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.
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 throughout your study at the Nuffield Department of Population Health (NDPH). 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.
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.
You will be admitted to the status of Probationer Research Student (PRS) in the first instance and you will then seek transfer to DPhil status by the end of your fourth term after admission. Confirmation of status will usually be carried out in the eighth term after admission as a research student, and no later than the ninth term. Both transfer and confirmation of status will require an oral assessment. Having successfully confirmed your status you will then be able to apply for the appointment of examiners, submit your thesis and complete the viva voce examination.
Most DPhil alumni progress to academic posts, while a few join other health-related professions.
Changes to this course and your supervision
The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in circumstances of a pandemic (including Covid-19), epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, in certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.
Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.
Other courses you may wish to consider
Applicants are strongly advised to visit the Medical Sciences Graduate School website to help them identify the most suitable course and supervisors.
If you're thinking about applying for this course, you may also wish to consider the courses listed below. These courses may have been suggested due to their similarity with this course, or because they are offered by the same department or faculty.
Courses suggested by the department
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 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.
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.
Shortlisting and 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 Wednesday 27 January to Tuesday 2 February 2021 and can be conducted via Skype video link or face-to-face.
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 one further senior researcher from the department.
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.
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.
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.
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|
Annual Course fees
|Home (UK, Republic of Ireland,|
Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
|Overseas (including EU)||£13,731|
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 for full-time study on this course:
How to apply
If you wish to apply for an advertised project, you should make contact with a supervisor 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.
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 1,400 words
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.
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 though one professional reference is acceptable.
Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation and ability to work with peers.
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.