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Cancer Research MSc

2023-24 (also available for 2024-25)

This course is eligible for Master's loan funding. Find out more.

Start date

18 September 2023


1 year full-time

Places available (subject to change)


About the course

This course is aimed at graduates seeking to develop knowledge and expertise in the genetics and biology of cancer and the experimental methodologies utilised in cancer research. Training will be provided in the critically evaluation of cutting-edge cancer research literature and experimental methodologies and how to use these skills to propose and test research hypotheses in a laboratory setting.

Course detail

Research Skills

An introduction to key concepts of scientific research, including project planning, using scientific literature, the application of statistical methods, data processing and the process of creating a journal article from writing to submission. Part of the module will contain subject specific material appropriate to the student’s discipline.

Cancer Biology

The module will review our current knowledge of what cancer is and the main mechanisms of carcinogenesis. This will involve an understanding of the mechanisms that drive cell cycle and its progression, including the role of key regulatory proteins that control specific checkpoints and DNA damage surveillance mechanisms. Other aspects (themes) of cancer biology will include the deregulation of apoptosis, unlimited replicative potential, metastasis, evasion of mechanisms of immunosurveillance and the role of stem cells. Moreover, some current approaches for cancer therapy will be discussed in each theme.

Cancer Genetics

The module will consider how the ‘genomics revolution’ has impacted on our understanding of cancer and provided new ways to diagnose, prognose and even target disease. Content will include sessions detailing how macro-genetics (via projects such as The Cancer Genome Atlas) and single-cell genomics have come together to provide a modern and detailed picture of cancer genetics. The role of key genes in inherited cancer will also be discussed, alongside progress made in the field of biomarker discovery and novel therapeutics.

Emerging technologies in Biomedicine

Overview of new biomedicine technologies that are driving research and beginning to have an impact on healthcare. Technologies discussed include next generation sequencing platforms, an overview of their respective chemistries and their limitations/advantages. A detailed overview of the CRISPR/Cas platform and how this is being iteratively improved and adapted for use in biomedicine. The emergence of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) and organoid systems and their utility in research and healthcare.

Advanced genomics and gene expression

Our understanding of the human genome and how it is expressed has undergone a seismic shift in the past decade. This module will explore our modern understanding of 3D-genomes and how this relates to the complexities of transcriptional activation, post-transcriptional processing of RNA both in the nucleus and cytoplasm, and the explosion of non-coding RNA as regulators of our genes. Also, translation, a process long-thought to be primarily mechanistic, will be discussed in terms of emerging regulation via tRNA-fragments and specialised ribosomes.

Cancer Research Skills

This module focuses on the development of key skills important for undertaking cancer research in a range of settings including academia, the pharmaceutical industry and small research organisations. Content will include consideration of core practical techniques used by the cancer researcher and key aspects of experimental design such as inclusion of appropriate controls, importance of replicates, feasibility assessment, and critical evaluation of any limitations of the chosen assay(s). Other topics to be covered include formulating a research hypothesis and appropriate experimental objectives to test this, record keeping, research integrity and ethical considerations in cancer research. Expertise will be gained in the analysis of data derived from commonly used experimental techniques in cancer and training provided on how to interpret these data and formulate research hypotheses. Further training will be provided around online data mining from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), and the generation of Kaplan-Meier survival curves. The module will also include an introduction to and training in the communication skills required to summarise salient research findings and formulated hypotheses via different media to both a scientific and lay audience, in a style consistent with that used to securing project funding.

Research Project

​The overall aim of the project is to train you in methods of experimental design and either to develop new analytical methods (for example, to select by critical comparison and apply the most suitable method to a particular problem) or to solve a novel research problem in your subject area.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements for this course are normally:

  • Honours degree in an appropriate Biological Sciences discipline with a minimum of a 2:2 or a similar qualification.

If your first language is not English, you will need to meet the minimum requirements of an English Language qualification. The minimum for IELTS is 6.0 overall with no element lower than 5.5. Read more about the University’s entry requirements for students outside of the UK on our Where are you from information pages.

Student support

At the University of Huddersfield, you'll find support networks and services to help you get ahead in your studies and social life. Whether you study at undergraduate or postgraduate level, you'll soon discover that you're never far away from our dedicated staff and resources to help you to navigate through your personal student journey. Find out more about all our support services.

Important information

We will always try to deliver your course as described on this web page. However, sometimes we may have to make changes as set out below.

Changes to a course you have applied for

If we propose to make a major change to a course that you are holding an offer for, then we will tell you as soon as possible so that you can decide whether to withdraw your application prior to enrolment.

Cancellation of a course you have applied for

Although we always try and run all of the course we offer, we may occasionally have to withdraw a course you have applied for or combine your programme with another programme if we consider this reasonably necessary to ensure a good student experience, for example if there are not enough applicants to ensure you have a good learning experience. Where this is the case we will notify you as soon as reasonably possible and we will contact you to discuss other suitable courses with us we can transfer your application to. If we notify you that the course you have applied to has been withdrawn or combined, and you do not wish to transfer to another course with us, you may cancel your application and we will refund you any deposits or fees you have paid to us.

Changes to your course after you enrol as a student

We will always try to deliver your course and other services as described. However, sometimes we may have to make changes as set out below:

Changes to option modules

Where your course allows you to choose modules from a range of options, we will review these each year and change them to reflect the expertise of our staff, current trends in research and as a result of student feedback or demand for certain modules. We will always ensure that you have a range of options to choose from and we will let you know in good time the options available for you to choose for the following year.

Major changes

We will only make major changes to the core curriculum of a course or to our services if it is necessary for us to do so and provided such changes are reasonable. A major change in this context is a change that materially changes the services available to you; or the outcomes, or a significant part, of your course, such as the nature of the award or a substantial change to module content, teaching days (part time provision), classes, type of delivery or assessment of the core curriculum.

For example, it may be necessary to make a major change to reflect changes in the law or the requirements of the University’s regulators; to meet the latest requirements of a commissioning or accrediting body; to improve the quality of educational provision; in response to student, examiners’ or other course evaluators’ feedback; and/or to reflect academic or professional changes within subject areas. Major changes may also be necessary because of circumstances outside our reasonable control, such as a key member of staff leaving the University or being unable to teach, where they have a particular specialism that can’t be adequately covered by other members of staff; or due to damage or interruption to buildings, facilities or equipment.

Major changes would usually be made with effect from the next academic year, but this may not always be the case. We will notify you as soon as possible should we need to make a major change and will carry out suitable consultation with affected students. If you reasonably believe that the proposed change will cause you detriment or hardship we will, if appropriate, work with you to try to reduce the adverse effect on you or find an appropriate solution. Where an appropriate solution cannot be found and you contact us in writing before the change takes effect you can cancel your registration and withdraw from the University without liability to the University for future tuition fees. We will provide reasonable support to assist you with transferring to another university if you wish to do so.

Termination of course

In exceptional circumstances, we may, for reasons outside of our control, be forced to discontinue or suspend your course. Where this is the case, a formal exit strategy will be followed and we will notify you as soon as possible about what your options are, which may include transferring to a suitable replacement course for which you are qualified, being provided with individual teaching to complete the award for which you were registered, or claiming an interim award and exiting the University. If you do not wish to take up any of the options that are made available to you, then you can cancel your registration and withdraw from the course without liability to the University for future tuition fees and you will be entitled to a refund of all course fees paid to date. We will provide reasonable support to assist you with transferring to another university if you wish to do so.

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Equal opportunities

The University of Huddersfield is an equal opportunities institution. We aim to create conditions where staff and students are treated solely on the basis of their merits, abilities and potential, regardless of gender, age, race, caste, class, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, family responsibility, trade union activity, political or religious belief, or age. Please visit our website to see our Equal Opportunities and Diversity Policy

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The University holds personal data on all enquirers, applicants and enrolled students. All such data is kept and processed in accordance with the provisions of the Data Protection Legislation. The University’s Data Protection Policy and Privacy Notices are available on the University website.

Students’ Union membership

Under the 1994 Education Act, students at all UK universities have the right to join, or not to join, the Students’ Union. There is no membership fee. If you choose not to join you have the right not to be disadvantaged; however, you are not entitled to vote, take part in elections, or hold any office. The following arrangements apply in order that non-Union members are not disadvantaged: Non-members are welcome to take part in the activities of Affiliated Clubs and Societies on payment of the appropriate subscription. However, they may not vote or hold office in the society or club. Union members may be offered a discounted subscription. Non-members are free to use Union facilities on the same basis as members. Welfare, catering and shops are available to non-members as well as members. Union members may be offered a discounted price.

The Office for Students (OfS) is the principal regulator for the University.