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The Royal Marsden School

Physical Assessment and Clinical Reasoning in Cancer Care



Delivery method

Blended Learning

Length of module

It runs over approximately 12 weeks

Estimated hours of study

200 hours

Academic credits and level

20 credits at level 7

Course availability

Apply now

Course summary

This module has been designed to establish a foundation level of knowledge that will be used to develop the learner's advanced clinical practice skills. This module will act as the learner's introduction to advanced practice education and give them the opportunity to critically explore their ability to comprehensively assess people affected by cancer. Learners will then examine their own clinical decision-making within these complex situations and use the information gained to generate a list of differential diagnoses and an immediate management plan. 

Learners will develop the necessary assessment skills needed to complete a comprehensive and holistic assessment of those living with and beyond cancer. The module’s content is closely aligned with the RCN / UKONS / HEE cancer professionals framework and the Mulitprofessional framework for advanced practice (HEE 2017). 
“Learners will be required to work closely with a practice assessor and practice supervisor within their clinical areas in order to develop a portfolio of practice. It is important that learners select appropriate clinicians that can support them through this module. Please refer to the ACP Pre-application pack for more guidance on selecting a practice assessor and practice supervisor.”

Before beginning an application for any of our Advanced Clinical Practice (ACP) modules or pathways, please read the ACP Pre-Application Information and Guidance pack. If you would like to proceed with your application, please complete the ACP Pre-Application Form here as well as the School on-line Application below using the ‘Apply Now’ button. 

Brings theoretical and practical learning together brilliantly. Looking back now, I gained confidence and competence to apply complex skills learnt over 13 to 15 weeks. 

Student quote

This module is in association with: UEA-logo

Key topics

The module’s content is closely aligned to the Cancer Nursing Education Framework (EONS 2018) and Career Pathway and Education Framework for Cancer Nursing (RCN 2022), including:

  • Physical assessment skills of the main body systems: Respiratory, Cardiac, Abdominal and Neurological
  • Comprehensive patient history
  • Analysis and interpretation of clinical findings
  • Generation of differential diagnoses
  • Using clinical decision-making to narrow the field of differential diagnoses
  • Legal and ethical issues 
  • Empowerment and accountability
  • Risk management (‘safety netting’ & ‘red flags’) & dealing with uncertainty

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module at Level 7 you should be able to demonstrate achievement of the following learning outcomes:

  • Demonstrate the ability to undertake a comprehensive and holistic health history assessment of an individual presenting with a range of symptoms that could be related to an acute episode, long term condition, or as a result of cancer and its treatments
  • Demonstrate the knowledge and skills required in performing a physical examination of the Neurological, Respiratory, Cardiac, and Abdominal body systems
  • Critically discuss clinical decision making theories and evidence base used in producing a range of differential diagnoses within the learner’s clinical role
  • Demonstrate the ability to critically interpret data and sources of information in order to generate a range of differential diagnoses
  • Demonstrate an ability to synthesise the information from consultation and physical examination and effectively communicate this into a management plan to the individual and the wider inter-disciplinary team


On-line Iive interactive sessions on 9, 10, 16, 30 January, 20 February and 6 March 2023
Face to face at The Royal Marsden School, Chelsea on 23 January, 6, 27 February and 13 March 2023
Submission date: 11 April 2023

On-line Iive interactive sessions on 27, 28 March, 4, 25 April, 9 and 23 May 2023
Face to face at The Royal Marsden School, Chelsea on 18 April, 2, 16 and 30 May 2023
Submission date: 27 June 2023

Entry requirements

Professional requirements  
Current professional registration with the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) or Health Care Professions Council (HCPC) or The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)  
A minimum of three years post-registration experience (or equivalent part time experience) on entry to the course  
At least one year’s experience in the clinical specialty that you propose to work in as an Advanced Clinical Practitioner 
Academic qualifications  
A relevant degree 
Competency in written and spoken English (IELTS 7.0 or equivalent)  
Previous study at level 7 or the ability to study at level 7

Clinical practice requirements  

  • Be employed at minimum of Band 6 or equivalent  
  • Ideally be employed for a minimum of 30 hours per week in one relevant clinical environment, with access to appropriate clinical support and supervision
  • Willingness of employer to release the student to enable them to dedicate the equivalent of 3 hours minimum per week throughout the module as protected learning time to enable the student to work in a 'supernumerary capacity' to focus on their clinical/professional development
  • Students must be able to undertake at least 30 hours of direct supervision and 150 hours of indirect supervised clinical practice  
  • Students should ideally be employed in a trainee / advanced practice or specialist role
  • Student’s job description should include advanced practice skills as essential criteria to perform your role
  • Student’s current role should require you to undertake comprehensive physical examination and formulate diagnoses and treatment plans
  • Provision of day-to-day supervision and support by an experienced clinical team to enable the development of the knowledge, skills, behaviors, competence, and confidence commensurate with this level of practice


Practice Assessment Document 

Student support

Tutorials with the module leader or personal tutor are available if students require additional help with the planning and writing of their assignments. Email and telephone support is also available from the module leader/personal tutor. 

The Royal Marsden School uses an online environment called Moodle which students must access during their studies to support and enhance our courses. The site provides resources and communication tools. All students will be provided with a username and password to access module specific sections as well as general learning support such as study skills and library resources. Students also have access to the David Adams Library and Electronic Resource Centre. 

To get the best from the live video-conferencing sessions and enable you to participate fully you should have access to a computer or laptop with a camera and microphone. If you have any concerns or need help, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Related pathways

This stand-alone module also forms part of these pathways: