A batch of labelled eppendorf tubes
Eppendorf tubes in an Oxford laboratory
(Image Credit: Rob Judges / Oxford University Images)

DPhil in Biochemistry (Skaggs-Oxford Programme)

About the course

The joint Skaggs-Oxford Programme permits highly qualified students to gain a broader and deeper interdisciplinary research experience than is possible from a single institution's doctoral programme. It provides diversity in curriculum, scientific approaches and research training, with access to facilities and expertise at both Oxford and Scripps. It also offers the experience of the distinct cultures of the United States and Britain.

You can choose from a wide range of research areas covered by the Department of Biochemistry at Oxford and Departments of Chemistry, Immunology and Microbiology, Integrative Structural and Computational Biology, Molecular Medicine, and Neuroscience at Scripps Research.

Research areas include: ageing, cancer biology, cell biology, chemical biology, chromosome biology, chemical synthesis, drug discovery and vaccine design, epigenetics, host-pathogen interactions, infectious diseases (such as HIV, Ebola and Zika), innate and responsive immune systems, medicinal chemistry, membrane proteins, neural stem cell behaviour and development of the brain and sensory organs, ion channels and transporters, and RNA biology.

Whilst working on your research project you will participate in a comprehensive, flexible skills training programme which includes a range of workshops and seminars in transferable skills, generic research skills and specific research techniques. There are also numerous seminars and lectures by local and visiting scientists and you are provided with many opportunities to meet leading scientists.

The Skaggs-Oxford Programme is a joint five-year programme in biology or chemistry at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, and biochemistry at the University of Oxford, leading to the award of a joint PhD/DPhil degree. You will undertake an induction session at Scripps Research and thereafter have the option of beginning the full programme of study either at Oxford or at Scripps. You will be required to carry out research for a minimum of two years at Oxford.


For this course, the allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Department of Biochemistry and Scripps Research. Please note that it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff.

Information about Oxford supervisors connected with this course can also be found at the Department of Biochemistry website. You will typically meet with your supervisor on a weekly or fortnightly basis. In addition, your supervisor may appoint a senior member of the laboratory as your day-to-day supervisor. Most laboratories also have weekly meetings where members present and discuss their results with other members of the laboratory.


If you begin your programme of study at Scripps Research, you will be required to undertake a sequence of taught coursework in connection with your proposed field of research, unless you are granted an exemption in recognition of study and examinations previously undertaken. Courses are graded based on written assignments and a final written exam.

You will begin your course as a probationary research student (PRS). If you begin your programme of study at Oxford, you will apply to transfer to DPhil (PhD) status near the end of your first year, whereas, if you start at Scripps, you will typically do this near the end of your second year. Your application will involve you writing a research report and statement of future research plans. This will be assessed by two independent experts, who interview you as part of the process. Continuation in the programme is subject to passing the Transfer of Status exam.

After three years of study you will need to apply formally to confirm your DPhil (PhD) status. This involves writing a short progress report and thesis outline and giving a presentation. The application is assessed by two experts. Continuation in the programme is subject to successfully completing the Confirmation of Status.

The final stage of the research programme is submission of your DPhil thesis, which needs to be done within five years. Your thesis is assessed by two independent experts (one from Oxford and one who is external to the University of Oxford and Scripps Research) and your Thesis Committee at Scripps Research, who conduct a viva examination with you.

Successful candidates are awarded a degree certificate from Scripps Research and the University of Oxford. They are invited to attend ceremonies at both institutions.

Graduate destinations

The majority of alumni go on to pursue a career within academic or industrial research.

Changes to this course and your supervision

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. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in circumstances of a pandemic (including Covid-19), epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, in certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.

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 illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.

For further information please see our page on changes to courses and the provisions of the student contract regarding changes to courses.

Other courses you may wish to consider

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

If you're thinking about applying for this course, you may also wish to consider the courses listed below. These courses may have been suggested due to their similarity with this course, or because they are offered by the same department or faculty.

Courses suggested by the department

Biochemistry DPhil

All graduate courses offered by the Department of Biochemistry

Entry requirements for entry in 2022-23

Information regarding the entry requirements for this course can be accessed at the following location:

DPhil in Biochemistry (Skaggs-Oxford Programme) entry requirements

Additional requirements

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

Some postgraduate research students in science, engineering and technology subjects will need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate prior to applying for a Tier 4 visa. Further information can be found on our Tier 4 (General) Student visa page. For some courses, the requirement to apply for an ATAS certificate may depend on your research area.


At Oxford you will have access to:

  • experimental facilities, as appropriate to your research
  • IT support from both the Department of Biochemistry and University IT Services
  • library services, such as the Radcliffe Science Library and the Cairns Library.

The provision of project-specific resources will be agreed with the relevant supervisor during the planning stages of the research project.

The Department of Biochemistry has in-house research facilities, including advanced fluorescence microscopy, advanced proteomics, NMR spectroscopy, molecular biophysics, and crystallography.

There is the possibility to use facilities in other departments across the division and to access remote facilities at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, DIAMOND Light Source and Harwell Science and Innovation Campus.

Departmental seminars and colloquia bring 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.

Information about the resources available at Scripps Research can be accessed at the following locations:


The University expects to be able to offer around 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2022-23. You will be automatically considered for the majority of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant December or January deadline. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential. 

For further details about searching for funding as a graduate student visit our dedicated Funding pages, which contain information about how to apply for Oxford scholarships requiring an additional application, details of external funding, loan schemes and other funding sources.

Please ensure that you visit individual college websites for details of any college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages or below:

Please note that not all the colleges listed above may accept students on this course. For details of those which do, please refer to the College preference section of this page.

Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the department's website.


Annual fees for entry in 2022-23

Fee status

Annual Course fees


Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.

Course 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 course fees). For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on changes to fees and charges.

Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.

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 course fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our detailed fee status information and the Oxford and the EU webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s exit from the EU.

Additional information

There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees (or, after fee liability ends, continuation charges) 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 course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2022-23 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,215 and £1,755 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. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2022-23, you should allow for an estimated increase in living expenses of 3% each year.

College preference

All graduate students at Oxford belong to a department or faculty and a college or hall (except those taking non-matriculated courses). If you apply for a place on this course you will have the option to express a preference for one of the colleges listed below, or you can ask us to find a college for you. The Colleges section of this website provides information about the college system at Oxford, as well as factors you may wish to consider when deciding whether to express a college preference. Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 45 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as Permanent Private Halls (PPHs). 

For some courses, the department or faculty may have provided some additional advice below to help you to decide. Whatever you decide, it won’t affect how the academic department assesses your application and whether they decide to make you an offer. If your department makes you an offer of a place, you’re guaranteed a place at one of our colleges. 

The following colleges accept students on the DPhil in Biochemistry (Skaggs-Oxford Programme):

How to apply

Admission to the Skaggs-Oxford Programme is administered by The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California, USA. To apply and for further details about the course, its requirements and deadline(s), you are advised to contact The Scripps Research Institute. 

Apply via The Scripps Institute How to Apply

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