The course is convened by academics within the Division of Cancer and Stem Cells. There are also several external lecturers who contribute to the course.
You will take 120-credits’ worth of taught modules, as well as a 60-credit research project leading to a dissertation. The course consists of nine taught modules (drawn from eight core and one optional module) and a laboratory or literature-based project.
The majority of teaching will take place on two days of the week, with the remaining time available for self-directed learning and preparation of assessments.
Research projects commence immediately following allocation in January, initially as three days per week (with lectures continuing on the other two days), becoming four days and, ultimately, five days per week following final module exams.
Final exams are held in January and May.
Molecular Basis of Cancer
This series of lectures giving students an in-depth understanding of normal cell regulatory mechanisms and how these are altered during the carcinogenic process.
This module includes:
- DNA structure and function
- Oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes
- Molecular biology of the cell cycle
- Chromosome abnormalities in human cancer
- Familial cancer syndromes.
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%).
Tumour Immunology (Oncology)
This module provides a good understanding of immunological approaches to cancer immunotherapy, as well as a detailed knowledge of immunological mechanisms and how these can optimise therapeutic approaches. Topics include: humoral, cellular and innate immunity, immune surveillance, antibody therapies and cancer vaccines, antigenic targets, antigen presentation, clinical trial design and a cancer vaccine workshop.
This module is assessed by a 1500 word essay submitted as coursework (30%) and a one hour exam consisting of multiple-choice and short answer questions (70%).
Diagnostic Pathology of Cancer
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) .
This module is assessed by a one and a half hour exam consisting of multiple-choice and short answer questions (100%).
Cancer Statistics and Epidemiology
Gain a basic understanding of the principles underlying the design and analysis of epidemiological studies and clinical trials. Topics include: study design, bias and confounding, sampling variation, summarising and presenting data, measures of effect, hypothesis testing (t-test, chi-squared test), survival and longitudinal data, meta-analysis, non-parametric methods, correlation, introduction to multivariate regression analysis, screening, sample size and power.
You will have the ability to use a range of routinely available statistical sources for clinical research, and to describe and explain concepts fundamental to clinical research of all kinds. You will also be able to describe, interpret and appraise the applicability of statistical methods used in a wide range of clinical and biological research.
This module is assessed by a 1500-2000 report (30%) and a one and a half hour exam consisting of multiple-choice and short answer questions (70%).
Drug Design and Pharmacology
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%).
Techniques in Cancer Research
A series of lectures will be given on the various practical and analytical techniques commonly used in the scientific investigation of cancer. An extensive set of laboratory practicals are conducted to allow students to experience a variety of the techniques taught in lectures. The student will acquire a theoretical and practical understanding of the majority of techniques used in modern molecular biology. This will provide them with a basic grounding to be used in subsequent laboratory-based research.
Radiation Biology Applied to Therapy
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%).
The selection of an optional module is undertaken by the candidate in consultation with the course director and is subject to approval by the Head of School.
For those individuals wishing to follow the syllabus requirements for the Part I fellowship exam of the Royal College of Radiologists and for Medical Oncology candidates in a UK training post, Clinical Pharmacology and Systemic Therapies is regarded as a compulsory module in year one.
Clinical Pharmacology and Systematic Therapies
This is a series of specialist lectures on medical oncology with special emphasis given to current and novel treatment protocols.
- chemotherapy - basic principles
- pharmacology of analgesiscs, steroids and anti-emetics
- 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.
Cancer Treatment and Chemotherapy
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.
Students will normally carry out laboratory (or literature) based research projects. You will develop not only your practical and analytical skills but also gain grounding in the philosophy of scientific research. Skills in presentation and scientific writing will also be refined.
The project begins during the spring semester, and continues through the summer semester by full-time candidates, or immediately upon completion of first year exams by part-time candidates. The dissertation should be based upon 400-450 hours of research together with 135-185 hours to prepare the dissertation and presentation.
Your practical ability will be assessed by observations made by the project supervisor, according to provided guidelines, and will account for 15% of the final mark. The work will be presented in the form of 5,000 word dissertation in the style of a research paper (50% final module mark). Examination by viva voce with two examiners and an external examiner will account for the remaining 35% final mark.
Upon completion of the module, you will be able to demonstrate creative thinking, problem solving, critical analysis including appropriate statistical approaches, and effective communication and bio-informatic skills. The project also provides training for candidates wishing to enter into a PhD training programme.
The above is a sample of the typical modules that 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. This course page may be updated over the duration of the course, as modules may change due to developments in the curriculum or in the research interests of staff.
Teaching methods and assessment
Course material is delivered in a variety of ways, including lectures, practical sessions and tutorials. 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.
All teaching is carried out in dedicated teaching facilities within the University and hospital.
The course is assessed using several different methods including exams (multiple-choice, short answer or essay questions), essay questions submitted as coursework, and oral presentations.
The research project is also examined by viva voce (oral) examination, as well as presenting the project as a research paper.