DPhil in Medical Sciences | University of Oxford
Microscope work
Microscope study in the laboratory
(Image Credit: Zachary Domach / Graduate Photography Competition)

DPhil in Medical Sciences

About the course

Based in the Radcliffe Department of Medicine, this DPhil research programme is aimed at basic scientists and clinicians with an interest in pursuing research in a scientific field related to medicine, particularly in cardiovascular medicine, diabetes, endocrinology and metabolism, epidemiology and clinical trials, haematology and pathology, immunology, regenerative medicine and stem cells, and acute stroke.

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

The DPhil programme typically lasts from three to four years and is entirely based around a research project conducted in a single laboratory. The programme accepts applications from both basic scientists and clinicians. If you are a clinician you will normally be expected to complete your project within three years; if you are a basic scientist you will be expected to complete your project within four years.

You will be assigned a supervisor who will be a departmental Principal Investigator (PI) with experience of supervising graduate students. You will also be allocated a formal co-supervisor and have a named source of support in addition to your supervisor.

Within RDM you will be assigned to one of four academic divisions of the department: the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Nuffield Division of Clinical Laboratory Sciences, Investigative Medicine Division or the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolism. In addition, many PIs are based within the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecule Medicine (WIMM). Each of the divisions and the WIMM has a local graduate advisor who oversees graduate studies and provides additional support and advice.

Training is actively supported over the duration of the course, with opportunities available within RDM and also provided by the Medical Sciences Division. These include both subject-specific scientific skills and generic research and transferable skills. There are a wide-range of visiting speakers and seminars in all areas of the department and across the Medical Sciences Division. Students working on projects related to cardiovascular medicine will benefit from the unrivalled research training programme offered through the British Heart Foundation Centre for Research Excellence, which organises regular seminars and specialist courses for cardiovascular researchers.

Graduate destinations

Recent graduates from the DPhil in Medical Sciences have gone on to take up postdoctoral research opportunities within universities and in the pharmaceutical industry. Graduates with previous medical training have continued their clinician-scientist careers both within the University of Oxford and elsewhere.

Related course

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 biomedical or related science subject.

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, a GPA of 3.7 or the equivalent.

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.  

There will be a minimum of three academics on the interview panel. For the RDM Scholars Programme or the WIMM Prize Studentship, interview dates are advertised on the appropriate website. For all other applications you will be contacted to arrange a date for interview. Details of the interview format will be provided to you after shortlisting.

Publications

Applicants are not required to have publications, but it will strengthen your application if you have already published your work in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Please include details of any publications on your CV/résumé.

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

Evidence of a prior interest in the area of research proposed is likely to advantage a candidate’s application. Previous relevant research, training or working experience in a biomedical or scientific field may also 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 Radcliffe 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, where required, is subject to the following points:

  • The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Radcliffe 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 Radcliffe 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.

For specific projects the higher level of the University's English language requirement may be required - for example, if you will be working on a clinical project involving patient contact.

You are expected be familiar with the recent published work of your proposed supervisor.

Resources

The Radcliffe Department of Medicine (RDM) is a large multi-disciplinary department with internationally renowned research programmes in a broad range of sciences related to medicine. Research spans the translational research spectrum, from basic biological research through to clinical and population research. The RDM is committed to training the next generation of scientists in biological and clinical sciences.

RDM scientists were rated at the highest level in both basic science and clinical research across a wide range of fields in the UK's Research Excellence Framework 2014 (REF 2014).

The department has a staff complement of over 600 people, an annual research income of around £40 million and approximately 150 graduate students.

You will be allocated space within your supervisor's lab. RDM has state-of-the-art research facilities across the spectrum of our research expertise and where specialist facilities do not exist within RDM itself, it is usually possible to use facilities elsewhere in Oxford.

There is student representation in each of the four divisions of the department, providing student-led support and social events, as well as representing student interests on departmental committees.

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 are strongly encouraged to contact a prospective supervisor before you apply. Whether you have contacted a prospective supervisor will be taken into account at the shortlisting and interview stage.

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.

Your CV/résumé should include a summary of your scientific skill competencies, give details of any publications and list any prizes or scholarships you have been awarded.

Statement of purpose/personal statement:
Up to two pages

Although this is a research-based course, a personal statement is required rather than a research proposal. Your personal statement (written in English) should describe your background, the qualities and experience that you will bring to your doctoral research and why you are interested in this opportunity.

There is specific guidance on what to include in your personal statement if you are applying for the RDM Scholars Programme or the WIMM Prize Studentship.

This will be assessed for:

  • your reasons for applying
  • evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
  • 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 you may use up to one relevant professional reference – for example, a reference from an industrial placement.

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