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.

    Course structure

    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.

    Alternative exit pathways are available through the Specialist Certificate and Graduate Certificate of Cancer Sciences.

    Download course guide

    Click button below to view suggested subject pathways for a range of disciplines.

    Suggested subject pathways

    Course nameTypePoints
    Foundations of Cancer Core 12.5
    Subject description:
    Take an in depth look into the biological processes that lead to cancer formation and propagation at a molecular, cellular and organ level. Students will learn about the most recent advances in cancer science as well as the seminal studies that have constructed the current biological paradigms in oncology. The subject will conclude with an exploration of how these biological processes can be targeted in cancer treatment, giving students a strong all-round foundation in the cancer sciences.
    Cancer ResearchCore 12.5
    Subject description:
    Gain the ability to apply research methodologies in the context of cancer care, by learning the structure and skills required to conduct successful research activities. This subject introduces 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 1Capstone12.5
    Subject description
    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 2Capstone12.5
    Subject description:
    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.
    Cancer in SocietyElective 12.5
    Subject description:
    Build a holistic understanding of the cancer burden in modern society by exploring the social, political and financial considerations of cancer care. In this subject, students will learn about the attitudes, behaviours and risk factors that influence cancer incidence, morbidity and mortality. Students will also examine the influence of the commercial sector, law and public policy and how these factors are reflected in international cancer epidemiology. 
    Cancer TherapeuticsElective 12.5
    Subject description:
    This subject presents a detailed review of current cancer treatment modalities, including their benefits and limitations. It will explore the recent biological and technological advances that have re-defined cancer care in the 21st century and look forwards at novel and experimental therapies that are emerging. 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. 
    Cancer DiagnosticsElective 12.5
    Subject description:
    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. 
    Supportive Care and Palliative CareElective 12.5
    Subject description:
    This subject provides 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 Prevention and ControlElective 12.5
    Subject description:
    The Cancer Prevention subject focusses on the concepts, methods and applications underpinning cancer prevention at a population level. It explores 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 behavioral research involved in reducing the risk of incidence of cancer and recurrence. 
    Drug Discovery and DevelopmentElective 12.5
    Subject description:
    Gain a detailed understanding of all aspects 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. This subject also covers 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 LifespanElective 12.5
    Subject description:
    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. In this subject, students will learn 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. 
    End of Life IssuesElective 12.5
    Subject description:
    Examine end of life issues in a variety of contexts, such as private homes, hospitals, hospices and residential care facilities, and consider their implications for individuals; families and friends; clinicians and health professionals; carers; and policy makers. Examples of policy, practice and legislation from a range of countries will highlight common features and diverse approaches to end of life issues. 
    Foundations of LeadershipElective 12.5
    Subject description:
    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 begins by focusing on leadership of self, and the role of leadership in contemporary organisations. You 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. 
    Quantitative Methods for EvaluationElective 12.5
    Subject description:
    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 OncologyElective 12.5
    Subject description:
    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, by exploring the theoretical paradigms, and political, economic and social determinants of psychosocial practice in the field of oncology. 
    Health Behaviour ChangeElective 12.5
    Subject description:
    This subject introduces the key theoretical models underpinning health behaviour change interventions. Students will develop an understanding of the integration of these theories into commonly used health behaviour change interventions at both a population level and within defined contexts. 
    Leadership in PracticeElective 12.5
    Subject description:
    Learn advanced, practical knowledge and skills 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, to develop critical analysis and strategic thinking, decision-making, coaching and supporting skills.