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    2023 start September 

    Translational Oncology

    The Medical School, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health

    Study Cancer Biology and Precision Therapeutics in Sheffield. You'll get a solid grounding in cancer biology and clinical oncology then progress to more advanced cancer research modules, allowing you to experience cancer research at all stages of drug discovery and development. Graduates have gone on to work in academic research, pharmaceuticals, medical writing, the biotech industry and the NHS. Your extended six-month research project in a research lab or clinical setting will allow you to develop real-life research skills matched to your interests.
    Image of postgraduate student working with medical equipment (pipette)

    Course description

    Lead academic: Dr Helen Bryant

    Translational oncology is the process by which laboratory cancer research informs the development of new treatments for cancer. It’s a rapidly advancing field with massive therapeutic and commercial potential, and recent graduates have gone on to work in academic research science, pharmaceuticals, medical writing, the biotech industry and the NHS among others.

    Our MSc(Res) is taught by leading research scientists and clinicians. The course offers training in cancer biology / treatment theory and practice of translational oncology and provides you with transferable skills for your future career.

    The course is designed so that students progressively achieve more advanced levels of learning and practice by giving a thorough grounding in the subject matter through five taught modules before leading you into the advanced research modules, namely the literature review and the six-month research project, for which you’ll work as part of a team within the oncology research community at Sheffield.

    Translational oncology / cancer research in Sheffield is well-established, spanning several faculties and departments. We hold Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC) status in recognition of our clinical trials expertise, so you'll study in a world-class research environment with a multidisciplinary research team of basic and clinical scientists.

    We'll give you the opportunity to experience cancer research at all stages of drug discovery and development, from fundamental research to molecular mechanisms and their implementation in new cancer therapies and offer career development tutorials, including CV writing, career tracking and critical appraisal.


    We accept medical students who wish to intercalate their studies. Find out more on the Medical School website.

    Do you have a question? Talk to us

    Book a 15-minute online meeting with our course tutor to find out more information and ask further questions.

    Book an appointment with Dr Helen E Bryant


    From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.

    All taught modules are worth 15 credits

    Cellular and Molecular Basis of Cancer

    The module will deliver a contemporary analysis of cancer molecular biology, with emphasis on cellular components mutated or dysfunctional in cancer. This will include the cancer hallmarks, cell communication, cell cycle and checkpoints, genomics/epigenomics, cancer syndromes and molecular therapies. Through lectures, seminars, tutorials and team-building, we will examine how dysregulation of signalling contributes to cancer and how targeted/personalised approaches will transform therapy. Assessment will be through a referenced written seen exam and a data assessment day and will look to confirm understanding of core concepts and critical awareness of cancer biology. The module will be delivered by leading research scientists and clinicians.

    15 credits
    Cancer Epidemiology

    This module will cover the principles underlying Cancer Epidemiology and generate a critical understanding of the distribution patterns of cancer, predisposition to cancer, prediction of susceptibility and current research. Through lectures, tutorials, class discussions and problem solving workshops we will examine measures of disease burden, impact of cancer from a public health perspective, genetic and environmental predisposition, biomarkers in risk prediction, prognostication and tailoring of treatment, understanding descriptive and analytical methods in cancer research, research methods, ethics and research governance. Assessment will be through a referenced written seen exam and an essay which will look to confirm understanding of core concepts and critical awareness of cancer epidemiology

    15 credits
    Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

    The module will evaluate the presentation and treatment of cancer from a number of perspectives. Through lectures, tutorials and class discussions we will examine modern oncology practices, such as multi-disciplinary team working, genetic screening in diagnosis, randomised clinical trials, and possible future approaches to tumour ablation, and particular attention will be paid to the diagnosis and treatment of the main cancers. The students will be given the novel opportunity to look at clinical cancer research and therapy through the eyes of survivors of the disease. Assessment will be through a referenced written seen exam and a blog post which will look to confirm critical understanding of cancer diagnosis and treatment practices.

    15 credits
    Tumour Microenvironment

    This module aims to demonstrate the importance of the modified tumour microenvironment and to relate it to understanding mechanisms of tumour growth, metastasis and drug development. Through lectures, tutorials and workshops from leading scientists and clinicians we will examine how hypoxia, tumour angiogenesis, immunology, inflammation, tumour-stroma interactions, extracellular matrix remodelling, mechanisms of metastasis and cancer stem cells affect tumour growth and drug resistance, and how this knowledge can be exploited for development of novel cancer therapies. Assessment will be through a referenced written seen exam and a poster presentation which will look to assess critical awareness and understanding of the role of the tumour microenvironment.

    15 credits
    Cancer Technologies and Clinical Research

    The aim of this module is to develop a critical understanding of mainstream and developing technologies currently used in preclinical and clinical cancer research. Classical tumour biology, proteomic and in vivo methodologies will be explored, in addition to biomarker/drug discovery, pre-clinical imaging and patient cancer trials. Advantages and limitations of each experimental approach will be discussed and how these may lead to identification and validation of novel cancer targets and drug treatments or the refinement of established cancer therapies. The core module consists of lectures, tutorials and group work, followed by an option choice of either the Home Office Licence course or a Cancer Bioinformatics/Modelling course.

    Option 1 - Home Office Licence Induction Course: Biological and Veterinary Services

    This will introduce the principles, legislation and practical approaches to in vivo experimentation. The course will assess specific knowledge related to regulated in vivo experimentation by a multiple choice examination. Specific procedural elements will be assessed by practical examination to demonstrate an individuals' ability. Students must reach a level which will, in the future, allow application for a Home Office personal licence (PIL) to undertake regulated procedures, although this is NOT one of the outcomes of the course.

    Option 2 - Introduction to Bioinformatics: Mark Dunning and Michelle Lawson

    This option will introduce students both conceptually and practically to the possibility and challenges in bioinformatics. Bioinformatics covers a range of methodologies to manage and interpret very highly dimensional data, for example from genomics, microarray, pretomics or metabolomics, all of which are widely used in Oncology. The course will provide a taught section on bioinformatics, a detailed series of workshops showcasing how RNASeq data-analysis workflows are undertaken and an assessed mini-project in which students gain practical experience of analysing and interpreting real-life data sets.

    15 credits
    Literature Review

    This unit aims to develop abilities in information retrieval from appropriate sources, reference management, synthesis and critical analysis of published literature. Academics provide new titles each year to address unmet need for an original review, an updated review or questioning a paradigm in the wider literature, for a special themed edition of a journal. Submissions will be formatted as a review paper according to author guidelines for a chosen journal. Students will receive workshop training in information literacy and supervisor tutoring in the development of their review.

    15 credits

    The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption. We are no longer offering unrestricted module choice. If your course included unrestricted modules, your department will provide a list of modules from their own and other subject areas that you can choose from.

    Open days

    An open day gives you the best opportunity to hear first-hand from our current students and staff about our courses. You'll find out what makes us special.

    Online postgraduate open day - Wednesday 26 April 2023


    • 1 year full-time
    • 2 years part-time


    The taught component – the first five months of the course – integrates a range of teaching styles including lectures, seminars, class discussions/workshops, practical demonstration classes and interactive tutorials.

    You'll take part in student-centred learning, such as workshops, group debates, self-study units, individual presentations and interactive tutorials. You'll work independently during the research and literature review projects under the guidance of an academic supervisor.

    During the Cancer Technologies and Clinical Research module, there is the opportunity to select either the Home Office Licence Induction Course or Cancer Systems Biology Course. In the summer, the 25-week continuous research project gives you the practical experience of performing hypothesis-led translational research, which culminates in an oral presentation, written dissertation and a viva.

    Alongside the taught modules, students attend the Sheffield Cancer Research seminars which include question and answer sessions with the experts, and a series of professional skills development tutorials.


    Assessment is by a combination of written seen exams, oral and poster presentations, and written assignments. The research project is assessed by an oral presentation, a written dissertation and a viva voce exam.

    Your career

    After successfully completing your course, you can pursue further training via a PhD. Alternatively past students have secured roles in medicine, medical writing, as a Research Assistant or Lab technician, as well as other roles within the healthcare industry. Graduates have also secured places on the NHS Scientist Training Programme.

    Within 6 months of completing the course, over 30% of our students have taken on a PhD, and over 10% have pursued a career in medicine; nearly 15% have secured roles within a lab setting.

    Entry requirements

    You'll need at least a 2:1 in a relevant life science undergraduate degree (eg Biochemistry, Biology, Genetics, Molecular Biology or a degree in veterinary science or medicine).

    A 2:2 degree may be acceptable depending on an interview and assessment of your past achievements. Medical students can intercalate after completing three years of their medical degree.

    We also consider a wide range of international qualifications:

    Entry requirements for international students

    Overall IELTS score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component, or equivalent.

    Pathway programme for international students

    If you're an international student who does not meet the entry requirements for this course, you have the opportunity to apply for a pre-masters programme in Science and Engineering at the University of Sheffield International College. This course is designed to develop your English language and academic skills. Upon successful completion, you can progress to degree level study at the University of Sheffield.

    If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.


    You can apply for postgraduate study using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.

    Apply now


    Dr Helen Bryant


    +44 114 215 9063

    Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

    Our student protection plan

    Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.

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