Skip to main content

MSc | Postgraduate Taught

Molecular Pathology of Cancer

Entry year
Entry requirements
1 year (Full Time)
Places available
  • Overview

    Molecular Pathology is at the heart of delivering precision or personalised medicine. It is having a major impact clinically revolutionising how we diagnose and treat our patients. Molecular pathology integrates genomics, digital imaging and bioinformatics with modern pathology approaches to underpin molecular diagnostics, theranostics and clinical trials delivery within medical research, health services and industry.

    This MSc programme at Queen’s University includes traditional and distance learning (DL) approaches to provide maximum flexibility. It focuses on innovation and entrepreneurship, addressing the ethos of Genomic Medicine in the 21st century. The course concentrates on the analysis of cancer using key technologies including high-throughput genomics (Next Generation Sequencing) and artificial intelligence (Digital Pathology).

    This MSc will empower successful candidates to pursue a career in in academia, healthcare or industry.

    The Molecular Pathology education programme at QUB has been developed with a number of options in order to provide maximum flexibility of training.

    MSc in Molecular Pathology of Cancer
    Completion of all taught components (Semesters 1&2) and research project

    PG Certificate in Pathology Informatics and Business Application
    Completion of taught components in Semester 2 only – Distance Learning

    The MSc in Molecular Pathology of Cancer will provide a solid foundation for those wishing to study Molecular Pathology at PhD level. The full-time MSc is also available as an intercalated degree for Medical and Dental students.

    Molecular Pathology of Cancer highlights

    Queen's Molecular Pathology programme is supported by Cancer Research UK.

    Global Opportunities

    • The partnership with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the School of Medicine, Dentistry & Biomedical Sciences provides opportunity to study in the USA. This 4-year Doctoral Training Programme (DTP) provides students the opportunity to undertake a postgraduate taught programme in Year 1 at QUB (refer to link below for full list of programmes), followed by a PhD at NCI in Years 2-4. Further information is available at:

    Internationally Renowned Experts

    • Queens University Belfast (QUB) has an international reputation for the application of Molecular and Digital Pathology in high quality translational research. An integrated Molecular Pathology research environment has been established within the QUB Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB) the is supported by the newly established Precision Medicine Centre of Excellence and the Northern Ireland Biobank (NIB). This enhanced research infrastructure also hosts a regional NHS Molecular Diagnostics service for solid tumours. The MSc in Molecular Pathology of Cancer has a clear resonance with the Doctoral Training Programme in Precision Cancer Medicine in the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology; it also complements other postgraduate courses within the School of Medicine Dentistry and Biomedical Science. Including the MSc in Cancer Medicine (Research) and the MSc in Bioinformatics and Computational Genomics.

    Brexit Advice

    Information on the implications of Brexit for prospective students.

  • Course content

    Course Structure

    This programme is delivered by blended learning and can only be taken full-time.

    Full-time option: Candidates are required to attend classes in Belfast for the first semester and the second semester modules are delivered on-line. Over the Summer the candidates complete either a Research Project or a work based placement.

    The MSc is awarded to students who successfully complete the taught modules (120 CATS) and either a research project (60 CATS) or a works based placement (60 CATS).

    Students may exit with a Diploma by successfully completing 120 CATS or with a Certificate by successfully completing 60 CATS.

    IntroductionTaught component - Formal teaching will extend over two semesters.

    Semester 1

    All candidates will undertake traditional ‘face to face’ timetabled teaching for the three modules in Semester 1. Some of the teaching sessions within the modules also form aspects of formal teaching for other PG programmes, providing the students with the opportunity to interact with other Masters students from different disciplines, which we feel enhances the student experience. Collectively, the modules would be sufficient for a Certificate in Molecular Pathology.

    (1) Cancer Biology, Immunology and Genomics (15 CATS)

    The main objective of this module is to develop students who will have acquired the knowledge and skills to understand basic cancer biology, cancer genomics, cancer immunology and cancer molecular epidemiology as they develop skills for self-directed and life-long learning.

    (2) Molecular Diagnostics (25 CATS)

    This module will increase the student's knowledge in the principles of targeted therapy and the clinical tests that are currently in practice. In completing the module, the student will acquire key knowledge on the main aspects of a molecular diagnostic test from beginning to end.

    (3) Translational Research (20 CATS)

    The module will introduce the students to new products (biomarkers, medicines) and processes (medical devices, technologies) which are developed and utilised in translational medicine. Additionally students learn about clinical trials and biobanking and how these support the introduction of novel personalised approaches to the management of patients with cancer.

    Throughout Semester 1 students are also introduced to basic processes and concepts to support learning in bioinformatics although this is not formally assessed in semester 1.

    Semester 2

    Candidates will complete three modules which will be available ‘online’ as digital learning modules.

    (1) Digital Pathology (20 CATS)

    This module will discuss modern aspects of digital pathology in education, research and diagnostic practice. The module will also appraise the students of the full spectrum of image analysis techniques ranging from morphological analysis, pattern recognition, machine vision, quantitative IHC and FISH analysis. Students will be introduced to key concepts regarding deep learning algorithms and artificial intelligence in digital pathology. Students will have the opportunity to have hands on experience in digital image analytics.

    (2) Biostatistical Informatics (20 CATS)

    In this module students will be introduced to data types, data distributions, and hypothesis testing. In addition they will learn about and be able to evaluate testing for statistical associations and differences between data types including parametric/non-parametric tests.

    (3) The Academic-Industry Intersect (20 CATS)

    During this module students will be provided with a clear understanding of the academia-industry intersect. Students will develop skill sets to enable them to foster collaborative interactions with biotech and biopharmaceutical sectors.

    Note: Successful completion of Semester 1 modules plus Semester 2 modules without the research dissertation would be sufficient for a Diploma in Molecular Pathology. Collectively, the modules in Semester 2 without the Semester 1 modules would be sufficient for a Certificate in Pathology Informatics and Business Application.

    Molecular Pathology of Cancer Research Project

    Students will be able to plan their research project during semester 1. Depending on the type of research project practical work may start in Semester 2 in discussion with the principal supervisor.
    Students work full time on their research from the end of Semester 2 teaching.

    Research projects will be available across a variety of subjects. Potential project areas include – Image analysis of immune-oncology biomarkers; Application of liquid biopsies in Molecular Diagnostics and Research; Digital Molecular Pathology analysis of the tumour microenvironment; Biobanking and quality assurance metrics; Bioinformatics and Molecular Neuropathology.

    Molecular Pathology of Cancer Work based placements

    A number of work-based placements will also be available for some students on a competitive basis. Candidates who are selected to undertake a work-based placement must successfully complete both Semester 1 and Semester 2 modules before starting the work based placements.

    People teaching you

    Dr Jackie James
    Clinical Reader & Consultant Pathologist (Molecular Diagnostics)


    Career Prospects

    This MSc will produce high calibre candidates who can thrive in the academic, health care delivery or bio-industry sector.

    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.

    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.

    The MSc and Postgraduate Diploma programmes are delivered via blended learning. During the first semester, students are required to attend three modules in Belfast, the mode of teaching delivery is more traditional and is a combination of course lectures, seminars, practical experiences and self-directed learning. The classes vary in timing throughout the morning and afternoon. In the second semester, this includes the teaching for the Postgraduate Certificate in Pathology Informatics & Business Application,the teaching is delivered online as digital learning modules utilising a bespoke virtual learning environment. For those candidates undertaking the MSc a research project will be undertaken and potential project areas include, cancer immunology, liquid biopsies and cancer, digital molecular pathology, biobanking, molecular diagnostic, bioinformatics and molecular neuropathology.

    Examples of the learning opportunities on this course include; lectures, practical experiences, using E-Learning technologies, Self-directed study all of which give experiences to enhance employability.


    Assessments associated with the course are outlined below:

    Assessment is by a combination of oral presentations and written coursework. The research project is assessed as a written paper and an oral presentation of the key research findings. The work-based placement is assessed as a written report and a portfolio of work undertaken.

  • Entry Requirements

    Entrance requirements

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

    Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

    Significant long term experience may also be considered on an individual basis through the University’s procedures for Recognition of Prior Learning.

    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.

    International Students

    For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the 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

    Northern Ireland (NI) £6,140
    England, Scotland or Wales (GB) £6,900
    Other (non-UK) EU £6,140
    International £20,800

    All tuition fees quoted are for the academic year 2020-21. 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.

    Molecular Pathology of Cancer costs

    There are no specific additional course costs associated with this programme.

    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

    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