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    2024 start September 

    Cancer Biology and Therapeutics

    School of Medicine and Population Health, Faculty of Health

    The programme provides research-led teaching in fundamental cancer biology, clinical oncology and the latest advances in modern therapeutics including immunotherapy and precision medicine. In addition, the six-month full-time research project is excellent preparation for a PhD and a career in healthcare or the pharmaceutical industry.
    MSc(Res) Translational Oncology

    Course description

    The title of this course has changed for 2024 entry. In previous years, the title was Translational Oncology.

    Lead academic: Dr Helen Bryant

    This course connects the cancer research that scientists conduct in the lab with the treatments that oncology patients receive. It covers the fundamental science of cancer, clinical aspects of cancer diagnosis and treatment, the current and emerging technologies of cancer research and the process of translating scientific discoveries into new therapies in areas including immunotherapy and precision medicine. 6-months of the course are dedicated to the full-time research project which you will undertake within one of our world-leading research teams to develop valuable research skills.

    The School of Medicine and Population Health provides a supportive and friendly environment which promotes high-quality teaching and research excellence to enable our students and researchers to tackle major healthcare challenges. 

    You will study the cellular and molecular biology that underpins the transformation of normal cells into cancer cells and how these can be exploited in precision medicine. In addition, you will learn about the broader epidemiology of cancer, gaining insight into cancer risks and disease patterns within the population to understand how and why cancer occurs. The tumour microenvironment and its potential for therapeutic targeting are examined in detail. You will learn how tumours grow, how cancer spreads, and how the cells that interact with cancer cells, such as immune cells, can influence tumour progression.

    The process of clinical diagnosis and treating cancer is explored, from the perspective of researchers, clinicians and survivors of the disease. Topics range from the process of identifying potential pharmaceuticals to genetic screening and clinical trials. You will also learn about laboratory and clinical research methods and have the option to take either a bioinformatics course, to get experience working with complex biological data sets, or a Home Office licence course, so you can find out how in vivo experiments are carried out and regulated.

    The University of Sheffield is a recognised centre of excellence and the Cancer Biology and Therapeutics programme is led by experienced cancer researchers and clinicians. The biggest part of the degree will be your six-month research project, where you will join one of our research teams to apply your knowledge, gain practical skills and build confidence within a research environment. You will also be encouraged to attend cancer-related seminars across the University with leading cancer researchers from around the world to learn about the latest developments in oncology and take part in broader professional skills training.


    We accept medical students who wish to intercalate their studies. Find out more on the School of Medicine and Population Health 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

    This module examines the cellular and molecular changes that underlie cancer initiation andgrowth. It delivers a contemporary analysis of genomics and epigenetics and of themechanisms that drive changes in cell proliferation, growth inhibition, cell death, cell cycleregulation, DNA damage and repair and cell metabolism. Through lectures, tutorials andteam building activities, students will learn how changes in cancer cell biology can beexploited for cancer treatment using precision medicine and personalised targeted therapyapproaches.

    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 and cancer immunology

    This module builds on the knowledge of the cellular and molecular basis of cancer todemonstrate the importance of the tumour microenvironment, and to relate it tounderstanding mechanisms of tumour growth, metastasis and latest therapeuticdevelopments.Through lectures, tutorials and workshops from expert scientists and cliniciansstudents will examine how tumour-stroma interactions, tumour microbiome,immunology, mechanisms of metastasis and cancer stem cells affect tumour growth,progression, evasion of the immune system and therapy resistance. Throughout themodule, students will evaluate how this knowledge can be exploited for developmentof novel cancer therapies. 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.

    Open days

    An open day gives you the best opportunity to hear first-hand from our current students and staff about our courses.

    You may also be able to pre-book a department visit as part of a campus tour.Open days and campus tours


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


    The course is taught by research scientists and clinicians. You will learn through lectures, seminars, workshops, discussions, debates, practical demonstrations, interactive tutorials and independent study. Each student is assigned a personal tutor to help guide them through the course and their next steps after graduation.


    You will be assessed through seen exams, posters, presentations, and written work. The research project is assessed by a dissertation, presentation and viva voce exam.

    Your career

    This course is great preparation for a PhD and a career in cancer research within the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors. Graduates from this course now work as researchers and in other lab-based roles at top universities and research institutes.

    Some students from this course have joined the NHS Scientific Training Programme, or gone on to study medicine. Others have entered the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

    For medical students who are interested in sub-specialising in oncology, the course provides a clinical introduction and foundation as well as networking opportunities with clinical academic staff.

    Careers workshops and 1:1 sessions are available to all students.

    Student profiles

    A researcher pipetting liquid

    Working full-time in a lab has given me a much better understanding of the research

    Lucinda Sinclair MSc(Res) Translational Oncology

    Being able to spend time working in a research laboratory helped Lucinda contextualise her research. Currently on a fast-track training programme, she wants to focus on international medical affairs.

    Amy Harding wears a pastel ombre jumper and skinny blue jeans. She has blonde hair. She stands in front of a glass panelled building.

    Communicating your research is a big deal and the masters certainly prepares you for that

    Amy Harding MSc(Res) Translational Oncology

    Amy, from South Wales, moved to Sheffield in 2019 to study a BSc in Biomedical Science, and she hasn’t looked back since. While studying our MSc(Res) in Translational Oncology, Amy learnt from clinicians and scientists, giving her practical insight into the field. She explains how the course influenced her current career within academic research.

    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 now 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.