DPhil in Radiation Oncology (1+3) | University of Oxford
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DPhil in Radiation Oncology (1+3)

About the course

The Department of Oncology offers a four-year combined taught and research programme in radiation oncology comprised of the MSc in Radiation Biology in the first year followed by the DPhil in Oncology in the second to fourth years. 

This course is designed for DPhil students who recognise the benefit of having a much broader understanding of the multi-disciplinary field of radiation biology and oncology. This will not only enable the student to have a greater understanding of the context of their research project but also will be helpful in identifying future career opportunities.  Only one application is needed and following your successful completion of the MSc your place on the DPhil is confirmed the following year

The MSc

The MSc is a one-year, full-time, taught course which leads to an MSc in radiation biology, which comprises a five-month core theoretical lecture-based syllabus followed by a six-month research project.

The five-month core theoretical course covers the emerging areas of fundamental radiation biology for oncology and its treatment by radiotherapy, along with the hazards associated with radiation exposure. Lectures will also introduce students to key areas of research and innovative treatments in development. The 12 modules are:

  • Physics and Chemistry of Radiation Action
  • Molecular Radiation Biology
  • Cellular Radiation Biology
  • Normal Tissue and Applied Radiation Biology
  • Whole Body Exposure and Carcinogenesis
  • Radiation Epidemiology
  • Imaging Technologies
  • Tumour Microenvironment
  • Applications of Radiation Therapy
  • Translational Radiation Biology
  • Clinical Radiation Biology
  • Radiation Protection

Each module is delivered over a period of one or two weeks and together the 12 modules comprise the core content of the course. Lectures will be led by local, national and international experts, with time allocated for questions and informal discussion. These lectures are supported by additional tutorials, practical sessions and demonstrations given by local staff to provide a wide knowledge and understanding of radiation biology and oncology.

The high-quality laboratory research project in basic or clinically applied research lasts approximately six months. The project will be hosted in the same research group in which they will be registered for their DPhil. Specific training and guidance is provided to enable students to complete the research project. The training, experience and techniques gained during the project will also be invaluable for the subsequent DPhil project.

The DPhil

On successful completion of the MSc taught programme, students progress to the full-time DPhil in Oncology. Their doctoral research is conducted under the supervision of same academic that oversaw the student’s MSc project.

Students begin the three-year DPhil in Oncology programme as a probationary research student (PRS). Towards the end of the first year, students are required to write a report prior to transfer to DPhil (PhD) status. Progress is evaluated by two academic assessors, who are not directly involved in the student’s supervision. Continuation on the DPhil programme is subject to passing the Transfer of Status assessment.

Students must confirm their DPhil status and are encouraged to do so during their eighth term and by no later than the end of the ninth term. Students are expected to submit their thesis between the ninth and twelfth terms from being admitted as a PRS.

In addition to the standard University milestones described above, a student’s progress is formally recorded via supervisor feedback forms submitted termly, ie three times per year. The University has a code of practice for supervision of research under which supervisors must:

  • advise, guide and support the student in all aspects of their research project
  • identify a clear plan of research
  • draw up a timetable for research
  • have regular meetings
  • report on the student’s progress
  • identify the student's training needs
  • encourage the student to participate in the wider Oxford community.

Graduate destinations

After completion of their doctoral training, graduates of the Department of Oncology progress to postdoctoral research positions in Oxford, elsewhere in the UK or internationally (around 50%), to study medicine (around 25%), or to employment in medical charities and other professional organisations (around 25%).

Research students are expected to leave the DPhil in Oncology equipped with the scientific knowledge and cutting-edge technical skills that enable them to become the scholars, teachers and researchers of the next generation, both in the UK and globally.

Supervision

The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Department of Oncology 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 Oncology.

In the case of students who require specific help to adjust to an academic programme or to a new range of skills, the supervisor will work with them to ensure that they have additional support.

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. 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 sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.

For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

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.

All graduate courses offered by the Department of Oncology

Entry requirements for entry in 2020-21

Proven and potential academic excellence

Degree-level qualifications

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 biological, medical, chemical, mathematical and physical science background, as appropriate for the projects offered.

However, entrance is highly competitive and most successful applicants have a first-class degree or the equivalent. A previous master's degree is not required, but is an advantage.

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 are not required, but they may advantage an application. 
  • It would be expected that graduate applicants would be familiar with the recent published work of their proposed supervisor.

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.

Detailed requirements - higher level

The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are:

IELTS Academic7.5Minimum 7.0 per component
TOEFL iBT110

Minimum component scores:

  • Listening: 22
  • Reading: 24
  • Speaking: 25
  • Writing: 24
Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE) or C1 Advanced191Minimum 185 per component
Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) or C2 Proficiency191Minimum 185 per component

Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. For more information about the English language test requirement, visit the Application Guide

Supporting documents 

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. It is expected that interviews will be scheduled in the first week of February 2020 and will normally be held by Skype/videoconference.

Shortlisting meetings to consider applicants for interview and the interview panels include a minimum of three academics. There is normally a 3:1 target ratio of interviewees to places.

The format of the interview is a ten-minute presentation of your research experience or recent scientific project, followed by a question-and-answer session designed to investigate your:

  • experience or potential
  • knowledge of the field
  • interactive skills
  • presentation skills
  • analytical skills
  • experimental design
  • scientific motivation
  • career plan
  • proficiency in English at the University’s higher level.

Supervision

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: 

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.

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.

Resources

The Department of Oncology provides an induction event during the first weeks of study and encourages attendance at Medical Science Division and University induction events.

For the five-month theoretical part of the course in the first year, students are taught in a classroom setting at the Old Road Campus, Oxford. Students have access to quiet areas for personal study in the Old Road Campus Research Building (ORCRB), to the IT support services of the Department of Oncology and the Oxford University library services. Students are supported by the MSc course directors and departmental administrative staff.

In the second to fourth years, students are provided with laboratory workspace, desk space and IT facilities in support of their research. In addition there are on-site library and social facilities. Students are assigned two academic supervisors (with one usually designated as the primary supervisor). One of the supervisors will have overseen the student’s MSc project.

In the Department of Oncology, students work alongside and learn from leaders in their field, and are provided with a world-class academic environment. They benefit from excellent support services, including a comprehensive portfolio of personal and professional skills development. Students are encouraged to attend training opportunities that include both subject-specific and generic research and transferable skills.

The University has a well-developed skills training portfolio in line with the UK Research Councils Joint Statement on graduate skills. The Medical Sciences Division training opportunities cover all aspects of research-related or technical skills, such as ethics, data analysis and statistics and bioinformatics; communications skills including scientific writing and oral and poster presentations, careers and personal development such as personal effectiveness and career planning; and finally academic practice including grant writing, teaching and intellectual property.

In addition, the Careers Service provides a full list of online courses, that are complementary to the Divisional provision, and provide advice on career progression and job applications. Other facilities and support are available through Oxford University IT Services, the Language Centre, and the Oxford Learning Institute for professional development.

Students are provided with laboratory workspace, desk space and IT facilities in support of their research. In addition there are on-site library and social facilities.

Funding

There are over 1,100 full or partial graduate scholarships available across the University. You will be automatically considered for over two thirds of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant January deadline, with most scholarships awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential. To help identify those scholarships where you will be required to submit an additional application, use the Fees, funding and scholarships search and visit individual college websites using the links provided on our college pages.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2020-21

During the first year of the course you will be charged course fees at the MSc in Radiation Biology fee rate. These fees are shown in the table below.

Annual MSc in Radiation Biology (first year) fees for the 2020-21 academic year

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU (including Islands)£7,970
Overseas£24,910

In each subsequent year, you will be charged course fees at the DPhil in Oncology fee rate for that year of study. For an indication of costs, the table below shows the annual DPhil in Oncology course fees for the 2020-21 academic year.

Annual DPhil in Oncology fees for the 2020-21 academic year

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU (including Islands)£7,970
Overseas£26,405

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.

For more information about course fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

Additional information

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, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. Please note that, depending on your choice of 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.

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 2020-21 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,135 and £1,650 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 2020-21, you should allow for an estimated increase in living expenses of 3% each year.

How to apply

It is strongly recommended that you contact potential supervisors directly to discuss the advertised project(s) before you apply.

The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:

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

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.

Personal statement:
1,000 words

You are required to submit a personal statement to explain your scientific experience and background, your interest in your chosen project and provide some insight into how you would develop your research.

This will be assessed for:

  • your reasons for applying
  • evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
  • commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course
  • preliminary knowledge of research techniques
  • capacity for sustained and intense work
  • reasoning ability.

The personal statement should focus on your personal research experience in this field rather than personal achievements and interests.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, academic strongly encouraged

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 strongly encouraged, though you may use up to one professional reference provided that it is relevant to the course.

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 plan your time to submit your application well in advance.

Step 4: Our Application Guide will help you complete the form. It contains links to FAQs and further help.

Step 5: Submit your application as soon as possible (you can read more information about our deadlines).

Application GuideApply

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