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MSc Oncology course modules


The course is made up of three elements, Part A, B, and C, each taking one academic year to complete.

Parts A and B are made up of teaching modules which contribute credits towards the overall course mark. Each module ends in a summative assessment - single best answer papers and/or an essay - which you must successfully complete in order to pass the module. Part A focuses on basic cancer science and is normally studied before Part B, which focuses on the clinical aspects of oncology. Exit after Part A will result in you being awarded the Postgraduate Certificate (PCert). Exit after Part B will result in you being awarded the Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip).

Part C is devoted to the research project. However, mandatory teaching sessions also take place approximately once a month throughout the year and 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. Successful completion of Part C results in being awarded the full Master of Science (MSc) degree.

You can read more about each module below. Module guides are available as PDFs.

You can also download the MSc student handbook. This gives you an introduction to studying at the ICR and explains the requirements of the MSc programme, drawing your attention to important procedures and regulations.


More about modules:  


PART A - Basic Sciences

All taught modules are compulsory. For Cancer Therapies, you must complete two compulsory topics (C) then choose a pathway to follow by selecting one optional topic (O).

Clinical oncologists will be required to take the Advanced Radiation Sciences pathway, while medical oncologists will be required to take the Experimental Cancer Pharmacology route.

1. Cell and Molecular Biology of Cancer (20 credits)

This module will allow you to better understand the molecular and cellular processes underlying the development of cancer, and will enable you to put this knowledge to use in clinical practice.

The topics covered are wide, ranging from the hallmarks and causes of cancer, to tumour genetics and immunology of cancer. Module leaders: Professor Nicola Valeri, Dr Dragomir Krastev, Dr Clara Cieza-Borrella

View module guide

2. Statistics for the Oncologist (10 credits)

This module is designed to help you understand the fundamental statistical principles used in the assessment of cancer epidemiology and treatment.

Taking part in this module will support you in developing the valuable skills used in implementing and assessing new treatments, and will help you learn to critically appraise published papers. Module leaders: Mrs Jo Haviland, Mrs Lucy Kilburn

View module guide

3. Cancer Therapies (30 credits)

The Cancer Therapies module provides you with an introduction to the fundamentals of both Radiation Science and Clinical Pharmacology as treatment options. You will study both these areas initially by taking compulsory module sections in each. You are then given the opportunity to deepen your knowledge in one of the areas by taking one to an advanced level, through an optional pathway choice.

  • Introduction to Radiation Sciences (C) - module leaders: Dr Amen Sibtain, Dr Navita Somaiah
  • Clinical Pharmacology (C) - module leaders: Dr Judith Cave, Dr Sarah Rudman
  • Advanced Radiation (O) - module leaders: Dr Susan Lalondrelle, Dr John Glaholm 
  • Experimental Cancer Pharmacology (O) - module leaders: Dr Roshan Agarwal, Dr Juanita Lopez

View module guide



PART B - Clinical Sciences

All taught modules are compulsory. For Cancer Treatments 1 and 2, you will attend lectures on all topics listed, but will then choose to submit your assessments on one topic from the respective module (and at least one assessment must be related to a core topic).

4. Research Methods (10 credits)

This module is designed to give you a fundamental appreciation of the principles of clinical research and the ethics involved in running trials. 

You will also be taught about trial design and the appropriate endpoints to choose, as well as developing the skills to interpret results gained in clinical trials, how to write them up into a paper, and how to consider and understand their implications for clinical practice. Module leaders: Dr Anna Wilkins, Mrs Jo Haviland.

View module guide

5. Cancer Treatments 1 (20 credits)

This module, like its sister module Cancer Treatments 2, is about developing knowledge and critical understanding of a range of common and rarer malignancy types and tumour sites to aid you in your clinical management of cancer.

Core topics:

  • Principles of Genito-Urinary Cancers - Specialist lead: Dr Alison Tree
  • Principles of Gastro-Intestinal Cancers - Specialist Lead: Dr John Bridgewater 
  • Gynaecological Malignancy - Specialist Lead: Dr Kate Lankester 

Specialist topics:

  • Acute Oncology - Specialist lead: Dr Jaishree Bhosle
  • Palliative Care - Specialist lead: Dr Rema Jyothirmayi
  • Sarcoma - Specialist lead: Dr Aisha Miah
  • Skin Malignancy - Specialist lead: Dr Susan Lalondrelle
  • HIV Related Malignancy - Specialist lead: Dr David Bloomfield
  • Living with and Beyond Cancer/Survivorship - Specialist lead: Dr Susannah Stanway

View module guide

6. Cancer in Context (10 credits)

This module considers people with cancer, both individually as they experience the disease as well as in a wider social context.

You will consider topics such as the mainstream concepts and practice in cancer care, including ethical and communication issues which may arise. Module leaders: Dr David Bloomfield, Mrs Clare Moynihan.

View module guide

7. Cancer Treatments 2 (20 credits)

This module, like its sister module Cancer Treatments 1, is about developing knowledge and critical understanding of a range of common and rarer malignancy types and tumour sites to aid you in your clinical management of cancer.

Core topics

  • Breast Cancer - Specialist lead: Dr David Bloomfield and Dr Gargi Patel
  • Respiratory and Lung Cancer - Specialist lead: Dr Jeanette Dickson
  • Head and Neck Cancer - Specialist Lead: Dr Richard Simcock

Specialist topics

  • Central Nervous System Cancer - Specialist lead: Dr Matt Williams
  • Lymphoma / Haematological Cancer - Specialist lead: Dr Donna Lancaster
  • Cancer Control in Low and Middle Income Countries - Specialist lead: Dr Susannah Stanway
  • Paediatric/Teenage/Young Adult Cancer - Specialist lead: Dr Donna Lancaster

View module guide



PART C - Dissertation

The aim of Part C is to advance and define your research skills, through designing research methodologies and/or mastering techniques, to develop you as a researcher. The dissertation, and the skills developed while completing it, are the key components that distinguish the MSc from the Postgraduate Diploma.

8. Dissertation (60 credits)

You will develop and demonstrate advanced skills in research methodologies and techniques through undertaking a research-based dissertation, or equivalent, in a clinical setting.

Part C Tutors: Professor Robert Huddart, Dr Matthew Williams, Dr Nicola Rosenfelder, Dr John Glaholm, Dr Tom Richards.

View module guide

PhD studentships

Applications for our main PhD recruitment round have opened. We’re searching for the brightest minds in cancer research. The deadline for applications is 17 November.

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.