This multidisciplinary course will appeal to a wide range of individuals who wish to gain an understanding of cancer and its impact from a range of different perspectives. They include:
- social science and humanities graduates
- science graduates who do not wish to pursue a laboratory-based career
- allied health professionals
- science and medical journalists
- people working for medical charities and in the pharmaceutical industry
- individuals who have been affected by cancer (either themselves or a family member).
The unique features of this course include:
- interdisciplinary, cross-university teaching in epidemiology, public health, applied biology and history.
- a range of optional modules to support and complement individual interests and needs
- links with the local hospital and community trusts and The Oxford Cancer Centre.
This approach aims to equip you with an understanding of the impact of cancer on the individual, family and society, and to apply key theories and concepts to these topics.
The course is modular in structure with four compulsory modules:
- Living with Cancer in Contemporary Society provides an insight into how the preoccupations of late modern society shape perceptions and experience of cancer at the social, cultural and individual level. Key themes include heightened perceptions of cancer risk and increasing surveillance, self-monitoring and self-regulation; cancer as a challenge to personal identity; cancer narratives and biographical reconstruction; the cancer journey and survivorship; the good death and the meaning of mortality; and media representations of cancer. You will have the opportunity to interview a cancer survivor, carer or health professional and to engage in debates about contemporary issues in the experience of cancer.
- Tackling Cancer: UK and International Perspectives explores the ways in which societies and social institutions have attempted to understand, manage and control cancer. Topics include defining and describing cancer and its distribution in populations; risks, causes and prevention of cancer (individual and environmental approaches); cancer treatments and the organisation of treatment services; ethical and legal issues in cancer care and research; diagnosis and cancer policies. An international and comparative approach will be taken throughout with case studies drawn from different historical periods and cultural traditions.
- Applied Cancer Biology offers you the opportunity to develop an in-depth understanding of the biology of cancer. It explores the molecular mechanisms of cancer biology, how those mechanisms are manifested as disease, and current applications of cancer biology research. The aim is to enable you to engage in activities where a sound knowledge of cancer biology is required. You will have an opportunity to see how cancer research is conducted in a laboratory.
- Research Methods modules are intended to equip you with skills to find, appraise and use research, as well as plan and design a small-scale research study. It will help you define a suitable research question and to use this as a basis for identifying appropriate research methodologies for your dissertation. These modules are not laboratory-based.
You will also have the opportunity to select an additional two optional modules to suit the individual focus of your studies. Optional modules (20 level 7 credits) you may choose include:
- Evidence-based Practice
- Planning and Managing Clinical Trials
- Leadership in Health and Social Care
- Genome Science
- Advanced Molecular Techniques
- The Hospital in History
- Independent Study.
200 hours study per module.
As the MSc is interdisciplinary, you will have considerable scope for defining your dissertation topic and choosing an appropriate research methods module from the fields of biology, health care, history, sociology, business, education, and law.
The final award depends upon the number of modules you take. A PGCert requires the successful completion of three modules and the PGDip requires the successful completion of six modules. The MSc requires the successful completion of nine modules, which must include an advanced research methods module and a dissertation (triple module).
Please note: as courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the list of modules may vary from that shown here.
Teaching and learning
You will be given opportunities to be involved in all aspects of your programme, its management and delivery.
Different students will bring varied experiences and cultures and will be encouraged to share these with each other. You will be expected to take responsibility for your own learning and also to contribute to the learning of your fellow students.
The programme includes a taught element, informed by relevant national and international research and evidence-based literature, designed to be a starting point for critical reading and reflection. Mutual support between students enhances the learning experience and will be strongly encouraged.
In order to make the most of the range of experience, skills and knowledge within the group, a variety of teaching and learning strategies will be employed.
Studying on this course will give you in-depth knowledge of cancer from the molecular level to the personal, social, societal and international levels. In doing so, you will draw on knowledge from life sciences, psychology, sociology, history, and the health care professions. This means that the course requires a flexible mind and a willingness to see familiar subjects in challenging new ways.This course does not provide a specialised clinical training in medicine or any other health profession, but it does provide professionals with an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of the nature of cancer.
- Lectures introduce you to new areas of study and provide the context for further independent reading and practical work.
- Group activities (eg seminars, workshops, presentations) are used as a means of sharing knowledge and experience, developing critical skills, and emphasising the inter-disciplinary nature of the course.
- Presentation skills are developed through student-led seminars, presentations to your fellow students for some of the assessments.
Approach to assessment
Assessment is designed to ensure that you develop and
demonstrate the required knowledge and skills to successfully complete your
programme. Types of assessments within your programme
are varied and appropriate for individual module
and programme learning outcomes and content, the academic standard expected and
different learning styles.
is mainly by essay writing, helping you to develop high
levels of critical analysis, original thinking and clarity of expression.
are used to give you an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge as well as
the critical and reflective analysis required for professional practice. You will be given the opportunity to submit
draft work for feedback and formative assessment.
Sir Paul Nurse (Nobel Laureate and former chief executive of Cancer Research UK)
"Students on this course will gain important insights into the nature of cancer research and its broader implications. As the influence of science on society continues to grow, such insights are as important to scientists as they are to the wider public."
Jon Snow (Journalist, broadcaster and former Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University)
"Cancer and how it is dealt with needs to be seen in its wider social and political context. Oxford Brookes University provides a great environment in which students can engage with these issues."
Most modules on the programme involve attendance in the classroom once a week over a 12-week semester period.
We also offer a range of short courses in Cancer and Palliative Care. Find out more about available courses in this field.
On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published
on the website. For more information, please visit our
Changes to programmes