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Biomedical Sciences (Cancer Biology) (MSc)

Course Description

Improved global life expectancy has resulted in a cancer epidemic. It is well recognised that accurate early diagnosis is an essential aspect of the administration of increasingly expensive and tailored cancer treatment care plans.

The Biomedical Sciences (Cancer Biology) MSc programme has been devised to provide knowledge of key aspects of this increasingly important disease area.

You will become familiar with the genetic and cellular changes occurring in both solid and blood-borne cancers, the current and emerging technological approaches for diagnosis of the disease and the effect on pertinent cellular changes on patient prognosis. Studies on populations and the influence of genotypic variation will ensure that you are qualified to make sense of cancer statistics.

You are able to tailor your programme by selecting from a menu of option modules and pursuing a research project in an area ranging from molecular through to cellular or tissue-based aspects of cancer.

During the course you will join our thriving research environment and will have access to excellent laboratory facilities within the Faculty. On successful completion of the course you will be equipped to take forward your career with an in-depth knowledge of this increasingly common disease area.

Core Modules

• Advanced Cancer Biology
This module will explore the role of common signalling pathways and other molecular mechanisms implicated in carcinogenesis, including the role of cancer stem cells in disease progression and metastasis. Recent advances in diagnostic methods and therapeutic strategies will be discussed as well as ways in which public health initiatives can lower the risk of cancer development, and how issues related to cancer are reported in the media.

• Cell Signalling and Genetics
This module provides up-to-date information on cell signalling processes coupling surface receptor engagement to changes in gene expression. Transcriptional, post-transcriptional and post-translational mechanisms are discussed in relation to selected cell-signalling pathways responsible for controlling cell functions such as cell cycle, cell differentiation and cell death. Examples of defective cell signalling through inherited and somatically acquired mutations in signalling components will be highlighted in relation to human disease.

• Molecular Science and Diagnostics
This module is designed to make you aware of the impact of molecular biology on the diagnosis of human diseases. You will critically review the technologies and determine the advantages and disadvantages associated with each diagnostic strategy. Issues of accuracy, implementation, ethics and safety will be addressed.

• Postgraduate Project
This module aims to enhance your skills of self-management, experimental design, critical analysis and interpretation of data, enabling you to present and justify your research.

• Postgraduate Research Methods
You will be able to develop your skills in information retrieval, critical analysis and presentation relevant to your research topic, and form a clear plan for your project.

Option Modules

• Communicating Science
Introducing you to key concepts in science communication, its challenges, rewards and applications, this module is designed to incorporate scenarios related to your interests, such as health, drug discovery and water science. The roles of science and scientists in society and how the public perceives, interacts with and responds to the information produced by scientists are explored, with the history of communicating science used to contextualise current issues in disseminating information.

• Extended Postgraduate Project
This module gives you the opportunity to investigate an appropriate research topic, generate and critically analyse data, and present your results and discuss findings in the context of previously published work. The project proposed and undertaken must include rigorous and critical analysis of data with a high level of initiative. This module is intended for students wishing to gain greater research experience and includes an extended period of research activity and extended assessment regime.

• Immunopathology
You will analyse and discuss cellular and molecular aspects of innate and adaptive immune responses, and advances in modern methods for disease diagnosis and treatment. This will include strategies available for the diagnosis of inherited and acquired immunological disorders, normal and pathological immune responses to extracellular and intracellular pathogens, transplantation of organs and tissues, immune surveillance of tumours, autoimmune and immunodeficiency disorders.

• Immunotherapy
The module aims to investigate the role of immunological tools such as vaccines, monoclonal antibodies and cytokines in the treatment of human disease.

• Molecular and Cellular Therapeutics
This module reviews and discusses the ways in which molecular biology has been used to treat inherited and acquired diseases. You will investigate the ethics and legislation involved in the use of novel therapies in humans.

• Systems Biology
This module will introduce the theoretical and practical underpinnings of systems biology. The emphasis is on studies of entire systems, assisted by the use of bioinformatics and how the knowledge from these may be applied to medicine. The module will examine databases and other resources as well as discuss issues key to the studies of entire systems.

Associated careers

After graduation, you will be equipped with the skills and knowledge to pursue a range of cancer-focused careers including appointments in diagnostic laboratories, academic, biotechnological and pharmaceutical research.

As a graduate of this course, you will be ideally placed to play an essential role in both diagnosis and improved care of cancer patients. Opportunities are also available to pursue a career in clinical trials and in areas such as data analysis and public health.

Professional recognition

The course is accredited by the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS).


At Westminster, we have always believed that your University experience should be designed to enhance your professional life. Today’s organisations need graduates with both good degrees and employability skills, and we are committed to enhancing your graduate employability by ensuring that career development skills are embedded in all courses.

Opportunities for part-time work, placements and work-related learning activities are widely available, and can provide you with extra cash and help you to demonstrate that you have the skills employers are looking for. In London there is a plentiful supply of part-time work – most students at the University of Westminster work part time (or full time during vacations) to help support their studies.

We continue to widen and strengthen our links with employers, involving them in curriculum design and encouraging their participation in other aspects of career education and guidance. Staff take into account the latest data on labour market trends and employers’ requirements to continually improve the service delivered to students.

Visit the Biomedical Sciences (Cancer Biology) (MSc) page on the University of Westminster website for more details!

Entry Requirements

You must have at least a BSc Honours in Biomedical Sciences or a closely related subject, a professional qualification of equivalent status and associated work experience, or an equivalent qualification deemed suitable by the course team. If you are applying for part-time study, you will normally be working in a relevant area and will require written support from your employer including confirmation that facilities will be available in your workplace for you to carry out your research project. If your first language is not English you should have an IELTS score of at least 6.5, with 6.0 in each element.

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