Oxford's Doctoral Training Centre
The University's premises for research students in genomic medicine and statistics
(Image Credit: Medical Sciences Doctoral Training Centre)

DPhil in Genomic Medicine and Statistics

About the course

This four-year DPhil programme aims to train and nurture future leaders in the application of genomics to advance human health. It will equip them with skill sets spanning experimental and analytical genomic science in order to realise the potential of genomics and practice the qualities of fair and inspiring leadership that we will instil during the course.

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.

The first year includes taught modules focused within the first term. First-year students then undertake short research projects in up to three laboratories in three-month rotations, with further training and teaching sessions tailored to the needs of individual students. The research projects and lab visits help inform the choice of DPhil project to be undertaken over the subsequent three years of the programme. The final three years of the course will comprise doctoral research under the supervision of two named supervisors and a doctoral committee. Applicants are advised to visit the Doctoral Training Centre course webpage for further information about supervisors connected to this programme.

The programme actively seeks to recruit students from very diverse backgrounds, united by a track record of academic excellence and enthusiasm for this field. Students receive world-class training, supervision, mentorship and pastoral support. Promoting excellence in research culture underlies all aspects of the programme with a commitment to support creativity, prioritise diversity and inclusion, and promote best practice.

Module information

The programme is focused on the following themes:

  • genomic and -omic technologies (including method development, single cell genomics, imaging, model systems, CRISPR screens, genome engineering, proteomics, metabolomics, high throughput screening)
  • functional genomics (gene regulation and epigenetics)
  • genome biology (genetic variation, recombination, human history, evolution, palaeogenomics, pathogen genomes)
  • genomics of disease (Mendelian, multifactorial traits, cancer)
  • genomic analysis (bioinformatics and statistical genetics)
  • from genes to clinical proof of concept (integrated drug development pipeline spanning genetic-led target discovery, structural biology, medicinal chemistry)
  • application of genomics in the clinic (rare disease diagnostics, cancer therapeutics, personalised medicine and genome therapies).

Teaching modules combine theoretical and practical classes, with further skills training available through the Medical Sciences Doctoral Training Centre.

Teaching and learning

The taught component of the course will be delivered by expert faculty including experienced principal investigators and postdoctoral scientists. Class sizes for taught modules will typically be between 5 and 20 students depending on format and content (median estimated at 12 students). Peer-to-peer and independent learning is also encouraged. Lab rotations will be under the supervision of a named principal investigator. Workload involved is commensurate with full time employment.

Training will be tailored to the individual needs of the student throughout the course. There will be opportunities for internships and support for transitions into and out of the programme. Student feedback is recognised and valued. Mental health is a priority with a proactive approach to prevention, early recognition, peer and professional support. Bullying and harassment is prevented by promoting an encouraging and enabling culture with leadership by example and compulsory supervisor training. In addition to departmental membership, all students will be members of an Oxford college which further enhances interdisciplinarity, understanding of excellence in research culture, provision of outstanding pastoral and welfare support, and wider educational experience.

Supervision

The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Medical Sciences Doctoral Training Centre and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Medical Sciences Doctoral Training Centre.

The first year will be overseen by an academic mentor who will monitor academic progress and be available to offer advice and support throughout the programme. The final three years of the course will comprise doctoral research under the supervision of two named supervisors and a doctoral committee, who will bring together complementary expertise and experience relevant to the doctoral research. The programme supervisors represent the full spectrum of cutting-edge interdisciplinary research relevant to genomic medicine and statistics across the University with supervisor training and monitoring to ensure the highest quality supervision.

Applicants are advised to visit the course page on the centre's website for further information about supervisors associated with this course (see Further Information and Enquires).

Assessment

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

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

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

You will be expected to submit an original thesis of up to 50,000 words within a maximum of four years from the date of admission. To be successfully awarded a DPhil in Genomic Medicine and Statistics you will need to defend your thesis orally (viva voce) in front of two appointed examiners.

Graduate destinations

The interdisciplinary nature of the programme is reflected in the destination of graduates which includes academic research in prestigious laboratories worldwide together with biotech, spin-outs, consulting and working in health care settings.

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 school

Statistics DPhil
Clinical Medicine DPhil
Medical Sciences DPhil

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 biological science or quantitative subject.

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

Substantial professional experience or a graduate qualification may be a substitute for a lower grade at undergraduate level.

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

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

GRE General Test scores

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

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

  • Research or working experience in a relevant field may be an advantage.
  • Whilst not required, publications demonstrating previous research success in a relevant field is likely to advantage a candidate’s application.

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.

Applications are reviewed by a panel of academics associated with the programme. A shortlist of applicants is confirmed, based on assessment of achieved or predicted undergraduate degree grade, academic references, personal statement and CV. 

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to interviews in January 2023. The interview panel will include at least three academics. The interview will be approximately 30 minutes, during which you will be required to give a five-minute presentation on a research project that you have recently carried out as an undergraduate or as part of a research job. The presentation should be made using PowerPoint or a whiteboard.

You will usually have the opportunity to meet current students.

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 programme is hosted in the interdisciplinary environment of the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics (WHG), which hosts world-leading research groups in genomic analysis, functional genomics, bioinformatics, statistics, population genetics, translational genomics, protein structure and functional biology, together with outstanding disease-focused research including cardiovascular medicine, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, cancer genetics, immunity, inflammation and infectious disease.

United by common interests in understanding the molecular basis of disease, researchers come from clinical and pure science backgrounds. The WHG is part of the Nuffield Department of Medicine and closely linked with the clinical departments in the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, providing unique opportunities for translation of research into clinical practice which is further enhanced by having the Oxford NIHR BRC Genomics Theme based within the WHG and the Centre for Personalised Medicine.

The WHG has outstanding core facilities in high throughput genomics, bioinformatics and statistical genetics, transgenics, research computing, chromosome dynamics and cellular imaging, all of which are available to support your research project.

The interdisciplinary nature of the WHG strongly encourages interactions between research groups, and the centre runs internal and high-profile external seminar series, retreats for students and post docs, journal clubs, away days, training in public engagement and communication skills, and social events, to enable such interactions on a frequent basis.

Co-located on the Old Road campus with the WHG and across the Medical Sciences Division (MSD) are complementary research institutes and key stakeholders for translation (NHS and industry) that together constitute a remarkable inter-disciplinary environment for genomics research and training.

This includes the outstanding analytical expertise of supervisors from the recently-established Big Data Institute while supervisors from the Target Discovery Institute and Department of Chemistry have highly complementary translational expertise, for example in proteomics, metabolomics and medicinal chemistry that reflect the necessary interdisciplinarity to translate the potential of genomics.

The programme also includes leading scientists from the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine in genome engineering, relevant model systems including stem cells, gene regulation and epigenetics. The translational application of genomics is being pioneered in Oxford, with supervisors in addition to those at the WHG in pathogen genomics, palaeogenomics as well as in clinical application spanning rare disease and intervention to effect cure using gene editing constituting some of the most advanced work worldwide in this area.

The NIHR Biomedical Research Centre (BRC3) supports collaboration with the NHS and active engagement with outstanding clinical trials units experienced in experimental studies and the Oxford NHS Genomic Medicine Centre further enriches this. Oxford has also a highly active entrepreneurial spirit where spin out companies are encouraged and supported alongside collaborations with established biotech and pharma.

This outstanding cross-disciplinary research environment is underpinned by the latest technologies, including mass spectrometry, advanced microscopy, metabolomics and proteomics, single-cell deep phenotyping, preclinical model organism analyses, and one of the most advanced computing facilities (based in the WHG) in Europe.

You will have access to:

  • Experimental facilities, as appropriate to your research
  • Extensive IT support from both the WHG and University IT Services
  • Library services such as the Radcliffe Science Library and the Cairns Library

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

The department has been awarded an Athena SWAN Silver award in recognition of the commitment made to promote gender equality through its organisational and cultural practices and its efforts to improve the working environment for both men and women. Students will benefit from the outstanding environment for graduate studies provided within the University of Oxford. 

Funding

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

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2023-24

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.

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.

Continuation charges

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.

Where can I find further information about fees?

The Fees and Funding section of this website provides further information about course fees, including information about fee status and eligibility and your length of fee liability.

Additional information

There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees (or, after fee liability ends, continuation charges) and living costs. However, please note that, depending on your choice of research topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.

Living costs

In addition to your course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 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.

College preference

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

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

The following colleges accept students on the DPhil in Genomic Medicine and Statistics:

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

You do not need to make contact with the department before you apply but you are encouraged to visit the relevant departmental webpages to read any further information about your chosen course.

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.

Proposed field and title of research project

As you do not need to select a project before you apply, please enter 'DPhil in Genomic Medicine and Statistics' under 'Field and title of research project'. 

Proposed supervisor

It is not necessary for you to identify a potential supervisor in your application.

Referees:
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 should generally be academic, though professional references are acceptable if they are relevant to the course.

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

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:
A maximum of 500 words

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.

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

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