Course specification and structure
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PMCANPHA - MSc Cancer Pharmacology

Course Specification

Validation status Validated
Highest award Master of Science Level Masters
Possible interim awards Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate, Advanced Diploma in Professional Development
Total credits for course 180
Awarding institution London Metropolitan University
Teaching institutions London Metropolitan University
School School of Human Sciences
Subject Area Biosciences
Attendance options
Option Minimum duration Maximum duration
Full-time 1 YEARS  
Part-time 2 YEARS  
Course leader  

About the course and its strategy towards teaching and learning

This course is designed to offer opportunities for advanced study of the pharmacology of cancer drugs particularly for those working, or intending to work, in chemotherapeutic research and development. The MSc is suitable for graduates of related disciplines, as well as for people already working in industrial and research laboratories wishing to develop their knowledge in this area. The course is also suitable for professionals working in hospitals, pharmacies and clinics as the course will focus on cancer as a disease, its molecular origins, and the mechanism of action of anticancer drugs, providing a sound theoretical and laboratory-based platform in this area.

Course aims

• provide a programme of advanced study for graduates that will equip them for future careers in the area of cancer pharmacology;

• foster a comprehensive and critical understanding of the existing state of knowledge in the fields of cancer and of anti-cancer drug therapy;

• enhance intellectual and practical skills necessary for the collection, analysis, interpretation and understanding of scientific data;

• provide practical opportunities in a multidisciplinary environment;

• enable students to become effective learners/practitioners by developing a variety of personal skills and capabilities;

• enable students to plan, carry out and write up a masters level research project.

Course learning outcomes

The MSc, PgDip and PgCert have common core units.
Delivery and assessment of the common core provides opportunities for students to achieve and demonstrate the learning outcomes listed below.

Knowledge and Understanding:
Learning outcomes:
By the end of the course the student is expected to have developed:
 an advanced systematic knowledge of the theoretical aspects of scientific topics studied, and an awareness of current issues and insights
 an ability to apply knowledge in new contexts and in practical settings involving aspects relating to oncology, pharmacology and genetics.
 the capacity to design, execute and critically evaluate research relevant to cancer pharmacology.

Teaching/learning strategies and methods:
A range of teaching methods will be employed including lectures, seminars, tutorials, practicals and self-directed learning. Problem-solving and literature analysis exercises will be included. Research skills are developed through the taught module Scientific Framework for Research, and also through the Research Project module (MSc only).

Summative assessment of the students’ work is based on elements drawn from the whole range of their learning experience. The variety of assessment methods include problem solving assignments, unseen tests, practical work and reports, poster and seminar presentations, dissertation and unseen examinations. The coursework assessment elements are used formatively where possible, and additional formative assessments will be used in support of students’ development.

Cognitive skills
Learning outcomes:
By the end of the course the student is expected to have developed higher-level skills that are reflected in their ability to:
 assimilate information and develop ideas on issues, methodologies or development of investigations;
 explain how a working hypothesis may be devised and tested within the constraints of a oncological and/or pharmacological context;
 critically analyse different situations and problems showing a high level of understanding and reasoning and providing their own interpretation of information;
 organise and apply knowledge in a logical and systematic manner appropriate to the purpose or question in hand

Teaching/learning strategies and methods:
Topic presentation in taught units will be largely evidence-based; areas of relevant current developments will be highlighted. Quantitative methods are taught explicitly in the Scientific Framework for Research module, and are embedded in other taught units. The Research Project provides an opportunity to utilise knowledge gained throughout the course in pursuit of an individual, self-directed and focussed investigation.
Cognitive skills are summatively assessed by, inter alia, information abstracting and reviewing exercises, problem solving exercises, essays requiring the ability to sustain an argument, and the Research Project report (MSc only) and its oral defence. Poster and seminar presentations provide scope for both peer assessment and immediate formative feedback.

Transferable Skills
Learning outcomes:
By the end of the course the student is expected to be able to:
• display the interpersonal skills required to work in a scientific, particularly laboratory, based environment;
• implement an advanced information search and to extract relevant information;
• communicate a subject clearly and accurately orally, and in a variety of forms of written English;
• select and obtain information and to interpret that information, drawing conclusions from and recognising the limitations of the available data;
• employ a full range of investigative skills which can be applied to any set task;
• use analytical and reviewing skills in order to produce accurate summaries based on a body of literature.

Teaching/Learning Strategies and Methods:
Communication skills will be developed through formative feedback of student work, and analysis of published literature. Use of appropriate technologies pervades all the modules. There is a significant element of independent learning in all modules. Self-evaluation of work follows on from the critical, evidence-based approach adopted in the taught units.

All assessment is in oral or written form, and throughout the course emphasis will be placed on development of both general communication skills and also on the requirements of formal scientific writing. Systematic and consistent referencing will be a requirement. Use of technology is implicit in all work requiring literature exploration, and in the written or oral presentation of work. Use of laboratory equipment is also heavily dependent on computer skills.

Subject-specific Practical Skills
Learning Outcomes:
Students should be able to demonstrate development of practical skills, through
 experience of advanced or novel practical methodologies;
 the application of knowledge to practical problems, including test selection and the design of appropriate experimental protocols with due regard to safety and quality control issues;
 experience of IT software and databases eg in methods development and searching scientific literature;
 the organisation and execution of practical work in the Laboratory Practice and
Research Project (MSc only) modules.

Teaching/Learning Strategies and Methods:
Practical laboratory skills will be taught through hands-on-experience, reflection and problem solving in laboratory sessions. Some observation of demonstration material will also be utilised. Problem-based exercises will require exploitation of practical issues in forensic science.

Formative assessment is given continuously during the sessions in the dialogue between the demonstrating staff and the students. Practical skills will be assessed in the Research Project and the Laboratory Practice module by the results obtained and their contribution to the overall standard of achievement.

Principle QAA benchmark statements

Although there are no QAA (Quality Assurance Agency) benchmark statements for cancer pharmacology at Postgraduate level, course outcomes are in line with Generic QAA (Quality Assurance Agency) guidelines on Masters level qualifications.

Assessment strategy

Students are assessed through a variety of methods including problem solving exercises, in-class tests, data analysis, practical reports, case studies, oral presentation, extended essays, examinations, research project interim report, oral examination and dissertation.

Practical skills are summatively assessed through the coursework assignments, including those in the final Project module. Data handling skills are summatively assessed by, practical reports, problem solving exercises, information abstracting and reviewing exercises, oral presentations and examinations.

Formative assessments include group activities in tutorial classes, pre-laboratory exercises and project workshops.

Organised work experience, work based learning, sandwich year or year abroad


Course specific regulations

The course conforms to both the University’s Postgraduate Scheme and the University Academic Regulations.

Modules required for interim awards

PG Cert – 60 credits; any 3 modules;
PG Diploma – 120 credits; 6 modules (not including Research Project)

Career opportunities

Our graduates primarily go on to pursue a career in anti-cancer drug development in academia or the pharmaceutical industry. The programme also provides an excellent basis for further research or study.

Entry requirements

You will be required to have:

  • at least a lower second class (2.2) UK first degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate subject, for example pharmacology, biomedical science, biological science or medical genetics (these will be considered on an individual basis)

All applicants must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. Applicants who require a Tier 4 student visa may need to provide a Secure English Language Test (SELT) such as Academic IELTS. For more information about English qualifications please see our English language requirements.

Official use and codes

Approved to run from 2013/14 Specification version 1 Specification status Validated
Original validation date 01 Sep 2013 Last validation date 04 Sep 2013  
JACS codes B210 (Pharmacology): 100%
Route code CANPHA

Course Structure

Stage 1 Level 07 September start Offered

Code Module title Info Type Credits Location Period Day Time
BM7001 Scientific Frameworks For Research Core 20 NORTH SPR WED AM
          NORTH AUT THU AM
BM7045 Cancer Pharmacology Core 20 NORTH SPR WED PM
BM7046 Cancer: Diagnosis and Therapy Core 20 NORTH AUT WED PM
BM7047 Molecular Oncology Core 20 NORTH AUT TUE PM
BM7122 Medical Genetics and Genomics Core 20 NORTH SPR MON PM
BM7P05 Research Project Core 60 NORTH AUT   NA
          NORTH SPR    
          NORTH SUM   NA
BM7027 Bioinformatics and Molecular Modelling Option 20 NORTH AUT FRI AM
MS7029 Drug Discovery Technology Option 20 NORTH AUT MON PM
MS7048 Advanced Drug Formulation Technologies Option 20 NORTH AUT TUE PM

Stage 1 Level 07 January start Offered

Code Module title Info Type Credits Location Period Day Time
BM7001 Scientific Frameworks For Research Core 20 NORTH SPR WED AM
BM7045 Cancer Pharmacology Core 20 NORTH SPR WED PM
BM7046 Cancer: Diagnosis and Therapy Core 20        
BM7047 Molecular Oncology Core 20        
BM7122 Medical Genetics and Genomics Core 20 NORTH SPR MON PM
BM7P05 Research Project Core 60 NORTH SPR    
          NORTH SUM   NA
BM7027 Bioinformatics and Molecular Modelling Option 20        
MS7029 Drug Discovery Technology Option 20        
MS7048 Advanced Drug Formulation Technologies Option 20