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

DPhil in Population Health

About the course

The DPhil in Population Health is a doctoral research programme intended to provide you with training in research, an in-depth knowledge and understanding of your doctoral research topic and will prepare you for a career in academia.

This course is taking part in a continuing pilot programme to improve the selection 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.

Research training will primarily be through day-to-day involvement in a research project and working with a research team. Research projects that students have worked on include ‘Can routinely collected data be used to accurately and completely follow-up participants in large randomised trials?’ and ‘Biological Ageing: Statistical analysis of physical and biochemical biomarkers in UK Biobank’. A typical day of a DPhil student varies through the course but will include literature reviews, data analysis, discussion with the research group and writing-up the research thesis.

Your supervisors will be the main source of your research training; you will also be encouraged to strengthen your research skills by taking relevant training courses. Research training will be within a multidisciplinary research environment which includes epidemiology, statistics, ethics, health economics, health promotion, health services research, and big data.

You will be encouraged to make use of the range of skills training offered by the Medical Sciences Division and the department throughout your study at the Nuffield Department of Population Health (NDPH). All students will be asked to complete a Training Needs Analysis (TNA) in the first term of your studies, which will be used to help students to assess their skill level and identify training required. There is no set period of time that should be used for training – students will be able to pursue the training they need. This training includes statistics, epidemiology, data management, research ethics, writing academic papers and presentation skills. You are also expected to identify additional relevant external courses that will support your research training.

Further information about part-time study

A small number of part-time students may be admitted to the DPhil in Population Health. Candidates applying for admission to this part-time course are required to show that their DPhil research topic is suited to part-time study and the supervisors agree with the part-time schedule. The in-residence attendance requirement will be a minimum of 30 days University-based work per year. This will be spread across the academic year with a minimum of ten days based in the department each term. However, attendance is likely to be higher and will be determined by the demands of the individual DPhil research project.

As a part-time student you will be required to attend supervision meetings and other obligations in Oxford for a minimum of 30 days each year. There will be limited flexibility in the dates of attendance, which will be determined by mutual agreement with your supervisor. You will have the opportunity to tailor your part-time study in liaison with your supervisor and agree your pattern of attendance.

Supervision

The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Nuffield Department of Population Health and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. In some circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Nuffield Department of Population Health. Each student will be supervised by at least two supervisors. If one supervisor is from outside the department, a second supervisor will be appointed from within the department.

A supervisor should, at a minimum, meet with their student at least once every two weeks across the year.

Assessment

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

Students who are successful at transfer will also be expected to apply for and gain confirmation of DPhil status to show that their work continues to be on track. This will need to be done within nine terms of admission for full-time students and eighteen terms of admission for part-time students.

Both milestones require an oral assessment with two assessors and therefore provide important experience for the final oral examination.

You will be expected to submit an original thesis after three years for full-time students and six years for part-time students. To be successfully awarded a DPhil in Population Health, your will need to defend your thesis orally (viva voce) in front of two appointed examiners.

Graduate destinations

Most DPhil alumni progress to academic posts both in the UK and Overseas, while others join health-related professions working for notable organisations such as the WHO and Public Health England.

Changes to this course and your supervision

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in circumstances of a pandemic (including Covid-19), epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, in certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.

For further information please see our page on changes to courses and the provisions of the student contract regarding changes to courses.

Other courses you may wish to consider

You are strongly advised to visit the Medical Sciences Graduate School website to help 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 department

Primary Health Care DPhil
Clinical Medicine DPhil
Evidence-Based Health Care DPhil

All graduate courses offered by the Nuffield Department of Population Health

Entry requirements for entry in 2023-24

Proven and potential academic excellence

Degree-level qualifications

As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the following UK qualifications or their equivalent:

  • a first-class or upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in a subject relevant to population health.

Applicants who hold a master's degree in a relevant subject will be at an advantage as this will prepare them for DPhil research.

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 the area of the proposed research may be an advantage.
  • Preference may be given to those who have previously studied a master's degree in a relevant subject.
  • Publications in a peer-reviewed journal would strengthen an application.

English language proficiency

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.

Minimum scores required to meet the University's standard level requirement
TestMinimum overall scoreMinimum score per component
IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713) 7.06.5

TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'

(Institution code: 0490)

100Listening: 22
Reading: 24
Speaking: 25
Writing: 24
C1 Advanced*185176
C2 Proficiency185176

*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.

Declaring extenuating circumstances

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.

References

You will need to register three referees who can give an informed view of your academic ability and suitability for the course. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the types of reference that are required in support of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including an official transcript and a CV/résumé. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the supporting documents that are required as part of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview

Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.  

Applicants will be shortlisted for interview by a panel of academics according to their academic achievements to date, understanding of research area, references, prizes, scholarships and awards and aptitude for the course.

Interviews are planned for late January 2023 and will be conducted via video link.

Interviews normally last no more than 30 minutes and begin with a presentation by the applicant of their research proposal, lasting no more than 5 minutes. The panel normally comprises the Director of Graduate Studies, the Deputy Director of Graduate Studies, at least one of the applicant's proposed supervisors, and at least one further senior researcher from the department

How your application is assessed

Your application will be assessed purely on your proven and potential academic excellence and other entry requirements published under that heading. References and supporting documents submitted as part of your application, and your performance at interview (if interviews are held) will be considered as part of the assessment process.

An overview of the shortlisting and selection process is provided below. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about how applications are assessed

Shortlisting and selection

Students are considered for shortlisting and selected for admission without regard to age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief (including lack of belief), sex, sexual orientation, as well as other relevant circumstances including parental or caring responsibilities or social background. However, please note the following:

  • socio-economic information may be taken into account in the selection of applicants and award of scholarships for courses that are part of the University’s pilot selection procedure and for scholarships aimed at under-represented groups;
  • country of ordinary residence may be taken into account in the awarding of certain scholarships; and
  • protected characteristics may be taken into account during shortlisting for interview or the award of scholarships where the University has approved a positive action case under the Equality Act 2010.

Whether or not you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.

Initiatives to improve access to graduate study

This course is taking part in a continuing pilot programme to improve the selection 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. Further details about this pilot, which applies to all applicants to this course, can be found in our pilot selection procedures section.

Processing your data for shortlisting and selection

Information about processing special category data for the purposes of positive action and using your data to assess your eligibility for funding, can be found in our Postgraduate Applicant Privacy Policy.

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.

Other factors governing whether places can be offered

The following factors will also govern whether candidates can be offered places:

  • the ability of the University to provide the appropriate supervision for your studies, as outlined under the 'Supervision' heading in the About section of this page;
  • the ability of the University to provide appropriate support for your studies (eg through the provision of facilities, resources, teaching and/or research opportunities); and
  • minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to the University's taught and research programmes.

Offer conditions for successful applications

If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, your offer will outline any conditions that you need to satisfy and any actions you need to take, together with any associated deadlines. These may include academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions will usually depend on your individual academic circumstances and may vary between applicants. Our After you apply pages provide more information about offers and conditions

In addition to any academic conditions which are set, you will also be required to meet the following requirements:

Financial Declaration

If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.

Disclosure of criminal convictions

In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.

Resources

Libraries

You will have access to the department's IT support, and to the University Library services such as the Radcliffe Science Library, Cairns Library and the Knowledge Centre based in the Old Road Campus Research Building.

A tour of the Knowledge Centre will be available in your first term. You will be allocated a desk and desktop computer within NDPH.

Seminars

You will be encouraged to attend the weekly Richard Doll seminar series held in the Richard Doll Building, and will be notified of the many seminars taking place across the Medical Sciences Division through a weekly department-wide email.

You will also have the opportunity to attend regular masterclasses with experts in the field of population health, which are joint events with the MSc in Global Health Science and Epidemiology.

Research student group

NDPH hosts an active research student group. This is a student-led group that meets regularly during term time for social events, seminars, journal clubs and academic talks.

Funding

The University expects to be able to offer around 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2023-24. 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 any college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages or below:

Please note that not all the colleges listed above may accept students on this course. For details of those which do, please refer to the College preference section of this page.

Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the department's website.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2023-24

Full-time study

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home£8,960
Overseas£29,700

Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.

Part-time study

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home£4,480
Overseas£14,850

Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.

Information about course fees

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.

Continuation 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.

Where can I find further information about fees?

The Fees and Funding section of this website provides further information about course fees, including information about fee status and eligibility and your length of fee liability.

Additional information

Full-time study

All graduate students in the department are expected to provide their own laptop. This is estimated to cost approximately £600. No bursaries are available from the department for this, however, a loan laptop may be available if it is not possible for students to provide their own equipment. 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.

Part-time study

Please note that you are required to attend in Oxford for a minimum of 30 days each year, and you may incur additional travel and accommodation expenses for this. Also, depending on your choice of research topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur further additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses

Living costs

In addition to your course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2023-24 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,290 and £1,840 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 2023-24, it is suggested that you allow for potential increases in living expenses of 5% or more each year – although this rate may vary significantly depending on how the national economic situation develops. UK inflationary increases will be kept under review and this page updated.

If you are studying part-time your living costs may vary depending on your personal circumstances but you must still ensure that you will have sufficient funding to meet these costs for the duration of your course.

College preference

All graduate students at Oxford belong to a department or faculty and a college or hall (except those taking non-matriculated courses). If you apply for a place on this course you will have the option to express a preference for one of the colleges listed below, or you can ask us to find a college for you. The Colleges section of this website provides information about the college system at Oxford, as well as factors you may wish to consider when deciding whether to express a college preference. Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 45 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as Permanent Private Halls (PPHs). 

For some courses, the department or faculty may have provided some additional advice below to help you to decide. Whatever you decide, it won’t affect how the academic department assesses your application and whether they decide to make you an offer. If your department makes you an offer of a place, you’re guaranteed a place at one of our colleges. 

Before you apply

Our guide to getting started provides general advice on how to prepare for and start your application. Check the deadlines on this page and the information about deadlines in our Application Guide. We recommend that you submit your application well in advance - two or three weeks earlier. 

Application fee waivers

An application fee of £75 is payable per course application. Application fee waivers are available for the following applicants who meet the eligibility criteria:

  • applicants from low-income countries;
  • refugees and displaced persons; 
  • UK applicants from low-income backgrounds; and 
  • applicants who applied for our Graduate Access Programmes in the past two years and met the eligibility criteria.

You are encouraged to check whether you're eligible for an application fee waiver before you apply.

Readmission for current Oxford graduate taught students

If you're currently studying for an Oxford graduate taught course and apply to this course with no break in your studies, you may be eligible to apply to this course as a readmission applicant. The application fee will be waived for an eligible application of this type. Check whether you're eligible to apply for readmission.

Application fee waivers for eligible associated courses

If you apply to this course and up to two eligible associated courses from our predefined list during the same cycle, you can request an application fee waiver so that you only need to pay one application fee.

Contacting the department

If you wish to apply for an advertised project, you should make contact with an academic in the first instance to discuss your research proposal and secure their agreement in principle to act as your supervisor.

If you have your own research proposal, you must identify a suitable supervisor or supervisors within the Nuffield Department of Population Health and secure their agreement in principle to supervise your project should your application be accepted. Once you have secured a supervisory arrangement in principle you should then apply to the course.

Details of academic staff, including their research interests and contact details, can be found on the department's website.

Completing your application

You should refer to the information below when completing the application form, paying attention to the specific requirements for the supporting documents. If any document does not meet the specification, including the stipulated word count, your application may be considered incomplete and not assessed by the academic department. Expand each section to show further details.

Proposed field and title of research project

Under the 'Field and title of research project' please enter your proposed field or area of research if this is known. If the department has advertised a specific research project that you would like to be considered for, please enter the project title here instead.

You should not use this field to type out a full research proposal. You will be able to upload your research supporting materials separately if they are required (as described below).

Proposed supervisor

Under 'Proposed supervisor name' enter the name of the academic (s) who you would like to supervise your research. 

Referees
Three overall, academic preferred

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 though one professional reference is acceptable.

Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation and ability to work with peers.

Official transcript(s)

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.

CV/résumé
Full instructions and link to standard CV creation form

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 (graduate.school@medsci.ox.ac.uk).

You can find more information about the standard CV form on our page that provides details of the continuing pilot programme to improve the selection procedure for graduate applications.

Statement of purpose/personal statement and research proposal:
Statement a maximum of 500 words, proposal a maximum of 1,400 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.

Research proposal

You should submit a detailed outline of your intended research, based either on an advertised research project or your own proposal. This proposal should be no more than 1,400 words in a legible font (single-spaced and no smaller than Arial point 10).

If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.

This should be written in English and cover areas such as the background to the research, methodology and the contribution to the field of learning. Please cite any key references/bibliography; these do not need to be included within the word limit, but they should not take up more than half a page. Please do not include an anticipated timeline (eg Gantt chart) in your proposal. 

The research proposal will be assessed for:

  • background knowledge
  • aims of the research project
  • proposed research methods
  • contribution to the field
  • overall coherence of the proposal.

It will be normal for your ideas subsequently to change in some ways as you investigate the evidence and develop your project during your DPhil studies. 

Your research proposal should focus on your proposed research rather than personal achievements, interests and aspirations.

Start or continue your application

You can start or return to an application using the relevant link below. As you complete the form, please refer to the requirements above and consult our Application Guide for advice. You'll find the answers to most common queries in our FAQs.

Application Guide Apply - Full time Apply - Part time

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