About the course
Based in the Radcliffe Department of Medicine, this DPhil research programme is aimed at basic scientists and clinicians with an interest in pursuing research in a scientific field related to medicine, particularly in cardiovascular medicine, diabetes, endocrinology and metabolism, epidemiology and clinical trials, haematology and pathology, immunology, regenerative medicine and stem cells, and acute stroke.
Applicants are strongly advised to visit the Medical Sciences Graduate School website to help them identify the most suitable course and supervisors.
You will be admitted directly onto a research project with one of RDM’s world-leading scientists, who will act as your supervisor. In most cases, students choose a project from our advertised project list, but in some cases students design their own project in collaboration with their proposed supervisor. In either case, you will be expected to play an active role in shaping your project over the course of the DPhil. Graduate students are a valuable part of the department and they are encouraged to be involved with the scientific and social life of the department at all levels.
Your project and development during your DPhil studies will be guided by a specialised team led by your academic supervisor. Most students also have one or more formal co-supervisors, who can provide additional scientific advice on their specialist areas and who will offer another viewpoint on the student’s project. Together, they form the specialised team that will advise you on your academic progress. If you don’t have a formal co-supervisor, you will have a nominated secondary supervisor, who you can always ask for advice, but who will not be actively involved with your project on a day-to-day basis.
As well as your supervisor, you will have the support of a Graduate Advisor, the Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Studies Administrator. All activity relating to graduate students within the department is overseen by the Graduate Studies Committee.
Your training will be tailored to your particular needs, drawing from the vast range of training available at Oxford and covering both specialist scientific methods and techniques and transferable skills. Please note that there is no formal taught component of the DPhil in Medical Sciences.
Much of your training will take place in the lab, where you will be trained by your supervisor or members of the lab team in the variety of techniques and protocols used. A brief statement of the training you will receive in the lab is included in the training description of your chosen project.
As a member of the Medical Sciences Graduate School you will be entitled to enrol on courses run by Medical Sciences Skills Training. You will be able to attend the wide variety of sessions covered through the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine (WIMM) Methods and Techniques course, and if your research is on a topic related to cardiovascular medicine you will be able to benefit from the British Heart Foundation Centre of Research Excellence hosted by the University. RDM also runs a successful mentoring scheme, which all students are encouraged to join.
Recent graduates from the DPhil in Medical Sciences have gone on to take up postdoctoral research opportunities within universities and in the pharmaceutical industry. Graduates with previous medical training have continued their clinician-scientist careers both within the University of Oxford and elsewhere.
Other courses in this area
- DPhil in Cardiovascular Science
- DPhil in Clinical Medicine
- DPhil in Biomedical and Clinical Sciences
- DPhil in Infection, Immunology and Translational Medicine
- DPhil in Genomic Medicine and Statistics
- DPhil in Ion Channels and Disease
- DPhil in Chromosome Biology
Changes to the course
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. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.
Entry requirements for entry in 2019-20
Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:
1. Academic ability
Proven and potential academic excellence
Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in a biomedical or related science subject.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0.
However, entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a first-class degree, a GPA of 3.7 or the equivalent.
If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).
No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.
Other appropriate indicators will include:
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(s)
Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.
There will be a minimum of three academics on the interview panel. For the RDM Scholars Programme or the WIMM Prize Studentship, interview dates are advertised on the appropriate website. For all other applications you will be contacted to arrange a date for interview. Details of the interview format will be provided to you after shortlisting.
Applicants are not required to have publications, but it will strengthen your application if you have already published your work in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Please include details of any publications on your CV/résumé.
Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience
Applicants are normally expected to have research experience in a a biomedical or scientific field. Examples of suitable research experience include, but are not limited to, research projects carried out during previous degree-level study, research internships or work experience as a research assistant.
Evidence of a prior interest in the specific area of research proposed is likely to advantage a candidate’s application.
You are expected be familiar with the recent published work of your proposed supervisor.
2. English language requirement
Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the standard level required by the University.
3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places
The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:
- The ability of the Radcliffe Department of Medicine to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work.
- Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.
The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:
- The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Radcliffe Department of Medicine 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 Radcliffe Department of Medicine.
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, maternity leave or change in employment.
4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties
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.
Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.
Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.
All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).
Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.
6. Other information
Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.
For specific projects the higher level of the University's English language requirement may be required - for example, if you will be working on a clinical project involving patient contact.
The Radcliffe Department of Medicine (RDM) is a large multi-disciplinary department with internationally renowned research programmes in a broad range of sciences related to medicine. Research spans the translational research spectrum, from basic biological research through to clinical and population research. The RDM is committed to training the next generation of scientists in biological and clinical sciences.
RDM scientists were rated at the highest level in both basic science and clinical research across a wide range of fields in the UK's Research Excellence Framework 2014 (REF 2014).
The department has a staff complement of over 650 people, an annual research income of around £55 million and around 150 graduate students.
You will be allocated space within your supervisor's lab. RDM has state-of-the-art research facilities across the spectrum of our research expertise and where specialist facilities do not exist within RDM itself it is usually possible to use facilities elsewhere in Oxford.
The department has a number of graduate student representatives, two of whom sit on the Graduate Studies Committee. They act as the point of contact for students and ensure that any concerns amongst students can be heard by the department and acted upon.
There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.
Full funding opportunities are available for all applicants to this course, whatever your nationality. The Medical Sciences Graduate School website provides further details, as well as information about external funding opportunities.
You may also be interested in departmental funding opportunities. Further details can be found on the department's website.
Annual fees for entry in 2019-20
Annual Course fees
|Home/EU (including Islands)||£7,730|
The fees shown above are the annual course fees for this course, for entry in the stated academic year.
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. You may have seen separate figures in the past for tuition fees and college fees. We have now combined these into a single figure.
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.
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.
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 2019-20 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,058 and £1,643 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 2019-20, you should allow for an estimated increase in living expenses of 3% each year.
The following colleges accept students on the DPhil in Medical Sciences:
- Balliol College
- Brasenose College
- Campion Hall
- Corpus Christi College
- Exeter College
- Green Templeton College
- Harris Manchester College
- Hertford College
- Jesus College
- Keble College
- Kellogg College
- Lady Margaret Hall
- Linacre College
- Lincoln College
- Magdalen College
- Merton College
- Oriel College
- Pembroke College
- The Queen's College
- St Anne's College
- St Catherine's College
- St Cross College
- St Edmund Hall
- St Hilda's College
- St Hugh's College
- St John's College
- St Peter's College
- Somerville College
- Trinity College
- University College
- Wadham College
- Wolfson College
- Worcester College
How to apply
You are strongly encouraged to contact a prospective supervisor before you apply. Whether you have contacted a prospective supervisor will be taken into account at the shortlisting and interview stage.
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.
Your CV/résumé should include a summary of your scientific skill competencies, give details of any publications and list any prizes or scholarships you have been awarded.
Statement of purpose/personal statement:
Up to two pages
Although this is a research-based course, a personal statement is required rather than a research proposal. Your personal statement (written in English) should describe your background, the qualities and experience that you will bring to your doctoral research and why you are interested in this opportunity.
This will be assessed for:
- your reasons for applying
- evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
- 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 you may use up to one relevant professional reference – for example, a reference from an industrial placement.
Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation, and ability to work in a group.
Start or continue an application
Step 1: Carefully read the entry requirements on this course page to make sure you meet all the criteria.
Step 2: Check above what documents are required and prepare to apply by reading our Application Guide.
Step 3: Apply as soon as possible. Consult the Application Guide for more information about deadlines.