Cancer Cell and Molecular Biology

MSc, 1 year, full-time

This is for you if... you want to study the molecular and cell biology of cancer to an advanced level and develop a career in biological research.

Course Description

Discoveries in cell and molecular biology underpin most of what is known about the development of cancer. Analysis of alterations in diverse cell functions including cell communication, cell division, cell metabolism, cell movement, genetic modifications and changes in gene expression are central to our understanding of the disease and ultimately its treatment. This full-time postgraduate degree will provide you with cutting-edge knowledge and practical training in those aspects of cell biology, molecular genetics and histopathology which are required to understand the current approaches to cancer research.

The course comprises four months of intensive taught lab work, tutorials and lectures followed by a six month, independent laboratory research project. As well as developing your understanding of the cellular and molecular processes and techniques used in cancer research, you will learn how to critically analyse research data and research papers and how to communicate complex scientific concepts and processes.

Key Facts
Start date
September each year
Molecular and Cell Biology

Dr Raj Patel or Dr Sally Prigent
+44 (0)116 229 7068 or 7070

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology website

Why Leicester?

A unique opportunity to learn about the contemporary approaches to cancer research from some of the UK's leading researchers within the newly designated Cancer Research UK centre at Leicester.

A practically-orientated, full-time Masters comprising four months of intensive, taught lab work together with lectures, workshops, tutorials and seminars.

As well as your core lectures, there are optional lectures in related fields which will increase your understanding of the interdisciplinary aspects of your speciality.

To bring you right up-to-date with your chosen topic, there are Departmental Seminars and College Research Theme Days featuring visiting and internal speakers.

Course Structure



Plus your laboratory research project.

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.



Your second semester (January to August) comprises a laboratory project placement in a research lab either at the University of Leicester, an industrial research laboratory or a cancer research institute. You will select a project from a wide range of cancer-related topics and work full-time in the lab for six months as part of a research team. The remaining time will be spent on writing your dissertation and preparing your presentation.

Project work by some MSc Cancer Cell and Molecular Biology students has been published:

  • Al-Salmani K, Abbas HHK, Schulpen S, Karbaschi M, Abdalla I, Bowman KJ, So KK, Evans MD, Jones GDD, Godschalk RW, Cooke MS. (2011) Simplified method for the collection, storage, and comet assay analysis of DNA damage in whole blood. Free Radical Biol. Med. 51, 719-725; doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2011.05.020
  • Lam D, Shah S, de Castro IP, Loh S, Martins LM. (2010). Drosophila happyhour modulates JNK-dependent apoptosis. Cell Death and Disease, Aug 19; 1: e66; doi: 10.1038/cddis.2010.44
  • Muskett FW, Thouta S, Thomson SJ, Bowen A, Stansfeld PJ, Mitcheson JS. (2011). Mechanistic insight into human ether-à-go-go-related gene (hERG) K+ channel deactivation gating from the solution structure of the EAG domain. J Biol Chem., 286, 6184-91; doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.199364

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Teaching and Assessment

Teaching consists of lectures, tutorials, demonstrations and intensive laboratory classes comprising six distinct practicals each lasting either four or eight days. Successful completion of the taught phase is required to proceed to the project stage. Assessment is a mixture of written lab reports, a 3,000-word essay and three formal exams. Assessment of the independent laboratory research project is based on your lab performance, the written dissertation and the project presentation.

Research Stories

Entry Requirements

2:2 degree (or equivalent) in Biological Sciences or related subject. We will also consider appropriate experience in industry.

English Language Requirements

IELTS 6.5 or equivalent. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. If you do not yet meet our requirements, our English Language Teaching Unit (ELTU) offers a range of courses to help you to improve your English to the necessary standard.

International Qualifications

Find your country in this list to check equivalent qualifications, scholarships and additional requirements.

Countries list

Fees and Funding

Career Opportunities

The research training you receive and the research project you conduct will provide you with skills that PhD supervisors and employers value highly when recruiting their postgraduate research students from around the world.


Our Career Development Service is here to support you, with advice on interviews, CVs, work experience, volunteering and more. From Freshers’ Week to Graduation and beyond, they are here to help you reach your professional goals.

Course Qualification Duration Start Dates Availability
Cancer Cell and Molecular Biology MSc 1 year full-time September each year Apply Now
Cancer Cell and Molecular Biology
1 year full-time
Start Dates
September each year

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