MSc by Research in Primary Health Care | University of Oxford
Diabetes monitoring
Diabetes monitoring
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MSc by Research in Primary Health Care

About the course

The Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences’ primary research focus is on the prevention, early diagnosis and management of common illness in general practice - particularly childhood infection, cancer, heart disease and stroke.

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

The department has recently developed a new stream of clinical research which seeks to improve the conceptual understanding and use of monitoring in a number of chronic diseases. The department has an international reputation for developing innovative methods of research synthesis and research use to ensure that research findings change clinical practice.

Admission to the MSc by Research is highly competitive. The MSc by Research programme will provide you with strong training in the environment and a broad range of research areas and supervisor expertise. Previous research topics include:

  • Cardiovascular disease risk factors, weight and the strategies to tackle future risk in school-aged children
  • Developing paediatric quality indicators for UK general practice
  • The evaluation and expansion of methodologies relating to the reporting and analyses of intermediate test results: improving the clinical utility of diagnostic research
  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae and Bordetella pertussis in patients with persistent cough in primary care
  • Incidence, prevention and treatment of acute coronary events in the elderly
  • Infertility in the internet age: how women and men find information and support during treatment for infertility and sub-fertility
  • Predictors of virologic treatment failure to Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART) for HIV infection in the Western Cape Province, South Africa
  • A primary care based intervention to improve participation in the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme
  • Predicting serious bacterial infections in children in primary health care

Graduate destinations

Department alumni have gone on to careers in national and international primary care research and management, as well as taking up lecturing positions at various universities around the world.

Alumni have also chosen to pursue a career practising medicine as General Practitioners.

Related course

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 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 at least 3.7 out of 4.0, or the equivalent.

A previous master's degree is desirable.

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.  

Applications will be shortlisted based on the above indicators. Applicants who are shortlisted are normally interviewed as part of the admissions process; there will be a minimum of three academics on the interview panel, only one of whom can be a potential supervisor. During the interview, you will be asked to make a brief presentation based on your research proposal; this will be followed by questions from the panel.

Interviews will normally be conducted in person but can be conducted by Skype if necessary.

Publications

It is not essential to have a history of previous publications but it would be to your advantage if you do.

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

Evidence of a prior interest in the area of research proposed would be beneficial to 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 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 Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences 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 Primary Care Health Sciences 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 Primary Care Health Sciences.

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.

You are encouraged to communicate with the department in order to refine your application, especially where scholarships are involved. 

Resources

The Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences was established in October 1998 (as the Department of Primary Health Care) with the appointment of a foundation chair in general practice and was awarded world-leading 4* status in the RAE 2008. It provides a strong multi-disciplinary training environment and a full programme of academic support and good IT facilities. The department has strong links with other epidemiological and community based research groupings in the University and also with local general practices that participate in both teaching and research. Shared office space will be provided in the department for you.

You will have access to the department’s IT support, and to the University Library services such as the Radcliffe Science LibraryCairns Library and Knowledge Centre at Old Road Campus.  Other facilities specific to your research will be discussed with your supervisor as you plan your project.

You will be able to attend any seminars run by the department and any other relevant academic seminars elsewhere in the university. Students are expected to participate in the DPhil seminar series run in the department.

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 should contact a potential supervisor(s) before you apply. Initial contact should be made with the Postgraduate Training Administrator using the contact details provided on this page in order to facilitate contact with supervisors.

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:
Two pages

The research proposal should cover areas such as background to research, aims, methodology, expected results and contribution to the field of learning. 

The overall page count should include any bibliography. The proposal should be written in English.

This will be assessed for:

  • the coherence of the proposal
  • the originality of the project
  • evidence of 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 (maximum four years).

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.

Written work:
Two essays of 2,000 words each

Academic essays or other writing samples from your most recent qualification, written in English, are required. Extracts of the requisite length from longer work are also permissible.

It is not important that the written work relates closely to the proposed area of study. The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.

This will be assessed for a comprehensive understanding of the subject area; an understanding of problems in the area; an ability to construct and defend an argument; your powers of analysis; and your powers of expression.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, all of which must be 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 your ability to work in a group. Your references should be academic - unfortunately, professional references are not acceptable.