Taught course

Cancer Studies

Oxford Brookes University · Department of Applied Health and Professional Development

Entry requirements

You must normally hold a UK honours degree or equivalent overseas degree from a recognised institution. If you do not hold an honours degree or equivalent, you will be required to submit an assignment which will be taken into account as part of your application. If you have not previously studied Biology above A-level, (or equivalent), you will be asked to complete an online study package in Cancer Biology before you take the Applied Cancer Biology module.

Months of entry

January, September

Course content

This MSc course offers an innovative interdisciplinary perspective on the study of cancer.

Three core modules encompass biological and social sciences. These equip you to apply key theories and concepts critically, and to develop the skills required to engage in debates about the impact of cancer on the individual, the family and society.

A wide range of additional modules offers the opportunity to examine aspects of cancer in greater detail from different perspectives, ranging from professional practice to historical perspectives, from epidemiological and medical research to biotechnology.

This multidisciplinary course will appeal to a wide range of individuals who wish to gain an understanding of cancer and its impact from a range of different perspectives. They include:

  • social science and humanities graduates
  • science graduates who do not wish to pursue a laboratory-based career
  • doctors
  • nurses
  • allied health professionals
  • science and medical journalists
  • people working for medical charities and in the pharmaceutical industry
  • individuals who have been affected by cancer (either themselves or a family member).

The unique features of this course include:

  • interdisciplinary, cross-university teaching in epidemiology, public health, applied biology, history, ethics and law
  • a range of optional modules to support and complement individual interests and needs
  • links with the local hospital and community trusts and The Oxford Cancer Centre.

This approach aims to equip you with an understanding of the impact of cancer on the individual, family and society, and to apply key theories and concepts to these topics.

The course is modular in structure with four compulsory modules:

  • Living with Cancer in Contemporary Society provides an insight into how the preoccupations of late modern society shape perceptions and experience of cancer at the social, cultural and individual level. Key themes include heightened perceptions of cancer risk and increasing surveillance, self-monitoring and self-regulation; cancer as a challenge to personal identity; cancer narratives and biographical reconstruction; the cancer journey and survivorship; the good death and the meaning of mortality; and media representations of cancer. You will have the opportunity to interview a cancer survivor, carer or health professional and to engage in debates about contemporary issues in the experience of cancer.
  • Tackling Cancer: UK and International Perspectives explores the ways in which societies and social institutions have attempted to understand, manage and control cancer. Topics include defining and describing cancer and its distribution in populations; risks, causes and prevention of cancer (individual and environmental approaches); cancer treatments and the organisation of treatment services; ethical and legal issues in cancer care and research; diagnosis and cancer policies. An international and comparative approach will be taken throughout with case studies drawn from different historical periods and cultural traditions. You will have the opportunity to make a field visit relating to cancer treatment and prevention.
  • Applied Cancer Biology offers you the opportunity to develop an in-depth understanding of the biology of cancer. It explores the molecular mechanisms of cancer biology, how those mechanisms are manifested as disease, and current applications of cancer biology research. The aim is to enable you to engage in activities where a sound knowledge of cancer biology is required. You will have an opportunity to see how cancer research is conducted in a laboratory.
  • Research Methods modules are intended to equip you with skills to find, appraise and use research, as well as plan and design a small-scale research study. It will help you define a suitable research question and to use this as a basis for identifying appropriate research methodologies for your dissertation. These modules are not laboratory-based.

You will also have the opportunity to select an additional two optional modules to suit the individual focus of your studies. Optional modules (20 level 7 credits) you may choose include:

  • Evidence-based Practice
  • Planning and Managing Clinical Trials
  • Leadership in Health and Social Care
  • Epidemiology
  • Genome Science
  • Advanced Molecular Techniques
  • The Hospital in History
  • Independent Study.

200 hours study per module.

As the MSc is interdisciplinary, you will have considerable scope for defining your dissertation topic and choosing an appropriate research methods module from the fields of biology, health care, history, sociology, business, education, and law.

The final award depends upon the number of modules you take. A PGCert requires the successful completion of three modules and the PGDip requires the successful completion of six modules. The MSc requires the successful completion of nine modules, which must include an advanced research methods module and a dissertation (triple module).

Please note: as courses are reviewed regularly, the list of modules may vary from that shown here.

Information for international students

If your first language is not English you must demonstrate that your level of English is appropriate for study at postgraduate level - IELTS 6.5-7.0 overall, or equivalent.

Fees and funding

Please see our website at https://www.brookes.ac.uk/studying-at-brookes/finance/

Qualification and course duration


full time
12 months
part time
36 months


full time
12 months


full time
6 months

Course contact details

Programme Administrator
+44 (0)1865 488157