DPhil in Biomedical and Clinical Sciences | University of Oxford
Close up of a microscope with a sample
Muscle biopsy under a microscope
(Image Credit: Rob Judges / Oxford University Images)

DPhil in Biomedical and Clinical Sciences

About the course

This three-year programme is tailored specifically to the needs of talented clinicians who aspire to a career in academic medicine or clinical psychology. The course is also known as the Doctoral Training Fellowship Scheme for Clinicians.

Successful applicants will work towards a DPhil within one of three streams which are in basic sciences, mental and cognitive health, and translational/experimental medicine.

You will be offered generic research training and required to meet standard University milestones for progress. All students are  formally monitored via supervisor feedback forms submitted three times per year.

1. Basic sciences

This stream aims to provide high-quality research training in basic and applied molecular science for clinical academics who aspire to a career in academic medicine. It is expected that you will carry out DPhil projects in one of the following broad areas:

  • metabolism
  • genomics
  • haematology
  • infection/immunity/inflammation
  • neurobiology
  • cardiovascular
  • rheumatology related disease, including the process of inflammation, damage and repair.

Training provision is tailored to your needs, in relation to your research project and determined in consultation with supervisors, mentor and programme directors.

It is expected that you will have both basic-scientist and clinician-scientist supervisors, to bridge the gap between basic and applied research.

2. Mental and cognitive health

This stream aims to recruit clinical psychologists, psychiatrists and neurologists to the DPhil programme and place them into internationally-recognised research groups that have successfully developed new treatments, clinical assessments and rehabilitation procedures and/or novel experimental medicine approaches to psychopharmacology.

You should expect to receive core teaching in a range of skills important for clinical research in mental and cognitive health. These may include: experimental design, structured clinical interviews, cognitive testing, programming experiments MATLAB/using E-Prime/SuperLab etc, design and analysis of clinical trials, acquisition and analysis of fMRI and other imaging data.

In addition, Oxford has exceptional multimodal imaging facilities to which you should have access. If appropriate for your research, you will normally be able to join the FMRIB graduate training programme.

Throughout the DPhil course, students on this stream will have a weekly day-long placement in a unit that conducts clinical work closely related to your research programme, in order to:

  • observe how research and clinical implementation can work together
  • continue to develop your clinical skills

Each placement normally lasts for twelve months, during which you should have the opportunity to work in units that aim to help you observe translational work in a complementary area to your research. In this way, the programme aims to equip you with the skills you need to ensure that, when relevant, you can rapidly translate your future research findings into patient benefit.

You will be required to meet standard University milestones for progress and will be monitored formally via supervisor feedback forms submitted three times per year.

3. Translational/experimental medicine

This theme takes advantage of other strengths in biomedical science. These include projects in:

  • the Institute of Biomedical Engineering, which provides a unique environment where engineers and clinicians work together, focusing on novel technological approaches to healthcare problems;
  • vaccinology through the Jenner Institute and the Oxford Vaccine Group, where novel vaccine approaches for infection and also non-infectious targets such as cancer are developed and tested through clinical trials;
  • veterinary science in collaboration with the Pirbright Institute (formerly the Institute of Animal Health) and the Royal Veterinary College in conjunction with the Jenner Institute and Wellcome-funded projects (eg in orthopaedics and in neuromuscular disease) and an interdisciplinary training initiative on Innovative Food Systems Teaching and Learning;
  • translational and applied neurosciences including advanced neuro-imaging available through the Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Building (fMRIB) and novel PET approaches with Imanova, interfacing with scientists with skills in physics and big data; 
  • major non-communicable diseases through the Nuffield Department of Population Health, Clinical Trials Service Unit, and Epidemiologic Studies Unit, and the new Big Data Institute (BDI), focusing on the analysis of large, complex, heterogeneous data sets for research into the causes and consequences, prevention and treatment of disease. Ethox, also based in the Nuffield Department of Population Health, provides an environment where empirical research and ethical analyses can be combined around clinical ethics, research ethics, and global/population health ethics; and
  • international health and tropical medicine, building on collaborations between Oxford investigators and its major overseas programmes with bases in Kenya, Thailand, and Vietnam.


For this course, the allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Medical Sciences Doctoral Training Centre, 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 Medical Sciences Doctoral Training Centre and/or closely-related departments. Students should meet with their supervisors at least once a fortnight, on average, across a year.


All students will be initially admitted to the status of Probationer Research Student (PRS). Within a maximum of four terms as a PRS student you will be expected to apply for transfer of status from Probationer Research Student to DPhil status.

A successful transfer of status from PRS to DPhil status will require the submission of a report on progress to date on research and future plans. Students who are successful at transfer will also be expected to apply for and gain confirmation of DPhil status within nine terms of admission, to show that your work continues to be on track.

Both milestones normally involve an interview with two assessors (other than your supervisor) and therefore provide important experience for the final oral examination.

You will be expected to submit an original thesis of up to 50,000 words after three or, at most, four years from the date of admission. To be successfully awarded a DPhil in Biomedical and Clinical Sciences you will need to defend your thesis orally (viva voce) in front of two appointed examiners.

Graduate destinations

Most graduates from this programme continue in academic research in prestigious laboratories worldwide.

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.

Entry requirements for entry in 2021-22

Proven and potential academic excellence

Degree-level qualifications

As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the equivalent of the following UK qualifications:

  • a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in a relevant subject.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0.

If your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.

GRE General Test scores

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

  • Research or working experience in a relevant field may be an advantage. Applicants will be asked to indicate in the fellowship application form why they wish to undertake a research training fellowship and how this will further their career.
  • Evidence of peer-reviewed publications (including those in press), would be an advantage, but is not a requirement.

Further guidance for the basic science and translational/experimental medicine streams

Candidates must be medically qualified and eligible to undertake clinical practice in the UK (having General Medical Council registration or proven eligibility for registration). Successful applicants will be required to hold an honorary clinical contract and therefore must ensure that they have fulfilled all the criteria required by the GMC, their LETB and the National Health Service Trust. Candidates with a veterinary qualification can also be considered.

Candidates must have a strong academic record (preferably with honours or distinction in the MB finals and/or a BSc (or equivalent) with a first or upper-second class grade). It is envisaged that those appointed will generally have some specialist experience – typically having obtained MRCP or equivalent, but not CCT or consultant status.

Further guidance for the mental and cognitive health stream

The DPhil will count as an out-of-programme experience, but the one day a week of clinical work built into the programme can be counted towards training requirements (subject to confirmation).

Clinical psychologists

Candidates must have a strong academic record including a psychology degree (first or upper-second class grade). Before starting the Fellowship, they must have qualified as a clinical psychologist with a DClinPsych or equivalent doctoral level clinical qualification. They must also be eligible to undertake clinical practice work in the UK (please consult British Psychological Society and Health Professions Council Regulations). However, applications will be considered from candidates who are in the last year of a DClinPsych course as long as they expect to qualify before the start of the fellowship and they are fully up to date with all the requirements of their DClinPsych course.


Candidates must be medically qualified, with a strong academic record (preferably with honours or distinction in MB finals and/or have a BSc (or equivalent, eg BMedSci) with a first or upper-second class grade and be eligible to undertake clinical practice in the UK. Other evidence of interest or achievements in psychiatry and related disciplines, and in research, will also be an advantage. Typically, the candidate will have completed core training and the MRCPsych. However, the point of entry is flexible, and the overriding selection criterion will be the candidate’s excellence and potential as an academic psychiatrist. Entry at any stage from the end of CT1 through to those who have obtained their CCST (but have not been appointed to a substantive consultant post) would be considered.


Candidates must be medically qualified, with a strong academic record and evidence of interest in pursuing a research career (eg BSc or equivalent and/or research experience with publications). It is envisaged that those appointed will have obtained MRCP or equivalent, but not CCT or consultant status, and be eligible to undertake clinical practice in the UK. The point of entry is flexible, and the overriding selection criterion will be the candidate’s excellence and potential as an academic neurologist. The department welcomes preliminary enquiries to discuss individual circumstances.

Extenuating circumstances

If your ability to meet the entry requirements has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (eg you were awarded an unclassified/ungraded degree) or any other exceptional personal circumstance (eg other illness or bereavement), please refer to the guidance on extenuating circumstances in the Application Guide for information about how to declare this so that your application can be considered appropriately.

English language requirement

This course requires proficiency in English at the University's standard level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement. The minimum scores required to meet the University's standard level are detailed in the table below.

Minimum scores required to meet the University's standard level requirement
TestMinimum overall scoreMinimum score per component
IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713) 7.06.5

TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'

(Institution code: 0490)

100Listening: 22
Reading: 24
Speaking: 25
Writing: 24
C1 Advanced*185176
C2 Proficiency185176

*Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)

Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. Our Application Guide provides further information about the English language test requirement.

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

Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.

Applications are reviewed by a panel of academics associated with the programme. A short-list of applicants is confirmed, based on assessment of your academic record, academic references, research experience to date/publication record, and your research proposal, including the suitability of project proposal (both to Oxford and for the applicant's clinical and research background). For the mental and cognitive health stream, the availability of appropriate training opportunities/clinical placements will also be taken into consideration.

It is expected that the ratio of interviewed candidates to places will be around 3:1.

Short-listed candidates will be invited to attend an interview in Oxford. The interview will last approximately 20-25 minutes. Candidates will be required to give a 3-5 minute oral presentation covering their career to date, the research project they propose to undertake, aspects of the project that interest them and how they feel it will enhance their academic career. PowerPoint presentations (or other visual presentations) are not required. Approximately 20 minutes of questions from the panel will follow the presentation.

Candidates from outside Europe are normally interviewed by Skype/phone, unless they are in Europe at the time of interview.


Any offer of a place is dependent on the University’s ability to provide the appropriate supervision for your chosen area of work. Please refer to the ‘About’ section of this page for more information about the provision of supervision for this course.

How your application is assessed

Your application will be assessed purely on academic merit and potential, according to the published entry requirements for the course. 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. Whether you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.

Admissions panels and assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

After an offer is made

If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, you will be required to meet the following requirements: 

Financial Declaration

If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.

Disclosure of criminal convictions

In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.

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.


You will have access to:

  • experimental facilities, as appropriate to your research
  • IT support from both the host department for your research 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 for the research project.


All applicants who are offered a place on the DPhil in Biomedical and Clinical Sciences course will be offered a fully-funded scholarship, covering course fees for the duration of their course and a living stipend. Please see the course page on the Graduate School website for further details about funding for this course.


Annual fees for entry in 2021-22

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home (UK, Republic of Ireland,
Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
Overseas (including EU)£27,460

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 likely increases 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 2021-22 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,175 and £1,710 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 2021-22, 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 Biomedical and Clinical Sciences:

How to apply

You should contact your potential supervisor(s) before you apply as supervisor approval of your research project proposal is required.

A list of potential supervisors is provided on the Medical Sciences Doctoral Training Centre website, though this is not designed to be an exhaustive list. Applicants are expected to meet with potential supervisors, to discuss/develop their research project proposal for inclusion in the Wellcome Trust Training Fellowship application form.

For the basic sciences and translational/experimental medicine streams, please review research opportunities in your field of interest at Oxford via the Medical Sciences Graduate School website. For basic sciences you are encouraged to identify both a basic science and a clinician-scientist supervisor. 

For the mental and cognitive health stream, please see the list of potential supervisors and research projects on the Doctoral Training Fellowship Scheme for Clinicians 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.


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 and Wellcome Trust Training Fellowship application form:
A maximum of 1,400 words

You must complete a Wellcome Trust Training Fellowship application form from the DTC website and submit this in your application as your research proposal.

The research proposal that forms part of the WT Fellowship application should cover areas such as the background to the research, methodology, expected results and the contribution to the field of learning.

The word count should include any bibliography and/or brief footnotes.

If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.

The project proposal in the WT Fellowship application should be designed to fit within one of the three streams of the course. However, it is recognised that some projects may be regarded as sitting in more than one stream and the department reserves the option to assess these against applications from more than one stream. Please note that a supporting statement is required from the identified supervisor(s) as part of the WT Fellowship application.

This will be assessed for:

  • your reasons for applying
  • the coherence of the proposal
  • the originality of the project
  • evidence of motivation for and 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 for the course (a maximum of 3 years)
  • commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course
  • preliminary knowledge of research techniques
  • capacity for sustained and intense work; reasoning ability
  • ability to absorb new ideas, often presented abstractly, at a rapid pace.

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.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, generally 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 should generally be academic, though professional references are acceptable if they are relevant to the course.

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

Start or continue an application

Step 1: Read our guide to getting started, which explains how to prepare for and start an application.

Step 2: Check that you meet the Entry requirements and read the How to apply information on this page.

Step 3: Check the deadlines on this page and the deadline information in our Application Guide. Plan your time to submit your application well in advance - we recommend two or three weeks earlier.

Step 4: Check if you're eligible for an application fee waiver. Application fee waivers are available for:

Step 5: Start your application using the relevant link below. As you complete the form, consult our Application Guide for advice at each stage. You'll find the answers to most common queries in our FAQs.

Application GuideApply

Was this page useful?*