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Course essentials

The MSc in Oncology is a modular taught course for medically qualified doctors specialising in oncology. This table presents important information about this course.

MSc Oncology / PGDip / PGCert

Entry requirements

Medical qualifications and clinical experience, see Entry requirements

Mode of study

Part-time, day release

Length of course and possible exit points

This course adopts a modular credit accumulation model:            
  • PGCert: 60 credits, 1 academic year (part-time, Part A)
  • PGDip: 120 credits, 2 academic years (part-time, Part A+B)
  • MSc: 180 credits, 3 academic years (part-time, Part A+B+C) 

For Parts A and B, the ICR’s academic year runs from 1st September to 31st August. There are two student intakes for these Parts each year: one in autumn and one in spring.

Part C of the course runs from October to September.

The maximum period of registration is five calendar years, measured from the date of enrolment.

Degree-awarding institution

University of London

Teaching institution

The Institute of Cancer Research, University of London
The ICR is regulated by the Office for Students.

Brief outline of course structure and assessment

Part A – Basic Sciences modules (1st year)
  • Cell and Molecular Biology of Cancer – 20 credits
  • Cancer Therapies – 30 credits
  • Statistics for the Oncologist – 10 credits

Part B – Clinical Sciences modules (2nd year)

  • Research Methods – 10 credits
  • Cancer Treatments 1 – 20 credits
  • Cancer Treatments 2 – 20 credits
  • Cancer in Context – 10 credits

Parts A and B are assessed by single best answer papers and/or an essay.

Part C – Dissertation (3rd year)

  • Dissertation/Thesis of 10,000 words – 60 credits
  • In some cases examination of the dissertation may include a viva.


The programme adopts a modular credit accumulation model.

Modules for Parts A and B are delivered via lectures and seminars. Syllabus content is led by module leaders who are experts in their field and highly experienced in teaching and training. The status of staff involved in delivering different elements of the course include professors, lecturers, and clinical/research fellows.

For Part C, you will need to seek a local academic facilitator or supervisor at your NHS trust. They will be required to provide support for your research project, including discussion of your emerging results and proofreading your dissertation before submission. You will also be supported by monthly teaching sessions at the ICR, and one-to-one tutorials with Part C tutors. The Part C tutors are consultant clinical oncologists experienced in advising and mentoring MSc students.            

Contact hours

Parts A and B each comprise of 600 notional learning hours; these learning hours include approximately 180 contact hours, with the balance comprising private study plus assessment time. Teaching days are typically Friday for Part A, and Thursday for Part B, however there are also some additional sessions that can fall on other days. You will be provided with full details of these upon registration. 

Part C also comprises 600 notional learning hours. The vast majority of these will be the independent study time you contribute to your research project, including writing up the dissertation. However, approximately 15% of these hours (~10 days across the year) will be the mandatory monthly teaching sessions that will form the basis of your attendance record for the year. These consist of masterclasses on various topics timed to coincide with the progress of the project and/or one-to-one tutorials with Part C Tutors.

Students are expected to attend at least 80% of teaching sessions while they are registered for the course, and absences must be approved in advance.


The majority of teaching for the MSc in Oncology takes place off site in a conference facility, CCT Venues Smithfield. The weekly teaching sessions for Part A and B of the course are held at this facility on a Thursday (Part B), and Friday (Part A).

Part C has fewer contact hours, and so monthly sessions are held in the training rooms in the ICR’s Chester Beatty Laboratories (CBL).

From September 2024, most teaching will instead take place at the ICR's purpose-built teaching facility at 123 Old Brompton Road.

Other important information

Please ensure that you read the MSc in Oncology Programme Specification and the MSc in Oncology Student Handbook for more details about the course (see below).

The curriculum will equip students in the field of Clinical Oncology to sit the Part 1 and Part 2 examinations for Fellowship of the Royal College of Radiologists (FRCR). However, the course is not specifically designed as a preparatory or revision course for the FRCR exams.

For Medical Oncologists, the course meets the identified need for a theoretical basis to their structured training.

Key documents

All key documents can be found on the education policies and strategies page.      

ICR values

Our values – developed together as an organisation – make it clear how each and every one of us work to meet our mission – to make the discoveries that defeat cancer.