Programme Outline


This will be a modular course, consisting of 30% taught material (equalling 25 ECTS units) providing a foundation of advanced knowledge of cancer biology, combined with a strong, 70% research element (equal to 65 ECTS) allowing ample time for the students to gain in-depth research exposure. Overall, the knowledge and laboratory experience provides graduates with a great advantage when competing for either academic or industry-linked careers in the area of cancer research.

The taught modules will be developed with an input from a number of academic disciplines within the University, and structured in a way that ensures that the students will be provided with a comprehensive and overarching knowledge in cancer biology.

The course material will be delivered using a blended learning format (combination of face-to-face/traditional-format lectures, tutorials, self-directed learning and assignments) that will not only deliver the information the students have to attain, but also trains the students how to research independently and evaluate the information critically, which are key and valuable skills for a highly qualified cancer research scientist. 


The research element will encompass two semesters. After aninduction phase, the students will work on one research project throughout the two semesters allowing them to acquire a broad range of research skills ranging from state-of-the-art technologies through data interpretation to experimental design and data presentation. Available research project titles in participating laboratories of the School of Natural Sciences and other programme-associated Institutes will be provided to the students from which they can choose their project options. An assessment of the progress of the students will be carried out by the course co-ordinator and the supervisor of the research project at the end of semester 2 that will determine if the student can progress to semester 3.

Towards the end of Semester 3, after concluding the laboratory experiments, the students will write their MSc thesis. The MSc thesis will be evaluated by the research project-leading PI and a second internal academic.

Summary of Course Plan

The programme will be offered as a full-time, one year course consisting of 3 academic semesters, each for 15 weeks.

Semester 1 runs from the beginning of September throughthe end of the first week of December, followed by a two-week exam period.

Semester 2 starts on the second week of January and ends at the end of April.

Semester 3 begins on the first week of May and ends at the end of August. MSc thesis will be submitted by the 15th of September.

The programme is a blend of taught and research elements. The ratio of the two parts is 30% and 70%, corresponding to 25 ECTS and 65 ECTS, respectively.

Semester 1 starts with a 13-week taught component. A total of 3 taught modules will be delivered sequentially (in blocks) to the students. 

During the final 2 weeks in Semester 1, the students start their research training with a research module on the "Introduction to research and experimental design", including health and safety training, training in basic biochemical methods and introduction to the research project). The module is worth of 5 ECTS.

In Semesters 2 and 3 the students will carry out a full time research project over 2x15 weeks (2x30 ECTS). They will be hosted by an associated research lab within the School of Natural Sciences or local collaborating institutes (NCBES, CSI etc.).