About the course
The DPhil in Paediatrics provides opportunities for study in a broad range of basic, translational and clinical science related to child health including major strengths in developmental immunology and haematology, infectious disease, vaccines, paediatric imaging and neuromuscular biology, mucosal immunology and gastroenterology. You will become part of a vibrant research community both within the department and in the wider University.
This course is taking part in a continuing pilot programme to improve the assessment 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.
You will develop generic research skills by making use of a range of research training and skills development offered by the medical sciences division, alongside direction by your supervisor in specific research methods in relation to your project. You are encouraged to develop a literature review in your first year and to attend courses in manuscript and thesis writing and in presentation skills. At the heart of the skills provision are regular group meetings and the annual departmental Research Day where you will present and develop your research ideas and proposals with the benefit of feedback and support from your peers.
Research themes and areas
It is becoming increasingly clear that immune sex differences have a substantial impact on outcome from infectious disease and vaccines. The group's own studies of children who became infected with HIV in utero show that these immune sex differences start before birth and have substantial impact before birth. Female fetuses born to mothers who themselves become infected with HIV during pregnancy are 2-3x more susceptible to infection than male fetuses. The reason, the group believes, is that the female fetus shares with her mother a strong dependence on the innate immune response, and specifically type I interferon (IFN-I) production in response to viruses such as HIV, to protect against infection. Thus, the virus that evades this defence in the mother is highly IFN-I-resistant, and this same highly IFN-I-resistant virus evades the same innate response in the female fetus, but not male fetuses, who are more susceptible to IFN-I-sensitive viruses with high replicative capacity (Adland et al Nature Communications, 2020).
The Goulder Group Research theme focuses on two related goals: the first being to define the mechanisms and impact of immune sex differences in early life; and the second being to define the immune responses in early life that maximise the potential for achieve cure in HIV-infected children. HIV provides an ideal tool to help understand the immune sex differences that are present in early life and their impact. A cohort of 250 HIV-infected mother child pairs in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, followed from the infant’s birth, form the focus of much of this work in the Peter Medawar Building in Oxford. The exposure of sex-discordant twins to other infections (CMV) and to vaccines provide an additional unique means of evaluating early-life immune sex differences.
One in 13 babies are born prematurely; understanding and mitigating the long-term impact of premature birth is important to improve the lives of these children. Apnoea - the cessation of breathing - is a common pathology associated with prematurity. These potentially life-threatening events can result in reduced cerebral oxygenation and frequent apnoeas have been associated with long-term effects including reduced childhood cognitive ability. The focus of the research group is to understand the interaction between apnoea and brain development in premature infants, and to investigate how physiology is altered by pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions. The group is part of a multidisciplinary team of clinicians, nurses, mathematicians, engineers and scientists. The group's work focuses on the collection and use of EEG (electroencephalography) and vital signs (heart rate, respiratory rate etc) data, and the group develops signal processing techniques and uses machine learning to derive tools with the aim to ultimately improve outcomes for prematurely-born children.
The thymus is the anatomical site where T cells are generated and instructed to provide protective immunity against pathogens whilst ignoring the individual’s own tissues. Thymic epithelial cells (TEC), an essential component of the organ’s 3-dimensional scaffold, attract T cell precursor from the peripheral blood, foster their differentiation in a bespoke micro-environment, and help to select developing T cells based on their antigen specificities. Based on their distinct structural, phenotypic, and transcriptomic features, TEC are differentiated into distinct subtypes. Defects in TEC differentiation and function are incompatible with a normal generation of naive T cells and therefore frequently associated with severe combined immunodeficiencies or a loss of immunological tolerance. The research of the laboratory seeks to detail the genetic and epigenetic control of TEC development and function combining multi-parameter flow cytometry, advanced histological and molecular methods, proteomics, mathematical modelling and transcriptomic analyses at both population level and single cell resolution.
Teresa Lambe: Emerging and Outbreak pathogens
Despite therapeutic advances, the continued emergence and re-emergence of novel infectious pathogens can have devastating healthcare impacts. Increased global interdependence and the ease of human, animal and trade movements facilitate transmission and present multiple opportunities for pathogen spread.
There are a number of novel and dangerous pathogens with recognised pandemic potential, including but not limited to, SARS-CoV-2, Ebola, Marburg, Lassa Fever, Nipah, and Crimean Congo haemorrhagic fever. My team are currently focusing on the development and testing of the Oxford/AstraZeneca (ChAdOx1 nCoV-19/AZD1222) vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 working closely with Oxford Vaccine Group and global teams.
It is widely recognised that the health of humans and animals are interdependent and a number of emerging infectious diseases have a robust animal reservoir. The group are therefore delineating protective immune responses following natural infection in both human and animals to inform therapeutic development and vaccine design.
Using this information, the group are developing vaccines for a number of emerging pathogens with careful consideration of implications for veterinary cross-over and working closely with collaborators at the Pirbright Institute and NIH. Some of the works are at the pre-clinical stage while others have progressed to clinical trials.
This DPhil represents an exciting opportunity to build on the current and innovative program of vaccine development for emerging and outbreak pathogens while working in close collaboration with the Wellcome Trust major overseas research programme in Kilifi, Kenya and other key players for vaccine development against Emerging Pathogens.
Both specialised subject training and generic research capabilities will be developed, including but not limited to:
- Vaccine design (Molecular cloning & vaccine generation)
- Immunogenicity assessment of human samples
- Cellular immune assays (ELISpot, FACS & Intracellular Cytokine Staining (ICS))
- Humoral immune assays (ELISA, FACS & Cultured ELISpot)
- Development of translational assays (Pseudotyped virus assay)
All students will be expected to analyse, interpret and present their data internally and at appropriate conferences. This project will provide a broad range of transferable skills with a unique insight into translational research.
Martin Maiden: The application of the evolutionary and population approaches to the genomic analysis of bacterial pathogens for translation into public health interventions, especially immunisation.
Specific organism interests include the pathogenic Neisseria and Campylobacter. Highly interdisciplinary work across the Medical and MPLS Divisions. See, for example: MacLennan JM, Rodrigues CMC, Bratcher HB, Lekshmi A, Finn A, Oliver J, et al. Meningococcal carriage in periods of high and low invasive meningococcal disease incidence in the UK: comparison of UKMenCar1-4 cross-sectional survey results (Reference: Lancet Infect Dis. 2021;21:677-87. Epub 2021/01/23. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30842-2. PMID: 33482143)
Daniel O’Connor: Utilising the “-omics” toolkit to elucidate the mechanisms underlying immune responses to vaccines and infections.
This theme of work explores multi-omics data across a spectrum of immune perturbation — vaccination through to infection. Research includes elucidating the genetic determinants of vaccine responses, describing novel immune correlates of protection, and developing rapid and accurate diagnostics.
The overall purpose of the group's research is to reduce the global burden of hereditary neurological disease. This goal is pursued through three strategic aims:
- identification of genes associated with neurological diseases,
- advancement of the current understanding of the molecular mechanisms of pathogenesis in these diseases, and
- development of effective treatments for hereditary neurological diseases.
This work has recently led to the development of an innovative gene therapy approach for a genetic condition named spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy, relying on viral delivery of an isoform of the disease gene Androgen Receptor and suitable for translation into the clinic (see reference: doi.org 10.1126/sciadv.abi6896) and the identification of genetic variants in the ATP6V0A1 gene as a cause of severe neurodevelopmental conditions (see reference: doi.org 10.1101/2021.06.01.21257500).
In particular, the group are interested in understanding the mechanisms underlying the diversification of the human transcriptomic (RNA editing), the ways those contribute to the functioning of the motor unit in health and disease, and how this knowledge can be harvested to enable targeted correction of mutations in coding sequences of RNA for treatment.
The group employs a combination of transcriptomic analyses, advanced microscopy, cellular and biochemical studies in human iPSC-derived neurons, disease models in mice, and translational studies in human subjects. The group's expectation is that these studies will ultimately reveal central disease mechanisms of neuromuscular diseases and serve as a foundation for the development of effective disease-modifying therapies.
Thomas Roberts: RNA medicine
Strategies for therapeutic manipulation of gene expression have matured to the point where there are now multiple FDA-approved drugs with diverse mechanisms of action including gene silencing (via RNase H-active gapmer oligonucleotides or RNA interference using siRNA) and direct antagonism of proteins (using aptamers), and exon skipping/inclusion using steric block oligonucleotides. Of particular interest are splice switching oligonucleotides that can rescue expression of proteins associated with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) – both paediatric muscle-wasting disorders which previously had very limited treatment options. Central to the development of these therapies is an understanding of disease nucleic acid biology (in terms of understanding the target mRNA splicing) and drug nucleic acid chemistry (the design, composition, and delivery of the therapeutic molecule). These exciting developments are paving the way for a plethora of new molecule medicines across a wide spectrum of disease indications. The group are interested in developing new modalities of therapeutic gene manipulation, including gene editing, RNA editing, and gene activation. Primarily, the group are focused on neuromuscular diseases (such as DMD and SMA) and infantile epileptic encephalopathies (such as Dravet syndrome).
Work in the group encompasses:
- investigations of novel RNA-targeting or RNA-based therapeutic strategies;
- gene expression profiling to better understand disease (especially in terms of spatial-restriction, sub-cellular localisation, and non-coding RNA); and
- the development of biomarkers for monitoring responses to therapeutic intervention (with a particular focus on small RNA biomarkers).
Laurent Servais: STRONG (Specialised Translational Research Oxford Neuromuscular Group)
STRONG (Specialised Translational Research Oxford Neuromuscular Group) has a special interest for newborns screening of genetic condition, Angelman syndrome, innovative outcomes using magneto-inertial technology and wearable devices and natural history studies. The group are working with patients in order to design and conduct efficient clinical trials.
Rebeccah Slater: Paediatric Neuroimaging Group
The Paediatric Neuroimaging Group can offer a range of DPhil projects related to early life neurodevelopment and clinical research translation. The group's work is focussed on better understanding the development and treatment of infant pain. The groups places great importance on translating mechanistic insights from research into clinical practice and can offer DPhil students opportunities to focus on mechanistic research, clinical trials, methodology development (MRI, EEG and analytical approaches) and provide opportunities to work with industry, academia and regulators to optimise the acceleration of innovations into practice.
Rinn Song/Else Bijker: Novel Diagnostics for Paediatric Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis (TB) remains a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in children, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, with an estimated incidence of one million cases per year. Diagnosis of TB is complex, especially in young children, because their symptoms are non-specific, they cannot expectorate sputum and often have paucibacillary disease. Despite significant advances in TB diagnostics made in the last decade, they barely impacted on paediatric TB. As a result, under-diagnosis of those with TB is common. Improving paediatric TB diagnosis is very important, not only for individual patients, but also for the assessment of the true burden of paediatric TB and the development of new treatments and vaccines which is hindered by the lack of a reliable reference standard.
New approaches for diagnosis of paediatric TB are urgently needed, especially in three areas that the group is working on:
- tests that can be used at the point of care level;
- non-sputum-based tests; and
- tests that can accurately identify the children with TB currently classified as microbiologically negative.
The group works together in a strong consortium of world-leading scientists and collaborators from around the world, including Uganda, Peru, the United States of America, Switzerland and Canada: the Feasibility of Novel Diagnostics for TB in Endemic Countries (FEND for TB) Consortium, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health for five years. The previous NIH-funded consortium led to the development of the GeneXpert Assay. The objective of the FEND for TB Consortium is to support the evaluation of early-stage tuberculosis diagnostic assays and strategies in the context of existing clinical algorithms in tuberculosis endemic countries. FEND for TB conducts early-stage diagnostic accuracy and feasibility studies and then feeds back to assay developers to facilitate the efficiency of the iterative assay evaluation-assay revision process. The consortium also involves a group of highly-recognised experts in modelling to evaluate impact, cost-effectiveness and other key factors to consider for the possible implementation of promising novel TB tests.
This project would offer a variety of exciting opportunities, including in-country study implementation and supervision, biostatistical and analytical work, modelling research, and through close collaboration with the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) insight and contributions to the process of working with the WHO in their regulatory approval process of new diagnostic tests for TB. For further information, please see the grant information for FEND for FB and the grant information for Novel and Optimized Diagnostics for Pediatric TB (both external links).
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Department of Paediatrics 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 Department of Paediatrics.
You will join one of the department's research groups with primary supervision provided by faculty members in one of the department's laboratory or clinical research facilities.
Formal assessment of progress will be made at three points during the course: transfer of status, confirmation of status which traditionally takes place at the departmental annual research day held each summer and then final thesis examination.
Alumni from the DPhil in Paediatrics include clinicians and scientists who have pursued diverse careers, now populating senior academic and clinical posts in universities around the world.
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.
Entry requirements for entry in 2022-23
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 subject relevant to the research project you are applying to.
Entrance is very competitive.
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
- Preference may be given to those who have previously studied in an appropriate scientific research discipline.
- Applicants who have evidence of scientific publication on their application are at an advantage.
- It would be expected that graduate applicants would be familiar with the recent published work of their proposed supervisor.
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.
Candidates who are shortlisted are normally interviewed as part of the admissions process. Interviews usually take place in mid- to late January and there will be a minimum of three academics on the interview panel. Candidates will be either interviewed in person or via Skype in the case of overseas applicants.
The format of the interview include a short presentation from candidates on their research proposal followed by questions from the interview panel.
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. The After you apply section of this website provides further information about the academic assessment of your application, including the potential outcomes. Please note that any offer of a place may be subject to academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions may vary depending upon your individual academic circumstances.
Students are considered for shortlisting and 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, your offer letter will give full details of your offer and any academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. In addition to any academic conditions which are set, 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.
Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine
The Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine (WIMM) fosters research in molecular and cell biology with direct application to the study of human disease. The WIMM is the location for the developmental immunology and haematology research groups in the Department.
Peter Medawar Building
The Peter Medawar Building houses an inter-disciplinary research consortium which investigates pathogen diversity through a combination of experimental and theoretical approaches, with links to two University divisions: Medical Sciences, Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences. This is the location for the HIV research group.
Oxford Vaccine Group, Centre for Clinical Vaccinology and Tropical Medicine (CCVTM)
The Oxford Vaccine Group (OVG) is located in CCVTM which is a purpose built space for research in vaccinology and tropical medicine. The facility includes fully-equipped modern Containment Level 2 and 3 laboratories for the design, development and clinical testing of vaccines. Facilities are designed to accommodate multi-disciplinary working across microbiology, immunology, and molecular techniques in proximity to clinical expertise and trial patients/volunteers.
Paediatric Nutrition Research Group Laboratories
The two Paediatric Nutrition Research Group Laboratories are located in the neonatal unit. One is a visual function laboratory to study the development of visual pathways in brain-damaged infants following neurotropic supplementation of their diets. The second is a body composition laboratory which house an air displacement plethysmography used to validate new techniques derived from 3-D ultrasound measures of body composition in new-born infants.
Bodleian Health Care Libraries provides services to the staff and students of the University of Oxford, mainly in clinical medicine, and to the staff of the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust. There are over 20,000 books and over 550 journal titles in the Bodleian Health Care Libraries.
The Medical Sciences Division IT services provide Information Technology services, support and advice to the University of Oxford's Medical Sciences Division. It operates and manages data networks and networked services for the division's departments located on the Oxford Hospital Sites (John Radcliffe, Churchill, Warneford and Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre), the Old Road Campus in Headington, and parts of the Science Area in the centre of Oxford.
The University expects to be able to offer around 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2022-23. 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 December or 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.
Annual fees for entry in 2022-23
Annual Course fees
Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.
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.
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 2022-23 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,215 and £1,755 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 2022-23, 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.
The following colleges accept students on the DPhil in Paediatrics:
How to apply
Please read all the instructions carefully before starting your application. You should pay particular attention to the instructions concerning the submission of your CV/résumé below.
You are strongly encouraged to contact a potential supervisor(s) before applying. You should also communicate with the department in order to refine your application before submitting, especially where scholarships are involved.
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. 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
You can find more information about the standard CV form on our page that provides details of the continuing pilot programme to improve the assessment procedure for graduate applications.
Statement of purpose/personal statement and research proposal:
Statement a maximum of 500 words, proposal a maximum of 1,000 words
Your statement of purpose/personal statement and research proposal should be submitted as a single, combined document with clear subheadings. Please ensure that the word counts for each section are clearly visible in the document.
Statement of purpose/personal statement
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.
The research proposal should cover areas such as the background to your research, methodology, expected results and the contribution to the field of learning.
The overall word count should include any bibliography.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
This will be assessed for:
- your reasons for applying
- the coherence of the proposal
- the originality of the project
- evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
- the ability to present a reasoned case in English
- the feasibility of successfully completing the project in the time available for the course (a maximum of 4 years)
- 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.
It will be normal for your ideas subsequently to change in some ways as you investigate the evidence and develop your project. You should nevertheless make the best effort you can to demonstrate the extent of your research question, sources and method at this moment.
References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, all of which must be 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.
Academic references are required. Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation, and your ability to work in a group.
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 on our low-income countries list (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.