DPhil in Clinical Neurosciences | University of Oxford
Experiment
Running an experiment at the John Radcliffe Hospital
(Image Credit: Angel Sharp Media)

DPhil in Clinical Neurosciences

About the course

The DPhil in Clinical Neurosciences offers excellent opportunities for high quality research training, for both clinical and non-clinical graduates, in wide-ranging leading areas of clinical neuroscience.

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

The Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences incorporates the Division of Clinical Neurology, the Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology, the Nuffield Division of Anaesthetics, the Oxford Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain (FMRIB) and the Centre for the Prevention of Stroke and Dementia (CPSD). Each division hosts world-leading programmes in basic, translational and clinical research. 

The DPhil in Clinical Neurosciences will develop your skills through a range of research and practical training. You will work alongside your supervisors to develop your programme of study which is normally part of a larger research group with shared interests. Most graduate research in the department is interdisciplinary and in collaboration with research leaders at other research centres- such as the MRC Mammalian Genetics Unit at Harwell and the National Institutes of Health, USA- as well as many other University departments.

You will be encouraged to make the most of the doctoral training and research methods provision available across the Medical Sciences Division and to attend departmental and divisional seminars. As a DPhil student you will be given the opportunity to present your work at a variety of seminars and sessions in the department.

Student insights

Graduate destinations

According to the latest statistics available, 86% of DPhil in Clinical Neuroscience alumni are employed across a wide range of sectors with the remaining 14% going on to further study.

Past students from the Department of Clinical Neurosciences have gone on to careers based both in the UK and other countries in teaching and research in universities or back to clinical posts.

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 (eg neuroscience).

For applicants with a degree from the USA, 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 master's degree is not a prerequisite for admission.

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 will be shortlisted on their academic ability. Interviews are held in person and arrangements to interview in any other way are made at the discretion of the department. The format is normally an introduction, followed by a presentation from the applicant and then a question-and-answer session. There will be a minimum of three interviewers.

Publications

Publications are not expected as part of the interview process.

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

Evidence of a prior interest in the area of research proposed may be an advantage.

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 Clinical Neurosciences 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, where required, is subject to the following points:

  • The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences 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 Clinical Neurosciences.

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.

In the case of students who require specific help to adjust to an academic programme or to a new range of skills, the supervisor will work with them to ensure that they have additional support.

Resources

The Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences provides a focus for world-leading translational neuroscience allowing the swift transfer of basic biomedical findings to the clinical setting and the delivery of evidence-based therapies for the benefit of society and the economy. The NDCN is one of the largest clinical neuroscience departments in Europe with an annual expenditure of well in excess of £16M.

The department has state-of-the-art laboratories with most of its staff housed in the West Wing and the adjacent FMRIB building at the John Radcliffe Hospital. The West Wing also includes the in- and outpatient facilities for the clinical Departments of Neurology, Neurosurgery, Neuroanaesthetics, Ophthalmology and ENT, which are closely integrated with the NDCN. This provides the perfect setting to share facilities, expertise and knowledge.

The NDCN offers you excellent opportunities for high quality research training in wide-ranging leading areas of clinical neuroscience. Much of the graduate research in the department is interdisciplinary and in collaboration with research leaders at other research centres. In addition, the department as a whole sponsors regular seminars and public lectures which attract distinguished national and international speakers.

Students will have access to the department’s IT support and University library services. Workspace will be related to individual circumstances. If undertaking experimental work, bench space will be provided within a laboratory. If undertaking theoretical research, there will be shared office space. The provision of other resources specific to a project should be agreed with the supervisor as part of the planning stages of the agreed project.

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.

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

If you are interested in applying then you are strongly encouraged to contact a potential supervisor. A potential supervisor can give advice on what to put in the application form; please note, however, that the support of a supervisor at this stage does not imply that you will be admitted. When you contact a potential supervisor it is helpful if you explain clearly what your background is and what kind of research you are interested in.

If you are unsure of who you might contact as a potential supervisor, please contact the NDCN Student Administration team in the first instance.

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:
500 words

A research proposal comprising a detailed outline of your proposed research, written in English, is required. It is expected that you will prepare your research proposal in consultation with a potential supervisor.

The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.

This will be assessed for:

  • the coherence of the proposal
  • the originality of the project
  • evidence of motivation
  • for an understanding of the proposed area of study
  • the ability to present a reasoned case in English
  • the feasibility of successfully completing the project in the time available (a maximum of 3 years)
  • your reasons for applying
  • 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. You should nevertheless make the best effort you can to demonstrate the extent of your research question, sources and method at this moment.

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

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, academic and/or professional

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.

You may use either academic of professional references.

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

The Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences does not ask for an additional piece of written work as part of the admissions process. Individual supervisors may ask to see written work when an initial enquiry is made by a prospective student.