University of Chester

Programme Specification
Oncology MSc
2017 - 2018

Master of Science



University of Chester

University of Chester


Postgraduate (Taught)

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

1 year full time, 2 years part time.

6 Years

Annual - October



17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Medicine, Dentistry and Life Sciences Chester Medical School

The Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies (2014)

Joint Royal Colleges of Physicians Training Board (JRCPTB) recommendations for Medical Oncology (2010)

Institute of Medicine Postgraduate Module Assessment Board

Friday 1st August 2014

This programme will aim both to inform and equip the practitioner with the necessary skills to function in a modern clinical environment specialising in caring for the cancer patient, and will be as relevant to day to day NHS hospital and general practice. Specific aims include:

  • understand the principles of evidence based medicine
  • gain practical laboratory, point of care and data interpretation skills
  • develop an understanding of the different types of cancer
  • understand the types and causes of acute and chronic complications of cancer
  • develop an appreciation of therapeutic strategies to treat different types of cancer
  • focus on an integrated approach to care for the cancer patient

1. Demonstrate extensive knowledge and a critical understanding of relevant theoretical concepts; MD7001, MD7002 or MD7069, MD7003, MD7011, MD7012

2. Demonstrate a critical understanding of a broad range of practical issues as applied to oncology; MD7002 or MD7069, MD7003, MD7011, MD7012, MD7027

3. Synthesize and integrate knowledge and understanding from different areas of oncology; MD7001, MD7003, MD7011, MD7012, MD7027, MD7100

4. Apply a critically and theoretically informed perspective to relevant issues and current developments in oncology; – all modules.

Be able to analyse, synthesise, evaluate, apply and reflect upon information gained from academic and professional literature, professional organisations, and experiences in the workplace, in order to propose solutions to problems in oncological contexts - all modules.

Be able to deploy academic and practical techniques for the integration of academic  knowledge and understanding into effective professional practice contexts – MD7002 or MD7069, MD7027

Have understanding of the limits of own knowledge, and how this influences analysis and interpretations based on that knowledge – all taught modules.

Have skills of self-evaluation to understand own strengths and weaknesses, challenge received opinion, and develop own criteria and judgement – MD7002 or MD7069, MD7027

Have key/transferable skills and confidence to undertake further training, develop existing skills, and acquire new competences that will enable the assumption of significant responsibility within relevant organisations – all modules.

Be able to use IT to manipulate quantitative and qualitative information to solve defined problems – all modules.

Be able to effectively communicate information, arguments, and analysis in a variety of forms to specialist and non specialist audiences – all modules.

Be able to work effectively within a team, giving and receiving information and ideas, and modifying responses as appropriate – all modules.

A number of the modules are shared with other MSc programmes, but students will address the assignments in those modules using agreed titles/studies associated with oncology. Practical skills will be developed in MD7002 or MD7069. Students will be encouraged to complete their Personal Development Plan throughout the course – in particular using the knowledge and competency framework from The Royal College of Physicians.

MD7001 The first module taken by students is split into 2 parts

a) We explore literature searching methods, reading and writing skills through a series of formative exercises. Students chose an oncology topic for the assignment, which is agreed with the tutor.

b) Statistical analyses and their uses are explored through a series of exercises completed during the 3 day block or in the weekly sessions.

MD7002 - all students complete the sessions on Health and Safety, and experimental design and analysis. Students then complete a series of assays – exploring issues of replication, sensitivity, specificity, recovery and sample storage. These assays may include a generic creatinine assay, an ELISA, PCR and microbiological techniques. Students are also provided with data from other clinical assays and to enable discussion/analysis of a series of case studies. Specific assays will vary dependent on current medical topics of interest.

MD7069 – students with a greater interest with more  clinical aspects of the course are offered this module which addresses the evidence base for clinical assessment, history taking and the operation of the clinical team.

MD7003 – the lectures and seminars look at a number of different disease processes. These are delivered by a group of staff – clinical researchers and physicians – and are intended to allow students access to problems/issues that need to be considered when looking at any clinical condition. The students are asked to discuss the production of a book that they are to produce. They need to discuss the structure of the book, linking themes and presentation of each chapter. Their assignment is the production of these individual chapters.

MD7011 & MD7012 - focus on oncology - the epidemiology, causes, prevention treatment and how this may change over the next few years.

MD7027 - comprises a series of seminars delivered by external and internal researchers demonstrating how molecular techniques are used to answer clinical/medical questions. Students will complete assignments with agreed titles based on their own specialism.

MD7100 – is the opportunity for the students to integrate what they have learnt during the year and complete a research project in a oncological area. The module is assessed by the production of 2 publishable papers – the first a review in the subject area and the second reporting their experimental data.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
MD7001 7 Evidence Based Medicine 20 Comp
MD7002 7 Analysis and Interpretation of Clinical Data 20 Optional
MD7003 7 Clinical Medicine 20 Comp
MD7011 7 Oncology 20 Comp
MD7012 7 Therapeutic Advances in Oncology 20 Comp
MD7027 7 Case Investigations in Molecular Medicine 20 Comp
MD7069 7 Assessment and Consultation in Clinical Settings 20 Optional
MD7100 7 Research Dissertation 60 Comp

Postgraduate Certificate Medical Science 

Successful completion of MD7001 and two taught modules (60 credits)

Postgraduate Diploma Oncology

Successful completion of MD7001, MD7002 or MD7069, MD7003, MD7011, MD7012 & MD7027 (120 credits)

MSc Oncology

Successful completion of MD7001, MD7002 or MD7069, MD7003, MD7011, MD7012, MD7027 & MD7100 (180 credits)

Applicants should normally have one of the following:

  • An Honours degree (minimum 2.2) containing a significant content of biological/biomedical science or a relevant postgraduate qualification. Graduates without a degree in Biomedical Sciences (e.g. Biological Sciences or Life Sciences) must have at least 50% of Level 6 (or equivalent) modules in Biomedical Sciences-related subjects (e.g. immunology, genetics, human biology, physiology, microbiology, histology, biochemistry, haematology etc).
  • An undergraduate degree in a healthcare subject
  • An undergraduate Medical degree
  • Substantial relevant work experience, together with evidence of recent study or writing at an appropriate level

Overseas Candidates should also be competent in English and have achieved, as a minimum, one of the following standards: IELTS-6.5; TOEFL – 60.

Potential students may be invited to attend for interview

There are at present no definitive postgraduate guidelines for this subject area therefore the generic level 7 QAA criteria and benchmark statements (2014) have guided programme development. This programme therefore complies with the credits per module and for award as recommended in the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) as identified by the QAA. The module descriptors clearly demonstrate the competencies expected and the amount of student effort required. The Level characteristics as described by the QAA in the National Qualifications Framework also relate closely to the overarching characteristics of learning as defined by the University of Chester.

The construction of this programme's learning outcomes, knowledge, skills and content together with the methods of learning, teaching and assessment have also been informed by the Royal College of Physicians requirements for specialised training in Medical Oncology (2010).

The programme will be delivered by blended learning in the form of a 3-day intensive learning block, e-mail, discussion boards, telephone contact, and workplace mentoring. The Module Texts (supplemented by set texts) will provide the main learning materials and the University intranet will be used to provide the learning framework, information on work patterns, additional support materials and the platform for communication throughout the programme. Laboratory-based practical exercises which contribute to the Learning Outcomes of some modules will be undertaken within the appropriate 3-day block, which will be scheduled at the start and end of each module.

Members of the Institute of Medicine have many years of experience in offering distinctive programmes of study at diploma, undergraduate, postgraduate and post-experience levels. They have considerable experience of supporting the learning needs of mature students and of students generally with ‘non-standard entry’ qualifications. Considerable experience has been achieved with students with limited entry qualifications both in terms of academic performance and personal development.   

3-Day Intensive Teaching Block

At the start of each module, students will attend a 3-day teaching block at which the module content (including support provision, learning materials and assessment details) will be described. In addition, this will provide an opportunity  for the delivery of some subject matter and, where appropriate, relevant practical work. Cohort meetings will also be scheduled to take place during this period. 

Students will be encouraged to form self-help groups (communicating through e-mail, Facebook, discussion boards or telephone) and these will be explained and organised during this period.

Learning Packages

(a) The main learning materials will be in the form of Module Texts supported by a Programme Handbook. The Module Texts will contain a range of materials (e.g. text, articles, data handling exercises and so on) and will be augmented by on-line learning. Students will be encouraged to carry out self-assessment which will be progressively developed using a variety of in-text questions (ITQs) and self-assessment questions (SAQs). Answers to these questions – together with explanatory notes where appropriate – will give valuable on-going feedback to the students as they progress through the learning materials.

(b) On-line learning

On-line facilities (using the University intranet) will be used to provide the following:

 ·       A structured weekly guide to the module content

·        Additional self-assessment questions

·        Assessment details and guidance (e.g. on presenting the assignment(s))

·        Access to distant, appropriate websites

·        Access to Library resources

·        Access to the Discussion Board

·        e-mail links to the tutors

·        Text references.

·        Access to the support infrastructure.


Time will be given each week to student/staff interaction via e-mail. Students will be allocated a time slot during which the module tutor will answer e-mails concerning the module content and/or assessment.

Practical work 

Where appropriate, there will be short practical exercises set within the modules which will be performed at the relevant 3-day teaching block.

Visiting Lecturers

Visiting Lecturers will be used to support the delivery of the programme. This will provide expertise in specialist areas and will include contributions from a range of personnel involved in various medical disciplines.

The assessment methods employed all place great emphasis (as shown in their assessment criteria) on the learner's ability to demonstrate skills through the production of coherent responses either to problems or tasks set.

Examples include;

  • Written assignments that critically review and cite key research papers;
  • Case studies which identify and formulate appropriate responses and intervention strategies to biomedical issues;
  • Preparation of research proposals;

Specific details are available in individual module descriptors.

This programme is designed to equip graduates with the necessary knowledge, skills and understanding to pursue careers in the area of medicine, healthcare, or biomedical science - specialising in Oncology - either in industry or within the health sector. In addition, the transferable skills embedded throughout the programme will benefit graduates considering a change of career and equip them to enter other areas of employment (e.g. management, medical writing, etc.).

Graduates of this MSc programme should be able to:

  • deal with complex issues systematically and creatively, and communicate findings to specialists and other professional groups;
  • demonstrate self-direction and originality in problem-solving across a variety of areas;
  • continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills to a high level and possess the necessary qualities and transferable skills at an advanced professional level.  

Postgraduate study involves the development of reflective practice, such that the student can modify personal professional activity, critically evaluate scientific information sources and methodologies, and possess the ability to perform such activities autonomously. 


The programmes of study in the Institute of Medicine fully embrace the University’s commitment to the active promotion of equality of opportunity. The  University seeks to ensure that no student is disadvantaged or discriminated against on the grounds of: gender; age; marital or parental status; sexual orientation; racial group (race, colour, nationality, ethnicity or national origins); creed (religious, political or personal beliefs or principles); membership or non-membership of a trade union; and socio-economic background. It also aims to ensure that disabled people and those with special needs do not suffer unfair discrimination, and that they are enabled to achieve their full potential as students.  The ultimate objective of the programmes delivered are to ensure all aspects of delivery are open to all sections of society and in whose activities all students can participate to the best of their ability. This programme is designed to ensure inclusivity and to ensure that the diverse needs of our students are provided for.  At an Institute level all programmes are developed and delivered with the following aspects in mind:

  • Admission requirements are clearly set out in promotional materials and due consideration is given to a policy of widening access, participation, diversity and equality. 
  • Each module and programme is developed in line with University policy to both promote equality and diversity and encourage all students in the development of their learning.
  • There is flexibility in materials and delivery of teaching to support students with disability or from culturally diverse backgrounds and the Institute works closely with Learning Support in delivering this support through Learning Support Plans.
  • The induction week activities are designed to integrate all students both academically and socially and to make academic staff aware of any issues.  Students are made aware of avenues of support if they a have any issues regarding diversity and equality.
  • Supportive formative exercises are presented in initial modules to give all students an equal chance of succeeding.
  • Assessments are designed to afford equal opportunity to all students to display their knowledge and skills. The introduction of anonymous marking also enhances equal opportunity to all students.
  • In order to ensure that the needs of all students are met any barriers to access (physical, environmental and curriculum) are identified and removed or reasonable adjustments will be made based on requirements.
  • All learning materials and teaching and learning sessions are designed to be free from racist, sexist and other discriminatory assumptions and practices.
  • All lecturers are aware of diversity issues and discharge their PAT roles with knowledge and sympathy and all students are made aware of the Department structures to discuss issues should a concern arise. 

The incidence of cancer has been increasing worldwide. Despite the fact that there have been notable successes in the treatment of certain cancers, many, such as prostate cancer, still have poor survival rates. This programme will aim both to inform and equip the practitioner with the necessary skills to function in a modern clinical environment specialising in caring for the cancer patient, and will be as relevant to day to day NHS hospital and general practice.

The programme will be developed to allow students to access most of the course material online – with online text, videos of lectures and comments and assessments. Skill oriented areas such as case discussions, and ethical discussions will be explored in teaching days.

Students will join a team of clinical and medical researchers where they will gain the opportunity to gain theoretical, clinical and laboratory based skills. The research topic will be jointly run by the research team at the Institute of Medicine and the medical staff at the Countess of Chester. 


The modules run in 3 day blocks and are therefore suitable for working doctors and healthcare professionals. Assessment is entirely through coursework. This culminates in the dissertation, which is assessed through your production of two publishable scientific articles. Our aim will be to develop these to publication with you if suitable. If clinical research is your interest - successful completion of the MSc will allow direct registration onto PhD study, joining our team of researchers at the Institute.  

Careers: The programme provides specialist training for Doctors, or healthcare professionals, in oncology. It also provides an excellent grounding for those looking to undertake MPhil or PhD research. All candidates would be able to register for a PhD on successful completion of the MSc.


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