Entry requirements, skills and interests (cancer genomics)

You can enter a career in healthcare science, specialising in cancer genomics, by taking an accredited undergraduate degree or as a graduate, securing a place on the Scientist Training Programme.

There are three entry points into cancer genomics:

With A-levels or level-3 equivalent qualifications

With at least two if not three A2 or A-levels including science subjects and a good spread of GCSEs at A-C grade, you can apply for the NHS Practitioner Training Programme (PTP) by taking an accredited BSc degree in healthcare science (genetic science). Alternative or equivalent level-3 qualifications may be accepted by some universities, but you are advised to check with each university (or visit their website) before making an application. Use our course finder to search for universities running BSc (Hons) healthcare science (genetics science).

With a relevant degree

You can apply for a place on the graduate-entry NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP) for which you must have a 1st or 2.1 either in an undergraduate honours degree or an integrated master’s degree in a pure or applied science subject relevant to the specialism for which you are applying.

If you have a 2.2 honours degree or better in any subject, you will also be considered if you have a higher degree* that is relevant to the specialism for which you are applying.

(*Higher degree as defined on page 17 of The Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies Please note this does not include postgraduate diplomas or postgraduate certificates.)

Because of the extensive variation in degrees available it isn’t possible to provide a definitive list of relevant degrees for entry to the STP. You need to be sure that you’ve reviewed the job description and person specification for the training (on the National School of Healthcare Science’s website), and the information on this page. You then need to be sure to match the skills and knowledge required to the content of your degree and the specialism you wish to apply for. For STP positions in the life sciences (which include cancer genomics), the most commonly accepted degrees will be in biomedical sciences, biology, microbiology, genetics or biochemistry

For all candidates, evidence of research experience (e.g. in the form of a higher degree or equivalent evidence of scientific and academic capability) is considered desirable.

For full details of entry requirements for the STP, including qualifications, scientific skills, transferable skills and physical requirements, please see the person specification on the National School of Healthcare Science’s website.

As an experienced clinical scientist

With experience as a registered clinical scientist, you can apply for Higher Specialist Scientist Training (HSST).

Find out more about the training you’ll receive and registration for a career in cancer genomics.

  • To work in cancer genomics you’ll need:

    • an interest in science and technology, a good academic background and an ability to update and test your knowledge against experience
    • good communication skills to be able to liaise with the healthcare team
    • to be comfortable using modern technology and complex equipment
    • meticulous attention to detail and to produce highly accurate work even when under pressure
    • to be able to work as part of a team.

    If you work in a role with responsibility for resources (such as staff, budgets or equipment) you'll need excellent leadership skills and be able to use your initiative within the remit of your job role.

    If you're applying for a healthcare science role or training position either directly in the NHS or in an organisation that provides NHS services you'll be asked to show how you think the NHS values apply in your everyday work. The same will be true if you're applying for a university course funded by the NHS.

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