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Clinical Oncology (Full time) - MSc/PGDip


University of Birmingham    College of Medical and Dental Sciences

Programme information Department Information Department Programmes
Full time September PGDip, MSc 1 year full time

About the course

This programme is designed to develop your understanding of the cellular basis of cancer and how knowledge about molecular pathology can help in stratifying patients for personalised therapeutic approaches. You will also gain an insight into new technologies being developed at Birmingham Cancer Research UK Centre, including clinical trials.

For health care professionals from diverse backgrounds who wish to expand their knowledge of theoretical and practical aspects of oncology, this full-time programme is particularly suitable for medical professionals with an interest in clinical, medical, surgical and translational oncology. Unique to this programme is the exciting opportunity to gain clinical observership status and log your hours observing in a UK based hospital.

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Entry Requirements

As this programme is focused around professional practice It is essential that you have at least six months experience working in an oncology environment. This may include experience in medicine, surgery, pharmacy and the pharmaceutical industry, nursing, radiography, clinical trials, and other related disciplines. You will also need an undergraduate degree in a suitable subject. This could include, but is not restricted to, the following fields: medicine, radiography, pharmacy, or relevant and equivalent experience/professional qualifications.


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Where will I study?

Where is University of Birmingham

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Student Profile(s)

Gillian Hornzee

MSc Clinical Oncology, part-time 2011

Current role - Cancer Trials Team Leader, Imperial College

How has your career developed since graduating from the University of Birmingham?

I had previously been working as a trials coordinator, but after graduating I was promoted to Team Leader, heading up a team of 5 people and running all the cancer trials run at St Mary’s Hospital site of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

What is the best thing about the job you are doing now?

I enjoy speaking to patients about trials, discussing with the clinicians which trials should be opened at the hospital and making sure that all trials data is accurate and medically correct.

Why did you originally apply to do your chosen course at Birmingham?

One of my colleagues had done the course and recommended it, especially as several of the lecturers are at the cutting edge of cancer research in terms of developing the vaccine for cervical cancer.

What did you think were the best points of the course and the University?

I loved the fact that clinicians were lecturing us about what happens in the real world of treatment of cancer. Also it was great to have lectures on the latest research into cancer. It fit in really well with my job too, because having lectures condensed into a week-long block made it possible for me to attend a course which was a long way away from where I work, but was better than other courses available locally.

What advice would you give to current students studying on the course?

Make the most of all the learning opportunities as they will stand you in good stead for the future.

How did you grow as a person by studying at University? Did it change your life in any way?

I became more confident, especially in dealing with the clinicians and professors making important decisions about recruiting to clinical trials.

Rachel Hoare

Current role - Research Technician at the University of Birmingham, School of Cancer Sciences

How has your career developed since graduating from the University of Birmingham?

The MSc course enabled me to further develop my skills as a researcher, helping me to conduct research in a more informed way, taking into acount the downstream processes required to translate research for a patient’s benefit. The disseration project enabled me to become a more independent researcher by intercalating my laboratory-based job with the planning, execution and reporting of a piece of independent study for this purpose (which I subsequently presented at a conference). This Masters level programme benefited me in many ways. I not only assembled and learnt facts, but also considered some of the philosophical challenges which underlie the treatment of cancer. I gained a greater understanding of how the research and trials processes fit together in the context of oncology and through engaging in continuing professional development, I gained increased confidence and self esteem.

What is the best thing about the job you are doing now?

I am committed to cancer research and enjoy making a positive contribution to cancer research fields through my laboratory work, which is what I enjoy doing.

What did you think were the best points of the course and University?

The lectures are given by world-class researchers and clinicians working at the university/experts in their field, and the information is very current and very relevant. One highlight is to hear the views of clinicians and others who are working at the leading edge of their specific fields, which often opens up discussions in the lectures.
Very relevant course for anybody working in the cancer field.
Broadens knowledge, not only clinical but also research methods and statistical analysis.
Teaches you how to critically appraise published work and analyse the statistical methods used in clinical studies, which is a very important skill.

What advice would you give to current students?

Ask questions and don’t be afraid to express an opinion during lectures. Enjoy learning!!

How did you grow as a person by studying at University?

I have gained increased confidence and self esteem, as well as become much more independent in my research skills. I have gained skills and expertise from studying (and working) at the University, which will be paramount for directing my career in cancer research and maximising its impact on improving patient treatment and care.

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