Biological Therapeutics


The Biological Therapeutics course is a one-week module of the MSc in Experimental and Translational Therapeutics. Offered by the Department of Oncology and the Department for Continuing Education, the course will be led by Professor Len Seymour, Professor of Gene Therapies, and Director of the Section of Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Oxford’s Department of Oncology, and will feature face-to-face lectures and tutorials from some of Oxford's leading clinicians and scientists.

The module can be taken as a stand-alone short course. It includes group work, discussions, guest lectures, and interaction and feedback with tutors and lecturers.

Please send me an email about future Biological Therapeutics courses.

The Biological Therapeutics short course will focus on emerging areas of medicine using nucleic acids as drugs and also using treatments based on stem cells and bioengineered tissues, including the combined technologies reflecting uses of genetically modified stem cells. Starting from well established fields such as bone marrow transplantation for treatment of immune deficiency and cancer, we will assess range of emerging therapeutic approaches building on the use of human adult, cord blood and embryonic stem cells and will discuss the possibilities of nuclear transfer and iPS cells. Current technologies for growing stem cells in culture and organ engineering will also be assessed. This part of the module will culminate in studies using genetically modified (autologous) bone marrow stem cells to treat immune deficiency patients without matched donors, using retroviruses and latterly lentiviruses to achieve long term expression of therapeutic transgenes within the bone marrow.

We will also assess alternative vectors for delivery of transgenes, ranging from integrating viruses (retrovirus), adeno-associated virus and herpes viruses (which are thought to persist as episomes) and viruses suitable only for short term, inflammatory expression (adenovirus, vaccinia). Applications of these agents in various genetic diseases will be assessed in detail, including focus on the recent study at UCL/Moorfields hospital in treatment of congenital blindness. We will focus on the use of viruses for treatment of cancer, including systems aimed at expressing of prodrug-activating enzymes, but with particular attention in the field of oncolytic viruses, designed to replicate within and kill cancer cells selectively. We will consider their potency, their molecular design (including both natural and engineered strategies to regulate their activity within cancer cells), their selectivity and factors that currently limit their success.

The course will cover the following topics:

  • Different approaches to gene therapy
  • RNA therapeutics
  • Antibody based therapeutics
  • Stem cell based treatments and immunotherapies
  • Cancer biology and microenvironment
  • Cancer immunology and vaccines
  • Viral vectors for gene therapy
  • Clinical trial design for vaccines and gene therapy


What do students say about the course?


'Excellent course! It should be encouraged among young clinicians for them to have a better understanding of the future of medical practice and encourage them to be involved in development of translation of these therapies'


Dr Harry Petropoulos - Junior Doctor, UK


Programme details

The course can be taken:


This course will be held at the Department for Continuing Education, Rewley House, Oxford.


Short course participants who do not wish to undertake the assessed work required for academic credit but who do satisfy the course attendance requirements will receive a certificate of attendance. The sample above is an illustration only, and the wording will reflect the course and dates attended.

Those successfully completing the course for credit can request a CATS point transcript.


Description Costs
2022-23 & earlier enrolled - MSc in ETT £2475.00
Standalone fee for 2024-2025 £3175.00
Students enrolled on MSc in ETT £2570.00


Potential sources of funding for courses in Experimental and Translational Therapeutics.

Details of funding opportunities including grants, bursaries and scholarships are available on our sources of funding page.


The course fee includes:

  • Tuition
  • Course materials
  • Refreshments and a three course lunch on each day of the course
  • Access to the following University of Oxford libraries and services:
    • Radcliffe Science Library
    • Rewley House Continuing Education Library
    • Bodleian Libraries e-Resources
  • Access to facilities from the Department for Continuing Education, including:
    • The Graduate School
    • WebLearn virtual learning environment
    • Wi-fi access through Oxford Wireless LAN (OWL).


Professor Len Seymour


Professor Len Seymour is a world authority on genetic medicine, with over 120 publications and several patents. Len is Professor of Gene Therapies, and Director of the Section of Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Oxford’s Department of Oncology. He sits on a number of editorial and scientific advisory boards, was the founding President of the British Society for Gene Therapy, and was the General Secretary of the European Society of Gene and Cell Therapy.

Professor Seymour is also Co-Founder of Oxford Genetics.


Course aims

The course has been designed to:

  • introduce students to the basic immunology, antibody-based therapeutics and cell-based immunotherapy
  • enable students to understand cancer vaccines
  • enable students to understand various approaches to cancer gene therapy
  • introduce students to viral and non-viral vectors for gene therapy
  • enable students to undertake clinical trial design for vaccines and gene therapy.


Teaching methods

The course will be taught by a range of scientists leading these areas of research, and there will be significant time programmed to discuss the scientific and sometimes ethical issues raised by this area of medical research. It will include group work, discussions, guest lectures, and interaction and feedback with tutors and lecturers.

A virtual learning environment (VLE) and access to some of the University of Oxford’s online resources will provide support for those taking the course for credit.

Assessment methods

Assessment will be based on submission of a set written assignment, not exceeding 4,000 words. The assessment is only undertaken by those taking the course for academic credit.

Academic credit

Those wishing to may apply to take the course with accreditation. The University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education offers Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS) points for the course. Participants attending at least 75% of the taught course and successfully completing assessed assignments are eligible to earn credit equivalent to 20 CATS-equivalent points which may be counted towards a postgraduate qualification.


Application deadline: two weeks before the commencement of the course.

This course requires you to complete the online application form (please press the 'Apply' button) and include a copy of your CV as an attachment.

If you are applying to take this course for academic credit you will also need to complete section two of the reference form and forward it to your referee for completion, who will then need to email it to Please note that if you are not applying to take the course for academic credit then you do not need to submit a reference.

Level and demands

The course will appeal to health professionals from a wide range of backgrounds, including qualified doctors, especially specialist registrars in clinical pharmacology or in training for other medical sub-specialities; clinical research fellows; pharmacists; nurses; graduates working in the pharmaceutical industry or in academic clinical trials.


Accommodation is available at the Rewley House Residential Centre, within the Department for Continuing Education, in central Oxford. The comfortable, en-suite, study-bedrooms have been rated as 4-Star Campus accommodation under the Quality In Tourism scheme, and come with tea- and coffee-making facilities, free Wi-Fi access and Freeview TV. Guests can take advantage of the excellent dining facilities and common room bar, where they may relax and network with others on the programme.

IT requirements

This course uses the Department’s online assignment submission system and online courseware. In order to participate in the course, and to prepare and submit your course assignments you will need access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification. Students of this course may use the student computing facilities provided in Departmental buildings.