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MSc Cancer Biology

Course Description

The MSc in Cancer Biology is for students who wish to gain an advanced education and training in the biological sciences, within the context of a disease that affects a large proportion of the global population.

The programme provides training in the modern practical, academic and research skills that are used in academia and industry. Through a combination of lectures, small-group seminars and practical classes, students will apply this training towards the development of new therapies.

The programme culminates with a research project that investigates the molecular and cellular basis of cancer biology or the development of new therapies under the supervision of active cancer research scientists.

Visit the website https://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/226/cancer-biology

About the School of Biosciences

The School of Biosciences is among the best-funded schools of its kind in the UK, with current support from the BBSRC, NERC, MRC, Wellcome Trust, EU, and industry. It has 36 academic staff, 56 research staff (facility managers, research fellows, postdoctoral researchers and technicians), approximately 100 postgraduate students and 20 key support staff. The school's vibrant atmosphere has expanded to become a flourishing environment to study for postgraduate degrees in a notably friendly and supportive teaching and research environment.

Research in the School of Biosciences revolves around understanding systems and processes in the living cell. It has a strong molecular focus with leading-edge activities that are synergistic with one another and complementary to the teaching provision. Our expertise in disciplines such as biochemistry, microbiology and biomedical science allows us to exploit technology and develop groundbreaking ideas in the fields of genetics, molecular biology, protein science and biophysics. Fields of enquiry encompass a range of molecular processes from cell division, transcription and translation through to molecular motors, molecular diagnostics and the production of biotherapeutics and bioenergy.

In addition to research degrees, our key research strengths underpin a range of unique and career-focused taught Master’s programmes that address key issues and challenges within the biosciences and pharmaceutical industries and prepare graduates for future employment.

Course structure

Each one-hour lecture is supplemented by two hours of small-group seminars and workshops in which individual themes are explored in-depth. There are practical classes and mini-projects in which you design, produce and characterise a therapeutic protein with applications in therapy.

In additional to traditional scientific laboratory reports, experience will be gained in a range of scientific writing styles relevant to future employment, such as literature reviews, patent applications, regulatory documents, and patient information suitable for a non-scientific readership.


The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation. Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.

BI830 - Science at Work (30 credits)
BI836 - Practical and Applied Research Skills for Advanced Biologists (30 credits)
BI837 - The Molecular and Cellular Basis of Cancer (15 credits)
BI838 - Genomic Stability and Cancer (15 credits)
BI840 - Cancer Therapeutics: From the Laboratory to the Clinic (15 credits)


The programme features a combination of examinations and practically focused continuous assessment, which gives you experience within a range of professional activities, eg, report writing, patent applications and public health information. The assessments have been designed to promote employability in a range of professional settings.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

- provide an excellent quality of postgraduate-level education in the field of cancer, its biology and its treatment

- provide a research-led, inspiring learning environment

- provide a regional postgraduate progression route for the advanced study of a disease that affects a high proportion of the population

- promote engagement with biological research into cancer and inspire you to pursue a scientific career inside or outside of the laboratory

- develop subject specific and transferable skills to maximise employment prospects

- promote an understanding of the impact of scientific research on society and the role for scientists in a range of professions.

Research areas

Research in the School of Biosciences is focused primarily on essential biological processes at the molecular and cellular level, encompassing the disciplines of biochemistry, genetics, biotechnology and biomedical research.

The School’s research has three main themes:

- Protein Science – encompasses researchers involved in industrial biotechnology and synthetic biology, and protein form and function

- Molecular Microbiology – encompasses researchers interested in yeast molecular biology (incorporating the Kent Fungal Group) and microbial pathogenesis

- Biomolecular Medicine – encompasses researchers involved in cell biology, cancer targets and therapies and cytogenomics and bioinformatics.

Each area is led by a senior professor and underpinned by excellent research facilities. The School-led development of the Industrial Biotechnology Centre (IBC), with staff from the other four other schools in the Faculty of Sciences, facilitates and encourages interdisciplinary projects. The School has a strong commitment to translational research, impact and industrial application with a substantial portfolio of enterprise activity and expertise.


A postgraduate degree in the School of Biosciences is designed to equip our graduates with transferable skills that are highly valued in the workplace. Our research-led ethos ensures that students explore the frontiers of scientific knowledge, and the intensive practical components provide rigorous training in cutting edge technical skills that are used in the modern biosciences while working in areas of world-leading expertise within the School.

Destinations for our graduates include the leading pharmaceutical and biotechnological companies within the UK and leading research institutes both at home and abroad.

Find out how to apply here - https://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/apply/

Visit the MSc Cancer Biology page on the University of Kent website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Marco Ricci

What made you want to go into this area of study?

I have always had a passion for cancer research and find cell biology to be the most inspiring subject I have ever studied. The intricacy of cell pathways has always intrigued me and led me to want to investigate further.

What are the facilities like?

The teaching facilities couldn’t really get any better and the laboratories, as I’m just discovering through my end-of-year project, have just about everything you could desire for making your experiment a success.

What about the teaching?

Every staff member is clearly very passionate about their subject and it comes across in their teaching. I really feel I am learning from some of the best minds in their respective fields.

What are you most enjoying about your studies?

My course has turned out to be much more exciting and engaging than I thought it would be – that isn’t to say that I didn’t expect it to be good, but rather that it has exceeded my expectations. I feel like I am gaining the exact knowledge and experience that I signed up to the course for and, as a result, going in my desired direction career-wise.

What are you planning on doing next?

I am weighing up my options. I came into the course thinking I would love to go straight into cancer research, perhaps laboratory work. However, as my appreciation for science communication has developed, I have begun to consider a job in science journalism. Other jobs have crossed my mind such as teaching but surely it’s a good thing to have too many choices?


Entry Requirements

Minimum 2:1 honours degree in a biosciences-related subject. For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages (View Website).

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