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Cancer Biology and Therapeutics MSc

Learn about the course below
September 2024
1 year full-time
2 years part-time
£10,500 (UK) *
£16,800 (INT) *
Course leader
Song Wen

Our MSc programme will develop your knowledge and understanding of cancer diagnosis and therapeutics. The course will focus on up-to-date diagnostic techniques and emerging tumour markers and their potential applications in specific diagnostics for various types of cancers. In addition, you will be exploring drug delivery systems and learning to make drug carriers for targeting cancers using nanotechnology. You will also be trained to perform a range of molecular, cellular and proteomics laboratory techniques used for detecting tumour markers and monitoring therapeutic effects.

Why study MSc Cancer Biology and Therapeutics* at Middlesex University?

This programme will provide not only the necessary framework and general concepts in the cancer research field, but also an updated advanced knowledge of cancer diagnosis and treatment.

In addition, you will be led by experts who are in the front line of drug development and drug delivery and acquire useful novel laboratory skills using nanotechnology and Multiplex Immunoassay-NALIA system, which will equip you with the necessary/essential skills for pursuing a range of career options. You could also proceed to further scientific training or you would be well-equipped to carry out research.

A final dissertation project will be supervised by experts focusing on a variety of cancer research areas. You will be working in laboratories equipped with up-to-date instrumentation including matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI- Tof MS), liquid chromatography (LC)- MS, gas chromatography (GC)- MS, conventional and quantitative PCR, flow cytometry, Confocal microscopy, Licor Imaging system and fully equipped histopathology laboratory and tissue culture facilities.

Course highlights

  • Acquire laboratory research skills in drug delivery using nanotechnology and multiplex immunoassays which stand at the frontline of the cancer clinical research arena
  • Be taught by experts in the field of cancer research including academics and those working in the clinical area
  • Develop expertise in a variety of laboratory techniques in our modern and well equipped laboratories forming part of the Centre for Investigative & Diagnostic Oncology led by Prof Ivan Roitt and Prof Richard Bayford.

*This course is currently being reviewed. Please check back regularly for changes.

Find out more

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What will you study on the MSc Cancer Biology and Therapeutics?

The course content of this MSc programme comprises five core modules; advanced bio-analytical techniques, ethics, leadership, research methods and research project modules. Additionally, there are four 15-credit specialised cancer modules, covering cancer diagnosis and treatment.

The specialised modules are arranged as follows: you will take two modules in Term 1, which will provide you with the basic concepts of cancer, biomarkers, and general principles of cancer diagnosis and management and haemato-oncology. Then you will progress to Term 2 with a further exposure to the advanced knowledge and techniques in cancer diagnostic theories and laboratory practices along with drug delivery systems using nanotechnology. Finally, the research project that takes place in Term 3 will be based around the theme of cancer and your supervisor will be drawn from the University’s  research active staff with the appropriate expertise in cancer research.

  • Modules

    • Biomedical Ethics and Law (15 Credits) - Compulsory

      The module will provide you with an insight into a range of ethical and legal issues that relate to professional practice, to research with human and animal subjects and to human reproduction, particularly various forms of reproductive technology. It will also give you a broad overview of the relevant current UK ethical and legal regulations for research using human tissues. The module will further explore the ethical issues present in the rapidly developing area of genetic technology, including genetic testing and selection, genetic engineering, and the concept of genetic disease.

    • Advanced Bioanalytical Techniques (15 Credits) - Compulsory

      Through this module you will examine advanced bioanalytical techniques that are used in biomedical research, for the analysis of products, for improving disease understanding and for the analysis of disease biomarkers. It also will provide you with a detailed understanding of the principles, theory and practice of bioanalytical techniques, including safety, instrumentation, sample preparation techniques together with analysis and interpretation of analytical data.

    • Leadership and Management (15 Credits) - Compulsory

      The module will provide you with current theories and approaches to leadership and management in order that they can bring about effect positive changes in the team or organisation that they lead or manage.

    • Experimental Design and Statistics (15 Credits) - Compulsory

      This module will provide you with the tools required to design effective and efficient experiments and to test scientific hypotheses. The module will also equip students with the tools necessary for statistical analysis in a hypothesis testing context.

    • Advances in Tumour Diagnosis (15 Credits) - Compulsory

      The module aims to provide you with an understanding for tumour pathogenesis, screening programme for cancers, and an advanced knowledge of cancer diagnostics. You will explore different types of tumour markers, both existing and emerging, and their applications with regard to diagnosing different types and stages of cancers. A variety of diagnostic techniques will be introduced, examined and evaluated including mass-spectrometry and Multiplex Immunoassay. Data interpretation following the diagnosis are explained.

    • Cancer Therapeutics (15 Credits) - Compulsory

      The module aims to provide you with the knowledge and understanding of management strategies for cancers. Gene therapy, immunotherapy and adjuvant complementary therapy will be introduced and discussed together with conventional therapeutics for cancers. You will be introduced to nanotechnology as a method for facilitating drug delivery and explore various drug carriers that can be used as drug delivery systems. You will also explore various molecular cellular pathology techniques used for evaluating the treatment outcomes.

    • Haemato- Oncology (15 Credits) - Compulsory

      You will be  introduced to specialist diagnostic techniques used in Haemato-Oncology, providing deep appreciation of the cellular and molecular mechanisms of leukaemias, lymphomas and myelomas. It will empower you with techniques to analyse the roles of the haematology laboratory in diagnosis and treatment of patients with these conditions.

    • Cancer (15 Credits) - Compulsory

      You will be provided with the knowledge and understanding of the principles of carcinogenesis, malignancy and metastasis. You will understand how to apply molecular techniques to the diagnosis and management of a range of common cancers and to apply cellular pathology techniques in cancer and gain experience of interpreting results from patient investigations.

    • Research Project (60 Credits) - Compulsory

      This module will empower you to develop your skills in planning and execution of an analytical, laboratory-based study and critical evaluation of real research results drawing on their acquired knowledge from other modules. In addition, it will enable you to develop your communication skills to enable them to communicate their findings in written and oral form.

You can find more information about this course in the programme specification. Optional modules are not offered on every course. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, or there are staffing changes which affect the teaching, it may not be offered. If an optional module will not run, we will advise you after the module selection period when numbers are confirmed, or at the earliest time that the programme team make the decision not to run the module, and help you choose an alternative module.

We are regularly reviewing and updating our programmes to ensure you have the best learning experience. We are taking what we have learnt during the pandemic and enhancing our teaching methods with new and innovative ways of learning.

We aim to model a wide range of teaching strategies and approaches on the course which you can adapt to your own setting.

How will the MSc Cancer Biology and Therapeutics be taught?

Lectures will introduce you to key information and knowledge, which seminars will reinforce through group discussions and problem-solving exercises. Group or individual tutorials will be tailored addressing specific subject areas as the need arises with individual projects taking place in Term 3 and all projects will be supervised by experienced researcher actively working in a cancer research field. You’ll submit written work and give presentations, learn to carry out literature searches and analyse research literature, and undertake your own independent study in your spare time. This will include using a range of online resources which will be designed, to support the teaching provided by the lecturers.


As well as practical exams and your research project and dissertation, you will be assessed through presentations and written assignments. These will include essays, laboratory reports, data analysis exercises, and papers made up of a literature review, hypothesis and research question.

Teaching and learning from 2022

We have developed new approaches to teaching and learning for the 2022/23 academic year, and have resumed the majority of our teaching on campus.

We are currently reviewing our approach to teaching and learning for 2022 entry and beyond. We've learned a lot about how to give you a quality education - we aim to combine the best of our pre-pandemic teaching and learning with access to online learning and digital resources which put you more in charge of when and how you study. We will keep you updated on this throughout the application process.

Your timetable will be built around on campus sessions using our professional facilities, with online sessions for some activities where we know being virtual will add value. We’ll use technology to enhance your learning and give you access to online resources when possible, to use in your own time.

The table below gives you an idea of what learning looks like across a typical week. Some weeks are different due to how we schedule classes and arrange on campus sessions.

This information is likely to change slightly for 2022 entry as our plans evolve. You'll receive full information on your teaching before you start your course.

Learning structure: typical hourly breakdown in 2022/23

Live in-person on campus learning

Contact hours per week, per level:

10 hours

Tutor set learning activities

Average hours per week, per level:

4 hours

This information is likely to change slightly for 2024/25 entry as our plans evolve. You'll receive full information on your teaching before you start your course.

Definitions of terms

  • Live in-person on campus learning – This will focus on active and experiential sessions that are both:
    • Led by your tutors including seminars, lab sessions and demonstrations We'll schedule all of this for you
    • Student-led by you and other students, like small group work and presentations.
  • Live online learning – This will include lectures, tutorials and supervision sessions led by your tutor and timetabled by us. It also includes student-led group work that takes place online.
  • Tutor set learning activities – This covers activities which will be set for you by your tutor, but which you will undertake in your own time. Examples of this include watching online materials, participating in an online discussion forum, completing a virtual laboratory or reading specific texts. You may be doing this by yourself of with your course mates depending on your course and assignments. Outside of these hours, you’ll also be expected to do further independent study where you’ll be expected to learn, prepare, revise and reflect in your own time.


You have a strong support network available to you to make sure you develop all the necessary academic skills you need to do well on your course.

Our support services will be delivered online and on campus and you have access to a range of different resources so you can get the help you need, whether you’re studying at home or have the opportunity to come to campus.

You have access to one to one and group sessions for personal learning and academic support from our library and IT teams, and our network of learning experts. Our teams will also be here to offer financial advice, and personal wellbeing, mental health and disability support.

  1. Standard entry requirements
  2. International (inc. EU)
  3. How to apply
  1. UK
  2. International
  3. Additional costs
  4. Scholarships and bursaries

Dr Song Wen
Senior Lecturer

Dr Wen is medically qualified and has extensive experience in HPV associated cancer therapeutics and drug delivery using liposomal nanotechnology.

Professor Stephen Dilworth

Professor Dilworth graduated from Cambridge University and worked as a researcher at a few prestigious universities before joined Middlesex University. Stephen's research focusses on identifying the essential changes that occur in cells as they become cancerous, using the oncogenic viral proteins made by the mouse polyoma virus as a model system.

Professor Richard Bayford

Professor Bayford- is a bio-physicist and has enormous knowledge and vast experience in both teaching and the research in designing devices in diagnosing and monitoring cancer development and therapeutic effects from drug delivering system using nanotechnology.

Professor Ajit Shah

Prof Shah has around 20 years’ experience in pharmaceutical industry and 10 years in academia in teaching and management of analytical laboratory, specialising in chromatography and mass spectrometry. He is an accomplished bioanalytical scientist with a proven track record in the development and application of mass spectrometry to the measurement and characterisation of small molecules and proteins, proteomics, and metabolomics. This has been currently used for identifying changes of biomarkers from a range of cancer types.

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