Postgraduate study
This course is for scientists and other graduates looking to learn more about the science and practice of oncology.
PGCert Oncology
1 year part-time
Start date
UK/EU fees
£3,825 - Terms apply
International fees
£8,400 - Terms apply
Queen's Medical Centre



The course is suitable for graduates in life sciences, biomedical sciences and allied subjects, as well as at clinicians specialising in medical oncology, clinical oncology or other disciplines related to cancer care and treatment.

Course aims

The course aims to:

  • provide an advanced course of study in the theoretical and practical aspects of the causes and treatment of cancer.
  • develop the skills required to critically evaluate new advances in cancer research and be familiar with the analytical methods used in its study.
  • train science graduates to have a greater awareness of the clinical aspects of cancer management.
  • provide clinicians with a greater understanding of the scientific basis of cancer and its treatment.
  • provide oncology specialist registrars with the necessary education to fulfil the training requirements asked of them by their professional bodies.

Key facts

  • The PGCert Oncology commenced in 2011/2012 and provides up to date knowledge and training to its students.
  • The course partly fulfils the syllabus requirements for clinicians studying to sit Part 1 FRCR exams. The syllabus also meets the curriculum requirements for Higher Specialist Training in Medical Oncology set out by the Joint Committee on Higher Medical Training. CME credits are also available.
  • The latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) confirmed The University of Nottingham's position as a world class research-led institution. Over 60% of the University's RAE scores identified research as being of a level of international excellence.
  • This achievement has helped put Nottingham in the world’s top 75 universities according to The Newsweek World University Rankings.
  • The research carried out within oncology is recognised at an international level.

Full course details

The course is designed with biomedical scientists and clinicians specializing in medical/clinical oncology and subjects related to cancer care and treatment.

It is taught on a over one year on a part-time basis (day release format). Students will will attend lectures one full day per week.  

The course (60 credits) consists of 5 taught modules (drawn from four core and one optional module totalling 50 and 10 credits respectively). 

Course material is delivered in a variety of ways, including lectures, practical sessions, tutorials and problem-based learning sessions.

Each module will be assessed by means of a written examination, with certain modules containing extensive coursework components to enhance key skills.

Each student is allocated a personal tutor at the beginning of the course, and regular meetings are scheduled throughout the year. 

Modules offered on this course may be completed on an individual basis as part of your continuing professional development.




Compulsory: students must take all modules in this group
 CodeTitle Credits Compensatable Taught 

Molecular Basis of Cancer

  • DNA structure and function
  • Carcinogenesis
  • Oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes
  • Molecular biology of the cell cycle
  • Chromosome abnormalities in human cancer
  • Familial cancer syndromes.
20 Autumn 

Tumour Physiology

  • Tumour Growth Kinetics
  • Metabolism
  • Molecular and Cellular Aspects of Apoptosis
  • Biology of Metastasis
  • Tumour Blood Flow and Haemodynamics
10  Y Autumn 

Radiation Biology Applied to Therapy

  • Interaction of ionising radiation with matter (DNA and chromosome aberrations)
  • Mammalian cell radiosensitivity and cell survival curves
  • Repair of radiation damage
  • Time, dose and fractionation
  • Predictive assays
  • Radiosensitisers, bioreductive drugs and radioprotectors
  • Molecular radiobiology
  • Radiophysiology and normal tissue effects
10  Y Spring

Cancer Statistics and Epidemiology 

This module will give students a basic understanding of the principles underlying the design and analysis of epidemiological studies and clinical trials. Topics will 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.

10  N Spring

Credit total: 50


Optional: students must take 10 credits from this group
 CodeTitle Credits Compensatable Taught 

Cancer Treatment and Chemotherapy

  • Health Economics
  • Organisation of Health Services
  • Surgical Management of Cancer
  • Principles of Chemotherapy
  • Endocrine Therapy
  • Novel Approaches to Cancer Therapy/Gene Therapy.
10 Spring

Clinical Pharmacology and Systemic Therapies*

  • 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
10 Y Spring

Credit total: 10

The selection of the optional module is undertaken by the candidate in consultation with the course director.

* 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.

Modules are assessed at the end of the semester in which they are taught. Resit exams, if required, are taken following completion of all taught modules.

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. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and information is provided for indicative purposes only.


Fees and funding

 For specific funding opportunities, please visit the school or department for further information.

International and EU students

We provide information and advice for international and EU students on financing your degree, living costs, scholarships, external sources of funding and working during your studies.


Careers and professional development

The PGCert Oncology draws upon a unique blend of scientific and clinical expertise and experience, and benefits from strong ties between the clinic and laboratory within the Department of Clinical Oncology. 

It is particularly suitable for graduates wishing to pursue a career in oncology, for candidates who may wish to enter the pharmaceutical industry or for individuals, such as clinicians and allied health care professionals, already employed in an oncology related area who wish to enhance or update their knowledge in specified areas. 

Dependent upon making satisfactory progress PGCert students can progress onto the MSc Oncology.

Students from our suite of courses have gone on to a wide variety of positions - here are a few examples: 

  • Research technicians - oncology 
  • SpR Medical Oncology 
  • SpR Clinical Oncology 
  • SpR Maxillo-Facial Surgery
  • MScs and PhDs in a variety of subject areas
  • Oncology nurses 
  • NHS clinical scientists 
  • Clinical trial data managers 
  • Biomedical scientists (BMS1)  


Average starting salary and career progression

In 2017, 94.9% 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 £21,400 with the highest being £40,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates, 2016/17. 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


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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