Statistical Science (EPSRC and MRC Centre for Doctoral Training) | University of Oxford
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(Image Credit: St Peter's College, University of Oxford)

Statistical Science (EPSRC and MRC Centre for Doctoral Training)

About the course

The Statistical Science CDT is a four-year DPhil research programme in the theory, methods and applications of next-generation statistical science for 21st century data-intensive environments and large-scale models.  

The programme provides structured training and research experience in the first year, followed by a three-year research project leading to a DPhil. It is the Oxford component of OxWaSP (the Oxford Warwick Statistics Programme), an EPSRC and MRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Next-Generational Statistical Science. 

In the first year you will receive training for research in five key areas:

Statistical inference in complex models

The new demands of scientific research and the availability of vast data sets have required statisticians to revisit and reformulate the foundations of their discipline so that theory and methods become scalable to modern data.

Multivariate stochastic processes

A substantial number of inferential environments evolve dynamically in time or space, or both, often under stochastic control. A wide range of applied probabilistic and statistical methods are currently being developed to address these needs.

Bayesian analyses for complex structural information

The recent surge in Bayesian methodologies merges the now well-understood tools of probabilistic reasoning with stochastic computational and statistical inference. Current research frontiers further develop this relationship to apply to an ever increasing domain of application where essential contextual structural information can be properly coded as part of an extensive data-analysis exercise.

Machine learning and probabilistic graphical models

Over recent decades a mutual understanding of the rich symbioses between statistics and machine learning methodologies has developed and researchers have now begun to exploit these relationships. One of the key areas of such exchange is in probabilistic graphical modelling.

Stochastic computation for intractable inference

Many recent advances in statistical modelling have only been made possible by the dramatic progress in techniques which admit the fast analysis of probabilistic and statistical models. These methods are being increasingly customized to the needs of different model classes.

Pattern of teaching, learning and supervision

The first two terms consist of a series of two-week modules. Modules start with two days of lectures and exercises. Over the subsequent five days you read some of the original literature and write a report. Industrial and academic speakers visit Oxford for informal lunch sessions mid-module, and you will have the opportunity to invite speakers.

At the end of each module you travel to Warwick for a mini-symposium on the theme of the module. The rest of the first year consists of two ten-week research projects. Towards the end of the first year you choose a supervisor for your main DPhil project in Oxford and carry out this research in years 2 to 4. There will be formal assessments of your progress at around 18 and 36 months into the degree.

Where appropriate for the research, student projects will be run jointly with the department’s leading industrial partners and you will have the chance to undertake a placement in data-intensive statistics with some of the strongest statistics groups in the USA, Europe and Asia.

Graduate destinations

Academia and industry are struggling to find appropriately trained statistical researchers in the key OxWaSP areas of statistical methods and computation for complex data analysis.

The Oxford‐Warwick Centre will be dedicated to providing the organisation, environment and personnel needed to develop the future industrial and academic research leaders in statistics for modern day science, engineering and commerce, all exemplified by ‘big data’.

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.

You may only apply to one programme from Group B under this arrangement without paying further application fees.

Group A
Group B
Autonomous Intelligent Machines and Systems (EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training)DPhil in Genomic Medicine and Statistics
Systems Approaches to Biomedical Science (EPSRC and MRC Centre for Doctoral Training)DPhil in Statistics
Systems Biology (EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training) 

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 2016-17

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 an appropriate subject. You will need a good background in relevant aspects of mathematics and statistics. Success in a degree with a high content of machine learning or a mathematical science (such as physics) may be acceptable.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.7 out of 4.0.

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

Students making excellent progress on a master's degree may be at an advantage in the selection process.

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:

References/letters of recommendation 

Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation, commitment, and the match of candidates' research interests and goals to the aims of the programme.

Academic references are usually preferable. However, in cases where you have been working in industry, professional references which cover this experience will be accepted.

Written work produced by the student

This is not required but an undergraduate dissertation or MSc thesis on a relevant topic, for example, may be helpful.

This will be assessed for comprehensive understanding of the subject area; understanding of problems in the area;  powers of analysis; and powers of expression.

If submitted, the written work should be in the area of modern statistical methods, and preferably related to the analysis or modelling of high-dimensional or complex data.

Statement of purpose/personal statement

The statement should be no more than two sides of paper and must be written in English.

You should specify the broad areas in which your research interests lies - what motivates your interest in these fields, and why do you think you will succeed in the programme?

The personal statement should be brief but should aim to be helpful to the department in the selection process.  

Performance at interview(s)

Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.  

Interviews are held as part of the admissions process for candidates who, on the basis of the written application, best meet the selection criteria. Interviews may be held in person or by telephone or Skype, normally with at least two interviewers. Interviews will include some technical questions on statistical topics related to the OxWaSP programme. These questions will be adapted as far as possible to the applicant's own background training in statistics, machine learning or applied probability.


Publications are not expected but can be included with the application.

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 Department of Statistics (Oxford and/or Warwick) 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 Statistics (Oxford and/or Warwick) 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 Statistics (Oxford and/or Warwick).

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.

Students are matched to their supervisor at the end of the first year. The ideal student will have research interests aligned with the aims of OxWaSP but will use the first year of the programme to decide exactly where in this broad area they should position themselves.

Students with research interests aligned to supervisors at both Oxford and Warwick may wish to apply to both Oxford and Warwick for an OxWaSP studentship. You should in this case indicate your first choice university when submitting an application. Separate application forms should be used for Warwick and Oxford.

This is an exciting time for the Department of Statistics. Oxford’s Mathematical Sciences submission came first in the UK on all criteria in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) and in December 2015 the department expects to occupy a newly-refurbished building in St Giles, near the centre of Oxford. The building has new spaces for study and collaborative learning, including the library and large interaction and social area on the ground floor, as well as an open research zone on the second floor.  

You will be provided with a computer and desk space in a shared office.  For the first year, this will be located in an office shared with other CDT students. When you begin you DPhil research, you will move to an office shared with other DPhil students in your research group.

You will have access to the Department of Statistics computing facilities and support, the department’s library, the Radcliffe Science Library and other University libraries, centrally-provided electronic resources and other facilities appropriate to your research topic. The provision of other resources specific to your DPhil project should be agreed with your supervisor as a part of the planning stages of the agreed project.

Starting in the second year, you will teach approximately 12 contact hours per year in undergraduate and graduate courses in your host department. This is mentored teaching, beginning with simple marking, to reach a point where individual students are leading whole classes of 10 or 12 undergraduate students. Students will have the support of a mentor and get written feedback at the end of each block of teaching.

Many events bring OxWaSP students and staff together across different peer groups and research groups, ranging from pizza-lunches and mini-symposia to away days. These events support research and involve staff and students from both Oxford and Warwick coming together at both locations.

The Department of Statistics runs seminar series in statistics and probability, and a weekly graduate lecture involving snapshots of the research interests of the department. Several journal-clubs run each term, reading and discussing new research papers as they emerge. These events bring research students together with academic and other research staff in the department to hear about on-going research, and provide an opportunity for networking and socialising.

Over four years, you will attend around 20 student-centred mini-symposia at Warwick. You will attend four three-day away days outside the university environment. Subject to satisfactory progress, in the third year there is the opportunity for three month placements at internationally leading universities.  

Tea and coffee facilities are provided in the Department. There are also opportunities for sporting interaction such as football and cricket. 


There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available for courses starting in 2016-17. Full scholarships will cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. Information about the full range of funding available can be found in the Fees and funding section.

For over 70% of Oxford scholarships, nothing more than the standard course application is usually required. If you fulfil the eligibility criteria and apply by the relevant January deadline, you will be automatically considered. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out whether you are eligible for scholarships which require an additional application. If you are, the tool will include links to full details of how to apply.

Divisional funding opportunities

There are many different funding opportunities for students studying in the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences (MPLS) Division at Oxford. Funding covering fees and living costs is available for a substantial number of doctoral training programmes. Research Council and other funding opportunities are also available for doctoral programmes in MPLS subjects.

Departmental funding opportunities

Additional funding opportunities may also be offered by your department. Department scholarships are included in the funding search tool, with links to further information. More details on funding opportunities may also be available on the department’s website.


Annual fees for entry in 2016-17

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

(including Islands)

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.

Students admitted by the University of Oxford are liable for 12 terms of fees. Students admitted by the University of Warwick are enrolled at the University of Oxford for three terms in the first academic year of their programme and are liable for three terms of fees at the University of Oxford.

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 2016-17 academic year, the range of likely living costs is between £970 and £1433 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.

Please consult the University of Warwick website for further information about living costs while studying at that institution.

The following colleges accept students on the Statistical Science course:

It is expected that the majority of students on the programme will be members of St Peter's College.

You may find it helpful to contact a potential supervisor(s) from amongst the online profiles of OxWaSP academics based in Oxford before submitting an application. This will allow you to discuss the matching of your interests with those of the centre, although there is no guarantee that this specific individual will become your supervisor if you are accepted

The set of materials you should send with an application to this course comprises: 

  • a personal statement/statement of purpose, no more than two pages in length
  • a CV/résumé
  • three academic and/or professional references
  • official transcripts detailing your university-level qualifications and marks to date.

Academic references are usually preferable. However, in cases where you have been working in industry, professional references which cover this experience will be accepted.

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.

For continuing Oxford graduates

If you are a current Oxford graduate on an eligible graduate taught course and you are using the readmission form to apply for this course, you are permitted to re-submit the following documents from your previous application:

  • English proficiency scores, if appropriate.

If you are permitted to reuse any references, you should indicate which you wish to reuse in your application form and we will add these to your application after you submit.

If you are permitted to reuse other documents, like your transcript or written work, you must upload your own copies of these files to your application.

For further information on the readmission process and your eligibility to use this process, see our guidance for continuing Oxford graduates.