About the course
In the DPhil in Statistics, you will investigate a particular project in depth and write a thesis which makes a significant contribution to the field. You will acquire a wide range of research and transferable skills, as well as in-depth knowledge, understanding and expertise in your chosen field of research. You will become part of a vibrant community of researchers.
The Department of Statistics in the University of Oxford is a world leader in research in probability, bioinformatics, mathematical genetics and statistical methodology, including computational statistics, machine learning and data science. Oxford’s Mathematical Sciences submission came first in the UK on all criteria in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) and in 2016 the department moved to a newly-refurbished building in the centre of Oxford.
Much of the department’s research is either explicitly interdisciplinary or draws its motivation from application areas, ranging from biology and physics to the social sciences. The department is also part of a number of Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT) which admit graduate students:
- StatML (Modern Statistics and Statistical Machine Learning), an EPSRC CDT in applicable modern statistical theory and methods as well as on the underpinnings of statistical machine learning in association with Imperial College London;
- Mathematics of Random Systems: Analysis, Modelling and Algorithms, an EPSRC CDT in the area of probabilistic modelling, stochastic analysis and their applications in association with Imperial and Oxford Mathematics; and
- Sustainable Approaches to Biomedical Science (SABS), an EPSRC and MRC CDT focusing on quantitative and predictive research at the interface between the mathematical and physical, and the biological and medical sciences.
You will be expected to acquire transferable skills as part of your training, and to undertake broadening training outside your specialist area. Part of that broadening training is obtained through APTS, the Academy for PhD Training in Statistics; this is a joint venture with a group of leading university statistics departments which runs four weeks of appropriate courses a year. You will give a research presentation or prepare a research poster each year in the department. There may also be opportunities to undertake industrial internships as appropriate.
You are expected to teach approximately 12 contact hours per year in undergraduate and graduate courses in the department. This is mentored teaching, beginning with simple marking, to reach a point where individual students are leading whole classes of 10 to 12 undergraduate students.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Department of Statistics 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 Statistics.
You will be assigned a named supervisor or supervisors, who will have overall responsibility for the direction of your work on behalf of the department. You will have the opportunity to interact with fellow students and other members of your research groups, and more widely across the department. Typically, as a research student, you should expect to have meetings with your supervisor or a member of the supervisory team with a frequency of at least once every two weeks averaged across the year. The regularity of these meetings may be subject to variations according to the time of the year, and the stage that you are at in your research programme.
Initially, you will be admitted as a Probationer Research Student in the same way as those intending to do a MSc by Research. Thus, it may be possible to switch between the two. The same standards are applied for admission for the two degrees.
There are formal assessments of progress on the research project with the Transfer of Status from Probationer Research Student to DPhil status at around 12 to 15 months and Confirmation of Status at around 30 to 36 months. These assessments involve the submission of written work and oral examination by two assessors (other you’re your supervisor). Over the course of the DPhil you will be expected to undertake a total of 100 hours of broadening training outside your specialist area.
The final thesis is normally submitted for examination during the fourth year and is followed by the viva examination.
After research degrees, the majority of the department’s graduates move into research and academic careers. Others work, for example, in data analytics, in tech and biotech companies and in the financial sector.
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
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 Statistics
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 an appropriate subject. You will need a strong background in mathematics or statistics.
However, entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a first-class degree or the equivalent.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.6 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 expected but can be included with the 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.
Performance at interview
Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process for applicants who, on the basis of the written application, best meet the selection criteria. Interviews may be held in person or by telephone or Skype, normally with at least two interviewers.
The interviews last about 30 minutes and include questions about motivation as well as questions from the proposed research area.
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.
The Department of Statistics is based in St Giles, near the centre of Oxford. The building has spaces for study and collaborative learning, including a large interaction and social area, the library and an open research zone.
You will be provided with a computer and desk space in a shared office in this building.
You will have access to the Department of Statistics’ computing facilities and support, the department’s library (in addition to the nearby Radcliffe Science Library and other university libraries, and the centrally-provided electronic resources) and other facilities appropriate to your research topic. The provision of other resources specific to your research project should be agreed with your supervisor as a part of the planning stages of the agreed project.
The department runs seminar series in statistics and probability. There is also a graduate lecture series, involving snapshots of the research interests of the department. Several journal-clubs run each term, reading and discussing new research papers as they emerge.
Graduate training is an important part of the department's research mission. As well as the graduate lectures previously mentioned, formal lecture courses are also available, for example from the MSc in Statistical Science, from the fourth-year undergraduate courses in mathematics and statistics, and from the Centres for Doctoral Training. The MPLS Graduate School offers an extensive range of courses for graduate research students throughout the academic year, including academic subjects and skills; research skills and techniques; ethics and intellectual property; transferable, professional and personal effectiveness skills; and communication, interpersonal and teaching skills.
Departmental seminars and colloquia bring research students, together with academic and other research staff, to hear about on-going research, and provide an opportunity for networking and socialising. There are various social events held throughout the year, such as board game evenings, choir practice, a Summer party and a Winter party.
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.
The following colleges accept students on the DPhil in Statistics:
How to apply
You are advised to look at the research interests of the department's academic staff at an early stage and make contact with a potential supervisor via email to clarify your proposed research area. If possible, you should suggest one or two potential supervisors in your application.
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 1,000 words
Your research proposal should be written in English and should specify the area in which your research interests lie and why you have chosen this area. If you have a particular project in mind, you should describe this and why you are keen to work on this.
If you do not have a detailed project in mind at this stage, you should describe your research interests instead. In this case, the description can be very brief but should include your reasons for applying.
The proposal should be brief but should aim to be helpful to the department in the selection process. The overall page count should include any bibliography.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
This will be assessed for:
- your reasons for applying
- evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study.
Your statement should focus on 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.
Academic references are strongly encouraged, though a professional reference is acceptable in the exceptional case that the referee is able to offer comparable information on your background and suitability for the course to an academic referee.
Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation and commitment.
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.