Medical Oncology SCE – a closer look

  • May 16, 2023

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. 

IMG Oncologists

Join the online community - join the IMG Oncologists Facebook group for access to a community of like-minded oncology SCE aspirants and dedicated oncology recruiters.

In this group you will find tailored resources for oncology IMGs, including access to our MRCP crash courses, completely free to all doctors.

You can access our IMG Oncologists community here.

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. 



Relevant Jobs


An exciting NHS job opportunity is open for a Consultant Clinical Oncologist specializing in Lung & Breast Cancer at an NHS Trust that has been rated \"good\" over all by the CQC. This NHS Trust has undergone significant development, emphasizing patient and community care excellence. With £58 million in national funding, the Trust boasts a University Hospital status, prioritizing research, education, and training. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) lauds the Trust\'s outstanding performance, with 992 beds and 92% patient recommendation, serving a population of 675,000.

This position aims to strengthen the Oncology team, focusing on lung cancer care and Stereotactic Ablative Body Radiotherapy (SABR). Situated at the dynamic centre within the \"good\"-rated trust, the role contributes to systemic treatment advancements and ongoing research. The Oncology Department at the Combined Haematology Oncology Centre caters to 1-1.5 million residents. Designated as a Cancer Centre since 1996, the Centre collaborates with neighboring hospitals, fostering a multidisciplinary approach. The purpose-built Cancer Centre, equipped with advanced imaging, provides nurse-led services, chemotherapy units, and home-delivered immunotherapy.

The post holder is expected to: 

  • Participate in all facets of departmental activity.

Career development at the Trust includes access to CESR support, specialty training, and opportunities for external duties. The forward-thinking Oncology department initiated SABR practices in 2021 and maintains a dynamic research team supporting various clinical trials.

Life in the area, a historic home of the Royal Navy, offers cultural richness and proximity to scenic countryside. A thriving artistic community, excellent schools, and various development projects contribute to the vibrant atmosphere. The area combines city conveniences with picturesque villages, making it an excellent place to raise a family!

This comprehensive opportunity integrates the Consultant role, SABR RT specialisation, CESR support, and coastal life in the UK, creating a fulfilling and enriching professional and personal experience. 


EEA Candidates: 

  • Recognised European Medical Degree or Specialist Qualification

Non-EEA Candidates:

  • FRCR or equivalent qualification 

UK Based Candidates: 

  • FRCR qualification

This is a great opportunity for any experienced consultant clinical oncologist working towards CESR in Clinical oncology specialist registration in the UK.

A Cancer Centre in Wales are looking for a Consultant or Specialist in Medical Oncology with a sub-specialty interest in AOS/Melanoma. They are considering either UK or Overseas trained doctors for a permanent or fixed term contract type. The trust will support with CESR support and/or those looking to enter specialty training in the NHS.

This is a high performing and supportive department for overseas doctors new to the NHS, or UK-based doctors looking to further careers in the UK, and a great opportunity for any overseas oncologists looking for CESR support and great career development in a beautiful part of England, filled with sandy beaches and offering vibrant city living.

What is the Welsh Health Board like?

The Health Board are one of the biggest healthcare groups in the UK, providing primary, community, mental health and acute hospital services for the population of around 390,000. They have a budget of around £1bn and employ approximately 12,500 staff. Besides their three major hospital sites, they are also responsible for community hospitals, health centres, clinics, mental health units, community teams, GP practices and other services provided by dentists, opticians and pharmacists. Their mission is to improve the health, wealth and wellbeing of the people of Wales and the rest of the world.

What is the Oncology Department like?

This Cancer Centre provides a high degree of specialisation for all the major cancers. It has one dedicated ward of 30 beds (with scope to increase to 36 beds at periods of high demand) for both oncology and haematology patients, together with a chemotherapy and haematology day unit, and an aseptic unit on site. There are also two laminar flow rooms for patients requiring bone marrow/stem cell transplantation and one dedicated room for radioactive isotope therapy.

There is a state of the art telemedicine facility allowing regular multi-professional meetings between oncologists, physicians, surgeons and AHPs in Wales. The system has the capacity to transmit and view both high quality radiological images and histopathological slides.  

The staff are highly experienced, consisting of nurses, radiographers, research officers and admin staff. The new consultant will be joining a friendly and forward-thinking consultant team of clinical and medical oncologists who are committed to delivering highest standards of cancer care, alongside a large team of other clinical and non-clinical professionals.

What Career Development and Opportunities are available?

The Cancer Centre is heavily involved in training which takes place at all levels from undergraduate lectures and clinical teaching, through to Foundation and Core Medical trainee clinical and educational supervision, and higher specialist training. They will also provide excellent CESR support.

Life in South Wales

Based in South Wales, the area is fast becoming one of the most popular places to live in the UK. This waterfront location is actually Wales’s second most populated city and county, offering all the benefits and amenities of a built-up urban environment, alongside a 5 mile stretch of a pristine, sandy coastline. 

The city is home to multiple live music venues, showcasing everything from small gigs to orchestral performances. Annually, the city hosts a number of different festivals, attracting artists from across Wales and the UK. Today, new regeneration is planned which will only increase its popularity, amenities, and modernity. The city is experiencing a period of development and a resurgence of new business and investment, with the city council focusing on creating a culture of creativity and an emphasis on attracting tech led businesses.

The area also has good travel links. It is an easy drive to Port Talbot and Cardiff and you can get to London via the M4, and around Wales on the A48. There are also regular trains to Cardiff, Newport and London. For international and domestic flights, Cardiff Airport is just 44 miles away.

Am I eligible for this role?

EEA candidates: 
•    Recognised European Medical Degree or Specialist Qualification in Medical Oncology
•    Extensive experience in AOS/Melanoma oncology
Non-EEA candidates: 
•    MRCP
•    Extensive experience in AOS/Melanoma oncology
UK-based candidates: 
•    Extensive experience in AOS/Melanoma oncology
•    Within 6-months of CESR or CCT in Medical Oncology

This is a great job for any experienced overseas Medical Oncologists working towards CESR and specialist registration in the UK.
A cancer centre in the South West of England are looking for a Consultant in Clinical Oncology with any sub-specialty interest. They are considering either UK or overseas-trained doctors for a permanent contract type. The trust will support with CESR support for those who are looking to attain CESR and Specialist Registration.

This is a high performing and friendly department for overseas doctors new to the NHS, or UK-based doctors looking to further careers in the UK, and a great opportunity for any overseas consultant oncologists looking for CESR support and great career development in a beautiful part of England.

What is the NHS Trust like?

This NHS Trust is the first NHS Trust on the English mainland to provide community, mental health and acute hospital services. It was formed from the merger of two trusts on the 1st April 2020. Now, they are preparing to merge with another trust so that they are better able to support the health of all the people in the area.

The trust provides a range of services from 13 community hospitals including outpatient and diagnostic services, 190 inpatient beds and seven Minor Injuries Units. They also provide specialist mental health services, healthcare for adults with learning disabilities, medical and surgical care, maternity services and cancer treatment services. The trust\'s facilities for the treatment of cancer have undergone a major expansion, culminating in the opening of the Cancer Centre in May 2009.

What is the Oncology Department like?

The Oncology Department provides Clinical and Medical Oncology inpatient and outpatient services as well as radiotherapy and chemotherapy to all common tumour sites. The new appointee will be joining an ambitious team of 12 Consultant Oncologists (8 Clinical & 4 Medical), 1 Associate Specialist (Medical Oncology), 3 Speciality Doctors, and a rotation of junior doctors who cover the inpatient ward. There are also two Clinical Oncology ST3 doctors. It is a research orientated department with a dedicated clinical trials team and are one of the highest recruiters within the South West and nationally for a number of trials. 

The new consultant will be working within the Cancer Centre which provides cancer care to a population of approximately 500,000. It has received a number of accolades since opening in 2009 for the high quality care delivered. These include CHKS ISO 9001 accreditation, Macmillan Quality Environment Mark score of 5 (out of 5) on all principles and in the 2018 National Cancer Patient Experience Survey, the Beacon Centre was ranked third overall which is an excellent reflection of the patient centred care delivered.

What Career Development and Opportunities are available?

There is real opportunity to progress through CESR at pace at this trust, with a strong desire for newly-qualified consultants to develop their specialty areas of interest and undertake in various cancer trials and research projects where possible. Research is encouraged here, particularly when this is appropriate to professional development and to the service development of the department. Opportunities are available with applications for funding co-ordinated by the Trusts Medical Directors and clinical trial recruitment to International, National and Regional trials is active in all tumour sites. This trust was also rated as an area of Outstanding Practice by CQC (2016), and with the highest GMC score in the South West for training.

Life in the area:

This area has diverse shopping, restaurants, and regularly hosts international music and sporting fixtures. It is located between various areas of outstanding natural beauty, featuring national hotspots for cycling, surfing, and climbing. There’s plenty to keep you occupied alongside the abundance of music festivals and local traditions. The area is in close proximity to both the beaches of North Devon and Cornwall, while also being less than two hours from the city of London. 

It also offers some of the best schools in the country. Ranging from public institutions to award winning state schools with one being ranked in the top 10 of A-level providers nationally for the last eight years.

Am I eligible for this role?

Non-EEA candidates: 

  • FRCR (Clinical Oncology)

EEA candidates: 

  • Recognised European Qualifications 

UK candidates: 

  • Within 6 - 12 months of completing CCT

Are you a Clinical Oncologist looking for a rewarding opportunity in the UK? An excellent NHS Foundation Trust is seeking a talented professional to join their oncology team. With a commitment to collaborative working, this NHS Foundation Trust provides excellent oncology services and ample opportunities for training, research, and career development. The trust is supportive of CESR applications.

The Oncology Department takes a collaborative approach to cancer care, with teams in two sites working together to provide comprehensive and sustainable services. Equipped with state-of-the-art technology, the Cancer Centres offer a multidisciplinary approach, supported by Acute Oncology Teams and a skilled team of healthcare professionals. The post holder will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in an NHS Role as part of a well-equipped, modern oncology department.

The department sits within an NHS Trust that is known to be the leading healthcare provider in East Anglia, serves a population of nearly 800,000 residents across two main hospitals, six community hospitals, and various clinics. With a budget exceeding £650 million, the NHS Foundation Trust invests in enhancing their hospitals and creating an ideal working environment. They prioritise the well-being of their staff and patients, offering exciting prospects for development, innovation, research, education, and training.

Additional to the opportunity of working for a great NHS Foundation Trust, living in the area offers a diverse and vibrant lifestyle. Essex, with its stunning coastline, beaches, and countryside, provides a great environment for families. The county offers a range of housing options, urban or rural, at affordable prices. With excellent transport links to London, you can enjoy the benefits of both city and countryside living. Furthermore, Essex boasts good schools and a high quality of life, making it an ideal place to settle and explore nature\'s playground.

Join them to make a significant impact in the field of oncology while enjoying a fulfilling career and a balanced lifestyle in a beautiful region of the UK.


To be eligible for this vacancy you will need the following:

EEA Candidates:

  • Recognised European Medical Degree or Specialist Qualification in Clinical Oncology
  • IELTS or OET

Non-EEA Candidates:

  • MRCP/FRCR/PLAB qualifications
  • Experience in Oncology
  • IELTS or OET

UK-Based Candidates:

  • MRCP or equivalent MD qualification
  • 2 years post-registration clinical practice

This is a great opportunity for any experienced Oncologist working towards CESR in the UK and Specialist Registration in Oncology. There will be opportunity to develop and lead on sub-specialist areas of cancer care.


This specialist cancer centre are looking for full-time, permanent or fixed-term Medical Oncology Consultants specialising in Sarcoma Cancers primarily, though they will be flexible across a wide range of cancer sites. The trust is considering either UK or Overseas trained doctors for these posts and will support with CESR for those that need it. A full induction programme is provided and is well set-up for any doctors new to the NHS. This is a high-performing and supportive department for cancer specialists to develop and grow in a highly specialised NHS setting.


It is a highly-respected specialist treatment, teaching, research and development centre for non-surgical tertiary and secondary oncology services. It is proud of its reputation for providing a first-class patient experience where the patient are at the centre of everything it does. It has created an environment of compassion and care, where staff go the ‘extra mile’ to meet the needs of patients, families and carers. The first Cancer Patient Experience Survey produced by the Welsh Government and Macmillan Cancer Support highlighted it as one of the best in the UK.


The department is responsible for SACT services for adults with solid tumours in the region of Wales. The majority (60%) of day-case services are delivered on site, while there is a long-established network of outreach sites in LHB acute and community hospitals, and based with 3rd-sector providers.

Based on its professional and public reputation for delivering excellence in terms of patient and staff experience, the Trust has has been selected to lead the ‘Transforming Cancer Services’ programme and to build a new hospital. The new site will be a £200million pound development and will open in the coming years. It will be nearly twice the size of the current hospital and will be equipped with brand new, state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment facilities

The new site will have 10 new linear accelerators, 2 CT and 2 MRI scanners to support precision image-guided and adaptive radiotherapy. There will be a dedicated clinical trials treatment unit including a 10-bedded early phase trials unit, and 2 isotope cubicles for molecular radiotherapy treatments.



Wales has a lot to offer, and the local area has recently beaten off popular regions of the North West and South West to be awarded the city with the “Best Quality of Life”. The City is easily accessible via motorway, and London is a comfortable drive away. It has rail links to the rest of the UK and has good international access.

There is also spectacular countryside, a National Park and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a beautiful coastline.

The people of Wales are immensely proud of our rich history and culture, which can been seen throughout our many castles and museums, and of our ancient language which you can try out for yourself.  Above all else, they are proud of their friendliness and welcome (and singing ability!). The area has been assessed as one of the top cities in the UK and compares very favourably with many larger cities for house price growth, the cost of renting, average salaries and quality of life. There is a wide choice of schooling including English- and Welsh-medium schools at all levels. The local University offers a wide variety of highly rated courses and ensure that the city is is a thriving city for young people.  


To be eligible for this vacancy you will need the following:

EEA Candidates:

  • Recognised Specialist Qualification in Medical Oncology
  • IELTS or OET
  • Experience or interest in Sarcoma

Non-EEA Candidates:

  • MRCP (Full) Qualification
  • IELTS or OET
  • Experience or interest in Sarcoma

UK-Based Candidates:

  • Experience or interest in Sarcoma
  • Experience at Consultant Grade

This is a great opportunity for any experienced Medical Oncologist working towards CESR in the UK and Specialist Registration in Oncology in the UK. There will be opportunity to develop and lead on sub-specialist areas of cancer care.

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