Course overview

Cancer drug development is a long and expensive process that provides many employment opportunities. It is imperative that there are trained specialists who can tackle the complexities of this ever-evolving set of diseases. 

Are you ready to join them?

Gain a thorough understanding of the fundamentals of cancer sciences. From its basic scientific principles through to translation into therapeutics and drug development. Our Cancer Sciences BSc will give you training in the biomedical sciences in areas such as cell and molecular biology, immunology, and human physiology.

You’ll be supported by internationally recognised researchers and clinicians, and you’ll be equipped with the core scientific skills necessary to progress to specialisms in cancer sciences research, in the pharmaceutical industry, biotechnology, finance and contract research industries, as well as in academic cancer research. You will also be well placed for opportunities in the management, regulation, and exploitation of research and Graduate Entry Medicine or other related fields.

At Nottingham, you’ll be part of ground-breaking cancer research that is the basis for new treatments.   

Choosing the BSc or the MSci

Choose to study either our three-year Cancer Sciences BSc or our four-year Cancer Sciences MSci. The integrated MSci course gives you a guaranteed nine-month placement in industry or in a research laboratory. This placement can be in the UK or abroad.  

BSc students can transfer to the MSci at the end of their second year if they are meeting the entry requirements and a placement is available (although this is not guaranteed).

Equally, students on the MSci can transfer to the BSc course.

Why choose this course?

Gain real expereince

in a research lab during your summer vacation, you have the chance to apply for one of a limited number of studentships 

One of a kind

Take part in one of the only undergraduate cancer research degrees in the UK

Cutting-edge facility

Make use of our cutting-edge facilities specifically for the dissection of cancer

Research groups

Opportunities to work with Nottingham Breast Cancer Research Centre, our Children's Brain Tumour Research Centre, and other research groups.

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2023 entry.

UK entry requirements
A level ABB

Please note: Applicants whose backgrounds or personal circumstances have impacted their academic performance may receive a reduced offer. Please see our contextual admissions policy for more information.

Required subjects

Must include two science subjects, one of which must be biology or chemistry. 

A pass is normally required in science practical tests, where these are assessed separately. 

We will not accept citizenship studies, critical thinking, general studies, or global perspectives as your third A.

GCSEs (or equivalent)

Grade 4 (C) in English

Grade 4 (C) in maths

IB score 32 with 6, 6, 5 at Higher Level including two science subjects, one must be biology or chemistry

Foundation progression options

Cancer Sciences is one of the progression pathways for our Science with a Foundation Year course.

In order to progress on to the course you will be required to achieve the following scores:

  • 60% in either Foundation Biological Science or Foundation Chemistry
  • 55% in English Language modules (if they are taken)
  • 60% Overall average

Mature Students

At the University of Nottingham, we have a valuable community of mature students and we appreciate their contribution to the wider student population. You can find lots of useful information on the mature students webpage.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

Teaching methods

  • Case-based learning
  • eLearning
  • Lab sessions
  • Lectures
  • Placements
  • Practical classes
  • Problem-based learning
  • Self-study
  • Seminars
  • Small group learning
  • Tutorials
  • Workshops

How you will be assessed

Assessment methods

  • Case studies
  • Coursework
  • Dissertation
  • Examinations
  • Lab reports
  • Literature review
  • Portfolio (written/digital)
  • Poster presentation
  • Practical write-ups
  • Presentation

Contact time and study hours

You'll have around 10 hours of contact time per week covering lectures, practicals, workshops, tutorials and seminars.

You're expected to spend around 20 to 30 hours per week on self-study.

Class sizes are one to two for tutorials, around 20 to 60 for seminars and workshops, and between 30 and 300 for lectures depending on the module.


While there are no set placements on this course, there is an opportunity for you to apply for one of our studentships. These studentships allow you to join research labs during the summer vacation to gain real hands-on experience of research work in industry.

Study Abroad and the Year in Industry are subject to students meeting minimum academic requirements. Opportunities may change at any time for a number of reasons, including curriculum developments, changes to arrangements with partner universities, travel restrictions or other circumstances outside of the university’s control. Every effort will be made to update information as quickly as possible should a change occur.


In your first year, you will learn the characteristics of cancer, its causes, how it progresses, and how it affects a person's health. You will also learn the human physiology and fundamental cell and molecular biology that you need to understand cancer and its causes and treatments. 


Causes and Consequences of Cancer

What is cancer? This module aims to build your foundational knowledge of the causes of cancer, as well as cancer diagnosis and treatment and the epidemiology of cancer. You’ll examine what happens when someone gets cancer, from detection, through diagnosis, treatment, recovery and survivorship. 

Genes, Molecules and Cells

This module combines lectures and laboratory classes and introduces you to the structure and function of significant molecules in cells, and the important metabolic processes which occur inside them. You will study, amongst other topics, protein and enzyme structure and function, the biosynthesis of cell components, and the role of cell membranes in barrier and transport processes. You'll examine how information in DNA is used to determine the structure of gene products. Topics include DNA structure, transcription and translation and mutation and recombinant DNA technology.

Hallmarks of Cancer

This module analyses the fundamental processes that make cancers form, grow, invade and spread.

Human Physiology

In this module, you will be introduced to the physiology of major systems such as cardiovascular, nervous, and musculoskeletal, including some aspects of drug action. This module will allow you to understand your biochemical and genetics knowledge in the context of the intact organism. This module includes lectures and laboratory classes.


You can take one of the following optional modules or any 20 credit module or two 10 credit modules from elsewhere in the University, subject to suitability and availability.

Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour

Starting with Darwin’s theory of evolution, you will learn how natural selection and other evolutionary forces have shaped the ways in which organisms interact with each other and their environment. In addition to lectures, practical classes will give you hands-on experience with a range of ecological and behavioural concepts in the laboratory and the field.

Fundamentals of Neuroscience

This module will give you a good grounding in the basic principles of the nervous system of humans and other animals. Topics will include neuroanatomy, cellular neuroscience, neuropharmacology, sensory systems, neuroendocrinology, memory, behavioural neuroscience and diseases of the nervous system. These will be delivered through weekly lectures and practical classes.

Life on Earth

Life on Earth provides an introduction to the fundamental characteristics and properties of the myriad of organisms which inhabit our planet, from viruses, bacteria and Archaea, to plants and animals. In weekly lectures, and regular laboratory practical classes, you will consider how living organisms are classified, how they are related genetically and phylogenetically, and basic aspects of their structure and function.

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 Friday 21 October 2022.

Your second year examines what contributes to cancer, and how different cancers form, grow, and spread in more depth. Different types of cancer including lung, breast, bowel, and ovarian cancer are used to illustrate specific mechanisms and biological systems. A case study will allow a more in-depth look at a cancer of your choosing.

Angiogenesis and Tumour-Host Interactions

This module looks at angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels, and how the blood supply and immune system interact when there is a tumour present. You’ll examine the process of neo-angiogenesis in tumour biology and the approaches that have been used to target this process. You’ll study how cancers interact with their host, co-opt and corrupt normal cell processes, and evade detection by the immune system. 

Cancer Cell Genetics

Understand what causes genetic changes in cancer cells and the evolution of the cancer cell genome during cancer progression. This module will examine the tools that are used to study the cancer cell genome, epigenome, and transcriptome and how these tools can guide precision medicine. 

Colorectal Cancer and Ovarian Cancer

This module examines how DNA damage can be repaired and the importance of this in tumorigenesis. You’ll also examine cancer progression, invasion and metastasis with colorectal cancer as a focus of study. As well as drug resistance with ovarian cancer as a focus of study. 

Epidemiology of Cancer and Population Genetics

This module looks at the ways we study the incidence of cancer in specific populations and areas, and how we determine the causes and risk factors associated with cancer. You’ll explore the global cancer burden and the regional variations in cancer incidence and cancer risk factors. As well as the methods used to address cancer prevention, and the importance of public health policy in cancer prevention. 

Lung Cancer and Breast Cancer

This module studies two of the most common cancers. You’ll examine tobacco-induced mutations in the lung and the role of oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes in this disease.

You will gain an understanding of growth factor signalling in breast cancer, treatment and the evolution of drug resistance and examine the importance of hormones and the role of oestrogen and the use of anti-oestrogens. All the while comparing breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Patient-Centred Library Project

Find out what happens to someone when they get cancer, the journey they go through, and what doctors, nurses, scientists and other health care professionals do to treat the patient. 

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

In your third year you will choose three optional modules from a selection of advanced topics. You will also complete a research project to make new discoveries as part of a research group and produce an advanced literary project. 


Patient Portfolio

Take an in-depth look at the patient’s journey with cancer. From discovery to treatment, recovery and/or palliative care. Through an in-depth case study, you’ll build knowledge of the skills needed to be able to diagnose, and identify treatment options and you’ll see the importance of clinical trials and evidence-based medicine. 

Practical Project

This module provides you with hands-on experience of research in cancer sciences and develops the practical skills required to conduct a research project. You’ll design, plan, and perform a research project under the guidance of an academic supervisor. As part of the project, you will:

  • read and critically analyse scientific literature
  • collect, analyse, and interpret data of many different types including in some cases bioinformatic data or other types of non-laboratory data
  • write a dissertation based on your reading of the literature and the data that you have collected and/or analysed
  • produce a poster that summarises the results of your work and present in a conference-type setting


Cancer Biology and Molecular Therapeutics

Building on the skills you gained in Year two, this module continues to analyse cancer biology and molecular therapeutics. You’ll do this by examining emerging research in the field focusing on areas including cell cycle control and growth factor biology. Cancer Immunology and Novel Therapies

What makes a cancer evade the immune system, and how can this be overcome? You'll look at the latest drugs that harness the body’s own defences to fight cancer.

Cancer Immunology and Novel Therapies

What makes a cancer evade the immune system, and how can this be overcome. A look at the latest drugs that harness the body’s own defences to fight cancer.

Paediatric Cancer

This module examines the spectrum of cancers that occur in childhood and assesses how these differ from adult cancers. The focus of the module is to analyse the effects of treatments and see how they can impact survivors for the rest of their lives. 

Tumour Microenvironment

This module explores the tumour microenvironment. You’ll examine the components of the tumour microenvironment that influence cancer cell behaviours (proliferation, invasiveness, drug resistance), the mechanisms underlying these influences, and opportunities for new drug treatments.

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

Fees and funding

UK students

Per year

International students

Per year

*For full details including fees for part-time students and reduced fees during your time studying abroad or on placement (where applicable), see our fees page.

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) .

Additional costs

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.

Extra costs include £20 for a lab coat.

You should be able to access most of the books you'll need for the course through our libraries, however you may wish to buy your own copies or get more specific titles which may cost up to £80 each.

Scholarships and bursaries

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £1,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International students

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

International scholarships


Studying Cancer Sciences at Nottingham gives you the perfect grounding to pursue further research through studying a masters or a PhD.

The course also provides you with broader knowledge of biochemistry, immunology, genetics, physiology, pharmacology, pathology, and more. These skills could lead you into jobs in biotechnology, pharmaceutical industries, and other biomedical areas.

Average starting salary and career progression

96.6% of undergraduates 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 £33,695.*

*HESA Graduate Outcomes 2020. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time within the UK.

Studying for a degree at the University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take.

Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers (Ranked in the top ten in The Graduate Market in 2013-2020, High Fliers Research).

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" I wanted to come here because this was the first course of its kind. Since our first lecture, it’s been so focused and we’re learning so much about cancer. The foundation that Nottingham provide to go into cancer research is really good. They’re giving us all of the knowledge we need for the future. "
Aruba Farooq, Cancer Sciences student

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Important information

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.