Clinical Oncology MSc/Postgraduate Diploma - Full-time

Course overview

For health care professionals from diverse backgrounds who wish to expand their knowledge of theoretical and practical aspects of oncology, this full-time programme is particularly suitable for medical professionals with an interest in clinical, medical, surgical and translational oncology. Unique to this programme is the exciting opportunity to gain clinical observership status and log your hours observing in a UK based hospital.

We also offer a part-time version of this programme. 


The video above is introduced by Dr Jean Assender (Programme Lead) with contributions from Dr Yuk Ting Ma and international student Fawaz Al Aloosh.  Video transcript

This video shows Dr Jean Assender (Programme Lead) and Dr Sudha Sundar (Senior Lecturer) talking about the MSc Clinical Oncology programme.

Course fact file

Type of Course: Continuing professional development, taught

Study Options: Full time

Duration: This one year Masters programme includes 8 taught modules plus a 6 month research project and clinical observer status in a local hospital. The Post Graduate Diploma programme consists of the 8 taught modules spread over 9 months.

Start date: September. For the full-time programme the application deadline is 31 March 2015 (later applications will be considered but a place cannot be guaranteed for 2015 entry).


The aim of this programme is to give you a scientific understanding of the cellular and molecular biology of cancer, its epidemiology and pathology, and to place this in a clinical context. We will then address how this knowledge effects therapeutic approaches, and disease management.

Aiming to allow you to understand the research process, this programme draws on examples within the department and its associated clinical trials unit. A key part of the Masters programme is the planning, execution and reporting of a piece of independent study leading to submission of a dissertation.

At all levels we aim to encourage interactive rather than didactic learning and lecturing. Therefore, as well as assembling and learning facts you will also consider some of the philosophical challenges which underlie the treatment of cancer.

You can opt for a Postgraduate Diploma on completion of the core modules and 40 credits of optional modules, or a Masters on successful completion of the taught programme and an independently researched dissertation.


Andrew Gillian, Lead Pharmacist for Oncology & Haematology, Whipps Cross University Hospital "Can I just express my thanks to the MSc Course organisers. The Translational Research module was a further example of a very well organised week with exceptionally high calibre speakers. Throughout the whole of the MSc I have felt privileged to be able to hear the views of clinicians and others who are working at the leading edge of their specific fields. The course also benefits from its setting within the CRUK unit as you are able to draw upon an impressive range of multi-disciplinary expertise from within the research unit, West Midlands Hospitals and beyond giving an immediacy and relevance to individuals intending to deepen their involvement in clinical research."

Why study this course

This course:

  • offers a unique opportunity to undertake a clinical observership in a West Midlands hospital
  • is run at the Birmingham Cancer Research UK Centre
  • draws on expertise from staff within the School and clinical staff from Birmingham Hospitals plus invited speakers from across the country
  • will provide overseas full time students with a unique opportunity to gain clinical observership status and log your hours observing in a UK based hospital
  • can contribute towards career development and open up further career progression opportunities
  • can be tailored to suit your own interests by selecting your own choice of modules
  • has part-time or full-time versions available
  • is taught in week long blocks of study
  • meets the training requirements of the FRCR part I exams
  • will increase your personal knowledge of the practices and principles of clinical oncology
  • will give you the ability to improve the standards of clinical oncology practiced at your institute or place of work


The content of the course is broadly divided into two components: the taught modules and the independent research project (dissertation).

Each taught module comprises 30-60 hours of taught classroom based learning, self directed learning and an assignment. 

You are expected to spend approximately 60 hours of self-directed study doing preparatory and follow-up reading, and completing coursework for each module. Woven throughout the programme will be instruction in Research Methods. This is not an accredited module but you must demonstrate a satisfactory standard of understanding for you to be allowed to enter the dissertation phase of the programme.  

Module timetable 2014-15

Compulsory Modules

Optional Modules - select 40 credits

Fees and funding

2015/16 course fees

UK/EU students

MSc - £20600/PGDip - £4140 plus living expenses or accommodation and travel costs.

(Please note that the MSc fee includes the clinical observership, but the PGDip does not, hence the difference in fee levels).

Non UK/EU students

MSc - £20600/PGDip - £17960 - plus living expenses or accommodation and travel costs.

If you are a non-UK/EU student working in a UK/EU hospital you may be eligible for the part-time programme at £8980 per year for two years.

Self funding students can choose to pay in instalments by direct debit 

Learn more about fees and funding


Please note: From 1st July 2015 we will be introducing a £50 non-refundable application fee for this course. This does not apply to applications received before 1st July 2015.



International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government. Visit our website for information about scholarships for international students 

For information about all Home/EU and International funding opportunities please visit the Postgraduate Funding Database.

For other funding queries contact the School directly or get in touch with the Student Funding Office via the online enquiries system.

Entry requirements

As this programme is focused around professional practice It is essential that you have at least six months experience working in an oncology environment. This may include experience in medicine, surgery, pharmacy and the pharmaceutical industry, nursing, radiography, clinical trials, and other related disciplines.

You will also need an undergraduate degree in a suitable subject. This could include, but is not restricted to, the following fields: medicine, radiography, pharmacy, or relevant and equivalent experience/professional qualifications.

The University accepts Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL). For further details see

Learn more about entry requirements

International students:

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

English to IELTS 7.0 (with a minimum of 6.5 in each component).

If you need help with your English language skills then support is available. 

The English for Academic Purposes Presessional course is for international students who have a conditional offer to study at the University, but who do not currently meet the English language requirements. The course is tailored to your level of English and allows you to meet the English language requirements for your programme without retaking IELTS. The EAP programme runs throughout the year and offers different programme lengths ranging from 42 weeks to 6 weeks. The length of course you need depends on your future course, your existing IELTS score and the English level you need for your university degree.

Find out more about the English for Academic Purposes Presessional course.

How to apply

Please note: From 1st July 2015 we will be introducing a £50 non-refundable application fee for this course. This does not apply to applications received before 1st July 2015.

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Learning and teaching

As a Birmingham student, you will be joining the academic elite and will have the privilege of learning from world-leading experts, as well as your peers. From the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner. We want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself.

This programme is delivered via one or two 5 day blocks of teaching from Monday to Friday approx 9am-5.30pm. You will participate in a range of teaching styles such as lectures, eLectures (Surgical Oncology sample), small group tutorials, presentations, peer group learning, self-study etc.

You will have access to a comprehensive support system that will assist and encourage you, including personal tutors and welfare tutors who can help with both academic and welfare issues.


Our facilities

The College of Medical and Dental Sciences houses state-of-the art facilities to support a range of teaching, learning and research activity. 

Our facilities ensure that students receive the best possible learning experience by working in a modern environment. Among our most recent developments include a refurbishment of the Medical School foyer, Barnes library and Wolfson Centre for Medical Education.

Explore our facilities and take a tour by moving around our 360-degree panoramas:


Assessment methods

Taught Modules

Modules are assessed either by means of 3,000 word assignment or by preparing and conducting a short presentation on a defined topic related to the module content, or by unseen written examination.   


This is defined as a substantial body of work containing some new findings or thoughts. It is envisaged that this will be about 20 000 words in length. For part time students, the subject of the dissertation will be suggested by you and approved by the course leaders. Full time students will be assigned to a suitable supervisor and agree the nature of the research at the start of their programme. The dissertation will be assessed by 2 examiners and an oral presentation.


Michael Tochukwu Okafor - Clinician in Nigeria "The MSc Clinical Oncology programme has given me a sea of knowledge as regards cancer biology, management and treatment of different cancers. The clinical observership gave me the opportunity to see how cancer patients and other patients are managed in the western part of the world which has impacted positively on my clinical practise."


So you can get an idea of what some of our students have to say about the programmes we have been in touch with them and compiled some of their comments into student profiles for you to have a look at:

Gillian Hornzee - Alumna

Rachel Hoare - Alumna

Dr Selvi Radhakrishna, a recent graduate from the PG Diploma in Clinical Oncology programme here at the University of Birmingham, has written a book that presents the various cultural issues an Indian woman might face when diagnosed with breast cancer. Find out more

Find out more about where our postgraduate students go


Careers Support for Postgraduate Students

Careers Network – We can help you get ahead in the job market and develop your career

We recognise that as a postgraduate student you are likely to have specific requirements when it comes to planning for your next career step. Employers expect postgraduates to have a range of skills that exceed their subject knowledge. Careers Network offers a range of events and support services that are designed for all students, including postgraduates looking to find their niche in the job market.

Here are just a few ways in which we can help postgraduates to get ahead:

  • Careers Networking opportunities
  • Effective careers strategy toolkit
  • Year planner for all postgraduate students
  • Masters Career Coaching Workshops
  • One to one careers guidance

The Careers Network also have subject specific careers consultants and advisers for each College so you can be assured the information you receive will be relevant to your subject area. They also have a dedicated careers website for international students where you can find useful resources and information.


“We have hired some fantastic Birmingham graduates and postgraduates in the past, and believe that they have the experience and intelligence to understand the challenges of working with Procter and Gamble.”

In an independent survey, over 75% of employers regarded a postgraduate Masters-level qualification as ‘essential’ or ‘preferred’ when recruiting. ‘Talent Fishing: What Businesses want from Postgraduates’ A CIHE Report for Department of Business Innovation and Skills, March 2011.

For more information visit the Careers Network website.