Taught course

Cancer Sciences

University of Glasgow · Institute of Cancer Sciences

Entry requirements

A degree in the Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Medicine or other relevant biological/biomedical sciences (at least a 2:2 Honours Degree or equivalent). Alternative qualifications will also be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Months of entry


Course content

This Masters in Cancer Sciences will prepare you for a career in cancer science, whether you aim to pursue a PhD or further medical studies, or seek a career in the health services sector, in the life sciences, biotechnology or pharmaceutical industries. Our programme takes a “bench to bedside” approach, enabling graduates to work within a multidisciplinary environment of world-leading scientists and cancer-specialists to address the latest challenges in cancer diagnosis, research and treatment, including the complexities of early and effective diagnosis, identifying cancer- and patient-specific treatment, and overcoming partial response and recurrence after treatment.

Why Glasgow

  • University of Glasgow is rated in the UK top five and best in Scotland for Cancer Studies. You will be taught by a multidisciplinary team of world leading cancer scientists and clinicians within the Cancer Research UK Glasgow Centre.
  • This programme is unique in the UK as it delivers integrated teaching in molecular biology, pathology and clinical service.
  • We have exciting new scholarship opportunities, find out more
  • The Cancer Research UK Glasgow Centre brings together scientists and clinicians from research centres, universities and hospitals around Glasgow to deliver the very best in cancer research, drug discovery and patient care. The Centre’s world leading teams have made major advances in the understanding and treatment of many cancers. For more information, please visit: http://www.wecancentre.org/
  • Each week is focused around one of the new Hallmarks of Cancer, with a lecture on molecular/cellular biology followed by lecture on how this hallmark can be targeted in the clinic. Theoretical or practical training in relevant methodology is then followed by a tutorial session in which you can discuss and integrate your learning from the week. This will enable you to understand how research into the fundamental principles of cancer cell biology can translate to advances in the diagnosis, treatment and care of cancer patients.
  • The aim of this programme is to train cancer researchers who can break down the barriers that currently prevent discoveries at the bench from being translated into treatments at the bedside. By understanding the science, methodology and terminology used by scientists and clinicians from different disciplines, you will learn to communicate effectively in a multidisciplinary environment, critically evaluate a wide range of scientific data and research strategies and learn how to make a significant contribution to cancer research and treatment.

Programme Structure

Semester 1: Hallmarks of Cancer

This 13 week core course aims to:

  • provide you with a critical understanding of the molecular and cellular events that drive cancer development and progression
  • demonstrate how an understanding of these events underpins current and future approaches to cancer diagnosis, treatment and prevention
  • integrate the teaching of molecular biology, cell biology, diagnosis and treatment of cancer
  • describe how all these disciplines communicate and work together in the fight against cancer
  • provide you with theoretical and practical training in fundamental molecular and cell biology techniques used in cancer research

Semester 2

In the second semester, you can choose from a range of optional courses, before taking the core course “Designing a Research Project”.

Drug Discovery

In this 3 week optional course you will learn:

  • about the stages of pre-clinical drug discovery, including target identification and validation, assay development, identification, validation and optimisation of a lead compound, efficacy testing and pharmacokinetic/dynamic (PKPD) profiles
  • how to critically evaluate literature on current methods, techniques, and strategies used for drug discovery, and to appraise their advantages and disadvantages for targeting a specific disease

Drug Development and Clinical trials

In this 3 week optional course you will learn:

  • about the key issues involved in developing a candidate drug from late stage pre-clinical drug discovery through to clinical implementation
  • about the clinical components of target validation and disease linkage, the use of pharmacodynamic biomarkers in early clinical trials and the development of companion diagnostics to enable personalized medicine strategies
  • how early stage clinical trials are designed to achieve key milestones in early drug development including proof of mechanism, proof of principal and proof of concept
  • how statistical, clinical and regulatory considerations influence study design

Viruses and Cancer

The aim of this 3 week optional course is:

  • to provide you with a critical understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which viruses contribute to oncogenesis, knowledge about how viral infections can be diagnosed, treated and prevented and insights into strategies used in cancer research

Diagnostic technologies and devices

In this 5 week optional course you will:

  • will appraise the diverse modern technologies available for diagnosis of infectious and non-transmissible diseases
  • work in small groups to critically research the limitations of current diagnostics for a selected disease, devise a new diagnostic device or test that would overcome these limitations, and present your findings

Technology transfer and commercialisation of bioscience research

In this 3 week optional course you will:

  • evaluate the technology transfer of bioscience research and the commercialisation of research ideas.
  • working in small groups, you will design and evaluate a market research strategy and business plan for a small company planning to commercialise a recent bioscience discovery

Current trends and challenges in biomedical research and health

In this 3 week optional course you will:

  • have the opportunity to research a current topical issue or challenge of your choice in biomedical research or health. You will select an area of recent global or national importance, and working in groups, will plan and perform research of the scientific background of the issue, analysing and synthesising the available information to draw conclusions, and/or develop possible solutions

Frontiers in Cancer Sciences

This 5 week optional course aims to:

  • provide you with a critical understanding of current successes and challenges in cancer diagnosis, prognosis and treatment
  • demonstrate how translational research can be used to address critical unmet clinical needs
  • explain the principles and challenges of therapy resistance, residual disease, dormancy and relapse after treatment, biomarkers and ‘omics’ approaches
  • show how recent success stories can help in the development of new treatments for other cancers
  • explain the need for clinically relevant in vitro and in vivo tumour models, for bio-repositories, and for cross-discipline working

Omic technologies for the biomedical sciences: from genomics to metabolomics

In this 5 week optional course you will:

  • develop a critical understanding of a range of modern “omics” technologies and applications
  • learn about genomic, transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolomic techniques, and the analytical approaches that can be employed to examine the data output from these approaches
  • have the opportunity to develop and demonstrate your understanding and proficiency through the critical analysis of real data sets

Designing a research project: biomedical research methodology

In this 6 week core course you will:

  • develop a critical understanding of research methodology as applied to modern biomedical research
  • have the opportunity to appraise the different types of scientific research, and to examine critically the different steps within a research project
  • develop your understanding and competence through the development of the study design for your research project, including hypothesis setting, literature review and project work plans

Semester 3

Bioscience Research Project

In this 14 week core course you will:

  • have an opportunity to perform a piece of original research to investigate a hypothesis or research questions within the area of cancer research. The project may be “wet” or “dry”, depending what projects are available
  • develop practical and/or technical skills, analyse data critically and draw conclusions, and suggest avenues for future research to expand your research findings

Note: students must have a minimum of grade C in semesters 1 and 2 in order to proceed to the research project.

Information for international students

An IELTS score of at least 6.5 with a minimum score of 6.0 in each component (or equivalent qualification) is required for students who do not have English as their first language.

Fees and funding

UK students
International students


Qualification and course duration


full time
12 months

Course contact details

Torsten Stein