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  • Cancer Biology Masters (MSc)

Cancer Biology MSc

Why choose this course?

You will be trained in science research methods and learn about the techniques used in molecular biology. You will study the biology of disease, tumour biology, immunology, molecular oncology, haematological malignancy, plus diagnostic and therapeutic techniques for cancer.

In addition to an understanding of the principles and practice of core topics in medical science, you will gain in-depth knowledge of oncology topics and their relationship to other medical disciplines.

Your research project can be carried out with one of our life science research groups or in your workplace if you are a part-time student. It is often an excellent selling point when looking for a job or promotion.

Mode Duration Attendance Start date
Full time 1 year 2 days a week September 2020
Full time 2 years including professional placement 2 days a week plus placement year September 2020
Part time 2 years 1 day a week September 2020
Location Penrhyn Road

Reasons to choose Kingston University

  • You will have the opportunity to work with companies such as GlaxoSmithKline, or at a research institute such as the Institute of Cancer Research. 
  • Through a research project you can study an area of interest in depth and gain valuable research skills.
  • Flexible and part-time options can help you fit your studies around other commitments. Single modules may be taken as part of continuing professional development (CPD).

What you will study

You will be trained in science research methods and learn about the techniques used in molecular biology. You will study the biology of disease, tumour biology, immunology, molecular oncology, haematological malignancy, plus diagnostic and therapeutic techniques for cancer.

In addition to developing a comprehensive understanding of the principles and practice of core topics in current areas of medical science, you will gain an in-depth knowledge of oncology topics - and their relationship to other medical disciplines. You will also learn how to plan, carry out and report on a piece of independent scientific research. 

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list.

Modules

Core modules

Research Techniques and Scientific Communication

30 credits

The module allows students to develop and extend skills required to research and communicate in biosciences, and the principles and practice of laboratory techniques, research planning, management, data handling and presentation. The material is contextualised by lectures, practicals, workshops and directed reading around the planning and execution of experiments and interpretation of the data in a clinical setting or in clinically based studies.

Cancer Diagnosis and Therapy

30 credits

This is a core module for students studying for the MSc in Cancer Biology. The module introduces you to the methodologies and clinical rationale of diagnosis and therapy for solid tumours and haematological malignancy. Topics covered include cancer epidemiology, risk factors and symptoms, imaging, biopsy and laboratory investigations, tumour markers (e.g. diagnostic, prognostic and predictive biomarkers), staging and prognosis of tumours and various therapeutic options including radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy and targeted therapy of cancer. The module is delivered through a variety of lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials and practical laboratory sessions. Additional support materials will be provided on StudySpace highlighting the most recent advances on the diagnosis and treatment of human cancers.

Immunology and the Biology of Disease

30 credits

It provides students with an introduction to the concepts of immunity and pathobiology.  Students will become familiar with the different cells and organs of the immune system and how these function and interact to protect the body from infection. In addition, the module introduces students to the cellular mechanisms and genetic causes of disease considering both the physiological manifestations and the public health implications. The module also introduces some of the molecular processes and signalling events that are important in communication between cells of the immune system.  It goes on to consider the role of cellular pathology in the context of other pathology disciplines such as clinical chemistry. Practical classes are used to allow students the opportunity to apply their basic knowledge of immunology to interpret the significance of laboratory data and the role of the immune system in disease.

Cellular and Molecular Biology of Cancer

30 credits

This module introduces biological interactions between tumour cells and the host and how these interactions affect tumour progression. The module is designed to provide a more detailed understanding of the hallmarks of cancer and the molecular processes and changes (ie genetic and epigenetic alterations) that underlie the generation of malignancies. Processes to be studied include carcinogenesis, angiogenesis and metastasis. Tumour responses to therapeutic approaches such as the development of drug resistance, as well as some of the mechanisms by which tumours may escape immune destruction, are also covered.

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

  • Discuss the mechanisms by which cancers develop, grow and spread within the body.
  • Demonstrate comprehension regarding the ways in which normal cell growth and differentiation is controlled.
  • Discuss the complexity and interactions involved in the regulation of gene expression and tointerpret the molecular consequences of gene deregulation.
  • Evaluate the role of genetics in sporadic and familial human cancer.
  • Expound on the mechanisms and consequences of acquired drug resistance in tumour cells.
  • Understand some of the mechanisms by which tumours may evade immune recognition and destruction.
Research Project

60 credits

This module culminates from knowledge gained throughout the course, in particular, the Research Techniques and Scientific Communication module in order to present work in formats appropriate to wider professional audiences, practising new and/or improved laboratory skills, as well as demonstrate the ability to independently solve complex problems. The research proposal assessment will usually be based on the research area that has been allocated for the research project or alternatively an external laboratory placement. The project results should be statistically analysed and scientifically presented and discussed within a 9,000-word thesis and scientific poster.

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

  • Plan, organise and carry out a sustained piece of independent research.
  • Practise new and/or improved laboratory skills and/or critical data analytical skills.
  • Present and critically evaluate their own research in a clear and concise fashion in both written and poster formats.
Professional Placement

120 credits

The Professional Placement module is a core module for those students following a Masters programme that incorporates an extended professional placement. It provides students with the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills in an appropriate working environment, and develops and enhances key employability and subject specific skills in their chosen discipline. Students may wish to use the placement experience as a platform for the major project or future career.

It is the responsibility of individual students to find and secure a suitable placement opportunity; this should not normally involve more than two placements which must be completed over a minimum period of 10 months and within a maximum of 12 months. The placement must be approved by the Course Leader, prior to commencement to ensure its suitability. Students seeking placements will have access to the standard placement preparation activities offered by Student Engagement and Enhancement (SEE) group.

The information above reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. Updates may be made on an annual basis and revised details will be published through Programme Specifications ahead of each academic year. The regulations governing this course are available on our website. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, this may not be offered.

Work placement scheme

Many postgraduate courses at Kingston University allow students to do a 12-month work placement as part of their course. The responsibility for finding the work placement is with the student; we cannot guarantee the work placement, just the opportunity to undertake it. As the work placement is an assessed part of the course, it is covered by a student's tier 4 visa.

Invoicing on the placement courses is split into two stages. The standard course fee is payable in year 1 with the placement fee invoiced in year 2. Therefore, students starting in September 2020 would therefore be charged the placement fee of £1,385 in September 2021. Students commencing the course in September 2021 will be invoiced the placement fee in 2022 (fee tbc).

This amount will only be charged to your account after you find a placement and are enrolled on the module. You will not be charged this fee if you do not manage to secure a work placement.

Find out more about the postgraduate work placement scheme.

Entry requirements

Typical offer

  • Good honours degree or equivalent with a core biology content; biomedical science; molecular biology; biotechnology; biology; physiology; biochemistry; pharmaceutical science; medicine; veterinary medicine; dentistry; or pharmacy. Other biology and medical science degrees will be considered on an individual basis.
  • Applicants with professional experience may be eligible. Please contact the admissions tutor for details.

Please note: each application is assessed on an individual basis and may be subject to additional requirements, such as undertaking short course(s), work experience and/or English language qualification(s). Meeting particular minimum entry requirements does not automatically guarantee a place.

International

In order to complete your programme successfully, it is important to have a good command of English and be able to apply this in an academic environment. Therefore, if you are a non-UK applicant* you will usually be required to provide certificated proof of English language competence before commencing your studies.

For this course the minimum requirement is Academic IELTS of 6.5 overall with 6.0 in Writing and 5.5 in Reading, Listening and Speaking.

Applicants who do not meet the English language requirements may be eligible to join our pre-sessional English language course.

Please make sure you read our full guidance about English language requirements, which includes details of other qualifications we'll consider.

* Applicants from one of the recognised majority English speaking countries (MESCs) do not need to meet these requirements.

Teaching and assessment

Guided independent study

When not attending timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. This typically will involve reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, undertaking preparing coursework assignments and presentations, and preparing for exams. Your independent learning is supported by a range of excellent facilities including online resources, the library and CANVAS, the online virtual learning platform.

Support for postgraduate students

As a student at Kingston University, we will make sure you have access to appropriate advice regarding your academic development. You will also be able to use the University's support services

Your workload

Type of teaching and learning

Year 1

Year 1
  • Scheduled teaching: 564 hours
  • Guided independent study: 1236 hours

31% of your time is spent in timetabled teaching and learning activity. Contact hours may vary depending on your modules.

How you will be assessed

Type of assessment

Year 1

Year 1
  • Coursework: 51%
  • Exams: 35%
  • Practical: 14%

Assessment typically comprises exams (eg test or exam), practical (eg presentations, performance) and coursework (eg essays, reports, self-assessment, portfolios, dissertation).

Feedback summary

We aim to provide feedback on assessments within 20 working days.

Class sizes

­You will be part of an intimate cohort of students which provides dedicated academic guidance and advice as well as the opportunity to build a life-long network of colleagues. Some modules are common across other postgraduate programmes therefore you may be taught alongside students who are on these courses within the School.

Who teaches this course?

This course is delivered by the School of Life Science in the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing.

The Faculty's wide selection of undergraduate and postgraduate courses covers a diverse range of subject areas, from aerospace to geography; from maths and computing to biotechnology; and many more. Our collaborative set-up provides new opportunities for our students, and we design our courses with industry professionals to ensure you stay up to date with the latest developments.

School of Life Sciences

The School of Life Sciences is a dynamic and forward-looking School within the University, which has grown steadily since it was founded in 1989. Our diverse range of courses is taught by well-qualified academics, and aims to provide students with the skills they need to be successful in the modern world.

The School has invested heavily in developing its labs for both teaching and research. As well as specialist instrumentation laboratories, there are subject labs for biochemistry; microbiology; histology; anatomy; immunology; cell biology; nutrition; radiotracer studies; and physiology and sports science (including biomechanics and an environmental testing chamber).

Postgraduate students may run or assist in lab sessions and may also contribute to the teaching of seminars under the supervision of the module leader.

 

What our students say

Having completed my BSc degree at Kingston University, I was eager to further my studies with the Cancer Biology MSc. This taught course was ideal for me since it provided a great insight into the biological world of cancer and expanded my knowledge in disease progression and patient survival.

Throughout my time here I have become part of the Kingston University family and the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing staff have helped me with their guidance and feedback. I really enjoyed modules like Molecular Oncology and Cancer Diagnosis & Therapy which focused on the molecular aspects of cancer.

A very important aspect of the course was the 10-week research project. This focused on basic cell culture techniques and has equipped me with the skills and confidence needed in the professional world as well as giving me the opportunity to pursue a PhD at Kingston. I would strongly recommend Kingston University.

Elena Polycarpou – Cancer Biology MSc

Facilities

Cancer Biology MSc students have access to a range of laboratory facilities at our Penrhyn Road campus, where this course is based. These include tissue culture laboratories, molecular biology laboratories and cell biology laboratories. In addition to the subject specific laboratories, students also have the opportunity to use faculty-based laboratories, including analytical chemistry facilities and instrumentation, computing and data analysis resources.

Specialist equipment includes:

  • RT-PCR and DNA manipulation facilities;
  • state-of-the-art image analysis, including scanning electron and confocal microscopy equipment;
  • specialist histology; and
  • staining and protein analysis equipment.

Being part of a large, broad-based University means students will also get the chance to use facilities from other faculties. For example, our students visit the virtual radiotherapy facilities in the School of Radiography. Links with industry and research institutes afford further opportunities to become familiar with specialist equipment.

Access to this type of highly specialised scientific equipment ensures that students get practical, hands-on-experience of current research techniques, which equips them for further study or for work in cancer-related fields. All of the facilities are supported by dedicated technicians and experienced staff.

In addition, the Learning Resource Centre offers:

  • subject libraries, plus a free inter-library loan scheme to other libraries in the Greater London area;
  • online database subscriptions; and
  • a growing selection of resource materials.

Course fees and funding

Home and European Union 2020/21

  • MSc full time £9,200
  • MSc part time £5,060

Overseas (not EU) 2020/21

  • MSc full time £14,500
  • MSc part time £7,975

What this course offers you

  • The Cancer Biology course provides you with an understanding of:
    • the disease processes involved in malignancy; and
    • the scientific rationale for therapeutic options.
  • It links your academic knowledge to practical applications, particularly in relation to modern diagnostic methods.
  • The MSc research project gives you the chance to study an area of interest in greater depth and gain valuable research skills. You can carry it out with one of our life science research groups or in your place of work if you are a part-time student. Our students often find this an excellent selling point when looking for a job or promotion.
  • The taught modules aim to prepare you for the job market. Alongside your academic studies, you gain skills in:
    • problem solving and organisation;
    • data collation, review and synopsis;
    • communication (oral, written and electronic);
    • time management;
    • computing; and
    • co-operation and teamwork.
  • We regularly review our courses to make sure they remain up to date and that you graduate as a marketable industry professional.
  • We offer flexible timetables and part-time options to help you fit your studies around other commitments.

Current research in this subject

Many of our staff in the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing are research active. This ensures they are in touch with the latest thinking and bring best practice to your studies.

Science research is organised into several research areas. The Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Group is an interdisciplinary group shared by Kingston University and St George's, University of London.

Research focuses on the interaction of chemistry and life sciences with medicine. It is divided into three main sub-areas;

  • Therapy  including immunology, stem cell research and allergenic effects of foods;
  • Parasitology  including parasite transmission, drug responses and host cellular immune responses; and
  • Pharmaceutical Sciences  including the use and understanding of free-radical reactions and the use of anti-cancer drugs/new bioactive natural products.

Get professional experience alongside your studies

We work with a variety of employers such as hospitals, community health care, NHS foundation trusts, academic publishers, and pharmaceutical companies, many of which also offer professional experience opportunities for our Cancer Biology MSc students.

Benefits of professional experience

  • Get work experience in a scientific environment – making you more employable
  • Work on a project of benefit to the employer
  • Develop transferable skills and enhance your CV
  • Make professional contacts
  • Receive a work reference at the end of a successful placement

What's on offer

  • Part-time, unpaid and either office or laboratory-based
  • Flexible to fit in with your studies and the employer's needs
  • An academic supervisor allocated to all placement students
  • Should encompass 200 hours of work during the period October to April alongside studies

Professional experience could include

  • Conducting discrete pieces of research, investigation, and fact finding
  • Supporting laboratory work such as ensuring that Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are available for all lab materials
  • Assessing, archiving, sorting, transcribing, and filing scientific documents and files
  • Taking minutes in meetings involving scientific content

How to get professional experience

Competition to gain professional experience is fierce and places are not guaranteed. During Induction Week, you will be introduced to the scheme and the Kingston University Careers and Employability Centre resources where you will find a CV and covering letter template.

All applications must use these CV and covering letter templates, which are accessed via your KU account. Therefore, to apply for the Professional Experience opportunities, you must first be a student enrolled on an eligible MSc progamme.

The KU Careers and Employability Centre will help you to complete your CV and covering letter, so that you can make your best application for the scheme. CVs and covering letters are reviewed by employers and students chosen for interview are supported to prepare by the Careers and Employability Centre.

Please email Lori Snyder for any general information you need about the professional experience scheme.

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