MSc Course Structure

Fundamental radiation biological science is taught in the first term (Michaelmas) and the first half of the second term (Hilary). Each of the 12 modules is delivered over a period of one or two weeks and together comprise the core content of the course. Lectures will be led by local, national and international experts supported by tutorials by local staff to provide a wide knowledge and understanding of radiation biology.


Each module will provide students with a detailed understanding of a specific area of radiation biology:

  1. Physics and Chemistry of Radiation Action: The physics and chemistry of the use of ionising radiation with biological material and clinical applications.
  2. Molecular Radiation Biology: The types of lesions produced by ionising radiation and the molecular repair systems available in cells, their relative importance as a function of dose, and the various molecular processes involved in the cycling and death of normal and tumour cells before and after exposure to radiation.
  3. Cellular Radiation Biology: The response of cells to irradiation, the ways of characterising the response as a function of dose, and the effects of physical modifiers of response (dose-rate, fractionation) as well as chemical modifiers (oxygen, radical scavengers).
  4. Normal Tissue and Applied Radiation Biology: Normal tissue reactions and the use of fractionated schedules of radiotherapy, along with the calculation of equivalent or improved modified schedules.
  5. Whole Body Exposure and Carcinogenesis: The effects of whole-body irradiation, biodosimetric methods, radiation-induced carcinogenesis and its molecular mechanisms, along with non-cancer radiation effects.
  6. Radiation Epidemiology: Epidemiological evidence for detriment from radiation exposure and examples where the methodology has been applied with statistical rigour.
  7. Imaging Technologies: A description of the different types of imaging methods available, an understanding of their underlying physical and biological principles, and their relative benefits and limitations in particular applications.
  8. Tumour Microenvironment: Detailed concepts of the tumour microenvironment, the influence of tumour hypoxia, and ways to overcome its detrimental effects in treatment strategies.
  9. Applications of Radiation Therapy: The rationale for the use of new radiotherapy techniques, including combinations with chemotherapeutic approaches and the use of particle beams.
  10. Translational Radiation Biology: The development of new biologically-based techniques that are being translated from the laboratory to clinical use. This includes personalised medicine and immunotherapy.
  11. Clinical Radiation Biology: Radiobiological phenomena that underpin clinical radiation therapy, with particular emphasis on selected tumour.
  12. Radiation Protection: The biological basis of radiation protection recommendations for stochastic and deterministic effects, associated legislation and practical implementation.

Additional demonstration and practical sessions are scheduled to enable students to learn specific techniques used in this specialist subject area.


All MSc students undertake a research placement leading to a dissertation. This is a substantial piece of work and accounts for 60% of the total marks awarded for the MSc degree.

Examples of MSc dissertation titles:

  • Ubiquitin signalling in the pathogenesis and treatment of glioblastoma
  • Imaging DNA damage repair of neuroendocrine tumours during radionuclide therapy
  • Mechanisms linking transcriptional control of the circadian clock and radiation-induced leukaemia.
  • Adaptive radiotherapy for rectal cancer - what are the benefits?
  • The role of SPRTN (SPARTAN) in genome stability, ageing and cancer
  • Macrophages and the Radiation Response
  • A search for a gene signature predictive of radiation response in multiple cancer types
  • Radiation, diet and hypoxia: Investigating the potential of a ketogenic diet to improve radiotherapy response
  • Exploiting the immune system via IL-6 as a radiosensitising mechanism in bladder cancer
  • Application of a Compartmental Model to 131I Therapy Dosimetry
  • High LET radiation effects related to protection for the lens of the eye


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