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Cancer Medicine (MSc)

MSc(Res)|Postgraduate Taught

Cancer Medicine

Entry year
Entry requirements
1 year (Full Time)
Places available
25 (Full Time)
This course is now closed to applications for September 2021. If you are interested in September 2022 entry, please register your interest.
  • Overview

    The MSc(Res) in Cancer Medicine will provide students with new knowledge of how precision medicine can improve and shape future healthcare. Students will gain hands-on experience of molecular techniques and the equipment/devices used in a modern molecular laboratory; the course will provide training in laboratory and research skills that are applicable across multiple scientific disciplines in a supportive learning environment. Central to this research-intensive programme is a 24-week Research Project (which runs throughout both semesters) where students undertake hands-on research training within active research teams. Through taught modules students will be able to evaluate how novel therapeutic approaches can be used to stratify patients into treatment groups for better clinical management (stratified / precision medicine). They will observe the delivery of precision medicine through tours of the Northern Ireland Cancer Centre.

    There are optional modules in the second semester allowing students to explore the fundamental principles of carcinogenesis and the translational approaches (including cutting edge technologies) which allow cancer scientists and clinicians to advance our understanding and treatment of cancers.

    The Precision Cancer Medicine stream provides a comprehensive overview of the current understanding of the hallmarks of cancer from the role of genetic/epigenetic alterations, cell cycle control and metastases/angiogenesis to the development of applications to help diagnose cancers earlier, improve treatments, rationally design clinical trials and reduce chemotherapy drug resistance.

    The Radiation Oncology stream will develop skills in understanding the biological principles of radiotherapy and its clinical applications in the treatment of cancer. This will include the physical and chemical basis of radiation interactions and the biological consequences of radiation exposures. Clinical aspects of Radiation Oncology will be covered including principle of advanced radiotherapy delivery, cancer imaging techniques and biomarker discovery.

    The Oncology Drug Discovery stream will give an insight into both academic and biotech drug development. The course will provide an understanding of what makes an interesting anti-cancer drug target and how, as researchers, we validate this target for clinical use. In addition, you will also gain an understanding of the different drug development platforms that are currently employed for hit identification, hit to lead development and pre-clinical candidate selection.

    Importantly, all streams show how our improved understanding of the molecular processes driving cancer growth and spread can be ‘translated’ through research-intensive MSc projects to improve the treatment and survival of cancer patients.

    Applicants are advised to apply as early as possible and ideally no later than 31st July 2022 for courses which commence in late September. In the event that any programme receives a high number of applications, the University reserves the right to close the application portal. Notifications to this effect will appear on the Direct Application Portal against the programme application page.

    Please note a deposit will be required to guarantee a place on the course. Due to high demand, applications may not be considered if the course has reached its maximum class size and will be placed on a waiting list. Please see deposit terms and conditions for more details.

    Cancer Medicine highlights

    The strong links between us and the biotech and biopharmaceutical sectors provides a stimulating translational environment, while also expanding your career opportunities.

    Industry Links

    • The strong links between us and the biotech and biopharmaceutical sectors provides a stimulating translational environment, while also expanding your career opportunities.

    World Class Facilities

    • The Programme will be taught in the Patrick Johnston Centre for Cancer Research a purpose-built institute at the heart of the Health Sciences Campus, boasting state-of-the-art research facilities.

    Internationally Renowned Experts

    • We have an international reputation in this area, achieved through; high-impact peer review publications; significant international research funding and the establishment of successful spin-out companies.
  • Course content

    Course Structure

    1. Students may enrol on a full time (1 year) basis. Students will undertake 3 core modules (40 CATS), 2 of which are in Semester 1 and the 3rd core module is taken throughout the year.

    There are three optional streams within Semester 2 but optional modules (ie. Streams) will only run with a minimum of 6 participants.

    1. Precision Cancer Medicine Stream (20 CATS)

    2. Radiation Oncology and Medical Imaging (ROMI) Stream (20 CATS)

    3, Oncology Drug Discovery (ODD) stream (20 CATS)

    Students also undertake an intensive 24 week research project (60 CATS)

    The MSc(Res) is awarded to students who successfully complete 120 CATS of taught modules and a Research Project. (60 CATS)

    A Diploma Exit qualification is available to those students who have successfully completed 120 CATS points.

    A Certificate Exit qualification is available to those students who have successfully completed 60 CATS points.

    Semester 1Research Translational: from Concept to Commercialisation (Full Year)

    This module covers the principles of disease biology and new technological developments that increase our understanding of disease processes. It develops an appreciation of the importance of innovation, business awareness and leadership skills in the translation of discovery science to clinical implementation.

    Diagnosis and Treatment of Cancer (Semester 1)

    This module provides a comprehensive overview of the diagnosis and treatment of the common solid and haematological malignancies, including breast, ovarian, genitourinary and gastrointestinal cancers as well as the leukaemias. An overview of the common diagnostic pathways in clinical practice will be provided, and this will including gaining an understanding of imaging modalities and histopathological techniques in routine use.

    Cancer Biology (Semester 1)

    This module provides a comprehensive overview of the fundamental principles of carcinogenesis highlighting how normal control processes are bypassed during tumour formation. The pathogenic mechanisms to be discussed will range from genomic alterations in key gene families, to epigenetic mechanisms of gene control, alterations in kinase activities or protein turnover, or activation of aberrant phenotypes such as invasion and angiogenesis.
    Semester 2Students will chose one of the following 3 streams:

    1) Precision Cancer Stream

    Cancer Genetics & Genomics
    This module will provide students with a comprehensive foundation of concepts in genetics and genomics pertaining to cancer aetiology and molecular pathology with emphasis on both inherited predisposition to cancer mediated by germline genetic variation and consideration of the contribution of the tumour genome to disease pathogenicity.

    Translational Cancer Medicine
    This module provides a comprehensive overview of current cancer treatments and their limitations. The principles of resistance to standard chemo- and radio-therapies will be addressed and how new targeted therapies are being developed to overcome this resistance. Students will also be introduced to the principles of stratified or precision medicine, using molecular biomarkers to select patients most likely to respond to particular therapies.

    In addition, students will learn how high throughput technologies such as transcriptome profiling and next generation sequencing can be utilised to identify new biomarkers and anti-cancer drug targets. The module will also cover how novel pre-clinical discoveries are developed and applied in prospective clinical trials.


    2) Radiation Oncology and Medical Imaging Stream (ROMI)

    Biology of Radiotherapy
    This module is taught through a series of lectures and tutorials and will enable students to develop knowledge and skills in understanding the principles of radiation interactions and the molecular basis of radiation response in cells, tissues and tumours. Through the delivery of a multidisciplinary taught programme, students will cover how radiation affects and disrupts cellular processes and use established theoretical models to explore the concepts behind the use of radiation for cancer treatment.

    Clinical Radiation
    Building on the biological basis of radiotherapy, this module will develop knowledge and skills in understanding clinical radiotherapy and medical imaging. Through the delivery of a multidisciplinary taught programme, students will cover clinical tumour and normal tissue biology, radiological imaging and the design of radiotherapy treatment plans. This will develop the clinical rationale for radiotherapy in the treatment of cancer and highlight emerging treatment combinations and techniques for biomarker discovery in radiation oncology.


    3 Oncology Drug Discovery Stream (ODD)

    Target Identification and Hit ID
    Using the knowledge gained on the Cancer medicine modules in semester 1, we will look at what makes a good anti-cancer drug target and how we start to validate that target biologically. With the early validation of a potential drug target completed, we will look at the different approaches that can be used to identify chemical starting points, more commonly referred to as ‘hits’ against this target. This will be followed up with approaches employed within drug development to validate these chemical ‘hits’ to underpin future research.

    Lead optimization, drug delivery and clinical trials
    The second module will cover the processes around further optimising validated ‘hit’ matter and how this leads to the identification of in-vivo compatible tools compounds. We will also cover what are the additional challenges in converting these tool compounds into pre-clinical drug candidates, such as drug delivery, formulation and patentability. There will also be lectures on the use of nanoparticle delivery systems that are used to overcome toxicity and/or lack of efficacy in disease and patient systems.

    Research Project
    You will undertake a 24 week project in the Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research, which will run throughout both semesters.

    This module comprises the write-up contribution to the overall research element of the programme, with the Research Project (SCM 8067). The Dissertation will represent the student’s personal studies in the literature, a description of their experimental execution of their project, data presentation, analysis and interpretation, followed by critical discussion and conclusions.

    People teaching you

    Dr Paul Mullan
    Programme Coordinator

    Teaching Times

    Monday / Tuesday

    Career Prospects

    This programme will equip you with the skills to work in a translational medicine setting in an academic or hospital environment and in the biotech/ pharmaceutical industries. You’ll gain an insight into the financial, management and entrepreneurial aspects of translational research, so you may end up working in industry or potentially initiating a spin-out company of your own. You will also be able, should you wish, to progress to a PhD in a biomedical discipline.

    Queen's postgraduates reap exceptional benefits. Unique initiatives, such as Degree Plus and Researcher Plus bolster our commitment to employability, while innovative leadership and executive programmes alongside sterling integration with business experts helps our students gain key leadership positions both nationally and internationally. In addition to the comprehensive training offered by this Master’s programme, the Graduate School at QUB offers a range of supplementary courses ranging from Project Management and Leadership qualifications to development of personal proficiencies such as Academic Writing and Presentation skills.

    Employment after the Course
    As this is a research intensive degree many of our students go on to pursue further PhD study in healthcare research within the Institute of Health Sciences here at Queen’s and further afield at other academic institutions. Others go on to work in a wide variety of roles in both the private and public sector here in Northern Ireland and internationally. The following are some of the jobs they have taken on:

    Scientist, Randox
    Research Assistant Curtin University, Perth, Australia
    Assistant Peer Review Officer- BBSRC
    Project Coordinator Almac Group
    Research Project Coordinator, Almac Diagnostics
    Graduate Software Engineer BT TSO

    Learning and Teaching

    Learning opportunities associated with this course are outlined below:


    At Queen’s, we aim to deliver a high quality learning environment that embeds intellectual curiosity, innovation and best practice in learning, teaching and student support to enable student to achieve their full academic potential.

    On this course we do this by providing a range of learning experiences which enable our students to engage with subject experts, develop attributes and perspectives that will equip them for life and work that enhances their development as independent, lifelong learners.

    Class times vary throughout morning, afternoon and evening, and through a combination of course lectures, practical experiences and Self-directed study to enhance employability.

    Students perform their research project throughout the programme, which may necessitate working (under supervision) at out-of-hours times, including weekends.



    Assessment is by a combination of oral presentations and written assignments. The research project is written up as a dissertation.

  • Entry Requirements

    Entrance requirements

    Normally a minimum of a 2.1 Honours degree or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University in a relevant biological subject. Evidence of equivalent professional qualifications (MBBS, BDS or BVSc) or experience will be considered on an individual basis.

    Intercalating Medical and Dental Applicants

    i) QUB

    Intercalating medical and dental students within QUB will be considered if they have successfully completed the third year of their course at first attempt and achieved at least an Upper Second Class Honours degree standard. Intercalating applicants should also ensure they have permission to intercalate from either the Director of Medical Education or Dentistry as appropriate.

    ii) External

    An external medical or dental student wishing to intercalate must have successfully completed all assessments at first attempt for the year in which they are applying. External intercalating applicants should also ensure they have the permission of the Head of Undergraduate Medical/Dental Education or equivalent from their home University.

    iii) International

    • Applicants who are currently studying an overseas Medical (e.g. MBBS or MbChB) or Dental degree at a recognised institution acceptable to the University, may apply.

    • Applicants must have passed all assessments at first attempt for the year in which they are applying, normally 3rd year for those completing a 5 year programme or 4th year for those completing a 6 year programme.

    • Applicants may be required to provide details of the medical or dental curriculum they are studying in order to confirm compatibility.

    Applicants are advised to apply as early as possible and ideally no later than 31st July 2022 for courses which commence in late September. In the event that any programme receives a high number of applications, the University reserves the right to close the application portal. Notifications to this effect will appear on the Direct Application Portal against the programme application page.

    International Students

    Our country pages include information on entry requirements, tuition fees, scholarships, student profiles, upcoming events and contacts for your country. Use the dropdown list below for specific information for your country.

    English Language Requirements

    Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required. *Taken within the last 2 years.

    International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.

    For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see:

    If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.

    • Academic English: an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level
    • Pre-sessional English: a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English.

    INTO - English Language Course(QSIS ELEMENT IS EMPTY)

  • Fees and Funding

    Tuition Fees


    1 EU citizens in the EU Settlement Scheme, with settled status, will be charged the NI or GB tuition fee based on where they are ordinarily resident. Students who are ROI nationals resident in GB will be charged the GB fee.

    2 EU students who are ROI nationals resident in ROI are eligible for NI tuition fees, in line with the Common Travel Agreement arrangements.

    3 EU Other students (excludes Republic of Ireland nationals living in GB, NI or ROI) are charged tuition fees in line with international fees.

    All tuition fees quoted are for the academic year 2022-23, and relate to a single year of study unless stated otherwise. Tuition fees will be subject to an annual inflationary increase, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

    More information on postgraduate tuition fees.

    Additional course costs

    All Students

    Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies.

    Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library. If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. Students should also budget between £30 to £75 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges.

    Students undertaking a period of work placement or study abroad, as either a compulsory or optional part of their programme, should be aware that they will have to fund additional travel and living costs.

    If a programme includes a major project or dissertation, there may be costs associated with transport, accommodation and/or materials. The amount will depend on the project chosen. There may also be additional costs for printing and binding.

    Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen.

    There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.

    Cancer Medicine costs

    Students have the option to hire a locker, at a cost of £5 per student, per year.

    How do I fund my study?

    The Department for the Economy will provide a tuition fee loan of up to £5,500 per NI / EU student for postgraduate study. Tuition fee loan information.

    A postgraduate loans system in the UK offers government-backed student loans of up to £10,609 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas. Criteria, eligibility, repayment and application information are available on the UK government website.

    More information on funding options and financial assistance.

    International Scholarships

    Information on scholarships for international students, is available at

  • Apply

    How to Apply

    Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply.

    Apply now

    When to Apply

    The deadline for applications is normally 30th June 2021. In the event that any programme receives a high volume of applications, the university reserves the right to close the application portal earlier than 30th June deadline. Notifications to this effect will appear on the Direct Entry Portal (DAP) against the programme application page.

    Terms and Conditions

    The terms and conditions that apply when you accept an offer of a place at the University on a taught programme of study.
    Queen's University Belfast Terms and Conditions.

    Download a prospectus