About the course
As a DPhil in Clinical Medicine student, you will conduct research in basic science and/or in clinical medicine. The degree will provide you with research skills, in-depth knowledge, understanding and expertise in your chosen field of research.
Research subjects cover a broad spectrum of sciences related to medicine and include: behavioural science, bioinformatics & statistics (including modelling and computational biology), cell and molecular biology, clinical epidemiology, drug discovery, genetics and genomics, global health and tropical medicine, immunology, integrative physiology (systems biology), microbiology, protein science and structural biology, and transcription biology.
Doctoral students within the Nuffield Department of Medicine carry out research in a single laboratory for three to four years if studying full-time, or six to eight years if studying part-time. There is no period of rotation between laboratories. All doctoral students develop their skills through a range of research training and skills development in their first year of full- time study or first two years of part-time study, by attending compulsory and optional training in laboratory techniques and generic skills, including scientific writing and statistics, while also working at the bench.
You will be encouraged to attend lectures and seminars related to your programme of research and make the most of the doctoral training and research methods provision available across the Medical Sciences Division. The aim is to tailor this training to individual needs and bring all students up to satisfactory level in background knowledge. Later training is focused on the skills required for a successful career in independent research.
The department’s students are part of the Medical Sciences Division; lectures and seminars cut across departments and collaborations are widespread within the University.
As a part-time student you will be required to attend supervision meetings, skills training and other obligations in Oxford for a minimum of 30 days each academic year. You will have the opportunity to tailor your part-time study in liaison with your supervisor and agree your pattern of attendance. You may be required to attend fieldwork / laboratory / training sessions on dates to be determined by mutual agreement with your supervisor.
The Nuffield Department of Medicine (NDM) comprises research groups in several institutes and laboratories, including:
- Experimental Medicine Division
- Translational Gastroenterology Unit
- The Peter Medawar Building
- NDM Research Building
- Big Data Institute - NDM (BDI)
- The Target Discovery Institute (TDI)
- Centre for Translational Immunology
- Old Road Campus Research Building
- Jenner institute
- Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research
- Centre for Medicines Discovery (CMD)
- Pandemic Sciences institute (PSI)
- Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health
- Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU) - Thailand
- Oxford University Clinical Research Unit (OUCRU) - Vietnam
- Oxford Centre for Global Health Research (OCGHR) - Oxford
- KEMRI–Wellcome Trust Collaborative Research Programme – Kenya
- Wellcome Centre Human Genetics (WHG)
- Division of Structural Biology (STRUBI)
- Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences Oxford Institute (CAMS COI)
- Oxford Particle Imaging Centre (OPIC)
- Oxford Protein Production Facility (OPPF)
- Centre for Cellular and Molecular Physiology (CCMP)
Students housed within the NDM-BDI can describe their DPhil subject as Biomedical Data Science. Those within Tropical Medicine and associated within the Africa and Asia Programmes (MORU, OUCRU and KEMRI) can describe their DPhil subject as Tropical Medicine and Global Health.
In exceptional cases, students may be admitted to study for the MSc by Research degree.
The NDM takes the creation of supervisory teams very seriously and this will form an important part of the admissions process. All students must have at least two supervisors and many will have more than two. Within the NDM, students should meet with their supervisors at least once a fortnight, on average, across a year.
Please note that the allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Nuffield Department of Medicine 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 Medicine.
DPhil students must pass two milestone assessments during their research career:
- Transfer of status - this must take place by the end of the fourth term (or eighth term for part-time students). Students submit a written transfer report and are interviewed by two assessors.
- Confirmation of status - this must take place by the end of the ninth term (or eighteenth term for part-time students). Students submit a detailed thesis contents list and timetable for completion and are interviewed by two assessors.
Students are expected to submit their thesis within three to four years of admission to the DPhil. A viva (oral examination) is then conducted, normally within three months of submission.
DPhil in Clinical Medicine students follow a wide variety of career paths, including all branches of biomedical research, clinical medicine, teaching, health administration and commerce.
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, 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.
Entry requirements for entry in 2024-25
Proven and potential academic excellence
The requirements described below are specific to this course and apply only in the year of entry that is shown. You can use our interactive tool to help you evaluate whether your application is likely to be competitive.
Please be aware that any studentships that are linked to this course may have different or additional requirements and you should read any studentship information carefully before applying.
As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the following UK qualifications or their equivalent:
- a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in a relevant discipline such as biology, biochemistry, or medicine. However, for more information see below.
A master's degree is not required.
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.
Nuffield Department of Medicine students have a wide range of qualifications and while most of our students achieved an upper second-class or first-class (or equivalent) in their undergraduate degree, the department recognises that strong students come from a diverse range of academic and professional backgrounds, some of which may include a degree with a lower classification. For example, someone who has achieved a second-class in their undergraduate degree but has achieved a merit or distinction in their master’s might be a competitive candidate.
GRE General Test scores
No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.
Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience
- Evidence of a prior interest in the area of research proposed is likely to advantage your application.
- Prior publications are not required, but research experience and a track record demonstrating an interest in research may be an advantage.
- It would be expected that graduate applicants would be familiar with the recent published work of their proposed supervisor.
Please note, in considering applicants’ achievements and their suitability for a place on the DPhil in Clinical Medicine, the Nuffield Department of Medicine takes a holistic approach and a range of contextual factors, looking at each applicant’s individual circumstances, will be taken into account.
English language proficiency
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 overall score
|Minimum score per component
|IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713)
TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'
(Institution code: 0490)
*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.
Declaring 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.
You will need to register three referees who can give an informed view of your academic ability and suitability for the course. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the types of reference that are required in support of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the supporting documents that are required as part of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
Performance at interview
Shortlisted candidates are interviewed as part of the admissions process. There will be a minimum of two to three academics on the interview panel. Interviews will be conducted via Zoom or in person. The interview will consist of a five-minute presentation by the applicant on the research they would like to do in the department, followed by 20 minutes of questioning from the panel. Applicants will among other matters be asked about their interest in their chosen DPhil project theme/s and what they see as the priorities for the project. An example interview question is: “Can you describe the key question within the research theme that you want to address?”.
How your application is assessed
Your application will be assessed purely on your proven and potential academic excellence and other entry requirements described under that heading.
References and supporting documents submitted as part of your application, and your performance at interview (if interviews are held) will be considered as part of the assessment process. Whether or not you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.
An overview of the shortlisting and selection process is provided below. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about how applications are assessed.
Shortlisting and selection
Students are considered for shortlisting and selected for admission without regard to age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief (including lack of belief), sex, sexual orientation, as well as other relevant circumstances including parental or caring responsibilities or social background. However, please note the following:
- socio-economic information may be taken into account in the selection of applicants and award of scholarships for courses that are part of the University’s pilot selection procedure and for scholarships aimed at under-represented groups;
- country of ordinary residence may be taken into account in the awarding of certain scholarships; and
- protected characteristics may be taken into account during shortlisting for interview or the award of scholarships where the University has approved a positive action case under the Equality Act 2010.
Initiatives to improve access to graduate study
This course is taking part in a continuing pilot programme to improve the selection procedure for graduate applications, in order to ensure that all candidates are evaluated fairly.
For this course, socio-economic data (where it has been provided in the application form) will be used to contextualise applications at the different stages of the selection process. Further information about how we use your socio-economic data can be found in our page about initiatives to improve access to graduate study.
This course is also taking part in the 'Close the Gap' project which aims to improve access to doctoral study.
Processing your data for shortlisting and selection
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.
Other factors governing whether places can be offered
The following factors will also govern whether candidates can be offered places:
- the ability of the University to provide the appropriate supervision for your studies, as outlined under the 'Supervision' heading in the About section of this page;
- the ability of the University to provide appropriate support for your studies (eg through the provision of facilities, resources, teaching and/or research opportunities); and
- minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to the University's taught and research programmes.
Offer conditions for successful applications
If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, your offer will outline any conditions that you need to satisfy and any actions you need to take, together with any associated deadlines. These may include academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions will usually depend on your individual academic circumstances and may vary between applicants. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about offers and conditions.
In addition to any academic conditions which are set, you will also be required to meet the following requirements:
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 Student visa (under the Student Route). For some courses, the requirement to apply for an ATAS certificate may depend on your research area.
The Nuffield Department of Medicine (NDM) is one of the largest departments of medicine in Europe and noted for the wide range and excellence of its basic and clinical research. The NDM is composed of multiple constituent institutes and units, including the Jenner Institute for Vaccinology, the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics, the Big Data Institute and a Division of Experimental Medicine as well centres in Kenya, Thailand and Vietnam.
NDM is just as renowned for its work in basic sciences as more clinical or applied work. Much of the £130 million per annum grant income is spent on understanding the most basic principles of biology and disease pathogenesis.
You will be based in various units, buildings and campuses around Oxford, as well as in Tropical Medicine Units abroad. The department supports a wide range of clinical services located in Oxford’s John Radcliffe and Churchill Hospitals, and has major overseas programmes in Thailand, Vietnam and Kenya.
You will have access to the department’s IT support, University Library services such as the Radcliffe Science Library and the Cairns Library, and experimental facilities are available as appropriate to the research topic. The provision of other resources specific to your project should be agreed with your supervisor as a part of the planning stages of the agreed project. There are a number of workshops that are announced via email and posters throughout the year.
You will have access to the seminars that individual research groups or groups with common areas of interest organise for their own members and others – this is will depend on the specific unit/area within which you are housed. Medical Grand Rounds are also held in the graduate centre at the John Radcliffe Hospital. You will have access to the other departmental seminars announced via email.
Workspace will be allocated according to individual circumstances. If undertaking experimental work, you will be provided with bench space in a laboratory. If undertaking theoretical research, you will have shared office space.
Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine
The Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine (NDM) is a large multi-disciplinary department that links high quality clinical and basic research. The underpinning motivation behind all research carried out by NDM is the pursuit of academic excellence and the positive impact of research on the health and wellbeing of the global community.
Much of the £130 million per annum grant income is spent on understanding the most basic principles of biology and disease pathogenesis. As well as its research and clinical commitments in Oxford, the department has Africa and Asia programmes in Thailand, Vietnam and Kenya.
The NDM has a community of around 60 graduate research students each year, the majority of whom are studying towards a Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) degree, which is the University of Oxford's equivalent of a PhD. The department also offers an MSc in International Health and Tropical Medicine, an MSc in Modelling for Global Health and an MSc in Genomic Medicine, each with an intake of around 20 students every year, plus a PGDip in Global Health Research. The Careers Service at Oxford University reports that six months after leaving Oxford, postgraduate research students at NDM are on average earning £31,000 with 83.8% in employment and a further 11% in further study (eg Graduate Entry Medicine).
The University expects to be able to offer over 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2024-25. 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 2024-25
Annual Course fees
Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.
Annual Course fees
Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.
Information about course fees
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.
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.
Please note that you are required to attend in Oxford for a minimum of 30 days each year, and you may incur additional travel and accommodation expenses for this. Also, depending on your choice of research topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur further 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.
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 2024-25 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,345 and £1,955 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. The current economic climate and high national rate of inflation make it very hard to estimate potential changes to the cost of living over the next few years. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2024-25, it is suggested that you allow for potential increases in living expenses of around 5% each year – although this rate may vary depending on the national economic situation. UK inflationary increases will be kept under review and this page updated.
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.
Students enrolled on this course will belong to both a department/faculty and a college. Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 43 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as societies and permanent private halls (PPHs).
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. Before deciding, we suggest that you read our brief introduction to the college system at Oxford and our advice about expressing a college preference. For some courses, the department may have provided some additional advice below to help you decide.
The following colleges accept students for full-time study on this course:
The following colleges accept students for part-time study on this course:
Before you apply
We strongly recommend you consult the Medical Sciences Graduate School's research themes to identify the most suitable course and supervisor.
Our guide to getting started provides general advice on how to prepare for and start your application. You can use our interactive tool to help you evaluate whether your application is likely to be competitive.
If it's important for you to have your application considered under a particular deadline – eg under a December or January deadline in order to be considered for Oxford scholarships – we recommend that you aim to complete and submit your application at least two weeks in advance. Check the deadlines on this page and the information about deadlines in our Application Guide.
Application fee waivers
An application fee of £75 is payable per course application. Application fee waivers are available for the following applicants who meet the eligibility criteria:
- applicants from low-income countries;
- refugees and displaced persons;
- UK applicants from low-income backgrounds; and
- applicants who applied for our Graduate Access Programmes in the past two years and met the eligibility criteria.
You are encouraged to check whether you're eligible for an application fee waiver before you apply.
Readmission for current Oxford graduate taught students
If you're currently studying for an Oxford graduate taught course and apply to this course with no break in your studies, you may be eligible to apply to this course as a readmission applicant. The application fee will be waived for an eligible application of this type. Check whether you're eligible to apply for readmission.
Application fee waivers for eligible associated courses
If you apply to this course and up to two eligible associated courses from our predefined list during the same cycle, you can request an application fee waiver so that you only need to pay one application fee.
The list of eligible associated courses may be updated as new courses are opened. Please check the list regularly, especially if you are applying to a course that has recently opened to accept applications.
Do I need to contact anyone before I apply?
Regardless of whether you are applying to one of the advertised DPhil themes or you are applying with your own research proposal, you must identify academic members of staff who are willing to supervise you and/or have the resources to support your proposed research project.
The purpose of contacting a supervisor is to learn more about the project theme and/or lab, and determine whether there would be a good fit between what you are looking for and what the lab can offer. To contact supervisors, begin by looking through the project themes on the department website and identify up to three to four supervisors you may be interested in working with (you will need to narrow this down to no more than two project themes by the application stage).
You should email your proposed supervisors well in advance of the application deadline to indicate that you are interested in applying for a DPhil in their research group. If you do not receive a response after one week, you may wish to send a follow-up email. Supervisors receive a high volume of emails daily, and may have overlooked your original message.
Potential supervisors will be pleased to hear from you and may be able to offer personalised advice for your application. You may wish to use the below template when contacting a proposed supervisor:
Dear [supervisor’s name],
I’m contacting you regarding your advertised DPhil project theme, [project theme name], in the Nuffield Department of Medicine.
I would be interested in applying to your project theme because [maximum two sentences].
My recent educational/professional background is [maximum three sentences].
It may also be relevant to let you know that [optional; maximum two sentences; you might want to comment on contextual circumstances we should be aware of or additional factors around your educational/professional experience].
I would be happy to provide more details or discuss this further via email or a call.
Thank you for your time.
Please note that this template is for the purposes of initial contact with a proposed supervisor only and does not constitute an application. Once a supervisor has agreed in principle to support your application, you will need to submit an application to the DPhil in Clinical Medicine following the ‘Apply’ buttons at the bottom of this page.
Completing your application
You should refer to the information below when completing the application form, paying attention to the specific requirements for the supporting documents.
For this course, the application form will include questions that collect information that would usually be included in a CV/résumé. You should not upload a separate document. If a separate CV/résumé is uploaded, it will be removed from your application.
If any document does not meet the specification, including the stipulated word count, your application may be considered incomplete and not assessed by the academic department. Expand each section to show further details.
Proposed field and title of research project
If you are applying to an advertised DPhil theme, enter the advertised research theme number(s) of up to two DPhil theme(s) under 'Proposed field and title of research project', in order of preference or indicating equal preference.
If you are applying with your own research proposal, enter your project title and summary, as agreed with your potential supervisor (s) under 'Proposed field and title of research project'.
If you are applying with your own research proposal, enter the name of the supervisor(s) who has agreed to consider your application.
Three overall, academic preferred
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 ability to work in a group.
References should usually be academic, though professional references are acceptable where they relate to work within a research setting.
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.
Statement of purpose/personal statement and research proposal:
A maximum of 500 words each
Statement of purpose/personal statement
All applicants need to submit a statement of purpose/personal statement.
You should provide a statement of your research interests, in English, describing how your background and research interests relate to the programme. If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
The statement should focus on academic or research-related achievements and interests rather than personal achievements and interests.
This will be assessed for:
- your reasons for applying;
- evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study;
- the ability to present a reasoned case in English;
- capacity for sustained and focused work; and
- understanding of problems in the area and ability to construct and defend an argument.
It will be normal for students’ ideas and goals to change in some ways as they undertake their studies, but your personal statement will enable you to demonstrate your current interests and aspirations.
If you are applying for advertised DPhil themes you do not need to provide a research proposal and should not submit one with your application.
If you decide to submit your own research proposal for your DPhil project, then this should be provided in addition to your personal statement. In your research proposal, you may also wish to outline briefly relevant personal achievements, interests and aspirations.
Your statement of purpose/personal statement and research proposal should be submitted as a single, combined document with clear subheadings. Please ensure that the word counts for each section are clearly visible in the document.
Your proposal should be written in English and the overall word count should include any bibliography. The research proposal should be a maximum of 500 words.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
Your research proposal will be assessed for:
- comprehensive understanding of the subject area;
- understanding of problems in the area;
- ability to construct and defend an argument; powers of analysis;
- powers of expression, the feasibility of successfully completing the project in the time available for the course (a maximum of 4 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; and
- ability to absorb new ideas, often presented abstractly, at a rapid pace.