Molecular Pathology and Therapeutics of Cancer

MSc, PGCert, 1 year, full-time

This is for you if... you want to study the molecular pathology, biology and therapeutics of cancer at an advanced level and develop a dynamic career in biological research or continue with further postgraduate study.

Course Description

This full time postgraduate degree will equip you with the knowledge, expertise and experience to make a real difference in the understanding and treatment of cancer. You will study the mechanistic nature of cancer biology and apply that knowledge to the analysis and understanding of risk, prevention, diagnosis, prognosis and therapy. Building on a solid foundation of learned basic cancer cell biology, you will consider and experience the design of treatment modalities and prevention strategies, including the mechanisms of action of anti-cancer drugs and radiation treatment, therapy resistance and biomarker discovery.

The course comprises three months of intensive lectures, tutorials and taught lab work, followed by a further month of advanced topic lectures delivered by scientists at the cutting-edge of translational research, focusing on therapeutics and prevention. A key component of the course is then the five to six month research project, which will give you the opportunity to study and research one of the department’s key research areas in much greater depth. As well as developing your understanding of the 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.

What's the difference?

If you complete the taught modules but not the Research Project, you will receive a Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert).

Key Facts
Start date
September each year
Cancer Studies

Professor George Don Jones
Department of Cancer Studies
Robert Kilpatrick Building
Leicester Royal Infirmary
Leicester LE2 7LX
+44 (0)116 223 1841

Department of Cancer Studies website

Why Leicester?

Launched in 2014, this course is run and delivered by the same team that has trained more than 300 graduates over 20 years on previous Masters Degrees in this field.

The Department of Cancer Studies at Leicester has a well-established reputation in providing a high quality teaching experience within an internationally recognised research environment.

Our MSc courses are designed to provide you with theoretical and practical analytical skills that are on the frontline of current cancer research.

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



In the taught modules you will gain expertise and knowledge in cancer molecular and cell biology, treatment, prevention, anti-cancer target discovery and validation, clinical trials, imaging, cancer risk and epidemiology and biostatistics.

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.



One of the most valued features of this MSc course is the laboratory research project, in which you will put your newly acquired practical skills and knowledge to the test. For up to six months, you will work as a member of a dedicated research team, designing and conducting your own experiments, culminating in the production of a dissertation.

Recent research project titles offered include:

  • Use of human adult stem cell models for assessing the efficacy of cancer chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic agents
  • Accelerating cancer prevention therapies to the clinic – towards an improved understanding of the mechanisms of action of resveratrol, curcumin and aspirin.
  • Addressing the role of amino acids metabolism in cancer metastasis
  • Monitoring the circulating cancer genome for patient follow up
  • Molecular characterisation of sputum from lung cancer patients: search for biomarkers of early detection
  • Developing a cellular model of malignant mesothelioma for translational studies
  • Development and application of PCR assays for detection of cancer driver mutations
  • Studies of epithelial mesenchymal transition as a key mechanism of tumour progression
  • Finding the genetic determinants of response to radiotherapy
  • Comet assay measures of DNA damage in cancer


Many of these projects have led to publication in highly respected scientific journals:

  • Wood JP, Smith AOJ, Bowman KJ, Thomas AL, Jones GDD (2015). ‘Comet assay measures of DNA damage as biomarkers of irinotecan response in colorectal cancer in vitro and in vivo.' Cancer Medicine 2015, 4(9):1309–1321. doi: 10.1002/cam4.477
  • Higgins JA, Zainol M, Brown K, Jones GDD (2014) ‘Anthocyans as tertiary chemopreventive agents in bladder cancer: anti-oxidant mechanisms and interaction with mitomycin C’. Mutagenesis, 29: 227-235.
  • Britton RG, Horner-Glister E, Pomenya OA, Smith EC, Denton R, Jenkins PR, Steward WP, Brown K, Gescher A, Sale S (2012). 'Synthesis and biological evaluation of novel flavonols as potential anti-prostate cancer agents.' Eur. J. Med. Chem. 54: 952-958 doi:10.1016/j.ejmech.2012.06.031
  • 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
  • Sayan AE, Griffiths TR, Pal R, Browne GJ, Ruddick A, Yagci T, Edwards R, Mayer NJ, Qazi H, Goyal S, Fernandez S, Straatman K, Jones GD, Bowman KJ, Colquhoun A, Mellon JK, Kriajevska M, Tulchinsky E. (2009). 'SIP1 protein protects cells from DNA damage-induced apoptosis and has independent prognostic value in bladder cancer.' Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 106: 14884-14889 doi:10.1073/pnas.0902042106

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

The taught phase consists of lectures, tutorials, demonstrations and intensive laboratory classes comprising six practicals each lasting either four-to-six days. Successful completion of the taught phase is required to proceed to the project stage.

You will be trained in lab techniques and will develop your proficiency in experimental design. These skills will then be put into practice in the five to six month lab-based research project which comprises two-thirds of the credits for your course.

The core lecture programme, which is shared between our various postgraduate lab-based courses, will develop your specialist knowledge. There are also optional lectures in fields related to your own, which will allow you to increase your understanding of the interdisciplinary aspects of your specialty. On days when there are no lectures, structured lab practicals are run in the first semester, alongside tutorials and seminars, plus training and employability sessions.

Assessment is a mix of formal exams (MCQ, short-answer and long-answer/essay) and coursework including practical reports, presentations and other written tasks. Assessment of the 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 a relevant bioscience subject such as biology, molecular biology, biochemistry, biotechnology, pharmacology etc.

We also welcome applicants with significant relevant industrial or professional experience, and medically qualified applicants with a strong background in molecular biology and/or cell biology.

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

  • This is the total course fee.

    Starting in September 2016

    • £10,070

    Starting in September 2017

    • To be confirmed

    Find out more about scholarships and funding.

    Did you know you can apply for a Postgraduate Loan of up to £10,000, subject to eligibility?


  • This is the total course fee.

    Starting in September 2016

    • £17,465

    Starting in September 2017

    • To be confirmed
    Find out more about scholarships and funding.

Career Opportunities

The research training you receive and the research project you conduct will provide a training 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
Molecular Pathology and Therapeutics of Cancer MSc 1 year full-time September each year Apply Now
Molecular Pathology and Therapeutics of Cancer
1 year full-time
Start Dates
September each year

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