UCL Cancer Institute


MSc Cancer

The Cancer MSc reflects the depth and breadth of research interests, from basic science to translational medicine, within the UCL.

Taught by research scientists and academic clinicians, this programme provides students with an in-depth look at the biology behind the disease processes which lead to cancer.

Students will learn about the approaches taken to predict, detect, monitor, and treat cancer. The programme provides a strong grounding in the cutting edge research methods and techniques used to advance our understanding of this disease and design better treatment strategies.

The programme is designed for those with undergraduate qualifications in the life sciences, scientists, clinicians, and other healthcare professionals including individuals from the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. The knowledge and transferable skills developed in the course will be suitable for those in an industrial or healthcare setting, as well as those individuals contemplating further PhD or medical studies. 

Student experiences

Nadia Bonnin explains more about her experience studying the Cancer MSc programme, including the extended project:

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Student Christian Pellegrino talks about why he chose MSc Cancer: 

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Student Georgia Constaninou on her experience studying MSc Cancer at UCL: 

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Why study with us? 

University College London is one of Europe’s largest and most productive centres of biomedical science with great strengths in cancer research. Scientists at UCL have an international reputation for leading basic, translational and clinical cancer research. The UCL Cancer Institute brings together scientists from various disciplines to synergise multidisciplinary research into cancer. Our researchers’ particular areas of expertise include:

  • the biology of leukaemia
  • the infectious causes of cancer
  • the design of drugs that interact with DNA
  • antibody-directed therapies
  • the molecular pathology of cancer
  • epigenetic changes in cancer
  • gene therapy
  • early phase clinical trials
  • national and international clinical trials in solid tumours and blood cancers

In addition we collaborate with scientists in nanotechnology, bioinformatics and computational sciences, developmental biology, stem-cell research, immunity, engineering and medicinal chemistry.

Programme modules

In the 2019-20 academic year, the course includes four compulsory 15 credit specialist modules (shown below), however this is currently in review as we develop our programme so that it remains linked to the evolving research interests and leading discoveries of the UCL Cancer Institute. The specialist modules available for 2020-21 delivery should be confirmed and released by February 2020.

Compulsory modules:

Basic Biology and Cancer Genetics

The first part of this module introduces you to basic cancer biology explaining the cellular changes occurring during cancer development, the key genes, proteins and signalling pathways that regulate oncogenesis, and the carcinogenic mechanisms leading to cancer-associated mutations.

The second part of this module teaches you about different resources for cancer research, including various animal model systems used in the investigation of cancer, online tools and databases for analysis of cancer genomics, and basic experimental techniques used in the analysis of cancer.

Cancer Therapeutics

This module helps you to understand the mechanisms of different cancer therapies, and how these relate to the underlying cancer biology. You will begin the module with workshops to develop your understanding of evidence based medicine and your skills for critical evaluation of clinical trials. 

You will then learn about the mechanisms and application of standard therapies (such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery), and of targeted therapies representing personalised cancer medicine, and the evidence supporting these. You will review the hallmarks of cancer and will investigate how different therapies have been designed to target these hallmark features of cancer cells.

Specialist modules:

Behavioural Science and Cancer

This module will provide you with an introduction to behavioural and psychosocial aspects of cancer care and prevention. Topics covered will include: public awareness and understanding of cancer, cancer prevention through lifestyle change and cancer screening, and psychological issues related to cancer diagnosis, treatment and survival. You will be introduced to psychological theories related to health behaviour change, information processing and illness representations. Applied behavioural examples will illustrate the issues.

Cancer Clinical Trials

This module will provide you with knowledge of the development pathway for new cancer interventions, from first-in-man studies to licensed product, through to clinical practice. You will learn about the different phases of cancer clinical trials and the main design and practical issues associated with conducting, interpreting and reporting cancer trials. You will receive grounding in how these complex and closely regulated studies are performed by researchers active in, and at the forefront of, the field, and you will gain an appreciation of how to interpret clinical trial data and recognise their limitations. You will also understand some of the regulatory policies and processes required to ensure the ethical nature, legal compliance and quality assurance of clinical trials. 

Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy

Explores the interaction between cancer and the immune system and the use of immunotherapy as a cancer treatment.

Cancer Research Proposal

You will be practicing data analysis through journal club reviews, and hypothesis generation to pitch your own research idea

Allows you to take your theoretical knowledge and practical skills from other modules throughout the entire course and to apply these to your own individual research question. You will be expected to employ the scientific method to address this question through data collection and/or analysis in a laboratory, bioinformatics or clinical setting as appropriate, and complete a 10,000-12,000 word dissertation and an oral report presentation. 

Entry Requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class Honours degree in a relevant discipline from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard, or an appropriate professional qualification or work experience.

How To Apply

Applications deadline: 28 August 2020 for the 2020-21 academic year (September 2020 start). See online prospectus entry for MSc Cancer.

All applications should be submitted directly to UCL admissions

View prospectus application

Fees and Funding 

The Samuel Fund offers funding for five £5,000 scholarships for Home/EU fee payers and one £25,000 scholarship for an overseas fee payer to study for the 2020/21 academic year of the MSc Cancer Programme at UCL. The award amount is deducted from the cost of tuition fees. Applications to this scholarship fund have now closed. 

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website

Tuition fees:

Home/EU: £15,050 (2020/21) full-time
Overseas: £29,260 (2020/21) full-time

UCL tuition fees information

For those students working to organise scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants), early application for admission is strongly encouraged.

The UK Government Postgraduate Loan Scheme is available to students applying to Master's programmes (eligibility criteria apply)