DPhil in Genomic Medicine and Statistics | University of Oxford
GMS
The University's premises for research students in genomic medicine and statistics
(Image Credit: Medical Sciences Doctoral Training Centre)

DPhil in Genomic Medicine and Statistics

About the course

Genomic technologies have transformed biomedical research over the last decade and are now having significant impacts on the practice of clinical medicine. The widespread effective application of genome sequencing in the clinic requires a new generation of appropriately trained researchers able to help deliver this promise and take advantage of unparalleled research opportunities. 

Complementing this, large-scale population biobanks are bringing together extensive genomic and phenotypic information on millions of individuals, while new genome editing and single cell genomics techniques are offering novel and powerful approaches to understanding biology.

This four-year DPhil programme trains future scientific leaders who will work at the cutting edge of genomic technologies in biomedical research and who will help develop the sophisticated analytical methods to fully exploit the potential of the next generation of genomic technologies and apply these in diverse settings.

Characteristic of this are state-of-the-art experiments generating large and complex data sets, and students on this programme will undertake comprehensive training to gain familiarity with both the challenges, vagaries, and artefacts of the complicated experiments which generate the data, as well as with the strengths and weaknesses of routine tools used for data analysis. Students will use and learn approaches leveraging next generation sequencing and other technologies, including application in genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics, and epigenomics, all of which are critical to the growing understanding of basic biology in normal and disease tissues. 

The programme is hosted in the interdisciplinary environment of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics (WTCHG), which hosts world-leading research groups in statistics, bioinformatics, genomic analysis, protein structure, and functional biology, to complement disease-focussed research. United by common interests in understanding the molecular basis of disease, researchers come from clinical and pure science backgrounds. The co-location of the WTCHG with the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust provides unique opportunities for translation of research into clinical practice, enhanced by having the Oxford NIHR BRC Genomics Theme based within the WTCHG and the Centre for Personalised Medicine. 

Students joining the programme are drawn from very diverse backgrounds, ranging from genetics to pure maths but united by a track record of academic excellence and enthusiasm for this field. The first year of the DPhil course contains a series of taught modules covering fundamental topics within genomics, statistics, bioinformatics and epidemiology that combine theoretical and practical classes.

First-year students will also undertake a number of laboratory visits, will attend additional training and teaching sessions tailored to the needs of individual students, carry out a literature review and will undertake two short research projects. These will inform the choice of a DPhil project for the subsequent years of the programme. Students will benefit from the outstanding environment for graduate studies provided within the University of Oxford.

Applicants are advised to visit the course webpage for further information about supervisors connected to this programme.  

Graduate destinations

Graduates from this programme frequently continue in academic research in prestigious laboratories worldwide, positions they are often able to attain based on high-impact publications generated during their DPhil study (examples include Hinch et al Nature 2011 476:170-5; Mathieson I, McVean G. Nat Genet. 2012 44:243-6; Baud et al Nat Genet. 2013 45:767-75).

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 biological science or quantitative subject.

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

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.

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

Substantial professional experience or a graduate qualification may be a substitute for a lower grade at undergraduate level.

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.  

Applications are reviewed by a panel of academics associated with the programme. A shortlist of applicants is confirmed, based on assessment of achieved or predicted undergraduate degree grade, academic references, personal statement and CV. It is expected that the ratio of interviewed applicants to places will be approx. 3:1.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend interviews in Oxford. The interview panel will include at least three academics. The interview will be approximately 30 minutes and you will be required to give a ten-minute presentation on a research project that you have recently carried out as an undergraduate or as part of a research job. The presentation should be made using an overhead projector, whiteboard or PowerPoint presentation.

You will usually have the opportunity to meet current students.

Publications

Whilst not required, publications demonstrating previous research success in a relevant field is likely to advantage a candidate’s application.

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

Research or working experience in a relevant field 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 higher 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 Medical Sciences Doctoral Training Centre 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 Medical Sciences Doctoral Training Centre 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 Medical Sciences Doctoral Training Centre.

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.

Resources

You will have access to:

  • experimental facilities, as appropriate to your research
  • extensive IT support from both the WTCHG and University IT Services
  • Library services such as the Radcliffe Science Library and the Cairns Library

The provision of project-specific resources will be agreed with the relevant supervisor during the planning stages for the research project.

The WTCHG has outstanding core facilities in high throughput genomics, bioinformatics and statistical genetics, transgenics, research computing, chromosome dynamics and cellular imaging, all of which are available to support your research project. These are complemented by a world-leading biomedical research environment within the Old Road Campus where the WTCHG is located, including the adjacent Big Data Institute and Target Discovery Institute. The WTCHG is part of the Nuffield Department of Medicine and closely linked with the clinical departments in the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, further enhancing the range of available resources and opportunities for cross-cutting collaborative research. 

The interdisciplinary nature of the WTCHG strongly encourages interactions between research groups, and the centre runs internal and high-profile external seminar series, retreats for students and post docs, journal clubs, away days, training in public engagement and communication skills, and social events, to enable such interactions on a frequent basis.

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

You are welcome to contact potential supervisors associated with the course prior to submitting an application but this is not required.

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.

Statement of purpose/personal statement:
Up to one page

The personal statement should be written in English and should focus on your interest in, and experience of this research field (rather than personal achievements, interests and aspirations). You will not be required to submit a research project proposal.

This will be assessed for:

  • your reasons for applying
  • evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
  • the ability to present a reasoned case in English
  • 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.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, generally 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 should generally be academic, though professional references are acceptable if they are relevant to the course.

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

When you complete your application, please give the following answers where requested.

About your course: Proposed field and title of research project

As you do not need to select a project before you apply, please enter 'DPhil in Genomic Medicine and Statistics'.

About your course: Proposed supervisor name

Please leave this field blank.

Funding: Departmental studentship applications

Answer 'no' to the question of whether you are applying to a specific studentship.