M.Sc. Cancer Studies

Oxford Brookes University | Oxford , United Kingdom
This new MSc course offers an innovative interdisciplinary perspective on the study of cancer, and provides the opportunity to undertake advanced study in Oxford, a world-renowned academic location, with a new Cancer Centre and a range of expert practitioners working in cancer diagnosis, treatment, care and support.



Most people's lives are touched by cancer at some point. Cancer is a major cause of morbidity and mortality, although with increased screening, early detection and continually improving treatments, there are now over two million survivors of cancer in the UK. The impact of cancer does not stop when treatment is over, and cancer can have wide-ranging consequences for physical, psycho-social and practical aspects of life for many years. In addition, cancer is a major focus of medical research, treatment development and clinical trials all of which raise interesting ethical, legal and policy issues, both in the UK and internationally.

This MSc course offers an innovative interdisciplinary perspective on the study of cancer. Three core modules, which encompass both biological and social sciences, provide the foundation. These equip you to apply key theories and concepts critically, and to develop the skills required to engage in debates about the impact of cancer on the individual, the family and society. A wide range of additional modules offers the opportunity to examine aspects of cancer in greater detail from different perspectives, ranging from professional practice to historical perspectives, from epidemiological and medical research to biotechnology.

The MSc also provides the opportunity to undertake advanced study in Oxford, a city renowned for its academic excellence, with a Cancer Centre and a range of expert practitioners working in the cancer field. The department hosts the prestigious HRH Prince Sultan Chair in Cancer Care and the Cancer Care research group.

Other study options

  • Palliative Care: Global Perspectives - MSc, PGDip, PGCert

Why Brookes?

  • We have a large and dedicated building in Oxford (Marston Road) and a campus in Swindon (Ferndale), Wiltshire equipped with state-of-the-art classroom and clinical skills simulation suites and resources.
  • Our courses are open to a wide range of health and social care professionals providing highly flexible continuing professional development (CPD) study opportunities with part-time, full-time and mixed mode options (including opportunities for e-learning, blended and distance learning).
  • We support multi and interprofessional learning and teaching, and many of our courses are either fully multiprofessional or offer excellent opportunities for shared learning.
  • Our lecturers are experienced in their specialist practice areas and maintain excellent practice links with those areas locally or across the region.
  • Many of our lecturers have reputations for excellence and have established links with colleagues, organisations and institutions at national and international levels.
  • We have a strong research profile, with experienced researchers working in established areas of cancer care, children and families, drug and alcohol, physical rehabilitation and enablement and interprofessional education & collaborative practice.
  • Oxford Brookes is rated internationally excellent across a broad range of subjects in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). 70% of our research in Allied Health Professions and Studies was rated as being of international significance, of which 10% was rated as world-leading.
  • Oxford Brookes is a student-centred institution that is fully committed to each individual achieving their potential. To support this, we offer a broad range of student support schemes to facilitate learning and development
  • We have an excellent track record of high levels of student satisfaction, low student attrition rates and high employability.

Detailed Course Facts

Application deadline as early as possible
Tuition fee
  • EUR 14260 Year (Non-EEA)
  • EUR 14260 Year (EEA)

UK/EU £905 per single unit; International £11,600

Start date , December 2016
Credits (ECTS) 90 ECTS
Duration full-time 12 months
Delivery mode On Campus
Educational variant Part-time, Full-time

Course Content

Course length

Full-time: MSc: 12 months. For PGDip and PGCert contact the Programme Administrator.
Part-time: MSc: up to 3 years

This exciting master's course is open to UK, EU and international applicants.

The course will appeal to a wide range of individuals who wish to gain an understanding of cancer and its impact from a range of different perspectives. This includes:

  • social science and humanities graduates
  • science graduates who do not wish to pursue a laboratory-based career
  • doctors
  • nurses
  • allied health professionals
  • science and medical journalists
  • people working for medical charities and in the pharmaceutical industry
  • individuals who have been affected by cancer (either themselves or a family member).

The unique features of this course include:

  • interdisciplinary, cross-university teaching in epidemiology, public health, applied biology, history, ethics and law
  • a range of optional modules to support and complement individual interests and needs
  • links with the local hospitals, Primary Care Trusts, the Oxford Cancer Centre, and the Thames Valley Cancer Network.

This multidisciplinary course aims to equip you with an understanding of the impact of cancer on the individual, family and society, and to apply key theories and concepts to these topics.

The course is modular in structure with four compulsory modules:

  • Living with Cancer in Contemporary Society - provides an insight into how the preoccupations of late modern society shape perceptions and experience of cancer at the social, cultural and individual level. Key themes include heightened perceptions of cancer risk and increasing surveillance, self monitoring and self regulation; cancer as a challenge to personal identity; cancer narratives and biographical reconstruction; the cancer journey and survivorship; the good death and the meaning of mortality; and media representations of cancer. You will have the opportunity to interview a cancer survivor, carer or health professional and to engage in debates about contemporary issues in the experience of cancer.
  • Tackling Cancer: UK and International Perspectives - explores the ways in which societies and social institutions have attempted to understand, manage and control cancer. Topics include defining and describing cancer and its distribution in populations; risks, causes and prevention of cancer (individual and environmental approaches); cancer treatments and the organisation of treatment services; ethical and legal issues in cancer care and research; diagnosis and cancer policies. An international and comparative approach will be taken throughout with case studies drawn from different historical periods and cultural traditions. You will have the opportunity to make a field visit relating to cancer treatment and prevention.
  • Applied Cancer Biology - offers you and your fellow students, who may come from diverse backgrounds, the opportunity to develop an in-depth understanding of the biology of cancer. It explores the molecular mechanisms of cancer biology, how those mechanisms are manifested as disease, and current applications of cancer biology research. The aim of the module is to enable you to engage in activities where a sound knowledge of cancer biology is required. You will have an opportunity to see how cancer research is conducted in a laboratory. As the MSc is interdisciplinary, you will have considerable scope for defining your dissertation topic and choosing an appropriate research methods module from the fields of biology, health care, history, sociology, business, education, and law.
  • Research Methods (not laboratory-based) - is intended to equip you with skills to find, appraise and utilise research, as well as to plan and design a small-scale research study. It will prepare you to define a suitable research question and to use this as a basis for identifying appropriate research methodologies and methods for your dissertation. This module is not laboratory based.

You will also have the opportunity to select an additional two optional modules to suit the individual focus of your studies. Optional Modules (20 M Level credits) you may choose include:

  • Evidence-based Practice
  • Planning and Managing Clinical Trials
  • Leadership in Health and Social Care
  • Epidemiology
  • Statistical Methods in Medical Research and Epidemiology
  • Genome Science
  • Molecular Biology
  • The Hospital in History
  • Product Development in Biotechnology
  • Biotechnology and Business
  • Independent Study.

The final award depends upon the number of modules you take. A PGCert requires the successful completion of three modules and the PGDip requires the successful completion of six modules. The MSc requires the successful completion of nine modules, which must include an advanced research methods module and a dissertation (triple module).

English Language Requirements

CAE score
193(Grade B)

IMPORTANT NOTE: The UK government confirmed new requirements for secure English language testing for visa and immigration purposes. Learn more


  • You must normally hold a UK honours degree or equivalent overseas degree from a recognised institution.
  • If you do not hold an honours degree or equivalent, you will be required to submit an assignment which will be taken into account as part of your application.
  • If you have not previously studied Biology above A-level, (or equivalent), you will be asked to complete an online study package in Cancer Biology before you take the Applied Cancer Biology module.

You may be eligible for transferred certificated credit, if you can produce transcripts of equivalent study in one or more modular areas. If you wish to transfer credit you will be required to produce transcripts, so are advised to make initial enquiries through the Course Leader.

Note: the university offers a pre-master's programme which has been designed to fully prepare you for your future master's course if:

  • your undergraduate qualifications do not meet the level required for postgraduate study
  • you wish to take a master's in a subject that is different from your undergraduate degree
  • you need to improve your study skills and use of academic English.

English language requirements

If your first language is not English you must demonstrate that your level of English is appropriate for study at postgraduate level - IELTS 6.5-7.0 overall, or equivalent

Work Experience

No work experience is required.

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