Clinical Oncology MSc/Postgraduate Diploma - Part-time

Course Overview

For health care professionals from diverse backgrounds who wish to expand their knowledge of theoretical and practical aspects of oncology, including:

  • medical and clinical oncology SpRs
  • nurses
  • pharmacists
  • radiographers
  • vets
  • clinical trial co-ordinators
  • dieticians

full-time programme is also available.

Video transcript

Course fact file

Type of Course: Continuing professional development, taught

Study Options: Part time

Duration: Part-time - 2 years taught element plus a work place based dissertation. This is made up of 4 residential taught modules per year (8 in total). Taught modules consist of one or two 5 day blocks Monday to Friday approximately 9am - 5.30pm. The total taught element consists of 45-55 days of attendance over the whole programme depending on your choice of optional modules.

Start date: For the part-time programme the application deadline is 31st August or when the course is full.


This programme aims 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. You will then address how this knowledge effects therapeutic approaches and disease management.

It aims to allow you to understand the research process by drawing on examples within the department and its associated clinical trials unit. A key part of this 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, in addition to  assembling and learning facts you will also to 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 an MSc 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:

  • 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
  • meets the training requirements of the FRCR part I exams  
  • can contribute towards career development and open up further career progression opportunities
  • can be tailored to suit your own interests by selecting from a choice of optional modules
  • has part-time or full-time versions available 
  • is taught in week long blocks of study for ease of travel and freedom from competing work commitments 
  • 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 2013-14

Compulsory Modules

Optional Modules - select 40 credits

Fees and funding

2015/16 course fees

UK/EU students

MSc - £6210/PG Dip £4140 payable over two years - plus living expenses or accommodation and travel costs.

Non UK/EU students

Non UK/EU students working in the NHS are eligible to apply but may be charged overseas tuition fees rather than UK/EU tuition fees

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

Learn more about fees and funding  


Birmingham Cancer Research UK Centre Scholarships may be available - contact the school for details.

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 is a course 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, pharmacy and the pharmaceutical industry, nursing, radiography, clinical trials, scientific research, veterinary medicine, biostatistics 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: bioscience, medicine, radiography, veterinary medicine or relevant and equivalent experience/professional qualifications.

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

This programme is intended to be accessible and appropriate to people from a wide variety of backgrounds, reflecting the modern multidisciplinary constitution of cancer care professionals.

Learn more about entry requirements

How to apply

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.


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:

Mr G A M Mohamed - current student 

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.