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.
The MSc is a full-time, taught course in radiation biology. It consists of a five-month core theoretical programme (October to February) that covers emerging areas of radiation biology and radiation oncology, followed by a six-month period (March to August) to pursue a high-quality basic or clinically-applied research project. The research project is supervised by a senior academic member of the CRUK/MRC Oxford Institute for Radiation Oncology.
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.
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.
Changes to the course
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. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.
Entry requirements for entry in 2018-19
Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:
1. Academic ability
Proven and potential academic excellence
Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in a biological, medical, chemical, mathematical and physical science background, as appropriate for the projects offered.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0.
If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).
No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.
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.
Other appropriate indicators will include:
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(s)
Applicants who are shortlisted are normally interviewed as part of the admissions process. Interviews will be held either in person or by Skype/video-conference with a minimum of three academics on the interview panel. 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.
Publications are not required, but they may advantage an application.
2. English language requirement
Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.
3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places
The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:
- The ability of the Department of Oncology to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work.
- Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.
The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:
- The allocation of graduate supervision 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.
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, maternity leave or change in employment.
4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties
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.
Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.
Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.
All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).
Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.
6. Other information
Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.
All students are cleared for security. Non-EU students will require approval from the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) for courses at the Department of Oncology.
It would be expected that graduate applicants would be familiar with the recent published work of their proposed supervisor.
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.
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.
There are over 1,100 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.
Full funding opportunities are available for all Medical Sciences Graduate School programmes, whatever your nationality. The Medical Sciences Graduate School website provides further details of these, as well as information about external funding opportunities.
Annual fees for entry in 2018-19
During the first year of the course you will be charged tuition and college fees at the MSc in Radiobiology fee rate.
Annual MSc in Radiobiology fees for the 2018-19 academic year
Total annual fees
|c. £4,320||£3,112||c. £7,432|
In each subsequent year, you will be charged 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 tuition and college fees for the 2018-19 academic year.
Annual DPhil in Oncology fees for the 2018-19 academic year
Total annual fees
|c. £4,320||£3,112||c. £7,432|
Tuition and college fees are payable for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay tuition and college fees). Fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and 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.
For more information about tuition fees, college 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.
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.
In addition to your tuition and college fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.
For the 2018-19 academic year, the range of likely living costs is between c. £1,015 and £1,555 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.
The following colleges accept students on the DPhil in Radiation Oncology (1+3):
- Balliol College
- Campion Hall
- Christ Church
- Exeter College
- Green Templeton College
- Jesus College
- Linacre College
- Lincoln College
- Oriel College
- The Queen's College
- St Anne's College
- St Catherine's College
- St Cross College
- St Edmund Hall
- St Hilda's College
- St John's College
- St Peter's College
- Somerville College
- Trinity College
- Wolfson College
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:
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.
You are required to submit a personal statement explaining your scientific experience and background, your motivation for wishing to undertake the course, and indicating your future career plans.
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 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.