Cancer Biology MSc

Why choose this course?

This Cancer Biology course provides you with an understanding of the disease processes involved in malignancy and the scientific rationale for therapeutic options.

You will be trained in scientific research methods and learn the techniques used in cell and molecular biology and pathology. 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 study full time or part time. It can be an excellent selling point when seeking a job or promotion.

There are flexible and part time options available which can help you fit your studies around other commitments. Single modules may be taken as part of continuing professional development.

Mode Duration Attendance Start date
Full time 1 year 2 days a week September 2024
Full time 1 year 2 days a week January 2025
September 2025
Full time 2 years including professional placement 2 days a week plus placement year September 2024
Full time 2 years including professional placement 2 days a week plus placement year January 2025
September 2025
Part time 2 years 1 day a week September 2024
Part time 2 years 1 day a week January 2025
September 2025
Main location Penrhyn Road

Reasons to choose Kingston University

  • This course is currently being re-accredited by the Institute of Biomedical Science.
  • You will have the opportunity to work with companies such as GlaxoSmithKline or at a research institute, such as the Institute of Cancer Research, and in hospital laboratories.
  • Through a cancer research project, you will study an area of interest in depth and gain valuable research skills, which will benefit your future career.

What you will study

You will be trained in science research methods and learn about the techniques used in molecular pathology and biology. It links your academic knowledge to practical application, particularly in relation to modern diagnostic methods. 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. 

For a student to go on placement they are required to pass every module first time with no reassessments. It is the responsibility of individual students to find a suitable paid placement. Students will be supported by our dedicated placement team in securing this opportunity.

Modules

Core modules

Research techniques and scientific communication

30 credits

The module enables 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

This module 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 give 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 to interpret 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 Research project module is the final stage in the MSc qualification and represents 60 Level 7 credits. It is designed as a 'capstone' module, and gives students the opportunity to use and synthesise the knowledge and skills they have acquired from the other taught modules in applied "real-world learning". It involves presenting work in formats appropriate to wider professional audiences, practising new and/or improved laboratory skills, and most importantly demonstration of the ability to independently solve complex problems.

Professional Placement

120 credits

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

It is your responsibility 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 your Course Leader prior to commencement to ensure its suitability. You will have access to the standard placement preparation activities offered by the Student Engagement and Enhancement (SEE) group.

Read more about the postgraduate work placement scheme.

Entry requirements

Typical offer

  • A UK 2:2 honours degree or the equivalent in Biomedical, Biology and any medical related subject or a relevant discipline. Applications are considered individually and candidates with relevant experience are welcome to apply.
  • 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 you must pass IELTS academic test in English with an overall score of 6.5, with no element below 6.0, or meet the scores listed on the alternative online tests.

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.

Country-specific information

You will find more information on country specific entry requirements in the International section of our website.

Find your country:

Work placement scheme

Many postgraduate courses at Kingston University allow students to take the option of a work placement year as part of their course.

You are responsible for finding and securing your own professional placement. This can be highly competitive but also incredibly rewarding. Our careers team can help support you with your CV/portfolio, provide skills workshops and give expert advice, as well as opportunities to attend employer networking events.

As the work placement is an assessed part of the course, it is covered by a student's Student Route visa.

Find out more about the postgraduate work placement scheme.

Teaching and assessment

Guided independent study (self-managed time)

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 learning and teaching

Year 1

Year 1
  • Scheduled learning and teaching: 564 hours
  • Guided independent study (self-managed time): 1236 hours

31% of your time is spent in timetabled learning and teaching 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 (e.g. test or exam), practical (e.g. presentations, performance) and coursework (e.g. 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 20-40 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; you may therefore be taught alongside postgraduates from other courses.

Who teaches this course?

This course is delivered by the School of Life Sciences, Pharmacy and Chemistry.

The School of Life Sciences, Pharmacy and Chemistry offers an outstanding and diverse portfolio of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in biological and biomedical sciences, chemistry, forensic science, pharmacy, pharmacological and pharmaceutical sciences, and sport science and nutrition.

We've invested heavily in the development of new facilities including laboratories for teaching and research to provide students with access to ultra-modern equipment in a wide range of teaching facilities.

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 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, histology laboratory, 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 equipment
  • 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. 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
  • a growing selection of resource materials

Course fees and funding

2025/26 fees for this course

Home 2025/26

  • MSc full time £11,400
  • MSc part time £6,270

International 2025/26

  • MSc full time £19,300
  • MSc part time £10,615

2024/25 fees for this course

Home 2024/25

  • MSc full time £10,900
  • MSc part time £5,995

International 2024/25

  • MSc full time £18,500
  • MSc part time £10,175

Tuition fee information for future course years

If you start your second year straight after Year 1, you will pay the same fee for both years.

If you take a break before starting your second year, or if you repeat modules from Year 1 in Year 2, the fee for your second year may increase.

Fees for the optional placement year

If you choose to take a placement as part of this course, you will be invoiced for the placement fee in Year 2. Find out more about the postgraduate work placement scheme and the costs for the placement year.

Postgraduate loans

If you are a UK student, resident in England and are aged under the age of 60, you will be able to apply for a loan to study for a postgraduate degree. For more information, read the postgraduate loan information on the government's website.

Scholarships and bursaries

Kingston University offers a range of postgraduate scholarships, including:

If you are an international student, find out more about scholarships and bursaries.

We also offer the following discounts for Kingston University alumni:

Gangolli scholarship

Through the generous support of Professor Sharat and Mrs Lilian Gangolli, we are able to offer a fully-funded (100% of fees) scholarship for taught MSc courses in the School of Life Sciences, Pharmacy and Chemistry. The scholarship aims to encourage academic excellence and allow talented young graduates to continue to higher levels of learning and research.

Find out more, by visiting the Gangolli Scholarship page.

Additional costs

Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs that are not covered by tuition fees which students will need to consider when planning their studies. Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, access to shared IT equipment and other support services. Accommodation and living costs are not included in our fees. Where a course has additional expenses, we make every effort to highlight them. These may include optional field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering), security checks such as DBS, uniforms, specialist clothing or professional memberships.

Textbooks

Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. You may prefer to buy your own copy of key textbooks, this can cost between £50 and £250 per year.

Computer equipment

There are open-access networked computers available across the University, plus laptops available to loan. You may find it useful to have your own PC, laptop or tablet which you can use around campus and in halls of residences. Free WiFi is available on each of the campuses. You may wish to purchase your own computer, which can cost between £100 and £3,000 depending on your course requirements.

Photocopying and printing

In the majority of cases written coursework can be submitted online. There may be instances when you will be required to submit work in a printed format. Printing, binding and photocopying costs are not included in your tuition fees, this may cost up to £100 per year.

Field trips

All field trips that are compulsory to attend to complete your course are paid for by the University. There may be small fees incurred for optional field trips such as travel costs and refreshments.

Travel

Travel costs are not included in your tuition fees but we do have a free intersite bus service which links the campuses, Surbiton train station, Kingston upon Thames train station, Norbiton train station and halls of residence.

Placements

If the placement year option is chosen, during this year travel costs will vary according to the location of the placement, and could be from £0 to £2,000.

After you graduate

Graduates have gone on to roles in a wide variety of careers in medicine, hospital laboratories, commercial laboratories and cancer research.

Current research in this subject

Many of our staff 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.

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 programme.

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.

Accreditation

This course is accredited for 2023 entry by the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS); we are currently renewing our accreditation for 2024 entry. Graduates can apply to the IBMS for consideration for admission as Members of the Institute. 

Course changes and regulations

The information on this page reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. To improve your student experience and the quality of your degree, we may review and change the material information of this course. Course changes explained.

Programme Specifications for the course are published ahead of each academic year.

Regulations governing this course can be found on our website.