Course overview

Join the fight against cancer.

Cancer Sciences at Nottingham will provide you with training in the biomedical sciences such as cell and molecular biology, immunology, and human physiology enabling you to help tackle some of the UK's deadliest diseases.

You'll work with internationally recognised researchers and clinicians to help advance the understanding, treatment, prevention of cancers and the care of patients.

Choosing the BSc or the MSci

Students have the choice between the three year Bachelor of Science degree or the four year Master in Science degree. The MSci provides you with additional teaching and experience including a placement.

BSc students can transfer to the MSci at the end of their second year if they are meeting the requirements and a placement is available (though this is not guaranteed).

Equally, students on the MSci can transfer to the BSc.

Why choose this course?

Cancer research

Be part of ground-breaking cancer research, helping to find new treatments for cancer

One of a kind

Take part in one of the only undergraduate cancer research degrees in the UK

Cutting-edge facility

Make use of our Centre for Cancer Sciences housed in a new cutting-edge facility

Research groups

Opportunities to work in the Nottingham Breast Cancer Research Centre, our Children's Brain Tumour Research Centre, and our other research groups.

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2023 entry.

UK entry requirements
A level ABB

Please note: Applicants whose backgrounds or personal circumstances have impacted their academic performance may receive a reduced offer. Please see our contextual admissions policy for more information.

Required subjects

Must include two science subjects, one of which must be biology or chemistry. 

A pass is normally required in science practical tests, where these are assessed separately. 

We will not accept citizenship studies, critical thinking, general studies, or global perspectives as your third A.

GCSEs (or equivalent)

Grade 4 (C) in English

Grade 5 (B) in maths

IB score 34 with 6, 6, 5 at Higher Level including two of biology, chemistry, physics and maths)

Foundation progression options

Cancer Sciences is one of the progression pathways for our Science with a Foundation Year course.

In order to progress on to the course you will be required to achieve the following scores:

  • 60% in either Foundation Biological Science or Foundation Chemistry
  • 55% in English Language modules (if they are taken)
  • 60% Overall average

Mature Students

At the University of Nottingham, we have a valuable community of mature students and we appreciate their contribution to the wider student population. You can find lots of useful information on the mature students webpage.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

Teaching methods

  • Case-based learning
  • eLearning
  • Lab sessions
  • Lectures
  • Placements
  • Practical classes
  • Problem-based learning
  • Self-study
  • Seminars
  • Small group learning
  • Tutorials
  • Workshops

How you will be assessed

Assessment methods

  • Case studies
  • Coursework
  • Dissertation
  • Examinations
  • Lab reports
  • Literature review
  • Portfolio (written/digital)
  • Poster presentation
  • Practical write-ups
  • Presentation

Contact time and study hours

Cancer Sciences students have around 10 hours contact time per week covering lectures, practicals, workshops, tutorials and seminars.

Students are expected to spend around 20 to 30 hours per week on self-study.

Class sizes are 1 to 2 for tutorials, around 20 to 60 for seminars and workshops, and between 30 and 300 for lectures depending on the module.

Study Abroad and the Year in Industry are subject to students meeting minimum academic requirements. Opportunities may change at any time for a number of reasons, including curriculum developments, changes to arrangements with partner universities, travel restrictions or other circumstances outside of the university’s control. Every effort will be made to update information as quickly as possible should a change occur.


In your first year, you will learn the characteristics of cancer, its causes, how it progresses, and how it affects a person's health. You will also learn the human physiology and fundamental cell and molecular biology that you need to understand cancer and its causes and treatments. 


Causes and consequences of cancer

What is cancer, what causes cancer, and what happens when someone gets cancer, from detection, through diagnosis, treatment, recovery and survivorship.

Hallmarks of Cancer

A study of the ten fundamental processes that make cancers form, grow, invade and spread.

Essentials in Genes, Molecules and Cells

This module combines lectures and laboratory classes and introduces you to the structure and function of significant molecules in cells, and the important metabolic processes which occur inside them. You will study, amongst other topics, protein and enzyme structure and function, the biosynthesis of cell components, and the role of cell membranes in barrier and transport processes. You'll examine how information in DNA is used to determine the structure of gene products. Topics include DNA structure, transcription and translation and mutation and recombinant DNA technology.

Human Physiology

In this module, you will be introduced to the physiology of major systems such as cardiovascular, nervous, and musculoskeletal, including some aspects of drug action. This module will allow you to understand your biochemical and genetics knowledge in the context of the intact organism. This module includes lectures and laboratory classes.


You can take one of the following optional modules or any 20 credit module or two 10 credit modules from elsewhere in the University, subject to suitability and availability.

Life on Earth

Life on Earth provides an introduction to the fundamental characteristics and properties of the myriad of organisms which inhabit our planet, from viruses, bacteria and Archaea, to plants and animals. In weekly lectures, and regular laboratory practical classes, you will consider how living organisms are classified, how they are related genetically and phylogenetically, and basic aspects of their structure and function.

Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour

Starting with Darwin’s theory of evolution, you will learn how natural selection and other evolutionary forces have shaped the ways in which organisms interact with each other and their environment. In addition to lectures, practical classes will give you hands-on experience with a range of ecological and behavioural concepts in the laboratory and the field.

Fundamentals of Neuroscience

This module will give you a good grounding in the basic principles of the nervous system of humans and other animals. Topics will include neuroanatomy, cellular neuroscience, neuropharmacology, sensory systems, neuroendocrinology, memory, behavioural neuroscience and diseases of the nervous system. These will be delivered through weekly lectures and practical classes.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Thursday 21 July 2022.

Your second year examines what contributes to cancer, and how different cancers form, grow, and spread in more depth. Different types of cancer including lung, breast, bowel, and ovarian cancer are used to illustrate specific mechanisms and biological systems. A case study will allow a more in-depth look at a cancer of your choosing.

Lung and Breast Cancer: understanding growth factor biology and the importance of hormones

A more detailed look at what causes cancers; the mutations that cause cancer, and the cell signalling abnormalities that make cancers grow, using breast cancer and lung cancers as examples.

It specifically highlights tumour suppressors and growth factor biology.

Angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels) and tumour-host interactions: understanding blood supply and the immune system

How cancers grow, how the cells divide, mutate, generate their own blood supply, and use energy. How cancers interact with their host, co-opt and corrupt normal cell processes, and evade detection by the immune system. Includes kidney, brain, blood, skin, prostate and pancreatic cancer.

Bowel Cancer and Ovarian Cancer: highlighting cancer spread and DNA repair

How do cancers become genetically unstable, so that they can spread around the body (metastaisize) and the importance of DNA repair, using bowel and ovarian cancer as examples.

Cancer Cell Genetics: how and why cancer cells are different from normal cells

This module considers:

  • Genetic polymorphisms and genome-wide association studies
  • Chemical, viral, and radiation induced DNA damage and tumourigenesis
  • Cancer cell genomics and the 100,000 genome project
  • Cancer cell transcriptomics and epigenomics
  • Precision medicine in cancer treatment
Epidemiology of cancer and population genetics: who gets cancer and why

Who gets cancer and why, how do we find out what causes cancer and what makes people susceptible to cancer.

Patient-centred Library Project (cause, diagnosis and treatments)

Find out what happens to someone when they get cancer, the journey they go through, and what doctors, nurses, scientists and other health care professionals do to treat the patient.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on

In your third year you will choose three optional modules from a selection of advanced topics. You will also complete a research project to make new discoveries as part of a research group and produce an advanced literary project. 


Patient Portfolio (the future of diagnosis and treatments)

What is the future of cancer therapy? Take a specific patient and investigate at how detection, diagnosis, surgery, medicine and care of that cancer patient could change over the next decade

Groundbreaking Research Projects

Cutting edge, hands on research project in one of the research teams in the University of Nottingham’s Centre for Cancer Sciences. A 12 week placement at the bench or in the clinic (or both!) undertaking new research and discovering new parts of the cancer puzzle.


Cancer Biology and Molecular Therapeutics: new and emerging cancer treatments

The latest research in cancer cell biology, and how it is being harnessed to find new treatments for cancer.

Paediatric cancer: why cancers that occur in childhood are different from those in the adult
Tumour Microenvironment: how the tumour environment influences cancer cells

How the cancer cell shapes its environment, and how the environment affects the cancer cell, from blood vessel growth and drainage by lymphatics to the host cells that interact with the cancer cells.

Cancer Immunology and Novel Therapies: immunotherapy and other new cancer treatments

What makes a cancer evade the immune system, and how can this be overcome. A look at the latest drugs that harness the body’s own defences to fight cancer.

The above are examples of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on

Fees and funding

UK students

Per year

International students

To be confirmed in 2022*
Keep checking back for more information

*For full details including fees for part-time students and reduced fees during your time studying abroad or on placement (where applicable), see our fees page.

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you may be asked to complete a fee status questionnaire and your answers will be assessed using guidance issued by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) .

Additional costs

As a student on this course, you should factor some additional costs into your budget, alongside your tuition fees and living expenses such as travel and accommodation.

Extra costs include £20 for a lab coat.

You should be able to access most of the books you'll need for the course through our libraries, however you may wish to buy your own copies or get more specific titles which may cost up to £80 each.

Scholarships and bursaries

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £1,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International students

We offer a range of international undergraduate scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

International scholarships


Studying Cancer Sciences at Nottingham gives you the perfect grounding to pursue further research through studying a masters or a PhD.

The course also provides you with broader knowledge of biochemistry, immunology, genetics, physiology, pharmacology, pathology, and more. These skills could lead you into jobs in biotechnology, pharmaceutical industries, and other biomedical areas.

Average starting salary and career progression

96.6% of undergraduates from the School of Medicine secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary for these graduates was £33,695.*

*HESA Graduate Outcomes 2020. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time within the UK.

Studying for a degree at the University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take.

Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers (Ranked in the top ten in The Graduate Market in 2013-2020, High Fliers Research).

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" I wanted to come here because this was the first course of its kind. Since our first lecture, it’s been so focused and we’re learning so much about cancer. The foundation that Nottingham provide to go into cancer research is really good. They’re giving us all of the knowledge we need for the future. "
Aruba Farooq, Cancer Sciences student

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Important information

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.