Cancer Informatics

World-class training in research at the interface between computational and clinical translational science

Key information

1 year full-time

Start date
October 2017

Information on tuition fees 2017-18

Introducing the MRes Cancer Informatics Stream
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If you're looking for a career in the fight against cancer - this is the course for you. This full-time MRes offers two research projects to give your future career in cancer biology a boost. With two streams on offer – Cancer Biology, and Cancer Informatics – we have the options available for you to choose the best way for you to use your life-sciences degree to meet your objective. We will provide you with a broad-training in research as well as theoretical and practical skills to help you take the next step in your career.


There are two streams available:

The format of the stream and assessment method is the same for all students, but the core programme and choice of research projects are determined by stream.

What is informatics?

Informatics broadly covers the handling and analysis of data and is fast becoming one of the most desirable skills for postgraduate studies in biological fields. This is due to the widespread adoption of high-throughput molecular profiling technologies, in conjunction with the practice of uploading datasets to standard publically available online repositories. We will provide you with the skills to leverage these large biological and clinical datasets to address novel hypotheses in order to gain new insights into molecular biology and to have a competitive advantage over other biological students.

Entry requirements

  • First degree in life sciences (minimum upper second class honours)
  • You do not need any experience in computer science to apply

 Is this programme for you?

You will engage with both theoretical and practical elements. The theoretical elements will include why particular methods are used, assumptions they are based on and understanding the technical limitations and quality control of different data types. The practical elements will include data handling and the computational method employed for each data type.

When you enter your projects, you will perform novel bioinformatics-based research, accumulate experimental findings and exercise critical scientific thought in the interpretation of those findings. The research projects may also include a smaller component of wet-lab experiments to provide some validation of the findings from the bioinformatics research.

You will need to be an independent person, who is looking for a challenge. If you're not afraid of hard work, then we would welcome an application from you.


Decisions on applications are made in batches, with the following deadlines for each batch:

  • 09:00 GMT (UTC) Wednesday, 31 January 2018
  • 09:00 BST (UTC+1) Monday, 23 April 2018
  • 09:00 BST (UTC+1) Tuesday, 31 July 2018

You will receive notification of a conditional offer or rejection in the weeks following these deadlines. If you do not hear from us, it is because you have been placed on the waiting list. We withhold the right to close application early, so ensure that you submit your application sooner, rather than later.

Please note that we are unable to consider your application without at least one academic reference from your most recent institution.

Programme structure

The course comprises an initial four/five week taught component in which the cellular and molecular basis of cancer biology are covered, plus an introduction to the clinical and pathological aspects of carcinogenesis. This information is contained within the lectures which will partly be on the lecturer's own research, making use of the excellent researchers we have within Imperial College London. Within this period will also be a series of workshops covering key transferable skills such as oral presentation of scientific data and grant writing. This is shared with the Cancer Biology stream.

While the Cancer Biology stream move into their first project, you will receive three weeks of specialist training in informatics which is comprised of lectures and workshops. You will then complete an initial assignment before beginning your first research placement of roughly 16 weeks, and then a second project of roughly 20 weeks. These will be within the recently created Imperial College Cancer Research UK Centre, the Faculty of Medicine at the Hammersmith Hospital campus of Imperial College, and other collaborating institutes across London (Institute of Clinical SciencesThe Francis Crick Institute).

Some of the laboratories within the Division of Cancer in which you can do your research project can be found under Cancer Research at the Department of Surgery and Cancer.

Key benefits

Individuals who successfully complete the course will have developed the ability to:

  • Understand the biological and technical basis for various genomic data
  • Utilise a range of common bioinformatics methodologies (e.g. R, Unix)
  • Exercise theoretical (why) and practical (how) knowledge and competence required for employment in a variety of biomedical environments
  • Identify appropriate computational methodology during experimental planning
  • Develop statistical analysis plan for data analysis
  • Identify and retrieve appropriate datasets from public data repositories
  • Analyse, Interpret and Present scientific data
  • Interrogate relevant scientific literature and develop research plans
  • Recognise and understand potential methodological sources of error
  • Perform novel bioinformatics-based research, and exercise critical scientific thought in the interpretation of findings
  • Write and defend research reports, which appraise the results of laboratory-based scientific study
  • Communicate effectively through writing, oral presentations and IT to facilitate further study or employment in molecular, cellular and physiological science
  • Exercise a range of transferable skills such as presentation skills, scientific writing and data management.

Student prize winner profiles

Each year the Dean's prize is awarded to an exceptional student on each of our Master's courses. Find out more from the prize winners for this course.