The Richard Doll building against a blue sky
The Richard Doll building, housing many of the University's research laboratories, offices and support spaces for the Medical Sciences Division
(Image credit: Rob Judges / Oxford University Images)

DPhil in Health Data Science (HDR UK/Turing Wellcome)

About the course

The DPhil in Health Data Science (HDRUK/Turing Wellcome) offers highly-qualified students the opportunity to join a unique national doctoral programme combining expertise in three fundamental areas: statistical, computational, and health sciences.

It is not possible to apply to the DPhil in Health Data Science (HDR UK/Turing Wellcome) directly. Students must first have been successful in obtaining an offer to join the HDRUK-Turing Wellcome PhD Programme, applications to which are administered by HDR UK and the Alan Turing Institute (see 'How to apply' for details).

The DPhil in Health Data Science (HDR UK/Turing Wellcome) is part of a national programme of health data science doctoral courses, the HDRUK-Turing Wellcome PhD Programme in Health Data Science. This national programme is supported by a network of seven UK universities, including Oxford, which are the core partners in Health Data Research UK (HDR UK), an independent and not-for-profit institute dedicated to promoting health data science in the UK, and particularly to providing safe and secure access to health data to support all types of health research. The HDR UK Oxford site’s focus is on two of the major strengths of health research at the University: facilitating recruitment and data collection in 21st century clinical trials using electronic health records and mobile devices, and enhancing observational studies of human health through improved collection of participant characteristics (phenotypes) using novel technologies and statistical methods.

The HDRUK/Turing Wellcome PhD Programme in Health Data Science is a joint venture between HDR UK and the Alan Turing Institute, the UK’s national institute for data science and artificial intelligence. Particular strengths in Oxford’s contributions to the Alan Turing Institute are in statistical modelling and inference, for example in the field of human genetics, where research at Oxford has revolutionised basic medical science, understanding the causes of disease, and drug discovery.

The course is a four year programme aimed specifically at students trained in quantitative disciplines (eg mathematics, computer science, physics), to help boost the number of health data scientists with formal training in these areas. The course provides a stipend, tuition fees (at the Home fee rate), research and travel expenses, and training and career transition support at the end of the course. Students enrolled at Oxford will be part of a national cohort based at each of the partner universities (additionally, Cambridge, University College London, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham, and Manchester).

The first year of the course consists of taught short courses, delivered by each of the partner universities, and short project work, culminating in a 12-week individual project that is intended to lead into the thesis. Year 1 of the course will be based in the Oxford Big Data Institute, a multi-disciplinary hub that focuses on the analysis of large, complex, heterogeneous data sets for research in clinical medicine and population health. The remaining three years of the course will be dedicated to the thesis project, to be completed under the supervision of researchers affiliated with HDR UK or Alan Turing Institute.

Supervision

The allocation of graduate supervision 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.

In the first year, students will attend a training programme delivered (in person, where possible) by each of the partner institutions. Students will allocated supervisors in their first year to provide academic supervision during the training programme and to facilitate the selection of a thesis project.

From Year 2, students will have thesis supervisors, with whom they will begin to work during their 12-week individual project towards the end of Year 1. Students will be expected to have a minimum of two supervisors, preferably in a co-supervisory arrangement to ensure students can always get adequate support for their research.

Assessment

All students will be initially admitted to the status of Probationer Research Student (PRS). Within a maximum of six terms as a full-time PRS student or twelve terms as a part-time PRS student, students will be expected to apply for transfer of status from Probationer Research Student to DPhil status. This application is normally made by the fourth term for full-time students and by the eighth term for part-time students.

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 their work continues to be on track.

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

Students will be expected to submit an original thesis within a maximum of four years from the date of admission. To be successfully awarded a DPhil students will need to defend their thesis orally (viva voce) in front of two appointed examiners.

The frequency of meetings with supervisors will depend on which department the thesis project is based. Commonly, within those departments based with the Medical Science Division, once a fortnight is typical.

Graduate destinations

This is a new course and there are no alumni yet. It is expected that graduates will be extremely well-placed to take on leading roles in industry, academia and the public sector.

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

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 centre

Health Data Science EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training

Entry requirements for entry in 2021-22

Information regarding the entry requirements for this course can be accessed at the following location:

DPhil in Health Data Science (HDR UK /Turing Wellcome) entry requirements

Additional requirements

English language requirement

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.

Minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level requirement
TestMinimum overall scoreMinimum score per component
IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713) 7.57.0
TOEFL iBT (Institution code: 0490)110Listening: 22
Reading: 24
Speaking: 25
Writing: 24
C1 Advanced*191185
C2 Proficiency191185

*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.

Performance at interview

Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.

Programme offer-holders who apply to this course at Oxford will be invited to interview as early as possible. The interview will be approximately 30 minutes in length, and will be conducted by at least two people. Interviews will normally take place face-to-face, although virtual interviews can be arranged as needed.

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.

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 first year of this course is based in the Oxford Big Data Institute (BDI), a purpose-built 7,500 square-metre building located on the University's biomedical Old Road Campus. The BDI will provide dedicated teaching space for classes, workshops, group exercises, and presentations, as well as study space for students during their first year. The BDI is home to the Oxford HDR UK site, and hosts many world-leading, large-scale studies of human health. Students will benefit from diverse national and international connections, including through: the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), a £114m translational research partnership between the University and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; the UK Biobank, a world-leading resource for health research with a BDI-based informatics team which is providing solutions for large-scale processing and analysis of health records, genomic, imaging, sensor, and other data; and, other national and international projects or partners such as China Kadoorie Biobank, the Mexico City Prospective Study, Genomics England, PANGEA, MalariaGen, WHO, and multiple industrial partners. 

Computing facilities at the BDI include the Biomedical Research Computing platform, a secure research computing infrastructure including nearly 7,000 cores, 60 GPUs for accelerated machine learning, and over 10 petabytes of storage. An additional OpenStack cloud service provides 1,200 cores, 40 GPUs and 300TB of high-performance storage. There is central support for common data science applications and services.

DPhil in Health Data Science (HDR UK/Turing Wellcome) students will have the opportunity to participate in HDR UK Oxford activities, as well as those of the Alan Turing Institute. In addition, the University’s Old Road Campus for biomedical sciences has a strong community of research students, providing support for skills and career development through both faculty- and student-run courses, workshops and other events.

During the first year of the course, students will have close links with first-year students in the Health Data Science EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training, also based in the BDI.

Resources available to students after the first year will depend on their thesis project and supervisors and may vary between departments and sites where they are based.

Funding

Students wishing to apply for the DPhil in Health Data Science (HDR UK/Turing Wellcome) must first be in receipt of an offer of a place on the HDRUK-Turing Wellcome PhD Programme in Health Data Science, admission to which is administered by HDR UK and The Alan Turning Institute. The course provides a stipend, tuition fees (at the Home fee rate), research and travel expenses.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2021-22

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home (UK, Republic of Ireland,
Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
£8,290
Overseas (including EU)£27,460

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 detailed fee status information and the Oxford and the EU webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s exit from the EU.

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 2021-22 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,175 and £1,710 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 2021-22, you should allow for an estimated increase in living expenses of 3% each year.

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 Health Data Science (HDR UK/Turing Wellcome):

How to apply

Students wishing to apply for the DPhil in Health Data Science (HDR UK/Turing Wellcome) must first be in receipt of an offer of a place on the HDRUK-Turing Wellcome PhD Programme in Health Data Science, admission to which is administered by HDR UK and The Alan Turning Institute. Students with such an offer may then apply to the DPhil in Health Data Science (HDR UK/Turing Wellcome).

To apply, or for further details about the HDRUK-Turing Wellcome PhD Programme in Health Data Science, its requirements and deadline(s), please see the information on the HDR UK website:

How to apply

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