About the course
The DPhil programme accepts applications from those who have already been awarded the MSc in Evidence-Based Health Care, MSc in Systematic Reviews, MSc in Medical Statistics, or a master's in a related subject.
The DPhil follows on from the taught MSc in Evidence-Based Health Care (EBHC) and is overseen by the University's Continuing Education Board. Admission is through the Department for Continuing Education.
The part-time DPhil is part of the Evidence-Based Health Care Programme, which is jointly run with the Centre for Evidence- Based Medicine in the Nuffield Department of Primary Health Care Sciences. You have access to the full range of Oxford's library and computing facilities. Student work covers a range of topics in applied healthcare sciences. You can visit the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine's website to learn more about topics and about current student research.
The University's DPhil regulations normally require a minimum of four years' part-time study, equivalent to two years' full- time, up to a maximum of eight years part-time study. Research students are required to attend Oxford in person for a minimum of 30 days each year.
If you are a research student you may be required to undertake appropriate research training provided within the department. In addition, you will be strongly encouraged to participate in seminars and informal meetings with staff and other researchers. Students independently drive forward their programme of research, and the major commitment of your time will be to individual study and research, supported by regular supervisory meetings.
There will be limited flexibility in the dates and pattern of attendance, which will be determined by mutual agreement with your supervisor; it is vital that you discuss this with your supervisor as part of your application process. Attendance will be required year-round, details to be determined by mutual agreement with your supervisor. You will have the opportunity to tailor your part-time study and skills training in liaison with your supervisor and agree your pattern of attendance. Please note that in-house training sessions organised by the department may take place on any day of the week and both inside and outside full-term time.
Supervision is arranged to suit your DPhil topic and usually involves staff attached to the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine. It may also involve other staff from within the Medical Sciences Division as well as co-supervision with members of the Evidence-Based network. Students are strongly encouraged to reach out to potential supervisors before applying, and to name one or more supervisors in their application, though this is not mandatory.
Students on the DPhil are required to attend a minimum of 30 days of university-based work each year for the duration of your studies, usually that involves meeting their supervisor once a term.
As a part-time student you will be required to be in Oxford for a minimum of 30 days each year. There will be flexibility in the dates and pattern of attendance, which will be determined by mutual agreement with your supervisor(s). You will have the opportunity to tailor your part-time study and training in liaison with your supervisor(s) and agree your pattern of attendance.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences and/or the Department for Continuing Education 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 Primary Care Health Sciences and/or the Department for Continuing Education. It may also be possible to appoint supervisors external to Oxford as additional co-supervisors with permission from the programme.
You will be admitted initially as a Probationary Research Student (PRS), in line with University regulations on doctorates. During the probationary period, you will develop and begin work on the thesis topic. You will develop research skills through a range of training and skills development primarily offered via the Department for Continuing Education Graduate School, as well as across the University.
Students must apply for a Transfer of Status from PRS to DPhil status between the sixth and the eighth academic term after admission, each academic year at Oxford having three terms. This involves the submission of a piece of written work that is examined by two assessors, neither of whom will be your supervisors. This process is to ensure that your work is of potential DPhil quality and that the methodology of the research is appropriate and feasible. Upon successful completion of the Transfer of Status, you would usually undertake a period of primary fieldwork/data collection over one to two years.
You will also be required to apply for a Confirmation of Status as DPhil sometime between the 12th and 18th term after admission. This will also involve the submission of a piece of written work that is assessed by two assessors, neither of whom will be your supervisors. The Confirmation of Status assessment is different to the Transfer of Status assessment as the assessors will be focusing on how the research is progressing, the quality of the draft chapters/papers, and on the plan for completion. The assessors will be looking to ensure that you are making the appropriate amount of progress in the development of your thesis, so that thesis submission will be achieved within the time limit.
You will be expected to submit a substantive academic thesis of around 50,000 words after six or, at most, eight years from the date of admission. To be successfully awarded a DPhil in Evidence Based Health Care you will need to defend your thesis orally (viva voce) in front of two appointed examiners.
Most students commencing this programme are already in employment and continue their professional work alongside their doctoral research. You can see a range of backgrounds and research projects represented in the DPhil student profiles on the Continuing Education website.
Completing a DPhil in Evidence-Based Health Care enhances professional life and enables graduates to further their careers. Those who complete the doctoral programme will:
- gain an evidence-based approach to their professional practice
- have undertaken research training which will enable them to become independent researchers.
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
As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the following UK qualifications or their equivalent:
- the MSc in Evidence-Based Health Care, or equivalent qualification, with an average of at least 65% across all components of the MSc; and
- a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in a relevant subject.
However, entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a first-class degree or the equivalent.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA normally sought is 3.6 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 is likely to advantage a candidate’s application.
- Publications are not expected.
English language proficiency
This course requires proficiency in English at the University's higher 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 higher level are detailed in the table below.
|Test||Minimum overall score||Minimum score per component|
|IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713)||7.5||7.0|
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, 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 for shortlisted candidates.
Interviews will normally take place within four weeks of the closing date. The interview panel typically consist of the course director, a senior member of Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine and potential supervisors.
Interviews may be held via Microsoft Teams, at the discretion of the Programme Director, when travelling to Oxford is difficult or impossible for the candidate within the interview period. Candidates are usually asked to make a brief presentation of their proposed research, followed by questions from the panel.
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. 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.
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.
The department is committed to supporting you to pursue your academic goals.
The Rewley House Continuing Education Library, one of the Bodleian Libraries, is situated in Rewley House. The department aims to support the wide variety of subjects covered by departmental courses at many academic levels. The department also has a collection of around 73,000 books together with periodicals.
PCs in the library give access to the internet and the full range of electronic resources subscribed to by the University of Oxford. Wi-Fi is also available. The Jessop Reading Room adjoining the library is available for study. You will have access to the Central Bodleian and other Bodleian Libraries.
The Graduate School provides a stimulating and enriching learning and research environment for the department's graduate students, fostering intellectual and social interaction between graduates of different disciplines and professions from the UK and around the globe. The Graduate School will help you make the most of the wealth of resources and opportunities available, paying particular regard to the support and guidance needed if you are following a part-time graduate programme. The department’s graduate community comprises over 600 members following taught programmes and more than 70 undertaking doctoral research.
The department provides various IT facilities, including the Student Computing Facility which provides individual PCs for your use. Many of the department's courses are delivered through blended learning or have a website to support face-to-face study. In most cases, online support is delivered through a virtual learning environment.
Depending on the programme you are taking with the department, you may require accommodation at some point in your student career. Rewley House is ideally located in central Oxford; the city's historic sites, colleges, museums, shops and restaurants are only a few minutes’ walk away. The department has 35 en-suite study bedrooms, all with high quality amenities, including internet access.
The Rewley House dining room has seating for up to 132 people. A full meal service is available daily. The department operates a Common Room with bar for students.
As well as access to all of the resources at Rewley House, you will also be affiliated with Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine in the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences. The Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences is one of the world's most important centres for academic primary care for over 20 years, leading world-class research and training to rethink the way healthcare is delivered in general practice and across other community settings, both in the UK and internationally.
Departments offering this course
This course is offered jointly by the following departments:
Department for Continuing Education
The need for new learning opportunities throughout life is now recognised throughout society. An intensive, initial period of higher education is not always enough in times of rapid social, economic and technological change. The Department for Continuing Education is known worldwide as a leading provider of extended learning for professional and personal development.
The department provides high-quality, flexible, part-time graduate education, tailored for adults. Students can undertake graduate-level certificates, diplomas and taught master’s degrees in a wide range of subjects. Increasing numbers of courses are delivered in mixed mode, combining intensive periods of residence in Oxford with tutored online study.
The department recruits adult students of all ages on a regional, national and international level. Many courses are offered jointly with other academic departments around the University. Courses are offered in the following areas:
All postgraduate students on the department's courses are members of its Graduate School. The Graduate School aims to provide a stimulating and enriching environment for learning and research. It also fosters intellectual and social interaction between students coming from different disciplines and professions. Interdisciplinary research seminars, training opportunities and other events are offered by the Graduate School in support of this goal.
All masters' and DPhil applicants are considered for Clarendon Scholarships. The department is committed to seeking scholarship support for other students wherever possible.
Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences
The University of Oxford's Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences has been one of the world's most important primary care centres for over 20 years.
Leading world-class research and training to rethink the way healthcare is delivered in general practice and other primary care settings, both across the UK and globally. Integrating evidence and innovation, its main research focus is on the prevention, early diagnosis and management of common illness, health services research and digital health.
Research is led by internationally renowned scientists; many of whom are practising GPs, but NDPCHS also has academics from a range of non-medical disciplines including the social sciences and humanities. The department covers the broad range of issues that you might expect to consult your GP about including cardiovascular and metabolic disease, infectious diseases and childhood illness, diet, smoking and cancer. It also focuses on understanding and improving the experiences of patients, utilising big data, developing digital health interventions and working internationally.
The Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences has methodological expertise in clinical decision making and diagnostics, clinical epidemiology, medical statistics, modelling, qualitative research and the wider application of social science theory and methods to address practical and theoretical challenges in health and care settings. The department also has a dedicated in-house Primary Care Clinical Trials Unit.
The department is home to 14 of the National Institute for Health Research's 200 most prestigious and prominent researchers. These NIHR Senior Investigators contribute significantly to the health sciences as senior leaders, demonstrate research excellence and lead in training of the NIHR's people.
We teach elements of the undergraduate programme in medicine including arranging placements for medical students in GP practices. We also provide a highly supportive environment for postgraduates whether they are registered for a DPhil, enrolled on one of our short courses or the Evidence Based Health Care programme (administered by the Department for Continuing Education). We welcome domestic and international students to join our experienced and enthusiastic teachers, mentors and supervisors in aspirational study and research.
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.
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.
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.
Many students choose to become members of Kellogg College, which caters particularly for part-time mature students.
The following colleges accept students on the DPhil in Evidence Based Health Care:
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. Check the deadlines on this page and the information about deadlines in our Application Guide. 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.
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.
Do I need to contact anyone before I apply?
It is strongly recommended that you contact supervisor(s) who’s research interests align with yours before submitting your application. Contacting potential supervisors in advance can help you develop an appropriate proposal. Potential supervisors can be identified through the list of supervisors who have expressed interest in supervising for this DPhil programme, through the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences website, and through finding others with relevant subject expertise at Oxford. If you are encountering difficulty identifying a potential supervisor, please contact the course administrator via the contact details provided on this page.
Expressions of interest for the course should be sent to the department in advance via the contact details provided on this page. If you have not previously studied the MSc in Evidence-Based Healthcare, MSc in Systematic Reviews, or MSc in Medical Statistics, you will be asked to provide information about your previous education before commencing the formal application to confirm your qualification is equivalent. If it is not equivalent, you may be advised to consider the MSc in Evidence-Based Healthcare, Medical Statistics, or Systematic Reviews before applying for the DPhil.
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
Under the 'Field and title of research project' please enter 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.
You should not use this field to type out a full research proposal. You will be able to upload your research supporting materials separately if they are required (as described below).
Under 'Proposed supervisor name' enter the name of the academic (s) who you would like to supervise your research.
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.
Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation, and your ability to work in a group.
It is acceptable to submit professional references but personal references cannot be accepted.
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 maximum of 1,000 words
You should provide a research proposal covering areas such as the background to your research and your aims, methodology, and expected results and contribution to the field of learning. This should be written in English and the overall word count should include any bibliography.
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
- evidence of 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.
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.
Two essays, a maximum of 2,000 words each
Academic essays or other writing samples from your most recent qualification, written in English, are required. Extracts of the requisite length from longer work are also permissible.
It is not important that the written work relates closely to the proposed area of study. The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
This will be assessed for understanding of the subject area; ability to construct or defend an argument; powers of analysis; powers of expression.