Medical Oncology SCE – a closer look

  • May 02, 2022

The Medical Oncology SCE is a postgraduate qualification delivered by the Royal College of Physicians as a higher specialist qualification for medical oncologists. It is one of 11 SCEs offered by the Royal College and offers physicians a postgraduate qualification which demonstrates achievement of a high standard (equivalent to UK specialist trainees) to prospective employers. 

Here we take a closer look at the MRCP (UK) Medical Oncology Specialty Certificate Examination for doctors who have chosen to specialise in medical oncology. We cover the exam content, fees and eligibility, summarised below along with a broad look at the following topics: 

Skip ahead to the relevant section if you know what you're looking for. 

MRCP (UK) Medical Oncology SCE

The Royal College of Physicians is the professional body responsible for the specialty of medicine throughout the UK.  

The medical oncology specialty certificate exams are administered as a compulsory component of assessment for Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) in medical oncology for all UK trainees.  

The purpose of an SCE is to: 

  • ensure that certified specialists have sufficient knowledge of their specialty to practice safely and competently as consultants 
  • complement workplace-based assessments 
  • provide a rigorous national assessment to establish public confidence 
  • offer a challenge similar to sub-specialty certification examination in North America 

For in-depth information on each of the MRCP exams, see our IMG Resources library here

Medical Oncology SCE as Part of Training in Oncology

As the MRCP exams are taken during the Internal Medicine Training years (CT1-CT3), an SCE allows medical oncologists to demonstrate that they are able to practice independently. 

The SCE has no official entry requirements (both for UK and overseas candidates), however, UK trainees would normally take the SCE in their penultimate year of higher specialty training (ST5). 

To find out more about the medical oncology training pathway in the UK, see our blog on this topic here.

Exam Structure

The SCE assesses candidates on a wide range of common and important disorders, as set out in the syllabus of the curriculum: 


Number of questions 

Breast cancer 


Colorectal and anal cancer 


Lung and thoracic cancer 


Carcinoma of unknown origin 

Ovarian cancer 

Germ cell tumours 

Oesophagogastric cancer 


Uterine cancer 

Hepatobiliary cancer 

Skin cancer 



Prostate cancer 

Urothelial cancer 

Cervical cancer 

Head and neck cancer 

CNS cancer 

Renal cell cancer 

Endocrine cancer 

Scientific basis of malignancy 


Professional skills 


Acute oncology 


Clinical research, ethics and economics 

Systemic anticancer therapy 


Supportive therapies and palliative care 


Standard operating procedures 




All SCEs are computer-based and are administered by Pearson VUE at a test centre in the UK or internationally. 

Medical Oncology SCE Applications

SCEs are held once a year and applications are made online through My MRCP(UK) account, within the Upcoming Exams section of the Royal College website.  

The application process is as follows: 

  1. Register online through My MRCP(UK) (candidates have the opportunity at this point to register any special arrangements) 
  2. Request a preferred test country and city 
  3. Pay applicable examination fee 
  4. Application is confirmed via an automatically generated email 
  5. Receive test centre confirmation email from Pearson VUE within four weeks of the examination date. 

The Royal College has created a helpful video guide on SCE applications which you can watch here


The cost of the MRCP exams are as follows: 

  • UK centres: £665 
  • International centres: £833 

Exam Centres

UK Centres 

Candidates choosing to sit the exam in the UK must contact Pearson VUE to book their test. There are up to 137 test centres throughout the UK for each SCE, and the Royal College advise that candidates should book their exam as early as possible to secure their preferred test centre, as bookings operate on a first come, first served basis. 

International Centres 

Candidates are given a choice of regions and are then asked to nominate a particular city in that region as their desired test location. MRCP (UK) will pass this request to Pearson VUE once the application period has closed, and Pearson VUE will confirm final test centre details to candidates via email at least three weeks before the date of the examination. If the exam is not available in a requested location, candidates will be offered a choice of the nearest available test centres. 

Please note, international candidates should not book their own test centre with Pearson VUE, and attempting to do so may delay a candidate's application. 

The full list of international SCE test centres can be found here

Preparation and resources for the Medical Oncology SCE

With lots of resources available online, it can be difficult for IMGs to know where to start with their preparation and revision. This list should provide a good starting point for any international medical oncologists preparing to sit the SCE: 

Curriculum - Applicants are tested on a range of common and important disorders in Medical Oncology as set out in the Joint Royal Colleges Specialty Training Curriculum for Core Medical Training. We recommend getting to know the curriculum as early as possible and using it as a roadmap for your study.  

Guidelines - These resources are helpful for supplementing your knowledge: 

  • British Journal of Cancer 2009 March 100 (5) 684–692 Jones et al. – guidelines for Herceptin modification 
  • British Thoracic Society (BTS) - pleural disease guidelines 
  • International Prognostic Index score for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma 
  • National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) - guidelines for follicular lymphoma 
  • NHS Cancer Screening – guidelines for bowel and other cancers 


Candidates can find information on genetics and some basic science in the Oxford Desk Reference of Oncology 2011. 

Sample questions

It is a good idea to regularly benchmark your knowledge by testing your knowledge and progress throughout your preparation using example questions from the current exam syllabus. You can find these here

For an overview of how to prepare for exams, including advice on study groups, online community support, the best use of online resources & Royal College materials and courses, take a look at our blog: IMG Connect's Top Tips for exam preparation. 

I’ve passed? What’s next?

First, congratulations - this is a fantastic achievement! Armed with your MRCP and medical oncology SCE qualifications, you can apply for a full GMC registration with a license to practice. Once the GMC has approved your application, you can work as a doctor in the UK. Nice one!  

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with an IMG oncology recruitment specialist to discuss GMC registration, oncology positions in the NHS, including typical NHS salaries, the most suitable UK locations and hospitals for you, and relocation. 

To receive the latest news and updates on all things oncology, including the Royal College, GMC registration and the NHS, follow us on social media and join the conversation. 



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