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:
- Introduction to Human Genetics and Genomics
- Applied Precision Diagnostics
- Omics Techniques and their Application to Genomic Medicine
- Clinical Bio-Informatics
- Treatment, Pharmacogenomics, Clinical Trials and Experimental Cancer Therapeutics
- Ethics and Health Economics
- Molecular Pathology and Imaging
- 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’).
This part-time distance-learning course involves one or two online, self-paced lectures per week. These lectures can be completed on any day of the week; however students are expected to keep pace with the course, completing each lecture in the week indicated in the published schedule. Each module contains three live online tutorials at approximately two-week intervals. Multiple time slots are provided for each tutorial to accommodate students' time zones and work schedules. Students are expected to attend all tutorials, selecting the time slot which is most convenient for them. Students are required to attend the one-week Oxford Residential School at the end of March in their second year of study.
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.
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.
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:
June: Extended essay
August: Written problem-solving assignment
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).
This is a relatively new course, and the first cohort graduated in September 2022. 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, 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.
Entry requirements for entry in 2024-25
Proven and potential academic excellence
The requirements described below are specific to this course and apply only in the year of entry that is shown. You can use our interactive tool to help you evaluate whether your application is likely to be competitive.
Please be aware that any studentships that are linked to this course may have different or additional requirements and you should read any studentship information carefully before applying.
As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the following UK qualifications or their equivalent:
- 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.
English language proficiency
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 overall score
|Minimum score per component
|IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713)
TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'
(Institution code: 0490)
*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.
Declaring 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.
You will need to register three referees who can give an informed view of your academic ability and suitability for the course. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the types of reference that are required in support of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the supporting documents that are required as part of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
Performance at interview
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.
Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process. It is expected that interviews will be scheduled in January, and will normally be held by video conference. The interview panel will consist of a minimum of three academic staff. 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.
How your application is assessed
Your application will be assessed purely on your proven and potential academic excellence and other entry requirements described under that heading.
References and supporting documents submitted as part of your application, and your performance at interview (if interviews are held) will be considered as part of the assessment process. Whether or not you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.
An overview of the shortlisting and selection process is provided below. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about how applications are assessed.
Shortlisting and selection
Students are considered for shortlisting and selected for admission without regard to age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief (including lack of belief), sex, sexual orientation, as well as other relevant circumstances including parental or caring responsibilities or social background. However, please note the following:
- socio-economic information may be taken into account in the selection of applicants and award of scholarships for courses that are part of the University’s pilot selection procedure and for scholarships aimed at under-represented groups;
- country of ordinary residence may be taken into account in the awarding of certain scholarships; and
- protected characteristics may be taken into account during shortlisting for interview or the award of scholarships where the University has approved a positive action case under the Equality Act 2010.
Initiatives to improve access to graduate study
This course is taking part in a continuing pilot programme to improve the selection procedure for graduate applications, in order to ensure that all candidates are evaluated fairly.
For this course, socio-economic data (where it has been provided in the application form) will be used to contextualise applications at the different stages of the selection process. Further information about how we use your socio-economic data can be found in our page about initiatives to improve access to graduate study.
Processing your data for shortlisting and selection
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.
Other factors governing whether places can be offered
The following factors will also govern whether candidates can be offered places:
- the ability of the University to provide the appropriate supervision for your studies, as outlined under the 'Supervision' heading in the About section of this page;
- the ability of the University to provide appropriate support for your studies (eg through the provision of facilities, resources, teaching and/or research opportunities); and
- minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to the University's taught and research programmes.
Offer conditions for successful applications
If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, your offer will outline any conditions that you need to satisfy and any actions you need to take, together with any associated deadlines. These may include academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions will usually depend on your individual academic circumstances and may vary between applicants. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about offers and conditions.
In addition to any academic conditions which are set, you will also be required to meet the following requirements:
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.
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.
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. 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.
The Department of Oncology has an established graduate training programme for science graduates and clinical research fellows under the leadership of Professor Mark Middleton.
It is one of the largest departments in the University of Oxford’s Medical Sciences Division. It houses over 400 staff and graduate students, both clinical and non-clinical, and brings together research and clinical groups from across Oxford who are based at the Old Road Campus Research Building (ORCRB), the Radiobiology Research Institute (RRI), the Weatherall Institute for Molecular Medicine (WIMM) and the NHS Cancer and Haematology Centre.
The Department of Oncology offers promising graduates a broad range of multidisciplinary and translational cancer research projects. As a result, its graduates come from a wide range of scientific backgrounds, including biology, medicine, engineering, mathematics, chemistry, and physics. The department prides itself on supporting and training the next generation of world leaders in cancer research to ensure its research continues over the long term.
The department ethos is to improve treatment of cancer patients by harnessing Oxford University’s scientific research prowess and translating this into an impactful benefit to cancer patients through our own clinical trials. Working together to achieve this aim, we have renowned experts alongside cutting-edge scientists that collaborate across the university to understand the biology of cancer and how to best adopt new therapeutic strategies in medical and clinical oncology.
Research in the Department of Oncology is focused on the biology of cancer and how to translate discoveries into better treatments for patients. The department research strategy centres around the three core themes of DNA (including DNA damage, repair, and replication), cell and tissue biology (tumour microenvironment), and immuno-oncology (including cancer vaccines and virotherapy). Details of individual research groups which work within each of these themes can be found on the department website.
The University expects to be able to offer over 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2024-25. 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 December or 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 any college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages or below:
Please note that not all the colleges listed above may accept students on this course. For details of those which do, please refer to the College preference section of this page.
Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the department's website.
Annual fees for entry in 2024-25
Annual Course fees
Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.
Information about course fees
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 changes 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.
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.
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 2024-25 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,345 and £1,955 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. The current economic climate and high national rate of inflation make it very hard to estimate potential changes to the cost of living over the next few years. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2024-25, it is suggested that you allow for potential increases in living expenses of around 5% each year – although this rate may vary depending on the national economic situation. UK inflationary increases will be kept under review and this page updated.
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.
Students enrolled on this course will belong to both a department/faculty and a college. Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 43 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as societies and permanent private halls (PPHs).
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. Before deciding, we suggest that you read our brief introduction to the college system at Oxford and our advice about expressing a college preference. For some courses, the department may have provided some additional advice below to help you decide.
The following colleges accept students on the MSc in Precision Cancer Medicine:
Before you apply
Our guide to getting started provides general advice on how to prepare for and start your application. You can use our interactive tool to help you evaluate whether your application is likely to be competitive.
If it's important for you to have your application considered under a particular deadline – eg under a December or January deadline in order to be considered for Oxford scholarships – we recommend that you aim to complete and submit your application at least two weeks in advance. Check the deadlines on this page and the information about deadlines in our Application Guide.
Application fee waivers
An application fee of £75 is payable per course application. Application fee waivers are available for the following applicants who meet the eligibility criteria:
- applicants from low-income countries;
- refugees and displaced persons;
- UK applicants from low-income backgrounds; and
- applicants who applied for our Graduate Access Programmes in the past two years and met the eligibility criteria.
You are encouraged to check whether you're eligible for an application fee waiver before you apply.
Do I need to contact anyone before I apply?
You do not need to make contact with the department before you apply but you are encouraged to visit the relevant departmental webpages to read any further information about your chosen course.
General enquiries should be made to the department's graduate studies administrator.
Completing your application
You should refer to the information below when completing the application form, paying attention to the specific requirements for the supporting documents.
For this course, the application form will include questions that collect information that would usually be included in a CV/résumé. You should not upload a separate document. If a separate CV/résumé is uploaded, it will be removed from your application.
If any document does not meet the specification, including the stipulated word count, your application may be considered incomplete and not assessed by the academic department. Expand each section to show further details.
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.
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.
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.