About the course
The DPhil in Women's and Reproductive Health offers a wide range of opportunities to carry out multidisciplinary research on important issues in human reproduction and applied basic science.
Research carried out in the Nuffield Department of Women's & Reproductive Health encompasses a broad range of topics, with groups working on oocytes and sperm, preimplantation genetic diagnosis, genetic studies, molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying normal and aberrant reproductive function, immunology of pregnancy, gynaecological cancer, clinical studies in women's health and pregnancy, and epidemiological and health services research.
As well as carrying out research projects, you will also have the opportunity to attend a variety of skills training sessions and career planning events offered by the Medical Sciences Division.
In the early stages of your DPhil, you will spend the first few months reading scientific literature and planning your first set of experiments. The nature of the work will differ depending upon whether the project involves work in a laboratory or a computer based project. A variety of types of projects are possible, mixing laboratory work with data analysis. Experimental work will be mixed with group discussions with the research team with an opportunity for you to present your results and future plans. Termly reports are submitted by you, your supervisor and the Director of Graduate Studies. You will also have regular interactions with your college tutor. Various training courses are required to be taken in each year of the DPhil and these depend on the nature of the project. Towards the end of your first year, you will be planning your transfer report, which is an important milestone to assess progress and next steps.
A very similar year to year one with ongoing research work and a significant amount of literature reviewing to make sure the project fits in with current knowledge. During this year, many DPhil students start putting down the basis of their thesis introduction. There will be opportunities to attend local conferences and if significant progress has been made, you will submit abstracts, normally in the form of a poster presentation. During year two, you should start putting your research results into a thesis plan.
This is a key year for you where the thesis needs to take shape. You should have a degree of autonomy during the final year, managing your future direction in discussions with your supervisor. Day to day tasks are very similar to year two but you will start putting results in a chapter format. Many students submit or start compiling research papers in year three. Submitting a research abstract to a large international conference should be a target for all DPhil students in year three. By term nine you will undergo a confirmation of status with two internal assessors. This will go over the background to the research, the contents of chapters and the plan for completing the research work and writing the thesis. It is expected that all DPhil students give a WRH departmental seminar in the final year of their DPhil.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Nuffield Department of Women's & Reproductive Health 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 Women's & Reproductive Health.
You will be a member of your supervisor’s research group in which you will develop your research skills with one to one supervision. Your core supervision team will consist of your principal supervisor, and one or more additional supervisors, which can also include scientists external to Oxford University. You will meet at least every two weeks with your supervisors to plan your research and review your progress. In addition, where needed you will have support from the Director of Graduate Studies and a college advisor.
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.
All students will be initially admitted to the status of Probationer Research Student (PRS). Within a maximum of six terms as a PRS student (and normally by the fourth term) you will be expected to apply for transfer of status from Probationer Research Student to DPhil status.
A successful transfer of status from PRS to DPhil status will require the submission of a thesis outline. Students who are successful at transfer will also be expected to apply for and gain confirmation of DPhil status within nine terms of admission, to show that your work continues to be on track.
Both milestones normally involve an interview with two assessors (other than your supervisor) and therefore provide important experience for the final oral examination.
You will be expected to submit an original thesis of a maximum of 50,000 words after three or, at most, four years from the date of admission. To be successfully awarded a DPhil in Women’s and Reproductive Health you will need to defend your thesis orally (viva voce) in front of two appointed examiners.
Graduates from the Nuffield Department of Women's & Reproductive Health go on to further research in reproductive, biological and biomedical science, assisted reproduction, as well as clinical academic work and industry.
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.
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 a subject related to biomedical science, a medical degree or a degree otherwise relevant to the topic of study.
You do not need a previous master's degree to apply to the course.
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
- Evidence of publications or presentations would be an advantage, but they are not essential.
- It would be expected that graduate applicants would be familiar with the recent published work of their proposed supervisor.
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 (Institution code: 0490)||100||Listening: 22|
*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.
Only candidates who have identified a member of academic staff who is willing to supervise their project and provide the necessary resources will be short-listed for interview.
Interviews will be held as soon as possible after the January application deadline, usually two to three weeks afterwards, and are normally held in person or via a Skype video call.
The panel comprises a minimum of two members of the Departmental Graduate Studies Committee, together with the prospective supervisor. They will explore the academic ability of the candidate and their understanding of the proposed project.
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.
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.
The laboratories of the Nuffield Department of Women's & Reproductive Health are fully equipped for a wide range of molecular and cell biology work with dedicated image analysis and flow cytometry facilities. They are located in the Women’s Centre at the John Radcliffe Hospital, giving excellent access to patients and clinical samples for research from clinics, theatres and delivery suites. The department maintains many special clinical services which help generate programmes of research. Further laboratories are located at the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine (at the John Radcliffe Hospital) and the Institute of Reproductive Sciences (IRS), Oxford Business Park.
You will have access to the department’s IT support and University library services both online and through the Radcliffe Science Library and Cairns Library. Students undertaking experimental work are provided with bench space in a laboratory and those undertaking theoretical research have shared office space. All students are provided with personal desk space and a computer.
The Women’s Centre has a lecture theatre and seminar room where weekly research and clinical seminars are held during term time. You will be strongly encouraged to participate in these activities which bring research students together with academic and other research staff in the department to hear about ongoing research, and provide an opportunity for networking and socialising. There is also a coffee area where you will be able to meet with other students to discuss your studies.
The department holds an annual Graduate Student Seminar Day where you will have an opportunity to develop your presentation skills, and the Medical Sciences Division hosts a DPhil Open Day where you will be able to meet and present your work to a wider audience of students and staff from other departments.
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.
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 on the DPhil in Women's and Reproductive Health:
How to apply
You must identify an academic member of staff who is willing to supervise you and has the resources to support your proposed research project before you apply.
This should be done by approaching academic staff directly. Details of the academic staff and their research interests can be found on the departmental website. Applicants who have not identified a potential supervisor will not be considered.
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 2,000 words
You should submit a detailed outline of your proposed research, written in English, covering areas such as the background to the research, methodology, expected results and the contribution to the field of learning. 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
- your future career plans
- the coherence of the proposal
- the originality of the project
- evidence that you have identified a member of the academic staff who is willing to supervise your project and provide the necessary resources
- evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
- the feasibility of successfully completing the project in the time available for the course (a maximum of three years)
- preliminary knowledge of research techniques
- capacity for sustained and intense work
- reasoning ability.
It will be normal for your ideas subsequently to change in some ways as you investigate the evidence and develop your project. You should nevertheless make the best effort you can to demonstrate the extent of your research question, sources and method at this moment.
Your proposal 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.
References should usually be academic, though one professional reference is acceptable provided that it is relevant to the course and the other two references are academic.
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).