Two students undertaking an experiment
Running an experiment at the John Radcliffe Hospital
(Image Credit: Angel Sharp Media)

DPhil in Clinical Neurosciences

About the course

The DPhil in Clinical Neurosciences offers excellent opportunities for high quality research training, for both clinical and non-clinical graduates, in wide-ranging leading areas of clinical neuroscience.

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, the socio-economic data you provide in the application form will be used to contextualise the shortlisting and decision-making processes where it has been provided.  Please carefully read the instructions concerning submission of your CV/résumé in the How to apply section of this page, as well as the full details about this pilot.

As a doctoral student in NDCN you will be a part of one of the leading and largest clinical neuroscience departments in Europe. The DPhil in Clinical Neurosciences will develop your skills through a range of research and practical training.

NDCN incorporates six divisions each of which hosts world-leading programmes in basic, translational and clinical research.

  • Centre for Prevention of Stroke and Dementia
  • Division of Clinical Neurology
  • MRC Brain Network Dynamics Unit
  • Nuffield Division of Anaesthetics
  • Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology
  • Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging

You will be admitted directly to a particular research area and you will work alongside your supervisors to develop your programme of study which is normally part of a larger research group with shared interests. You will not normally do laboratory rotations.

There are no taught courses examined by written papers but there is a wide range of courses and workshops available across the Medical Sciences Division and you will be encouraged to attend regular departmental and divisional seminars.

Part-time study

It is possible to study for a doctorate on a part-time basis. Completing the DPhil on a part-time basis normally requires between six and eight years of study, compared with a full-time DPhil which normally takes three to four years to complete.

For part-time students on this course, attendance is required for a minimum of thirty days of university-based work each year, to be arranged with the agreement of their supervisor(s), for the period that their names remain on the Register of Graduate Students, unless individually dispensed by the Board. During a candidate’s probationary period the attendance arrangements must take account of relevant induction and training events scheduled by the Board. You will have the opportunity to tailor your part-time research in liaison with your supervisor and agree your pattern of attendance.

Supervision

Once enrolled on the DPhil, the allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences 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 Clinical Neurosciences.

Information about supervisors connected with this course can be found on the NDCN website. In the case of students who require specific help to adjust to an academic programme or to a new range of skills, the supervisor will work with them to ensure that they have additional support. The department is often able to financially support the undertaking of formal skills training that is essential to the successful completion of the DPhil.

In line with the Divisional Code of Practice for supervisors, formal meetings outside the lab between student and supervisor should take place at least once per term (so 3 times per year) whereas meetings with day-to-day supervisors should take place much more frequently (c. 26 times per year, equating to roughly fortnightly). The Graduate Supervision Reporting (GSR) system asks both students and supervisors to record the frequency of meetings during the term retrospectively being reported on.

Assessment

You will begin your course as a probationary research student (PRS) and you will be monitored and assessed regularly via completion of termly reports by you and your supervisors through the Graduate Supervision Reporting (GSR) system.

You will be expected to transfer your status from PRS to DPhil (PhD) before the end of your fourth term if you are a full-time student. Part-time students must complete a minimum of four terms before applying for transfer, with a maximum time limit of 8 terms. For this, you will be required to submit a written report summarising your progress to date, which you will then discuss and defend in an oral examination (a transfer viva).

During your third year you will need to confirm your DPhil status through a formal assessment to ensure that you are on course to complete your studies within the three- to four-year time frame expected for a full-time student. Part-time students cannot transfer before having completed 12 terms, with a maximum time limit of 18 terms. You will be required to give a presentation and attend an interview.

The doctoral work will culminate in a thesis that will be defended in an oral examination (viva voce) after three or at most four years from the date of admission.

Student insights

Graduate destinations

Past students from the Department of Clinical Neurosciences have gone on to careers based both in the UK and other countries in teaching and research in universities or back to clinical posts. You can find a number of alumni profiles on the NDCN website.

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

You are strongly advised to visit the Medical Sciences Graduate School website to help 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

Clinical Neurosciences MSc by Research
Clinical and Therapeutic Neuroscience MSc
Neuroscience MSc
Neuroscience combined MSc and DPhil

All graduate courses offered by the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences

Entry requirements for entry in 2023-24

Proven and potential academic excellence

Degree-level qualifications

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 (eg neuroscience).

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

A master's degree is not a prerequisite for admission.

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

  • Evidence of a prior interest in the area of research proposed may be an advantage.
  • Publications are not expected as part of the interview process.

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 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.

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.

References

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.

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including an official transcript and a CV/résumé. 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

Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process, and can be online or in person. Interviews following the December application deadline are expected to take place in the first half of January each year. Interviews typically last for 20-30 minutes.

There will be a minimum of three academics on the panel and details of the interview format will be provided to you after shortlisting.

How your application is assessed

Your application will be assessed purely on your proven and potential academic excellence and other entry requirements published 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.

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.

Whether or not you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.

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, the socio-economic data you provide in the application form will be used to contextualise the shortlisting and decision-making processes where it has been provided. Further details about this pilot, which applies to all applicants to this course, can be found in our pilot selection procedures section.

Processing your data for shortlisting and selection

Information about processing special category data for the purposes of positive action and using your data to assess your eligibility for funding, can be found in our Postgraduate Applicant Privacy Policy.

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:

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 Student visa (under the Student Route). For some courses, the requirement to apply for an ATAS certificate may depend on your research area.

Resources

The Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences provides a focus for world-leading translational neuroscience allowing the swift transfer of basic biomedical findings to the clinical setting and the delivery of evidence-based therapies for the benefit of society and the economy. 

The department has state-of-the-art laboratories with most of its staff housed in the West Wing and the adjacent WIN (Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging) building at the John Radcliffe Hospital site. The West Wing also includes the in- and outpatient facilities for the clinical Departments of Neurology, Neurosurgery, Neuroanaesthetics, Ophthalmology and ENT, which are closely integrated with the NDCN. This provides the perfect setting to share facilities, expertise and knowledge.

NDCN offers you excellent opportunities for high quality research training in wide-ranging leading areas of clinical neuroscience. Much of the graduate research in the department is interdisciplinary and in collaboration with research leaders at other research centres. In addition, the department as a whole sponsors regular seminars and public lectures which attract distinguished national and international speakers.

Students will have access to the department’s IT support and University library services. Workspace will be related to individual circumstances: if undertaking experimental work, bench space will be provided within a laboratory; if undertaking theoretical research, there will be shared office space. The provision of other resources specific to a project should be agreed with the supervisor as part of the planning stages of the agreed project as financial support from the department must not be assumed.

Funding

The University expects to be able to offer around 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2023-24. 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 for both divisional funding and external funding.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2023-24

Full-time study

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home£8,960
Overseas£29,700

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

Part-time study

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home£4,480
Overseas£14,850

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 and Funding section of this website, which includes detailed fee status information.

Additional information

Full-time study

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.

Part-time study

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.

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 2023-24 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,290 and £1,840 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 2023-24, it is suggested that you allow for potential increases in living expenses of 5% or more each year – although this rate may vary significantly depending on how the national economic situation develops. 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.

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. 

Before you apply

Our guide to getting started provides general advice on how to prepare for and start your application. Check the deadlines on this page and the information about deadlines in our Application Guide. We recommend that you submit your application well in advance - two or three weeks earlier. 

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.

Contacting the department

Before you apply, you should identify an academic member of staff who is willing to supervise you and has the resources to support your proposed research project. You should do this by contacting them directly. Details of academic staff, including their research interests and contact details, can be found on the department's website.

If you are unsure of who you might contact as a potential supervisor, please contact the NDCN Academic Administration team in the first instance. 

When you have made a shortlist of up to three potential supervisors, you must email them individually and explain clearly:

  • what your background is
  • what kind of research you are interested in, and
  • how you expect to fund your studies.

They will then confirm whether or not they are happy to be listed as the proposed supervisor on the application form. Note that proposed supervisors will be asked to confirm their support for your application after the department receives your application, so it is in your best interest to make sure you have their agreement before applying. Please note that the support of a supervisor at this stage does not imply that you will be admitted.

With the exception of studentships, all other applications must be submitted having secured the support of a prospective supervisor at NDCN and having agreed a proposed research project. If applying for both an iCASE studentship and your own DPhil project at the same time, you should follow the guidance on how to apply for both on the NDCN website.

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. 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.

Please note, the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences does not ask for any written work as part of the admissions process. Individual supervisors may ask to see written work when an initial enquiry is made by a prospective student.

Proposed field and title of research project

Under the 'Field and title of research project' please enter the title of the proposed project you have agreed with the NDCN supervisor(s) who is supporting your application. your proposed field or area of research if this is known. If the department has advertised a specific research project that you would like to be considered for, please enter the project title here instead. If applying for both an iCASE studentship and your own DPhil project at the same time, you should follow the guidance on how to apply for both on the NDCN website.

Proposed supervisor

Under 'Proposed supervisor name' enter the name of the academic (s) who has agreed to support your application prior to you applying.

Referees
Three overall, academic and/or professional

Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

You may use either academic of professional references.

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

Official transcript(s)

Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.

More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.

CV/résumé
Full instructions and link to standard CV creation form

A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. You will need to upload a standardised CV to the graduate application form as part of your application. This standardised CV should be generated using the online form that requests certain information that you will likely have included on your CV. Once you have completed the form, you will have 15 minutes to download your CV as a PDF document. 

This PDF document will be in the same format for all applicants and you should not modify the document before you upload it, or submit your CV in a different format. 

Full instructions and a link to the standard CV creation form are provided on the Medical Sciences Division website. The instructions page contains links to example clinical and non-clinical CVs, with details of what to include and suggested answer formats.

If you require help or advice while generating your CV using the online form, please contact the Medical Sciences Graduate School for assistance (graduate.school@medsci.ox.ac.uk).

You can find more information about the standard CV form on our page that provides details of the continuing pilot programme to improve the selection procedure for graduate applications.

Statement of purpose/personal statement and research proposal:
A maximum of 500 words each

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.

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 DPhil, but your personal statement will enable you to demonstrate your current interests and aspirations.

Research proposal

A research proposal comprising a detailed outline of your proposed research, written in English, is required. It is expected that you will prepare your research proposal in consultation with a potential supervisor.

Any bibliography or brief footnotes should not be included in the word count.

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

This will be assessed for:

  • the coherence of the proposal
  • the originality of the project
  • an understanding of the proposed area of study
  • the feasibility of successfully completing the project in the time available (a maximum of 4 years)
  • knowledge of research techniques and suitability to undertake the proposed work.

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.

Your proposal should focus on research rather than personal achievements, interests and aspirations.

Submissions that exceed the word count may be penalised. 

Start or continue your application

You can start or return to an application using the relevant link below. As you complete the form, please refer to the requirements above and consult our Application Guide for advice. You'll find the answers to most common queries in our FAQs.

Application Guide Apply - Full timeApply - Part time

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