DPhil in Genomic Medicine and Statistics | University of Oxford
GMS
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, equipping 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.

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 programme actively seeks to recruit students from very diverse backgrounds, ranging from genetics to pure maths but 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.

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 Doctoral Training Centre course webpage for further information about supervisors connected to this programme.

Training will be tailored to the individual needs of the student throughput the course with progress monitored through student and supervisor reporting four times per year, together with completion of milestones at a Divisional level including transfer (by term 4 of doctoral research) and confirmation of status (final year of programme). 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.

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).

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. 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 sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.

For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Other courses you may wish to consider

Applicants are strongly advised to visit the Medical Sciences Graduate School website to help them identify the most suitable course and supervisors.

If you're thinking about applying for this course, you may also wish to consider the courses listed below. These courses may have been suggested due to their similarity with this course, or because they are offered by the same department or faculty.

Courses suggested by the school

Statistics DPhil
Clinical Medicine DPhil
Medical Sciences DPhil

Entry requirements for entry in 2020-21

Proven and potential academic excellence

Degree-level qualifications

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

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

This course requires proficiency in English at the University's standard level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement. 

Detailed requirements - standard level

The minimum scores required to meet the University's standard level are:

IELTS Academic 7.0Minimum 6.5 per component
TOEFL iBT100

Minimum component scores:

  • Listening: 22
  • Reading: 24
  • Speaking: 25
  • Writing: 24
Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE) or C1 Advanced185Minimum 176 per component
Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) or C2 Proficiency185Minimum 176 per component

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

Supporting documents 

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview

Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.

Applications are reviewed by a panel of academics associated with the programme. A shortlist of applicants is confirmed, based on assessment of achieved or predicted undergraduate degree grade, academic references, personal statement and CV. It is expected that the ratio of interviewed applicants to places will be approx. 3:1.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend interviews in Oxford, which usually take place during the third week of January. 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.

Supervision

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

How your application is assessed

Your application will be assessed purely on academic merit and potential, according to the published entry requirements for the course. Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background. Whether you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.

Admissions panels and assessors

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

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

After an offer is made

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

Financial Declaration

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

Disclosure of criminal convictions

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

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

Some postgraduate research students in science, engineering and technology subjects will need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate prior to applying for a Tier 4 visa. Further information can be found on our Tier 4 (General) Student visa page. For some courses, the requirement to apply for an ATAS certificate may depend on your research area.

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 2020-21

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU (including Islands)£7,970
Overseas£26,405

Course fees are payable each year, for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay course fees). For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.

Following the period of fee liability, you may also be required to pay a University continuation charge and a college continuation charge. The University and college continuation charges are shown on the Continuation charges page.

For more information about course fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

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 2020-21 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,135 and £1,650 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 2020-21, you should allow for an estimated increase in living expenses of 3% each year.

How to apply

You are welcome to contact potential supervisors associated with the course prior to submitting an application but this is not required.

The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:

Official transcript(s)

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

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

CV/résumé

A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.

Statement of purpose/personal statement:
Up to one page

The personal statement should be written in English and should focus on your interest in, and experience of this research field (rather than personal achievements and interests) and any future career aspirations. You will not be required to submit a research project proposal.

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
  • commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course
  • preliminary knowledge of research techniques
  • capacity for sustained and intense work
  • reasoning ability
  • ability to absorb new ideas, often presented abstractly, at a rapid pace.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, generally academic

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

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

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

When you complete your application, please give the following answers where requested.

About your course: 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'.

About your course: Proposed supervisor name

Please leave this field blank.

Funding: Departmental studentship applications

Answer 'no' to the question of whether you are applying to a specific studentship.

Start or continue an application

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

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

Step 3: Check the deadlines on this page and plan your time to submit your application well in advance.

Step 4: Our Application Guide will help you complete the form. It contains links to FAQs and further help.

Step 5: Submit your application as soon as possible (you can read more information about our deadlines).

Application GuideApply

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