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MRes Cancer Biology

MRes Cancer Biology


Key information

Duration: 1 year full-time
ECTS: 90 credits



Our Cancer Biology stream provides broad training in research and prepares you for a research career in the fight against cancer.

The course embraces cutting-edge developments in the field: you will experience some of the most technologically advanced approaches currently being applied to the broad field of cancer research in a teaching programme that comprises both theoretical and practical elements.


Choosing a stream


We offer two streams in Cancer Biology:


  • Cancer Biology
    MRes Cancer Biology
  • Cancer Informatics
    MRes Cancer Biology (Cancer Informatics)

This page is primarily for the Cancer Biology stream of the MRes Cancer Biology. For information on the Cancer Informatics stream, please follow the link above.

Your choice of stream will inform the modules you study and your choice of research projects.

The structure of the course and assessment methods are similar for both streams.


Study programme


The Cancer Biology stream comprises an initial 4/5-week taught component. This covers the cellular and molecular basis of cancer biology, plus an introduction to the clinical and pathological aspects of carcinogenesis.

This information is covered through a series of lectures. It will be partly based on the lecturer’s own research, making use of the excellent researchers we have at Northampton.

Alongside lectures, there are a series of workshops covering key transferable skills such as the oral presentation of scientific data and grant writing.

You will get an insight into the excellent project opportunities we have at Northampton, as well as those of our partner institutions (Crick Institute and Institute of Cancer Research).

To facilitate your learning, we will provide you with a textbook and you will present assigned chapters and additional research in small groups to the rest of the cohort. These book chapter presentations will be spread out over the taught component of the course.

You will then begin the first of two research placements of approximately 20 weeks each.




This MRes is designed for aspiring researchers – 75% of the 2015-16 cohort are currently studying for a PhD.

Those in employment have entered into roles such as Research Scientist, Research Assistant, and Scientific Officer.



Modules shown are for the current academic year and are subject to change depending on your year of entry.

Please note that the curriculum of this course is currently being reviewed as part of a College-wide process to introduce a standardised modular structure. As a result, the content and assessment structures of this course may change for your year of entry. We therefore recommend that you check this course page before finalising your application and after submitting it as we will aim to update this page as soon as any changes are ratified by the College.

Find out more about the limited circumstances in which we may need to make changes to or in relation to our courses, the type of changes we may make and how we will tell you about changes we have made.

You take all of the core modules below:


  • Module 1 – covering the cellular and molecular basis of cancer biology, as well as an introduction to the clinical and pathological aspects of carcinogenesis and treatment.
  • Cancer Biology

You take two projects:

  • Project 1
  • Project 2

You choose from a list of projects offered by researchers at Imperial College Cancer Research UK Centre and our partner institutions (Crick Institute and Institute of Cancer Research).

These projects will immerse you in a multidisciplinary research environment that will promote your understanding of modern cancer research.

Through continuous interaction with research staff, you will be exposed to state-of-the-art research methodologies and a broad knowledge base, offering a stimulating learning environment.

By undertaking two separate research projects, you will be trained in a range of biological techniques, both from a theoretical and practical standpoint, while further developing your data analysis skills.

You will also further your ability to communicate scientific findings to your peers, both in writing and through oral presentations.

You will apply some of the most technologically advanced approaches in the field of cancer research to your own projects and gain transferable skills through a series of short courses offered by the College.


Teaching and assessment




Modules 1 and 2 are blended learning taught modules, which will make use of pre-sessional tasks, supported workshops, practical sessions, student-lead learning, active learning techniques, as well as more traditional lectures. Working with collaborators (e.g. The Crick, Northampton Clinical Trials Unit), field trips and shadowing may also be available.

Work-based learning is the focus of the programme when you undertake the two research projects.


Teaching methods


  • Lectures
  • Tutorials
  • Seminars
  • Student-led presentations



  • Mock Grant Proposal
  • Poster Presentation
  • Projects (Thesis and Viva)
  • Statistics


Entry requirements


We welcome students from all over the world and consider all applicants on an individual basis.

Minimum academic requirement

Our minimum requirement is a 2.1 degree in an appropriate subject.


Non-academic requirements

You must have relevant lab experience, for example an undergraduate degree with a wet-lab project and dissertation.

International qualifications

We also accept a wide variety of international qualifications.

The academic requirement above is for applicants who hold or who are working towards a USA qualification.

For guidance see our Country Index though please note that the standards listed here are the minimum for entry to the College, and not specifically this Department.

If you have any questions about admissions and the standard required for the qualification you hold or are currently studying then please contact the relevant admissions team.

English language requirement (all applicants)

All candidates must demonstrate a minimum level of English language proficiency for admission to the College.

For admission to this course, you must achieve the standard College requirement in the appropriate English language qualification. For details of the minimum grades required to achieve this requirement, please see the English language requirements for postgraduate applicants.

How to apply


You can submit one application form per year of entry, and usually choose up to two courses.

We will start reviewing applications in December and will invite successful candidates to interview in the new year.

Places are filled on a first come, first served basis so we recommend submitting your application as early as possible.

Making an application

All applicants to our Master’s courses must apply online.