DPhil in Translational Health Sciences | University of Oxford
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DPhil in Translational Health Sciences

About the course

This doctoral degree is in the social science of healthcare innovation and knowledge translation. Building on a relevant masters-level qualification, you will pursue an independent piece of applied research in a health-related field, supervised by an interdisciplinary team.

For the purposes of this programme, the department defines translational health sciences as the study of the human, organisational and societal issues that impact on the adoption, dissemination and mainstreaming of research discoveries and the harnessing of such discoveries to provide effective, efficient and equitable healthcare.  

This DPhil, which builds on a linked MSc in Translational Health Sciences, has been developed as a partial response to national and international calls for urgent expansion of postgraduate training in the development, implementation and sustainability of innovations in healthcare. On completion of the DPhil, you will have extended the boundaries of knowledge and undertaken an original empirical study in an aspect of translational health sciences as defined above, and to be ready to embark on independent applied research in this field.

Research topics relevant to this programme may pertain (but need not be restricted) to the following:

  • How to influence behaviour eg encourage clinicians to use a new technology in their practice (or indeed how to get them to stop using a technology);
  • The extent to which a new drug, medical device or other innovation generates value for different stakeholders;
  • The challenges of introducing and sustaining an innovation at an organisational level;
  • How policy is made and what prevents it from being ‘evidence-based’;
  • How the regulatory environment can both enable and constrain innovation in healthcare settings;
  • How technologies can (and why they do not always) support care practices;
  • How patients and citizens might play an active role in research and dissemination;
  • How we decide what is right and reasonable in research;
  • How industry, academia and government can work together to optimise the acceleration of innovations into practice;
  • Implications for global knowledge transfer of international differences in health systems.

It is anticipated that most students on this DPhil will have previously completed the MSc in Translational Health Sciences. Those who apply with a different masters degree will need to complete relevant modules as short courses to address gaps in knowledge or specific research skills. These will be discussed on an individual basis.

As a doctoral student on the DPhil in Translational Health Sciences, you will join other postgraduate research students in a vibrant and varied programme of peer support and extension activities, described in detail under 'resources' below. The department will also encourage and support you to actively build your networks with, and gain experience in, settings outside academia such as healthcare organisations, policymaking, industry and regulation.

The department views the DPhil in Translational Health Sciences both as an extension of the MSc (for students seeking an academic career) and as a means of inspiring the MSc students and adding vibrancy to the MSc course. To that end, you will be encouraged to present your emerging research to MSc students in seminars or guest lectures and offer suitable small-scale projects to MSc students. 

The DPhil can be studied on a full-time or part-time basis. The Departmental Postgraduate Handbook provides detailed advice and guidance on starting the DPhil, term dates, working environment, supervisor relationships and troubleshooting, pastoral support and college affiliation.  

Supervision

The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences 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 Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences.

You will be appointed two Departmental Supervisors with complementary backgrounds and interests, along with a College Advisor. Where appropriate, and relatively rarely, the second supervisor may be appointed from a different department.  Supervision will typically occur monthly for full-time students and two-monthly for part-time ones, along with additional email contact and pastoral support.

On entry into the programme, you will receive a full induction and meet individually with the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) and then twice yearly, as well as on an as-needed basis throughout their programme.

Assessment

All students will be initially 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 full-time PRS student, you will be expected to apply for transfer of status from Probationer Research Student to DPhil status. This application is normally made by the fourth term for full-time students and by the eighth term for part-time students.

A successful transfer of status from PRS to DPhil status will require submission of a written progress document and defence of that document in an oral presentation to internal examiners. Students who are successful at transfer will also be expected to apply for and gain confirmation of DPhil status to show that your work continues to be on track. This will need to done within nine terms of admission for full-time students and eighteen terms of admission for part-time students.

Both milestones normally involve an interview with two assessors (other than your supervisors) and therefore provide important experience for the final oral examination.

Full-time students will be expected to submit an original thesis of at least 50,000 words after three or, at most, four years from the date of admission. If you are studying part-time, you be required to submit your thesis after six or, at most, eight years from the date of admission. To be successfully awarded a DPhil in Translational Health Sciences, you will need to defend your thesis orally (viva voce) in front of two appointed examiners.

Graduate destinations

The MSc and DPhil in Translational Health Sciences have been designed to address a significant and urgent skills deficit in linking research discoveries to implementation in practice, service transformation and improved patient outcomes.  Such roles include (but are not limited to) the following sectors:

  • Higher education: researchers, research managers, knowledge translation / research impact officers;
  • Healthcare organisations: clinical entrepreneurs, knowledge managers;
  • Industry: designers, research managers, academic liaison officers;
  • Policy: variety of local and national policy roles;
  • Third sector: patient advocacy, lobbying.

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

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.

Entry requirements for entry in 2021-22

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 master's degree or the equivalent, scoring sufficiently highly to demonstrate the ability to cope with advanced academic study
  • a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent)

It is anticipated that most students on this DPhil will have previously completed the MSc in Translational Health Sciences at the University of Oxford or equivalent from another university.

The above qualification (s) should be achieved in one of the following subject areas or disciplines:

  • social sciences
  • business and management
  • information technology

Entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a master's degree with merit or the equivalent. 

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.

The requirement for a first-class or strong upper second-class degree with honours can be alternatively demonstrated, eg by a strong degree at master’s level and/or substantial relevant professional experience.

GRE General Test scores

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

  • We anticipate that many applicants will have experience of a knowledge translation or similar role in a non-academic organisation. Whilst such experience is not a requirement, it will be viewed positively when assessing applicants.
  • Academic publications are not a requirement.

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.

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. The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are detailed in the table below.

Minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level requirement
TestMinimum overall scoreMinimum score per component
IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713) 7.57.0

TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'

(Institution code: 0490)

110Listening: 22
Reading: 24
Speaking: 25
Writing: 24
C1 Advanced*191185
C2 Proficiency191185

*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.

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.

Shortlisting process

Shortlisting for this applied doctoral programme will take account of students' varied academic and professional experience. Particular attention will be paid to evidence that the applicant is capable and motivated to complete a course of advanced academic study.

Additional exercises

Applicants will be invited to submit an outline proposal for an applied research project.

Interview format

Interviews are held with a minimum of two interviewers, in person or using videoconferencing. The interview will discuss the student’s research proposal, his or her fit with departmental research groups, and their career plan.

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.

Resources

The Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences was established in October 1998 (as the Department of Primary Health Care) with the appointment of a foundation chair in general practice and its research was judged to be the strongest in the UK in the assessments of research quality in 2008, 2014 and 2018. It provides a strong multi-disciplinary training environment and a full programme of academic support and good IT facilities. It has strong links with other epidemiological and community based research groups in the University and also with local general practices that participate in both teaching and research.

Shared office space will be provided in the department for you.

You will have access to the department’s IT support, and to the University library services such as the Radcliffe Science LibraryCairns Library and Knowledge Centre at Old Road Campus.  Other facilities specific to your research will be discussed with your supervisor as you plan your project.

You will be able to attend any seminars run by the department and any other relevant academic seminars elsewhere in the university. You are expected to participate in the DPhil seminar series run in the department.

Funding

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.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2021-22

Full-time study

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home (UK, Republic of Ireland,
Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
£8,290
Overseas (including EU)£27,460

Part-time study

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home (UK, Republic of Ireland,
Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
£4,144
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.

For more information about course fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our detailed fee status information and the Oxford and the EU webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s exit from the EU.

Additional information

Full-time study

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.

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 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.

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. 

Full-time study

The following colleges accept students for full-time study on this course:

Part-time study

The following colleges accept students for part-time study on this course:

 

How to 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.

Statement of purpose and research proposal:
Statement of a maximum of 500 words, and a proposal of a maximum of 1,000 words

Your statement and proposal, which should be written in English, should be submitted as a single, combined document with a clear subheading for each. The word count should not include any bibliography or footnotes.

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

 
In your statement you should explain your motivation for applying for the course at Oxford, and your relevant experience and education. You may wish to include, in addition to your academic achievements and interests, your relevant professional experience in the workplace or other sphere.
 
You do not need to provide a very detailed research proposal, only a brief indication of the area in which you wish to carry out your research and the relevant supervisor(s) and/or group(s). This may be quite specific, but need not be if you have not yet decided on your preferred supervisor or project.
 
It is normal for your ideas to change in some ways as you commence your research and develop your project. However, you should make the best effort you can to demonstrate the extent of your research question, sources and method at this moment.

Your statement and proposal will be assessed for:
  • your reasons for applying
  • your ability to present a coherent case in proficient English
  • your commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course
  • your preliminary knowledge of the subject area and research techniques
  • your capacity for sustained and independent work
  • reasoning ability
  • your ability to absorb new ideas, often presented abstractly, at a rapid pace
  • evidence that you can successfully bridge the very different worlds of academic research and application of research findings in clinical practice, organisations, policy or civil society
  • the fit of your research interests with those represented in the department
  • the originality of your project
  • evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
  • the feasibility of successfully completing your project in the time available for the course
  • feasibility of your proposed empirical work.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, two academic and one professional

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.

Your references will be assessed for:

  • your intellectual ability
  • your academic achievement
  • your motivation and interest in the course and subject area
  • your ability to work effectively both in a group and independently
  • your ability to bridge the very different worlds of research and practice

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:

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.

Application GuideApply - Full time Apply - Part time

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