DPhil in Clinical Medicine | University of Oxford
Lab
Laboratory work in Oxford
(Image Credit: Ralph Williamson / Graduate Photography Competition)

DPhil in Clinical Medicine

About the course

As a DPhil in Clinical Medicine student, you will conduct research in basic science and/or in clinical medicine. The degree will provide you with research skills, in-depth knowledge, understanding and expertise in your chosen field of research. Research subjects cover a broad spectrum of sciences related to medicine.

Applicants are strongly advised to visit the Medical Sciences Graduate School website to help them identify the most suitable course and supervisors.

As a doctoral student with the Nuffield Department of Medicine, you will carry out research in a single laboratory for three to four years. There is no period of rotation between laboratories. All doctoral students develop their skills through a range of research training and skills development in their first year, by attending compulsory and optional courses and lectures in laboratory techniques and generic skills, including scientific writing and statistics, while also working at the bench.

You will be encouraged to attend lectures and seminars related to your programme of research and make the most of the doctoral training and research methods provision available across the Medical Sciences division. The aim is to tailor this training to individual needs and bring all students up to satisfactory level in background knowledge. Later training is focused on the skills required for a successful career in independent research.

The department’s students are part of the Medical Sciences Division; lectures and seminars cut across departments and collaborations are widespread within the University.

The Nuffield Department of Medicine(NDM) comprises research groups in several institutes and laboratories, including:

  • the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Physiology (CCMP)
  • the Jenner Institute (JENNER)
  • the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research Oxford Branch (LICR)
  • the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC)
  • the Division of Structural Biology (STRUBI)
  • Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics (WTCHG)
  • Experimental Medicine (EXPMED)
  • NDM Research Building (NDMRB).

The department also has a Tropical Medicine (TROPMED) unit and its major overseas programmes are based primarily in Thailand, Vietnam and Kenya.

In exceptional cases, students may be admitted to study for the MSc by Research degree.

Graduate destinations

DPhil in Clinical Medicine students follow a wide variety of career paths, including all branches of biomedical research, clinical medicine, teaching, health administration and commerce.

Related courses

Multiple applications

In applying for this programme, you may submit further applications for up to two of the following associated programmes without paying an additional application fee:

For instructions, see Applying for more than one course in the Application Guide.

Changes to the course

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2017-18

Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:

1. Academic ability

Proven and potential academic excellence

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in a relevant discipline such as biology, biochemistry, or medicine.

For applicants with a degree from the USA or from China, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0.

However, entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a first-class degree or the equivalent.

A previous master's degree is not required.

If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

Other appropriate indicators will include:

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview(s)

Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.  

Candidates who are shortlisted are interviewed as part of the admissions process. Shortlisting will be based solely on the criteria given above. There will be a minimum of two to three academics on the interview panel. By preference, interviews will be conducted in person, but when this is not possible we will use telephone or Skype (with video) and ensure that applicants are not disadvantaged by using these forms of communication.  Normally the interview will consist of a five-minute presentation of previous project work by the applicant, followed by 15-25 minutes of questioning from the panel.

Publications

Prior publications are not required, but research experience and a track record demonstrating an interest in research may be an advantage.

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

Evidence of a prior interest in the area of research proposed is likely to advantage your application.

2. English language requirement

Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the standard level required by the University.

3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places

The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:

  • The ability of the Nuffield Department of Medicine to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work. 
  • Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.

The provision of supervision is subject to the following factors:

  • The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Nuffield Department of Medicine and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. 
  • Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Nuffield Department of Medicine.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.

4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties

Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.

Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.

Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.

5. Assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

6. Other information

Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.

It would be expected that graduate applicants would be familiar with the recent published work of their proposed supervisor.

Resources

The Nuffield Department of Medicine (NDM) is one of the largest and most highly regarded departments of medicine in Europe and noted for the wide range and excellence of its basic and clinical research (rated 5* in research assessment exercises).

NDM is just as renowned for its work in basic sciences as more clinical or applied work. Much of the £130 million per annum grant income is spent on understanding the most basic principles of biology and disease pathogenesis.

You will be based in various units, buildings and campuses around Oxford, as well as in Tropical Medicine Units abroad. The department supports a wide range of clinical services located in Oxford’s John Radcliffe and Churchill Hospitals, and has major overseas programmes in Thailand, Vietnam and Kenya.

You will have access to the department’s IT support, University Library services such as the Radcliffe Science Library and the Cairns Library, and experimental facilities are available as appropriate to the research topic. The provision of other resources specific to your project should be agreed with your supervisor as a part of the planning stages of the agreed project. There are a number of workshops that are announced via email and posters throughout the year.

You will have access to the seminars that individual research groups or groups with common areas of interest organise for their own members and others – this is will depend on the specific unit/area within which you are housed. Medical Grand Rounds are also held in the graduate centre at the John Radcliffe Hospital. You will have access to the other departmental seminars and colloquia, announced via email.

Workspace will be allocated according to individual circumstances. If undertaking experimental work, you will be provided with bench space in a laboratory. If undertaking theoretical research, you will have shared office space.

Funding

There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.

Full funding opportunities are available for all Medical Sciences Graduate School programmes, whatever your nationality. The Medical Sciences Graduate School website provides further details of these, as well as information about external funding opportunities.

You may also be interested in departmental funding opportunities. Further details can be found on the department's website. 

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2017-18

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

Home/EU
(including Islands)
c. £4,250£3,021c. £7,271
Overseas£19,335£3,021£22,356

The fees shown above are the annual tuition and college fees for this course for entry in the stated academic year; for courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

Tuition and college fees are payable each year for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay tuition and college fees).

Following the period of fee liability, you may also be required to pay a University continuation charge and a college continuation charge. The University and college continuation charges are shown on the Continuation charges page.

For more information about tuition fees, college fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details on the impact of the result of the UK referendum on its membership of the European Union.

Additional information

There are no compulsory elements of this programme that entail additional costs beyond fees and living costs.  However, please note that, depending on your choice of research topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.

Living costs

In addition to your tuition and college fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2017-18 academic year, the range of likely living costs is between £1,002 and £1,471 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our Living costs page.

How to apply

You must indicate a potential research supervisor in your application. In general, the department encourages contact with individual supervisors in advance of applying. Contact details for the academics can be found on their departmental profile pages

The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:

Official transcript(s)

Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.

More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.

CV/résumé

A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.

Research proposal:
One to two pages, unless applying for an NDM Prize Studentship

A research proposal giving a detailed outline of your proposed research is required unless you are applying for an NDM Prize Studentship. If you are applying to the NDM Prize Studentship you should provide a list of the three projects that you are interested in and, if you wish, a brief personal statement.

Your proposal or statement should be written in English and the overall page count should include any bibliography.

This will be assessed for:

  • comprehensive understanding of the subject area
  • understanding of problems in the area
  • ability to construct an defend an argument; powers of analysis
  • powers of expression, the feasibility of successfully completing the project in the time available for the course (a maximum of 4 years)
  • commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course
  • preliminary knowledge of research techniques
  • capacity for sustained and intense work; reasoning ability
  • ability to absorb new ideas, often presented abstractly, at a rapid pace.

It will be normal for your ideas subsequently to change in some ways as you investigate the evidence and develop your project.

Your statement should focus on research rather than personal achievements, interests and aspirations.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, usually academic

Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation, and ability to work in a group.

References should usually be academic, though professional references are acceptable where they relate to work within a research setting.