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 MBChB or equivalent degree;
  • a four-year professional bachelor’s degree in a health-related discipline;
  • a BScHons degree of this or another recognised university; or
  • an equivalent qualification approved by Senate.
  • If you are an international candidate, 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 candidate, are from a non-English speaking country, you must submit official documentary evidence with your application of your competence in English. This may include, among other things:
  • the results of the IELTS test with a minimum IELTS score of 6,5;
  • the results of the TOEFL test with a minimum TOEFL score of 550 (paper based) or 213 (computer based), preferably with a TWE score of 4,5; and/or
  • proof and results of any English courses attended (eg. English for Medical Students/Englisch für Mediziner).

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 MPhil 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. It is aimed at students wanting to broaden their understanding of the complexities concerning 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 pathway for postgraduate students who wish to pursue a cancer research career with a view to making an impact 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.

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

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 Physiology871(12)
Introduction to Health Systems and Public Health875(12)
Biostatistics I875(12)
Nutrition and Cancer872(12)
Cancer Epidemiology873(12)
Infections and Cancer875(12)
Principles of Cancer Therapy881(12)
Biostatistics II875(12)
Qualitative Research Methods875(12)
Research Proposal Writing and Grantsmanship875(12)

Second year

Second yearCredits
Assignment (Cancer Science)884(60)


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 assessments 50% to the module mark.
  • You must obtain a subminimum of 45% for formative as well as summative assessments, and an overall pass mark of 50% for each module.
  • Achieving less than the subminimum mark for formative or summative assessments, or less than the overall pass mark, constitutes failing a module.
  • If you fail a module, you may be denied the right to reregister for the programme.
  • You must participate successfully and integrate knowledge in projects, reports and assignments.
  • Strict deadlines for assignments are enforced. If you submit an assignment after the due date and time, it will not be assessed. University guidelines relating to misconduct and dishonesty will apply.

Research assignment

  • You must submit a satisfactory assignment demonstrating your ability to conduct an independent scientific investigation, interpret the results and draw conclusions from the results. The assignment is assessed according to the guidelines of the University.
  • You must submit the completed research assignment in the prescribed format. The assignment will be assessed by internal as well as external examiners.
  • You will be allowed to register for the research assignment for a maximum of three years. If you fail to complete the research assignment within this time, your performance will be officially reviewed by the programme committee, and you may be denied the right to reregister.


Programme coordinator: Prof V Sewram

Tel.: (021) 927 7001    E-mail: