MSc in Surgical Science and Practice | University of Oxford
Radcliffe Camera
The Radcliffe Camera, seen from the Bodleian Quad
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MSc in Surgical Science and Practice

About the course

The MSc in Surgical Science and Practice is a part-time course which provides a strong foundation in some of the most important additional skills the future leaders of the surgical profession will need to acquire. It has been designed to be completed in two to four years by full-time surgical trainees.

The MSc in Surgical Science and Practice prepares senior surgical trainees for life as independent specialists and focuses on key skills and knowledge essential for modern practices, some of which are not fully represented or are omitted from most graduate training curricula. The modular nature of the course allows you to fit study around your work.

The programme will appeal to trainees in all surgical disciplines and to newly-qualified consultants/specialists who seek to enhance their understanding and professional skills. Applicants will usually be in the later years of their surgical training.

Surgeons work as part of multidisciplinary teams in complex organisations, and will need to adapt and develop new skills and roles throughout their professional lives. The MSc syllabus covers management skills, quality improvement, leadership, teamwork and patient safety, development and implementation of surgical technologies, as well as an introduction to the principles of medical education and clinical research methods. It also includes taught material on research skills. The knowledge gained during the course will stand you in good stead throughout your career.

To complete the MSc in Surgical Science and Practice, you will need to:

  • attend the six compulsory modules in Oxford;
  • undertake and pass an assessed written assignment for each module; and
  • complete a dissertation on a topic founded on a work-based research project that will build on the material studied in the taught modules.

Taught by global experts, the six modules are as follows:

  • Becoming a Medical Educator
  • Human Factors, Teamwork and Communication
  • Introduction to Surgical Management and Leadership
  • Quality Improvement Science and Systems Analysis
  • Surgical Technology and Robotics
  • The Practice of Evidence-Based Health Care (Surgery)

Each module includes a period of preparatory study and one week of face-to-face teaching in Oxford, which is then followed by a period for assignment work. The modules can be studied in any order and each module normally takes place once a year giving you the opportunity to individualise your patterns of study.

The taught weeks include group work, discussions, guest lectures, and interaction and feedback with tutors and lecturers. The practical work develops your knowledge and understanding of the subjects covered. This includes an exceptional opportunity for an introduction to leading-edge modern surgical technology, such as supervised access to surgical simulators and robots as part of the 'Surgical Technology and Robotics' module.

A virtual learning environment (VLE) provides support between modules. Assignments are submitted online and thus can be completed from anywhere in the world.

This flexible programme is delivered jointly by the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences and the Department for Continuing Education’s Continuing Professional Development Centre. The programme also features lectures by staff from the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, based in the world-renowned Department of Primary Care Health Sciences.

Graduate destinations

Most students commencing this part-time programme are already in full-time employment. The MSc aims to prepare you for your future working life and to equip you for:

  • managing surgical units and leading surgical teams
  • undertaking surgical and clinical research
  • embarking upon an academic career pathway
  • becoming a medical educator.

Past students have also gone on to study for the part-time DPhil in Evidence Based Health Care.

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 medicine, which must be recognised by the GMC and the MRCS.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA normally sought is 3.6 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.

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.  

A telephone interview will be arranged for all of those who appear to fulfil the basic requirements for entry to the course and performance at interview will play a significant role in assessment of the selection criteria.

Telephone interviews will be held after each standard deadline, and once in the admissions period following the March deadline. They will be conducted by a minimum of two interviewers.

The purpose of the interview is to:

  • establish your level of interest, motivation and potential to benefit from the course of study;
  • clarify any uncertainties about compliance with requirements; and
  • ensure that you are fully informed of the standard of achievement and level of commitment required by the course of study.

Where concerns remain about the suitability of applicants which cannot be resolved by other methods, they may be required to complete a short written assignment, normally in the form of a critical appraisal of a specified scientific paper.

Publications

Evidence of relevant academic work in surgery, eg presentations and publications, will be considered.

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

To be eligible for the course, you will need to:

  • hold a primary qualification in medicine recognised by the GMC and the MRCS, or an equivalent diploma in basic surgical training and education degree in the case of overseas candidates;
  • have held or currently occupy a training or service post at ST1 level or above (UK candidates), or provide evidence of basic surgical training including a logbook (overseas candidates);
  • possess an entry level qualification for specialist training in surgery, eg MRCS or international equivalent;
  • be able to demonstrate a commitment to surgical training and a realistic prospect of completing it;
  • show evidence of several years of accumulated practical surgical training is a requirement of entry; and
  • have a good working knowledge of email, internet, word processing and Windows applications.

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 Surgical Sciences and/or Department for Continuing Education 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 Surgical Sciences and/or Department for Continuing Education 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 Surgical Sciences and/or Department for Continuing Education.

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.

Successful candidates will normally provide evidence of all of the following:

  • a demonstrated interest in surgical science, evidenced by prior experience, interest and work;
  • motivation and ability to complete the course; and
  • a clear and well-argued understanding of the benefits of the course to the candidate’s current employment and future prospects.

Resources

The department is committed to supporting you to pursue your academic goals. 

The Rewley House Continuing Education Library, one of the Bodleian Libraries, is situated in Rewley House. The department aims to support the wide variety of subjects covered by departmental courses at many academic levels. The department also has a collection of around 73,000 books together with periodicals. PCs in the library give access to the internet and the full range of electronic resources subscribed to by the University of Oxford. Wifi is also available. The Jessop Reading Room adjoining the library is available for study. You will have access to the Central Bodleian and other Bodleian Libraries.

The Graduate School provides a stimulating and enriching learning and research environment for the department's graduate students, fostering intellectual and social interaction between graduates of different disciplines and professions from the UK and around the globe. The Graduate School will help you make the most of the wealth of resources and opportunities available, paying particular regard to the support and guidance needed if you are following a part-time graduate programme. The department’s graduate community comprises over 600 members following taught programmes and more than 70 undertaking doctoral research.

The department provides various IT facilities, including the Student Computing Facility which provides individual PCs for your use. Many of the department's courses are delivered through blended learning or have a website to support face-to-face study. In most cases, online support is delivered through a virtual learning environment. 

Depending on the programme you are taking with the department, you may require accommodation at some point in your student career. Rewley House is ideally located in central Oxford; the city's historic sites, colleges, museums, shops and restaurants are only a few minutes’ walk away. The department has 35 en-suite study bedrooms, all with high quality amenities, including internet access.

The Rewley House dining room has seating for up to 132 people. A full meal service is available daily. The department operates a Common Room with bar for students. 

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.

A range of scholarships are available to students on the programmes offered by the department, along with bursary funds to assist students on low incomes. Full information on these opportunities can be found on the departmental funding pages.

Costs

Modular course fees

The fees for this course are charged on a modular basis. You will pay an annual course fee and an additional fee for each module studied. A minimum of two annual course fees are payable for this course. If this course includes a dissertation, three module fees will be charged for the dissertation.

Fees for the 2017-18 academic year

Fee status

Annual course fee

Fee per module

Total estimated fees

Home/EU
(including Islands)
£1,435£1,795Please see the department’s website for further details
Overseas£6,775£1,795

The fees shown above include college fees. 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.

For more information about tuition 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

This course has residential sessions in Oxford. You will need to meet your travel and accommodation costs in attending these sessions.  Further, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. Depending on your choice of 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 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 for full-time study 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. If you are studying part-time your living costs may vary depending on your personal circumstances but you must still ensure that you will have sufficient funding to meet these costs for the duration of your course.

Colleges

The following colleges accept students on the MSc in Surgical Science and Practice:

How to apply

You are not expected to make contact with an academic member of staff before you apply.

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:
One page

Your statement should be written in English and explain your motivation for applying for the course at Oxford, your relevant experience and education, and the specific areas that interest you and/or you intend to specialise in. 

There is no specific word limit, and there are no restrictions on font size or line spacing, although the document should be clearly legible and written in English.

This will be assessed for your motivation for applying to this particular programme of study; your relevant academic, research, or practical experience; and the areas of study within the subject that interest you.

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.

The department will accept professional references if these are relevant to the course.

Your references will support your academic ability and suitability for the programme. You should ask your referees to provide any other information they consider to be relevant to your application. If they have knowledge of your recent study, it would be helpful if they could indicate the standard attained.