MSc in Precision Cancer Medicine | University of Oxford
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MSc in Precision Cancer Medicine

About the course

The MSc in Precision Cancer Medicine is a two year, part-time, online course that will provide you with the multidisciplinary skillset and knowledge required to design, conduct and lead precision medicine research.

The course will appeal to health professionals from a variety of backgrounds including clinical academics, diagnosticians, scientists and clinicians from academia and industry; bio-informaticians, statisticians and scientists and clinicians working in all stages of target discovery and drug development.

Precision medicine is an emerging approach which takes into account variability in the biology, environment, and lifestyle for each individual person to help guide disease diagnosis and treatment. In particular, genetic and genomic data allow us to go beyond conventional histopathological assessment, and classify cancer into distinct sub-entities, leading to novel molecularly-directed treatment approaches.

To realise the potential for precision medicine, the clinical development of diagnostics and therapeutics need to go hand in hand. Future leaders – whether in research or in the clinic – will need a broad understanding of the field and the ability to work with a range of stakeholders. 

This course aims to deliver a broad overview of the scientific and clinical disciplines involved in precision medicine. You will cover the scientific basis for precision medicine, current technologies, drug discovery and development, and the global regulatory, payer and ethical challenges.

The course consists of eight modules:

  1. Introduction to Human Genetics and Genomics
  2. Omics Techniques and their Application to Genomic Medicine
  3. Clinical Interpretation of Precision Diagnostics and Response Monitoring
  4. Clinical Bio-Informatics
  5. Treatment, Pharmacogenomics, Clinical Trials and Experimental Cancer Therapeutics
  6. Ethics and Health Economics
  7. Global Perspective on Molecular Pathology, Imaging and Early Detection
  8. Onco-immunology and Genomics

The course will be taught using state-of-the art technology via the University’s virtual learning environment (VLE) platform, Canvas. Core and guest lectures are pre-recorded, and will be available for you to watch in your own time, alongside recommended reading and other coursework activities. You will attend regular online discussion groups, with a small group of fellow students, which will be moderated by members of faculty. For these sessions you will be expected to prepare short essays and presentations for discussion. Each module also has a moderated Q&A session and online tests for you to check your understanding.

The taught modules conclude in March of year two with a compulsory week-long residential school in Oxford, to consolidate your learning. For the final five months you will work on a dissertation. The aim of the dissertation is to enable you to explore an area relevant to Precision Cancer Medicine in depth and to develop a carefully considered and critical piece of written work related to this chosen area of study.

As this is on online course, you will need to manage your own study time. The scheduled teaching that you will be required to attend are fortnightly online discussion groups. To support your learning, you will be provided with lectures, required reading, and assignments for the discussion groups. It will be up to you to plan how and when to use these materials, and to broaden your knowledge by reading around key topics (known as ‘self-directed learning’).

It is your responsibility to ensure your schedule allows adequate time to devote to your studies. Our support team for the course includes a full-time course administrator.

Supervision

You will be assigned a personal advisor from the course team, who will help you review your progress, and discuss any concerns you have; your course advisor and the course administration team will usually be your first port of call for any queries about your studies. You will also have an advisor at your Oxford college, to whom you can turn if you feel you need to discuss your progress, or anything else pertinent to your study, away from the course team. During the research project you will be allocated a project supervisor who will be responsible for your supervision and training. We would recommend arranging online meetings with your supervisor on a regular basis, at least every two weeks.

The allocation of graduate supervision during the research project is the responsibility of the Department of Oncology and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. A supervisor may be found outside the Department of Oncology.

Assessment

To complete the MSc you need to submit and pass two pieces of written work, an examination and the dissertation. Schedule of summative assessments that contribute to your final degree:

Year One

June: Extended essay

August: Practical assessment - written work

Year Two

March: Examination

August: Dissertation

Further details of the curriculum, schedule and assessments can be found on the course webpage on the department's website (see Further information and enquires panel for details).

Graduate destinations

This is a new course, with the first cohort starting in October 2020. It is expected that graduates will hold senior positions in a variety of roles, as clinical academics, diagnosticians, scientists and clinicians in academia, health services and the pharmaceutical industry.

Changes to this course and your supervision

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in circumstances of a pandemic (including Covid-19), epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, in certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.

For further information please see our page on changes to courses and the provisions of the student contract regarding changes to courses.

Other courses you may wish to consider

If you're thinking about applying for this course, you may also wish to consider the courses listed below. These courses may have been suggested due to their similarity with this course, or because they are offered by the same department or faculty.

All graduate courses offered by the department

Entry requirements for entry in 2021-22

Proven and potential academic excellence

Degree-level qualifications

As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the equivalent of the following UK qualifications:

  • a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in a biological or medical science subject.

Entrance is competitive and most successful applicants will have a first-class degree or the equivalent.

For applicants from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0.

If your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.

GRE General Test scores

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought. 

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

  • Professional experience will be accepted as a substitute for a relevant undergraduate degree where an equivalent level of understanding and expertise can be demonstrated.
  • You should have some practical exposure to ‘omics, clinical genetics or similar topics, usually via employment in a hospital, medical science-based company, research establishment or facility. 
  • You are expected to have good IT skills. As the course is primarily pursued online, you will need to be familiar with communicating in this way and will be expected to ensure adequate internet connection and audio-visual equipment to engage fully with the course.
  • Peer-reviewed publications are not requirement for the course, but will be viewed positively.

Extenuating circumstances

If your ability to meet the entry requirements has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (eg you were awarded an unclassified/ungraded degree) or any other exceptional personal circumstance (eg other illness or bereavement), please refer to the guidance on extenuating circumstances in the Application Guide for information about how to declare this so that your application can be considered appropriately.

English language requirement

This course requires proficiency in English at the University's higher level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement. The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are detailed in the table below.

Minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level requirement
TestMinimum overall scoreMinimum score per component
IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713) 7.57.0

TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'

(Institution code: 0490)

110Listening: 22
Reading: 24
Speaking: 25
Writing: 24
C1 Advanced*191185
C2 Proficiency191185

*Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)

Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. Our Application Guide provides further information about the English language test requirement.

Supporting documents 

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview

Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process. 

Applicants will be shortlisted based on the quality of the application, including relevant professional experience, which will be assessed against the entry requirements for the course.

It is expected that interviews will be scheduled in January 2021 and then periodically until the course is closed to applications. 

The interview panel will consist of a minimum of two academic staff and will normally be held by video conference. The purpose of the interview is to:

  • establish your level of interest, motivation and potential to benefit from the course of study
  • clarify any uncertainties about compliance with requirements
  • ensure that you are fully informed of the standard of the achievement and level of commitment required by the course of study; and
  • answer any questions you may have. 

You will be notified of the outcome of your interview within four weeks.

Supervision

Any offer of a place is dependent on the University’s ability to provide the appropriate supervision for your chosen area of work. Please refer to the ‘About’ section of this page for more information about the provision of supervision for this course.

How your application is assessed

Your application will be assessed purely on academic merit and potential, according to the published entry requirements for the course. Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background. Whether you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.

Admissions panels and assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

After an offer is made

If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, you will be required to meet the following requirements: 

Financial Declaration

If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.

Disclosure of criminal convictions

In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.

Resources

Library

You will have access the University’s Bodleian libraries, including the online service SOLO, the University’s online library, which provides access to current peer-reviewed journals. 

Skills training

You will have access to a range of online support materials on study skills, which will include the University’s online course for graduate students on avoidance of plagiarism.  You will also have access to a range of podcasts on short skills training sessions including essay writing and presentation skills. The Careers Service provides a full list of online courses, which are complementary to the divisional skills training provision. They also provide advice on career progression and job applications. 

Other facilities and support are available through the Oxford University IT Services, Language Centre, Student Welfare and Support, Disability Advisory Service and the Oxford Learning Institute.

Funding

The University expects to be able to offer up to 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2021-22. You will be automatically considered for the majority of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant January deadline. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential. 

For further details about searching for funding as a graduate student visit our dedicated Funding pages, which contain information about how to apply for Oxford scholarships requiring an additional application, details of external funding, loan schemes and other funding sources. Please ensure that you visit individual college websites for details of college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages.

Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the department's website.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2021-22

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home (UK, Republic of Ireland,
Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
£6,799
Overseas (including EU)£14,581

Course fees are payable each year, for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay course fees). For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.

Following the period of fee liability, you may also be required to pay a University continuation charge and a college continuation charge. The University and college continuation charges are shown on the Continuation charges page.

For more information about course fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our detailed fee status information and the Oxford and the EU webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s exit from the EU.

Additional information

Students will need a computer (Windows or iOS), webcam and microphone. Students will also need to ensure appropriate internet connection. The recommended bandwidth for the software used is 1Mbps. Estimated cost to purchase and set up from scratch would typically be around £1000 in the UK. Students may be able to apply for small grants from their department or college.

It is necessary that students attend a one week residential school at the University of Oxford. Accommodation and some food costs whilst attending the residential school are included in the course fees. You will need to pay for your travel to Oxford and additional food costs, but you will be able to claim back travel expenses up to £200 for Home/EU students and up to £1000 for Overseas students. You may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover any additional expenses associated with attending the residential school.

Living costs

In addition to your course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2021-22 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,175 and £1,710 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our living costs page. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2021-22, you should allow for an estimated increase in living expenses of 3% each year.

If you are studying part-time your living costs may vary depending on your personal circumstances but you must still ensure that you will have sufficient funding to meet these costs for the duration of your course.

College preference

All graduate students at Oxford belong to a department or faculty and a college or hall (except those taking non-matriculated courses). If you apply for a place on this course you will have the option to express a preference for one of the colleges listed below, or you can ask us to find a college for you. The Colleges section of this website provides information about the college system at Oxford, as well as factors you may wish to consider when deciding whether to express a college preference. Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 45 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as Permanent Private Halls (PPHs). 

For some courses, the department or faculty may have provided some additional advice below to help you to decide. Whatever you decide, it won’t affect how the academic department assesses your application and whether they decide to make you an offer. If your department makes you an offer of a place, you’re guaranteed a place at one of our colleges. 

The following colleges accept students on the MSc in Precision Cancer Medicine:

How to apply

The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:

Official transcripts

Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.

More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.

CV/résumé

A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.

Personal statement
A maximum of 1,000 words

Your statement should be written in English and explain your motivation for applying for the course at Oxford, your relevant experience and education, and the specific areas that interest you and/or you intend to specialise in. The word limit does not include any bibliography or brief footnotes.

If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.

Your statement will be assessed for:

  • your reasons for applying
  • your ability to present a coherent case in proficient English
  • your commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course
  • your knowledge of the subject area and research techniques
  • your capacity for sustained and intense work
  • reasoning ability; and
  • your ability to absorb new ideas, often presented abstractly, at a rapid pace

References
Three overall, academic and/or professional

Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

Your references will be assessed for:

  • your intellectual ability
  • your academic and professional achievement
  • your motivation and interest in the course and subject area; and
  • your ability to work effectively both in a group and independently

Start or continue an application

Step 1: Read our guide to getting started, which explains how to prepare for and start an application.

Step 2: Check that you meet the Entry requirements and read the How to apply information on this page.

Step 3: Check the deadlines on this page and the deadline information in our Application Guide. Plan your time to submit your application well in advance - we recommend two or three weeks earlier.

Step 4: Check if you're eligible for an application fee waiver. Application fee waivers are available for:

Step 5: Start your application using the relevant button below. As you complete the form, consult our Application Guide for advice at each stage. You'll find the answers to most common queries in our FAQs.

Application GuideApply

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