DPhil in Radiation Oncology (1+3) | University of Oxford
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DPhil in Radiation Oncology (1+3)

About the course

The department offers a four-year combined MSc and DPhil programme. Subject areas for the three-year DPhil portion cover the spectrum of oncology relevant to the treatment of cancer by radiotherapy and its underlying biological mechanisms.

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

The four-year (1+3) programme in radiation oncology comprises the MSc in Radiation Biology in the first year followed by the DPhil in Oncology.

The one-year MSc is a full-time, taught course in radiation biology leading to an MSc awarded by the University of Oxford. The MSc in Radiation Biology comprises a five-month core theoretical course covering the emerging areas of fundamental biology for oncology and its treatment by radiotherapy and a six-month high-quality basic and clinically-applied research project

Upon successful completion of the MSc, students progress onto the full-time DPhil in Oncology; you will work on a research project proposed by an Oxford Institute for Radiation Biology supervisor. You will have a supervisor who is responsible for your scientific training and in identifying the appropriate external courses that you should attend. In addition, you will be assigned a second supervisor and a further mentor this will make up your thesis committee.

The University has a code of practice for supervision of research under which supervisors must advise, guide and support you in all aspects of your research project; identify a clear plan of research; draw up a timetable for research; have regular meetings; report on your progress; identify your training needs; and encourage you to participate in the wider Oxford community.

You can contact the supervisors listed against currently available research projects for more information on what each specific project will entail. The department has a broad area of research interests in the fields of oncology, including DNA damage and repair, tumour microenvironment and metastasis, angiogenesis and hypoxia, molecular determinants of radiosensitivity or resistance, experimental radiation therapeutics and cancer imaging.

Graduate destinations

Graduates move to postdoctoral research positions both in Oxford, across the UK and internationally (50%), to medicine (25%), and to medical charities and other professional organisations (25%).

Related courses

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 biological, medical, chemical, mathematical and physical science background, as appropriate for the projects offered.

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 highly competitive and most successful applicants have a first-class degree or the equivalent. A previous master's degree is not required, but is an advantage.

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)

Applicants who are shortlisted are normally interviewed as part of the admissions process. Interviews will be held either in person or by Skype/video-conference with a minimum of three academics on the interview panel. There is normally a 3:1 target ratio of interviewees to places.

The format of the interview is a ten-minute presentation of your research experience or recent scientific project, followed by a question-and-answer session designed to investigate your:

  • experience or potential
  • knowledge of the field
  • interactive skills
  • presentation skills
  • analytical skills
  • experimental design
  • scientific motivation
  • career plan
  • proficiency in English at the University’s higher level.

Publications

Publications are not required, but they may advantage an application. 

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 Department of Oncology 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 Department of Oncology 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 Department of Oncology.

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

You will have two strands of supervision, and the support of the Director of Graduate Studies as well as administrative support within the department.

The department provides an induction to the department in your first weeks on the course and encourages attendance at divisional and University induction events. Through your supervisor you will be provided with research funds for consumables, equipment, and which can be used for conference attendance. In addition to national and international conferences there are also many internal and external research seminars in the department which you can attend which are relevant to specific projects. You will be provided with laboratories, workspace, IT facilities in support of your research. In addition there are on-site library and social facilities.

You will benefit from the extensive complementary and transferable skills training freely available to all researchers within the University. The University has a well-developed skills training portfolio which is in accordance with the UK Research Councils Joint Statement on graduate skills. The divisional training covers all aspects of; research-related or technical skills such as ethics, data analysis and statistics and bioinformatics; communications skills including scientific writing and oral and poster presentations, careers and personal development such as personal effectiveness and career planning; and finally academic practice including grant writing, teaching and intellectual property. 

In addition, the Careers Service provides a full list of online courses, which are complementary to the Divisional provision, and will advise on career progression and job applications. Other facilities and support are available through the Oxford University IT Services, Language Centre who offers bespoke courses for postdoctoral fellows where English is a foreign or additional language and the Oxford Learning Institute for professional development.

All students are cleared for security; non-EU students will require approval from the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) for courses at the Department of Oncology.

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

During the first year of the course you will be charged tuition and college fees at the MSc in Radiobiology fee rate.

Annual MSc in Radiobiology fees for the 2017-18 academic year

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

In each subsequent year, you will be charged fees at the DPhil in Oncology fee rate for that year of study. For an indication of costs, the table below shows the annual DPhil in Oncology tuition and college fees for the 2017-18 academic year.

Annual DPhil in Oncology fees for the 2017-18 academic year

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

Tuition and college fees are payable 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). Fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

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

Prior contact with an academic member of staff is not required. However, if you wish to discuss details of the research projects advertised please contact the primary supervisor via the Oncology website.

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.

Personal statement:
1,000 words

You are required to submit a personal statement explaining your scientific experience and background, your motivation for wishing to undertake the course, and indicating your future career plans.

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.

The personal statement should focus on your research experience in this field rather than personal achievements and interests.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, academic strongly encouraged

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.

Academic references are strongly encouraged, though you may use up to one professional reference provided that it is relevant to the course.

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