Master of Cancer Sciences
What will I study?
What you will learn
A comprehensive and integrated understanding of cancer biology, research and clinical care
You’ll develop the ability to apply evidence-based patient care in each of the common cancer types.
A detailed knowledge of the historical, societal and political context of cancer science and cancer care
You’ll gain skills in how to influence public health policy, evaluate the social impact of cancer, and assess and develop prevention strategies.
The ability to design and conduct a substantial research project in an ethical manner
You’ll improve your ability to critically evaluate policies and practices in cancer research and gain skills to examine current research problems.
The estimated hours required for each subject is between 15-19 hours per week, but this varies for each student and depends on your task management and planning, familiarity with the material, reading style and speed.
For the award of Master of Cancer Sciences, you must complete 100 points comprising of:
- Two 12.5-point core subjects,
- Two 12.5-point research capstone subjects (Part 1 & Part 2) (taken over two terms), and
- Four 12.5-point elective subjects.
Click button below to view suggested subject pathways for a range of disciplines.
You can also study single subjects to contribute to your professional development. For more information, please contact Student Support.
Explore this course
Explore the subjects you could choose as part of this degree.
- Foundations of Cancer12.5
Foundations of Cancer
The Foundations of Cancer subject aims to immerse students in the research literature that has constructed the current biological paradigms in cancer biology. Students will understand the complexity in pathways and drivers that result in dysregulated biological processes and disease. Research literature will support critical examination of the interplay between these biological processes, past and current treatments and the evolution of cancer in an individual.
- Cancer Research12.5
The Cancer Research subject will provide students with an ability to apply research methodologies in the context of cancer. Students will learn about the structure and skills required to conduct successful research activities. There will be an introduction to a variety of methods for investigation including experimental and clinical trial design, methodology for population-based studies, ethical considerations, and statistical analyses. In addition, critical analysis of the literature will be embedded throughout the subject with exposure to the currently active areas of research in cancer.
- Research Thesis Capstone - Part 112.5
Research Thesis Capstone - Part 1
In this subject, each student will research, design and present a project proposal and undertake a substantial literature review that will form the basis of their research project. In doing so, students will put into practice the advanced theoretical knowledge they have learnt during other taught modules and have the chance to explore an area of interest to them, in detail. It will reinforce their abilities to evaluate existing research, utilise appropriate methodological techniques in cancer research, and to critically analyse and reflect on data.
- Research Thesis Capstone - Part 212.5
Research Thesis Capstone - Part 2
Building upon the previous subject (Research Thesis Capstone – Part 1), this subject provides opportunities to extend, deepen and apply knowledge, skills and attributes, in the context of a research project.
This subject enables students to engage in the implementation, analysis and communication of a research project that demonstrates their advanced theoretical knowledge and critical reflection skills. It provides the opportunity for integration of their prior learning from the course, and demonstration of their advanced practice, focusing on an area of interest. During this project, students will have the unique opportunity to be closely trained and supervised by leading experts in oncology. It will reinforce their abilities to evaluate existing research, utilise appropriate methodological techniques in cancer research and to critically analyse and reflect on data.
Cancer Sciences Elective Suite
- Supportive Care and Palliative Care12.5
Supportive Care and Palliative Care
With the rapidly increasing volume of patients with a diagnosis of cancer there are an increasing number of patients having to deal with the consequences of cancer. This subject will provide an evidenced-based, best practice approach to both palliative care and survivorship care. It will address the physical, emotional and spiritual consequences of diagnosis, treatment and the supportive care services that address those. Students will also develop a detailed understanding of palliative care, its goals, techniques and limitations. In doing so, students will also explore the role of the multidisciplinary teams in various health care delivery models and how that influences patient centred care.
- Cancer in Society12.5
Cancer in Society
The Cancer in Society subject aims to provide students with a holistic understanding of the cancer burden in modern society. This will include a detailed review of the epidemiology of cancer and how this varies internationally. Students will explore the attitudes, behaviours and risk factors that influence cancer incidence, morbidity and mortality. They will also examine the influence of the commercial sector, law and public policy on cancer mortality and morbidity. Social, political and financial considerations of cancer care will also be addressed.
- Cancer Diagnostics12.5
There is now a vast array of diagnostic tools and techniques available to clinicians to aid in cancer diagnosis. In this subject, students will learn the indications, mechanisms and utility of each of these diagnostic tools. Students will also learn about the best practice diagnostic pathways that exist to facilitate accurate, efficient and cost-effective cancer diagnostics.
- Cancer Therapeutics12.5
The Cancer Therapeutics subject aims to examine the benefits and limitations of various treatment modalities available for patients with cancer. Case studies will be used to integrate this information to understand and evaluate the modern era of integrated cancer care and the role of multi-disciplinary team-based patient management. The subject aims to provide breadth of knowledge and perspective with regards to cancer treatment and patient centred care.
- Cancer Prevention and Control12.5
Cancer Prevention and Control
The Cancer Prevention subject aims to outline the concepts, methods and applications underpinning cancer prevention at a population level. It will explore the concepts of primary, secondary (screening and early intervention) and tertiary prevention strategies to improve cancer outcomes. Case based discussion will demonstrate the epidemiological and applied behavioural research involved in reducing the risk of incidence of cancer and recurrence.
- Drug Discovery and Development12.5
Drug Discovery and Development
In this subject, students will gain a detailed understanding of all aspect of the drug development pipeline, beginning from the basic science research that triggers investigation of a new therapeutic strategy, through pre-clinical and clinical testing and final introduction to the general market. It will also cover practical issues such as funding considerations and the regulatory frameworks that exist to ensure patient safety and eventual medication approval. The design and methodology utilised in international drug discovery initiatives will be utilised to illustrate previously successful approaches.
- Cancer across the Lifespan12.5
Cancer across the Lifespan
Cancer throughout the lifespan will describe the specific factors associated with the care and treatment of children, adolescents, young, middle aged and older adults and geriatrics with cancer; from the time of diagnosis to the time of death. To address the complex needs of different age group cohorts, there is a need to look at the patient holistically to manage their complex medical conditions.
Extended Elective Suite
- End of Life Issues12.5
End of Life Issues
This subject explores the ethical issues that may arise at the end of life. Beginning with a multidisciplinary exploration of the concept of the end of life, students will investigate a number of longstanding as well as emerging issues that confront individuals, families, professionals and societies. Students will consider the implications of making decisions in various domains at different stages of the end of life, as well as the potential role of families, friends, carers, health professionals, lawyers, other professionals and policy makers in such decision making.
The subject will focus in particular on the role and responsibilities of professionals working with people preparing for or at the end of their lives. Topics may include historical and cultural perspectives on mortality and the end of life; justice in the distribution of resources at the end of life; the concept of a "good death" and euthanasia; determination of death and deceased donation of organs and tissues; and end-of life care planning and decision-making.
The curriculum for this subject will engage with art as a medium for reflection on ethical issues. Throughout the subject, students will explore a number of artworks independently and with their peers in exercises designed to foster skills in observation, interpretation, and analysis as well emotional engagement.
- Foundations of Leadership12.5
Foundations of Leadership
Foundations of Leadership, as part of the Professional Certificate in Workplace Leadership, is designed to offer significant practical learning opportunities for a diverse range of early career professionals seeking to develop their business, managerial and leadership skills and knowledge. It is also suitable for emerging leaders, or those who have been promoted, or seek promotion and wish to develop their leadership capabilities to complement their technical knowledge and expertise, in order to get the most out of themselves and their teams.
In Foundations of Leadership, students will learn and apply core knowledge, skills and tools needed to be effective organisational leaders. This subject investigates what leadership is, why it is important and analyses the factors that impact upon workplace leadership and the impacts leadership has in an organisational context. This subject will begin by focusing on leadership of self, and the role of leadership in contemporary organisations. Students will undertake diagnostic assessment and reflective exercises to gain insights into their leadership values, strengths and weaknesses and use these to create a personal leadership development plan. Students will also undertake a range of learning activities including simulated leadership challenges to demonstrate core capabilities including; interpreting and influencing, planning and problem solving. They will also apply and develop fundamental leadership skills such as collaboration, relationship building, listening and communication and self-reflection. This subject provides the foundation for the second subject in the course, Leadership in Practice, in which students will develop more advanced leadership knowledge and skills for leading and influencing within increasingly complex organisational environments and systems.
This subject includes lectures with leading experts, case studies, leadership diagnostics, contemporary readings and resources, facilitated and group discussions.
- Health Behaviour Change12.5
Health Behaviour Change
This wholly online subject will introduce students to the key theories underlying contemporary approaches to health promotion and health behaviour change in individuals across the health-illness spectrum and at the population level. The subject will enable students to develop skills in the design and evaluation of health behaviour change interventions that are evidence informed and tailored to clinical practice contexts across the lifespan.
The subject is divided into modules to allow flexibility for students to choose areas of health promotion or health behaviour change that best match their disciplinary interests or work context. Similarly, students will be given options for assessment that include the development of multidisciplinary or single discipline rehabilitation that can be used in a clinical context.
All students will complete four modules within this subject.
A Foundational Module will be completed by all students and introduces the key theoretical models underpinning health behaviour change interventions focussed on the promotion of individual or population health. Students will develop an understanding of the integration of these theories into commonly used health behaviour change interventions at a population level and within defined rehabilitation contexts.
Students will then choose two from four modules that best meets their learning interests and/or practice or discipline interests. These modules are:
1. Evidence Based Practice
Students selecting this module will develop the skills to critically review and synthesise the literature supporting health behaviour change interventions in a health condition of their choice. Students will develop a concise summary of the existing evidence, critically evaluate the quality of evidence to support the chosen intervention, and interpret the clinical application of this technique.
2. Integration of Health Behaviour Change in Rehabilitation settings: This module will extend students’ exploration of the application of health behaviour change programs or principles within subacute and community based rehabilitation contexts. Students will explore and consider how interdisciplinary teams can integrate and apply these principles to support client health and adherence to evidence-based treatment recommendations.
3. Motivational Interviewing Skills: This module will develop an understanding of best practice in motivational interviewing. It will allow students to develop and practice skills in the application of motivational interviewing as a method of supporting health behaviour change in clients with health conditions relevant to the students’ interests.
4. Public Health Promotion Interventions
This module will more deeply examine foundational theory focussing on the frameworks, policy and process that influence public health behaviour. Students will identify and analyse a public health promotion program or activity of their choice, relevant to their discipline and employment context.
The final Integration module will be completed by all students and addresses the integration and application of evidence informed rehabilitation practice to specific practice contexts. This module provides students with an opportunity to extend and demonstrate application of skills in developing and justifying an evidence-informed health behaviour change intervention for an individual or group.
- Quantitative Methods for Evaluation12.5
Quantitative Methods for Evaluation
This subject provides students with an introduction to the collection, analysis and reporting of quantitative data in research and evaluation studies. Topics will include: Philosophy of quantitative methodology; types of data; samples and populations; descriptive and inferential statistics; exploratory and confirmatory data analysis; survey design and questionnaire construction; and displaying data using SPSS.
- Psychosocial Oncology12.5
This subject explores the theoretical paradigms, and the political, economic and social determinants of psychosocial practice in the field of oncology. Advances in cancer care, and the relevance of these in relation to life stresses and quality of life, have resulted in the increased importance of psychosocial issues on assessment, intervention and recovery. The subject will include the impact of cancer on the developmental stage of the individual, including family and interpersonal relationships, as well as issues related to survivorship and the management of cancer as a chronic illness. Professionals working in multidisciplinary cancer care teams are in a unique position to respond to the needs of people who have been diagnosed with cancer and their carers. This subject aims to strengthen their capacity to respond effectively and appropriately from a psychosocial service perspective.
- Leadership in Practice12.5
Leadership in Practice
Leadership in practice, as part of the Professional Certificate in Workplace Leadership, is designed to offer significant practical learning opportunities for a diverse range of early career professionals seeking to extend their business, managerial and leadership skills and knowledge. It is also suitable for emerging leaders, or those who have been promoted, or seek promotion and wish to develop their leadership capabilities to complement their technical knowledge and expertise, in order to get the most out of themselves and their teams.
Following the Foundations of Leadership subject, in Leadership in Practice, students will extend their development by learning and applying more advanced knowledge and skills in order to exercise and foster leadership within more complex organisational environments and systems. Drawing on theories and empirical evidence students will devise a plan to overcome a complex personal leadership conundrum. Students will also undertake more complex collaborative leadership challenges, in order to develop their critical analysis and strategic thinking, decision making, coaching and supporting skills.
This subject includes lectures with leading experts, case studies, leadership diagnostics, contemporary readings and resources, and facilitated group discussions.