About the course
The DPhil in Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics provides students with a wide range of research topics within a large multi-disciplinary and world-renowned department, spanning a diverse spectrum of research areas from neuroscience, cardiac science, ion channels transporters and signalling, metabolism and endocrinology, development and reproduction to functional genomics.
In the first instance, applicants are advised to identify potential supervisors with Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, based on their research area of interest.
Your research will be conducted at Oxford under the supervision of academic staff who are at the forefront of developments in your chosen research project area. You will explore your research subject area to new depths and have the opportunity to present your findings to members of the international scientific community with whom, one day, you may collaborate.
After attending the new graduate students’ induction day, you will then meet your supervisor and fellow group members. You will complete an Analysis of your Training Needs (TNA) with your supervisor. You will attend any training courses from the divisional flexible skills training programme which includes a range of workshops and seminars in transferable skills, generic research skills and specific research techniques if pertinent to your DPhil research area. You will have access to regular departmental seminars, peer presentation groups for fine tuning presentation deliverance and graduate student social events that incorporate informal talks aimed at students.
You will be encouraged to submit termly reports on your progress and report courses undertaken. The supervisor will also contribute to the termly reports.
Applicants are encouraged to communicate with their potential supervisor(s) prior to submitting an application. The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Department of Physiology, Anatomy & Genetics 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 Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics.
Students are likely to formally meet with their supervisor on a monthly basis although informal meetings may occur more frequently concerning the science.
At the end of your first year or start of the second year, you will prepare and undertake the first milestone, Transfer of Status, for which you will submit a written report describing your research to date and plans for the future. This will be assessed by two independent experts, who interview you as part of the process. When you successfully pass, your next milestone is Confirmation of Status which will be no later than your ninth term (end of third year). At the Confirmation of Status, you give a full thesis thesis outline and timeline within the application, then at the viva, you will give a presentation to outline everything you have completed to date that will be in your thesis. The Confirmation of Status assessment is appraised by two experts. Once your status has been confirmed you should be in a position to write up your thesis and submit.
Once you have passed, you will be awarded Leave to Supplicate. You may then book, via your college, your graduation.
An alumni survey in 2013 showed nearly two-thirds were employed in academic research or had returned to medicine in conjunction with academic research. Other careers included industrial research, teaching, scientific publishing, patent law and banking with a few entering charitable fund raising, charitable scientific employment and pharmaceutical consulting positions.
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 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 subject that ideally will support the chosen research path.
A previous master's degree is not a condition of entry.
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
- Publications should be included within the CV/résumé if applicable.
- 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 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.
|Test||Minimum overall score||Minimum score per component|
|IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713)||7.5||7.0|
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.
Interviews are held during the last week of January. All shortlisted candidates will have been assessed on completed applications only. Funded places are awarded purely on the basis of an assessment of candidates' excellence appropriate to their intended research path.
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.
The department has excellent facilities for the large number of full-time research students who are well integrated into the research of the department.
Research in the department is organised around six major themes:
- cardiac science
- development and reproduction
- functional genomics
- ion channels, transporters and signalling
- metabolism and endocrinology
Within each of these themes there are several research groups and centres. All staff and doctoral students belong to one or more of these research groups, each of which has its own seminar programme to which graduate students often contribute. In addition, the department as a whole sponsors regular seminars and public lectures which attract distinguished national and international speakers.
DPAG IT Services provides various services to the department. These include e-mail, network file storage and computer and printer management services, and maintenance of the network both wired and wireless across the departmental estate.
The Radcliffe Science Library provides a print collection of books, journals and statistics. In addition, it provides access to a wide range of electronic resources.
Incoming students will be allocated study space upon their arrival with their group. The lecture theatre and seminar rooms provide perfect settings to attend talks given by local and internationally acclaimed speakers.
Students will also be encouraged to support and attend social events specifically for them ranging from coffee morning talks to social DPAG graduate student college dinners.
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.
The following colleges accept students on the DPhil in Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics:
How to apply
You are advised to make enquiries as soon as possible prior to your intended entry, ideally a year in advance.
Before applying you are strongly encouraged to identify areas of interest to you from the DPAG research pages and then directly contact the Principal Investigator ('Group Leader') to discuss the possibility of joining their group.
Applicants are expected to have communicated with their proposed research supervisor and to have agreed a research project with the full support of said supervisor before submitting an application. Communications are encouraged either in person or via Skype.
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.
A maximum of 2,000 words
You should submit a detailed outline of your proposed research, written in English, covering areas such as the background to the research, methodology, expected results and the contribution to the field of learning.
The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
This will be assessed for:
- the coherence of the proposal
- the originality of the project
- evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
- the feasibility of successfully completing the project in the time available for the course (a maximum of four years)
- commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course
- preliminary knowledge of research techniques
- reasoning ability.
It will be normal for your ideas subsequently to change 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.
Your proposal should focus primarily on the research rather than purely on personal achievements, interests and aspirations.
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.
References should generally be academic but one or more professional references should be submitted if you have been in research employment.
Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation and 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 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.