.

Why choose this course?

Exceptional facilities

Learn in and experience using the latest technologies at our new Biodiscovery Institute

Novel cancer research

Be involved in cancer research in an area of your interest

Cancer experts

Join the university that introduced the Nottingham Prognostic Index and EarlyCDT-Lung test

Extended lab project

Spend six-month in the laboratory working on your research project on your chosen area

Course content

Examine all aspects of oncology. From how a normal cell becomes a cancer cell, how that cancer may spread and then ultimately the ways of killing the cancer cells whilst trying to save normal cells. You’ll study treatments that are established in the clinic and also novel therapies that are in different stages of development.

You’ll analyse the many different aspects of oncology including tumour immunology and physiology, pathology, cancer treatment, and radiation biology. While optional modules will help you tailor the course to your interests.

These modules are aligned closely to the examination syllabus, and therefore fulfil training requirements for, FRCR part One for higher specialist training in oncology.

The course takes place over three semesters, autumn, spring, and summer. Modules are typically delivered in the autumn and spring semesters. Your research project will start part-time during the spring semester before becoming full-time during the summer.

If you choose to study the MSc, you'll take all of the compulsory modules and choose 10 credits worth of optional modules for a total of 180 credits.

If you choose to study the Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert), you'll cover a selection of the same modules for a total of 60 credits.

Modules

Compulsory Modules

Cancer Statistics and Epidemiology 10 credits

This module will give you an understanding of the principles underlying the design and analysis of epidemiological studies and clinical trials.

You will use a range of statistical sources in clinical research, and use those sources to describe and explain concepts fundamental to clinical research of all kinds. You will also learn to describe, interpret and appraise the applicability of statistical methods in a wide range of clinical and biological research.

Cell, Developmental and Molecular Biology 20 credits

Gain an in-depth understanding of the molecular basis of cancer including normal cell regulatory mechanisms and how these are altered during the carcinogenic process.

Drug Design and Pharmacology 10 credits

At the end of the series of lectures and interactive workshops you will be able to: appreciate the interplay of chemistry, pharmacology, computational and clinical factors in the discovery and development of new anticancer therapeutic products. Your analytical skills will also be developed through scrutiny of controversial papers in drug design. You will work as a group when giving presentations at interactive workshop sessions.

This module is assessed by an essay submitted as coursework (30%), a 10 minute presentation (10%) and a final exam consisting of multiple-choice and short answer questions (60%).  

Radiation Biology Applied to Therapy 10 credits

A series of specialist lectures will provide an overview of the principles of the interaction of ionising radiation with living systems. Particular attention is given to the scientific basis of fractionation in radiotherapy, radiation pathology and normal tissue effects, tumour radiobiology and molecular aspects of radiation biology. 

By the end of the module you will be able to describe the response of biological systems following exposure to ionising radiation, interpret the biological basis and consequences of conventional and novel fractionation regimes in radiotherapy and critically appraise the significance of new research findings.

This module is assessed by a 1500 word essay (20%) and a one hour exam consisting of multiple-choice and short answer questions (80%). 

Techniques in Cancer Research 20 credits

This module covers various practical and analytical techniques commonly used in the scientific and diagnostic investigation of cancer. You'll learn about the critical appraisal of research articles which is aimed to enhance evaluative skills. It will provide you with a firm foundation of knowledge that can be used in subsequent laboratory-based research.

Tumour Immunology 10 credits

An overview of immunological approaches to cancer immunotherapy and immunological mechanisms and how these may be used to optimise therapeutic approaches. You'll cover topics such as:

  • Anti-tumour Antibody Responses
  • Cellular Anti-tumour Immunity
  • Natural Killer Cells
  • CAR and redirected T Cell therapies
  • Cytokine Therapy
  • Immune evasion by tumours
Tumour Physiology 10 credits

A series of specialist lectures will be provided on the growth and differentiation of tumours and their interaction with the host. Particular emphasis will be placed upon the role of angiogenesis and the host's immune system as determinants of tumour growth. This module will develop the students understanding of the tumour in relationship to the whole organism. Topics include: tumour-host interactions, tumour vasculature (structure and function), tumour growth kinetics, angiogenesis and vascular mediated strategies, metabolism, the biology of metastasis, and molecular and cellular aspects of apoptosis. 

This module is assessed by a one hour exam consisting of multiple-choice and short answer questions (100%).

Research Project 60 credits

This module 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 biomedical problem.

Each student will be allocated an academic supervisor with whom they will discuss the research 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 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 form of project may vary and it will be based on laboratory work, audit, patient studies or an extended literature review. The principal activities will be completion of the practical work and submission of a final report in the form of a dissertation and presentation.

Examples of previous projects include:

  • Exploring the Key Molecular drivers of lymphovascular invasion in Invasive Breast Cancer
  • Characterisation of the role of CD26 in Colorectal Cancer
  • Targeting the tumour microenvironment
  • Targeting redox homeostasis to improve therapeutic response in brain cancer.
  • How does DNA damage affect splicing in leukaemia cells?
  • Investigating the arginine dependence of Childhood brain tumours- a novel therapeutic target
  • Simultaneously targeting BCL-2 and MCL-1 in myeloma
  • Targeting the F-box proteins in cultured colorectal cancer cell lines, a potential new biomarker for early detection of tumour progression
  • An in vivo investigation into the mechanism of action of the cannabis derivative, Cannabidiol, on paediatric brain tumour cell lines
  • Investigating the metabolic ‘Achilles heel’ of paediatric gliomas- a potential therapeutic target
  • Investigating the role of Ran GTPase signalling in malignant melanoma
  • Targeting NPM in acute myeloid leukaemia
  • The effect of BET proteins knockdown on 3D (spheroid) growth and hypoxia in triple-negative breast cancer
  • Eradication of Leukaemia Cells in Bespoke Synthetic Niche Models
  • The regulation of gene expression in bile duct cancer cells
  • Understanding the mesenchymal niche in breast cancer
  • Characterisation of the early metastatic phenotype in colorectal cancer
  • Expression of DARPP-32 related proteins in ovarian cancer
  • Keeping blood vessels quiet!

 

Diagnostic Pathology of Cancer 20 credits

A series of lectures on the clinical aspects of tumour growth and dissemination. You will become familiar with practical microscopy of human tumours; understand the technique of immunohistochemistry and be able to interpret results from basic immunohistochemical panels of tumour markers to arrive at a cellular phenotype; be familiar with nomenclature applied to histological and cytological features of tumours, and be familiar with the classification of human neoplastic conditions.

Topics include: adaptive and maladaptive patterns of tissue growth, neoplasia, in situ neoplasia, tumour classification, staging and grading, diagnostic techniques (immunohistochemistry, flow cytometry, molecular markers) .

Optional Modules

Cancer Treatment and Chemotherapy 10 credits

A series of specialist lectures on medical oncology with emphasis given to current and novel treatment protocols. 

This module includes: 

  • Health economics
  • Organisation of cancer services
  • Surgical management of cancer
  • Principles of chemotherapy
  • Endocrine therapy
  • Novel approaches to cancer therapy/gene therapy

This is a module comprises one two-hour lecture per week (26 hours). It is assessed by a one hour exam consisting of MCQ’s and short essay questions.

Clinical Pharmacology and Systematic Therapies 10 credits

This is a series of specialist lectures on medical oncology with special emphasis given to current and novel treatment protocols.

Topics include:

  • chemotherapy - basic principles
  • pharmacology of analgesiscs, steroids and anti-emetics
  • pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics
  • high dose chemotherapy approaches
  • alkylating agents/pyrimidine antimetabolites/antifolates
  • topoisomerase inhibition
  • complications of cancer treatment
  • drug resistance and other related topics

This module comprises one two-hour lecture per week (26 hours). It is assessed by a one hour exam consisting of multiple choice and short essay questions.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Thursday 11 January 2024.
Cancer Statistics and Epidemiology 10 credits

This module will give you an understanding of the principles underlying the design and analysis of epidemiological studies and clinical trials.

You will use a range of statistical sources in clinical research, and use those sources to describe and explain concepts fundamental to clinical research of all kinds. You will also learn to describe, interpret and appraise the applicability of statistical methods in a wide range of clinical and biological research.

Cell, Developmental and Molecular Biology 20 credits

Gain an in-depth understanding of the molecular basis of cancer including normal cell regulatory mechanisms and how these are altered during the carcinogenic process.

Clinical Pharmacology and Systematic Therapies 10 credits

This is a series of specialist lectures on medical oncology with special emphasis given to current and novel treatment protocols.

Topics include:

  • chemotherapy - basic principles
  • pharmacology of analgesiscs, steroids and anti-emetics
  • pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics
  • high dose chemotherapy approaches
  • alkylating agents/pyrimidine antimetabolites/antifolates
  • topoisomerase inhibition
  • complications of cancer treatment
  • drug resistance and other related topics

This module comprises one two-hour lecture per week (26 hours). It is assessed by a one hour exam consisting of multiple choice and short essay questions.

Radiation Biology Applied to Therapy 10 credits

A series of specialist lectures will provide an overview of the principles of the interaction of ionising radiation with living systems. Particular attention is given to the scientific basis of fractionation in radiotherapy, radiation pathology and normal tissue effects, tumour radiobiology and molecular aspects of radiation biology. 

By the end of the module you will be able to describe the response of biological systems following exposure to ionising radiation, interpret the biological basis and consequences of conventional and novel fractionation regimes in radiotherapy and critically appraise the significance of new research findings.

This module is assessed by a 1500 word essay (20%) and a one hour exam consisting of multiple-choice and short answer questions (80%). 

Tumour Physiology 10 credits

A series of specialist lectures will be provided on the growth and differentiation of tumours and their interaction with the host. Particular emphasis will be placed upon the role of angiogenesis and the host's immune system as determinants of tumour growth. This module will develop the students understanding of the tumour in relationship to the whole organism. Topics include: tumour-host interactions, tumour vasculature (structure and function), tumour growth kinetics, angiogenesis and vascular mediated strategies, metabolism, the biology of metastasis, and molecular and cellular aspects of apoptosis. 

This module is assessed by a one hour exam consisting of multiple-choice and short answer questions (100%).

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Thursday 11 January 2024.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

  • Lectures
  • Practical classes
  • Workshops
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials

How you will be assessed

  • Exams
  • Essays
  • Dissertation
  • Viva voce
  • Presentations

Your work will be assessed during or at the end of each module through a variety of means.

To complete a module and gain its credits you'll need to make sure you attend your timetabled sessions and get over the 50% pass mark.

To achieve the MSc, you'll need a total of 180 credits.

To achieve the PGCert, you'll need a total of 60 credits.

Contact time and study hours

We encourage our students to think of the course like they would a full-time job and spend around 37 hours on it per week including teaching time.

You're expected to work roughly 10 hours for each credit on the course including teaching and independent study, so a 20 credit module should take around 200 hours to complete or around a total of 25 eight-hour days.

You'll learn over a period of two semesters and a summer period totalling around 12 months.

Teaching is typically delivered on Monday and Thursday during the semesters. You'll have an average of 12 to 16 hours of contact time each week, however, time and days of teaching will depend on the modules. 

Non-teaching days are intended for private study and your research project.

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2024 entry.

Undergraduate degree2:2 in a relevant subject like Biological and Medical Sciences

Applying

We interview all candidates who meet the minimum entry requirements.

This will be organised following your application and typically focuses on you and the subject of oncology. The interview gives you the opportunity to ask questions you may have and make sure the course is right for you.

Our step-by-step guide covers everything you need to know about applying.

How to apply

Fees

Qualification MSc PGCert
Home / UK £14,700 £4,900
International £30,200 £10,067

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you may be asked to complete a fee status questionnaire and your answers will be assessed using guidance issued by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) .

These fees are for full-time study. If you are studying part-time, you will be charged a proportion of this fee each year (subject to inflation).

Additional costs

All students will need at least one device to approve security access requests via Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). We also recommend students have a suitable laptop to work both on and off-campus. For more information, please check the equipment advice.

As a student on this course, you should factor some additional costs into your budget, alongside your tuition fees and living expenses such as travel and accommodation.

You should be able to access the books and resources you need for the course through our libraries, however you may wish to purchase your own copies or get specific books which may cost up to £80 each.

Funding

There are many ways to fund your postgraduate course, from scholarships to government loans.

We also offer a range of international masters scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate funding

Careers

We offer individual careers support for all postgraduate students.

Expert staff can help you research career options and job vacancies, build your CV or résumé, develop your interview skills and meet employers.

Each year 1,100 employers advertise graduate jobs and internships through our online vacancy service. We host regular careers fairs, including specialist fairs for different sectors.

International students who complete an eligible degree programme in the UK on a student visa can apply to stay and work in the UK after their course under the Graduate immigration route. Eligible courses at the University of Nottingham include bachelors, masters and research degrees, and PGCE courses.

Graduate destinations

Our graduates go on to a wide range of careers. Some have gone on to roles specifically in oncology including:

  • PhDs
  • clinical careers including work in clinical trials
  • medical writing
  • pharmaceutical industry roles
  • research institutes
  • other postgraduate medicine programmes

Others have used their transferable skills and knowledge in positions including:

  • Patent Lawyers
  • Recruitment Consultants

Career progression

78.4% of postgraduates from the School of Medicine secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary for these graduates was £28,505.*

*HESA Graduate Outcomes 2019/20 data published in 2022. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time, postgraduate, home graduates within the UK.

Two masters graduates proudly holding their certificates
" It's a great course which has been running for more than 20 years and is updated annually. It's delivered by experts in the field, by scientists and clinicians from the University of Nottingham and also external experts. Upon completion, students have a thorough grounding in many different aspects of oncology. The research project is often the highlight for our students and gives them a proper feel of what it's like to be in a laboratory and to be an active member of a cancer research group. Our students go on to do PhDs or have exciting careers in diverse areas of oncology "
Dr Claire Seedhouse, Course Director

Related courses

This content was last updated on Thursday 11 January 2024. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur given the interval between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.