About the course
The programme exposes you to a range of multidisciplinary approaches and embraces all aspects of ion channel and membrane transport research from protein structure, x-ray crystallography and single particle CryoEM, genetics and cell physiology, to animal behaviour and human disease. The first year involves exposure to different techniques during two extended rotation projects in different labs. This is followed by a three-year multidisciplinary research project involving two different OXION groups.
In the first year, in addition to the two 5-month laboratory rotations, you will also prepare for a multidisciplinary PhD by undertaking the PILB and PILC animal courses (formerly known as modules one to four) of the Home Office Personal Licence. Other University-based training and lecture courses may also be considered relevant depending upon your background.
A unique aspect of the programme is the wide range of experimental techniques available within the OXION laboratories. These include approaches to whole animal in vivo physiology and animal behaviour, as well as cutting-edge biochemical, biophysical, electrophysiological, structural and computational methods for studying ion channels and membrane proteins.
From the second to fourth years, you will focus on your doctoral research project. This must be a multidisciplinary project that involves more than one research group. Such joint projects not only help you develop independence and a wider range of skills, but also facilitate important collaborations between groups. The final choice of both project and host research groups will be made by you in conjunction with the Organising Committee.
Where appropriate, you will also have the opportunity to take additional graduate modules to equip yourself with new skills that might be required for your project, or to update your knowledge of major new developments in your own (or related) research field. Training will also be provided in other relevant transferable skills such as writing research papers, planning/writing a thesis and presentation skills.
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 primary supervisor will be drawn from a list of those working directly on ion channels or transporters but the choice of co-supervisor may depend on the nature of the project and techniques required. Students typically meet with their supervisors weekly.
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).
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 Ion Channels and Membrane Transport in Health and Disease you will need to defend your thesis orally (viva voce) in front of two appointed examiners.
Many graduates from this programme continue with academic postdoctoral research in prestigious laboratories worldwide and some now have independent research positions. Other graduates have entered the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry or have continued with their medical training.
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.
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 centre
All graduate courses offered by the Medical Sciences Doctoral Training Centre
Entry requirements for entry in 2021-22
Proven and potential academic excellence
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 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 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.
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.
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. The minimum scores required to meet the University's standard level are detailed in the table below.
|Test||Minimum overall score||Minimum score per component|
|IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713)||7.0||6.5|
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.
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 course. A shortlist of applicants is confirmed, based on assessment of their 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 approximately 3:1.
Shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend interviews in Oxford. The interview panel will include at least three academics. The interview will last approximately 30 minutes and will include a 10-minute presentation of work you have performed for a research project or dissertation, which may be accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation. This will be followed by 20 minutes of scientific and general questions.
Applicants from outside Europe are normally interviewed by Skype/phone, unless they are in Europe at the time of interview.
Applicants attending interview will usually also have the opportunity to meet current students on the course.
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:
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.
You will have access to:
- experimental facilities, as appropriate to your research
- IT support from both the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics 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 University expects to be able to offer up to 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2021-22. 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 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 college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages.
Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the department's website.
Annual fees for entry in 2021-22
Annual Course fees
|Home (UK, Republic of Ireland,|
Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
|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.
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.
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.
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.
If you have no strong preference for a college, the department suggests that you consider Green Templeton College or The Queen’s College. However, all of the following colleges accept students on the DPhil in Ion Channels and Membrane Transport in Health and Disease:
How to apply
You are welcome to contact potential supervisors associated with the course before you apply but this is not required.
The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:
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 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:
A maximum of 500 words
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, interests and aspirations).
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
If you are accepted to the course, during your first year on-course you will develop your DPhil research proposal in consultation with your supervisors and the course directors. You should nevertheless make a clear effort to describe your interest in research questions related to the role of ion channels and membrane transport in health and disease in your personal statement.
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 of the programme, 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 and 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 Ion Channels and Disease'.
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 the deadline information in our Application Guide. Plan your time to submit your application well in advance - we recommend two or three weeks earlier.
Step 4: Check if you're eligible for an application fee waiver. Application fee waivers are available for:
- UK applicants from low-income backgrounds who meet the eligibility criteria;
- residents in a country listed as low-income by the World Bank (refer to the eligibility criteria);
- current Oxford graduate taught students applying for readmission to an eligible course; and
- additional applications to selected research courses that are closely related to your first application.
Step 5: Start your application using the relevant link below. As you complete the form, consult our Application Guide for advice at each stage. You'll find the answers to most common queries in our FAQs.