MRes Molecular Pathology, Bioinformatics and Diagnostics

MRes Molecular Pathology, Bioinformatics and Diagnostics
This flexible masters course -- designed to meet NHS and industry needs for molecular pathologists in the genomic medicine era -- offers a distance-learning taught component and the opportunity to carry out the research project at another site with appropriate laboratory facilities.

Fact file

MRes Molecular Pathology, Bioinformatics and Diagnostics
1 year full-time; up to 3 years part-time
Entry requirements
2.2 in a science degree or Pass in a medical degree
6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element) If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date

This course is highly flexible. It is delivered and examined as a distance learning programme and therefore can be campus free. For those wishing to attend a Nottingham campus, it would be delivered at the Medical School, QMC. Research projects can be undertaken at the Medical School QMC and City Hospital or another site with appropriate laboratory facilities.

Division of Cancer and Stem Cells, School of Medicine
Other requirements



Key facts

1. Suitable for science graduates and medical graduates with an interest in molecular medicine including molecular oncology and cancer biology

The curriculum has been developed in collaboration with industrial partners and has sufficient breadth to open career pathways in industry, academia and the NHS.

Science graduates

For graduates with a first degree in subjects such as genetics, biomedical sciences, pathology, biochemistry and microbiology, this course will:

  • provide training for a career in life sciences/allied disciplines (including the area of molecular diagnostics
  • provide transferable skills to (i) improve employability in the expanding market of molecular diagnostics and (ii) improve competitiveness for PhD programmes
  • 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

Medical graduates and intercalating medical students

  • For the medically qualified, the course would be most suitable for those specializing in “genome-heavy” disciplines such as pathology, oncology, clinical genetics and molecular medicine
  • For histopathologists in training, this course will be an excellent opportunity to learn about molecular pathology at a depth which will easily cover the examination requirements of the Royal College of Pathologists (both Year 1 OSPE and final FRCPath exams)  
  • For qualified histopathologists, this training programme can be part of professional development to stay abreast of latest developments in molecular pathology and diagnostics  
  • Medical staff from allied disciplines, such as oncology and clinical genetics this course will provide in-depth experience and understanding of molecular diagnostics to incorporate into patient care
  • Medical students may also take this course as an intercalated degree to prepare them for the era of genomic medicine

2. Flexible programme consisting of 60 credits of taught modules (distance-learning) and an extended research project of 120 credits that can be undertaken in Nottingham or another site with appropriate laboratory facilities

  • The taught modules are available as a stand-alone PGCert  
  • The taught modules are delivered through a campus-free, distance learning package giving flexibility for students to manage their learning from their home/job location (and offering advantages of cost savings on relocation/subsistence)  
  • Teaching is delivered through an imaginative programme using a variety of different methods (lectures, tutorials, problem solving, discussion fora, workshops)  
  • Online training is supplemented with regular “live sessions” with module convenors  
  • Assessment is also on-line, campus-free and it is both formative and summative; it comprises multiple choice questions, interactive tutorials, timed coursework, recorded presentations, journal club presentation and viva-voce examination  
  • The curriculum is truly multi-disciplinary encompassing molecular biology, histopathology,  genetics, bio-informatics and statistics  
  • The MRes includes a substantial research project (7 months full-time) with an emphasis on hands-on time in the laboratory in order to acquire transferable laboratory skills and general scientific skills  
  • There is flexibility in where the research project is undertaken; it could be a lab in the University of Nottingham, in the lab of an industrial partner or, with agreement of the host, a lab of the student’s own choosing

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 MRes Molecular Pathology, Bioinformatics and Diagnostics include:

  • 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

We will be offering 8 bursaries of £2,000 for 2018 and the same for 2019. These will be offered on a first come first served basis and will be reimbursed to students following successful registration.



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 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.

All year one taught modules are covered in 3 months. The year two research module is covered in 7 months with a maximum deferral period to year three.

3. Modules

Core modules

  • Genetics and Gene regulation
  • Statistics and Bioinformatics
  • Theoretical and 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 MRes course, 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.]





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 University library facilities provide either hard copies of journals or e-journals for most publications of repute. 


Find a supervisor

View details of research supervisors in the School of Medicine.


Fees and funding

Course bursary

For 2019, we will be offering eight bursaries of £2,000 each to home and EU students.

These will be offered on a first come first served basis and will be
reimbursed to students following successful registration.

Home/EU students

Our Graduate School provides more information on internal and external sources of postgraduate funding. 

Government loans for masters courses

The Government offers postgraduate student loans for students studying a taught or research masters course. Applicants must ordinarily live in England or the EU. Student loans are also available for students from Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

International and EU students

Masters scholarships are available for international students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study. You must already have an offer to study at Nottingham to apply. Please note closing dates to ensure your course application is submitted in good time.

Information and advice on funding your degree, living costs and working while you study is available on our website, as well as country-specific resources.




MRes Molecular Pathology, Bioinformatics and Diagnostics 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

In 2017, 95.7% of postgraduates from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The median starting salary was £28,625 with the highest being £76,001.*

* Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates, 2016/17. Salaries are calculated based on 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 2013–2019, High Fliers Research



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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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