Degree Programs

Master of Philosophy in Cancer Science (MPhil in Cancer Science)

Specific admission requirements

One of the following qualifications at NQF level 8:

  • an MB,ChB or equivalent degree;
  • a four-year professional bachelor’s degree in a health-related discipline;
  • a BScHons degree of this University or another recognised university; or
  • an equivalent qualification approved by Senate.

If you are an international student, you must provide proof of the equivalence of qualifications that you obtained at non-South African institutions. This requires submission of a SAQA (South African Qualifications Authority) certificate.

Mathematics at National Senior Certificate (NSC) level, computer literacy and fluency in written and spoken English. If you, as an international student, are from a non-English speaking country, you must submit official documentary evidence with your application of your competence in English.

Students and ACI staff visit to CANSA

Application procedure and closing date

Apply online at by 30 September of the previous year. Applications for prospective international students close on 31 August.

Candidates are selected on academic merit and all applications are reviewed by a selection committee. Only a limited number of students is admitted to the programme.

Duration of programme

The programme is presented on a full-time basis and extends over a minimum period of 18 months.


The programme will be conducted in English.

Programme description

The Master of Philosophy in Cancer Science is an interdisciplinary programme focused on providing an in-depth understanding of cancer from a molecular, environmental, public health and treatment perspective and is aimed at students wanting to broaden their understanding into the complexities around cancer and pursue cancer or cancer-related research with the aim of reducing its burden on humanity. The programme is intended to deliver theoretical and practical insights needed to address the increasing incidence of cancer and provide a pipeline for postgraduate students who wish to enter into a cancer research career with a view to impacting on the disease incidence and mortality. The hallmarks of cancer are extremely complex and given the depth of research that is required, this programme will mould a skill set designed to advance current knowledge about this disease and tackle key problem areas through research.

The teaching and learning strategy in each module is determined by the nature of the subject. Modules are presented within the framework of a student-centred approach with the purpose of stimulating critical thinking. The programme uses formal lectures, interactive learning, group sessions and e-learning. Independent learning is encouraged. A research assignment is completed under the guidance of a supervisor.

Programme content

The programme consists of modules with a total of 120 credits and a research assignment of 60 credits. You must complete all modules.

First year

Molecular Basis of Cancer and Tumour Physiology 875(12)
Cancer Epidemiology 875(12)
Nutrition and Cancer 875(12)
Infections & Cancer 875(12)
Biostatistics I 875(12)
Biostatistics II 875(12)
Principles of Cancer Therapy 875(12)
Introduction to Health Systems and Public Health 875(12)
Research Proposal Writing and Grantsmanship 875(12)
Qualitative Research Methods 875(12)

Second year

Research assignment

Assignment * 875(60)

* The research assignment shall be submitted in the form of an article ready for publication and shall be assessed by both internal and external examiners.

Module structure

Modules are offered using a combination-teaching approach, consisting of face-to-face contact time (lectures, tutorials, site visits where appropriate) and independent study. Most modules will consist of 50% contact time and 50% independent study (unless otherwise specified).

Students and “Nutrition and Cancer” module facilitators visit to iThemba Labs

Assessment and examination


Formative and summative assessment of modules (120 credits) will be conducted by means of written examinations, oral presentations, written assignments and participation in discussions. Formative assessments contribute 50% and summative 50% to the module mark. An overall pass mark of 50% is required for each module. Candidates must obtain a subminimum of 45% for formative as well as summative assessments.

  • If you fail a module, you may be denied the right to reregister for the programme.
  • You are required to participate successfully and to integrate knowledge in projects, reports and assignments.
  • Strict deadlines for assignments are enforced. Assignments handed in after the due date and time will not be marked. University guidelines related to misconduct and dishonesty will apply.

Research assignment

  • You must submit a satisfactory assignment demonstrating your ability to conduct an independent scientific investigation, to interpret the results and to draw conclusions from the results. The assignment is assessed according to the guidelines of Stellenbosch University.
  • The assignment must be submitted in the form of an article ready for publication and will be assessed by both internal and external examiners.


Programme coordinator: Prof V Sewram

Tel.: (021) 927 7001    E-mail: