Interdisciplinary Bioscience (BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership) | University of Oxford
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Plants in the University's Botanic Garden
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Interdisciplinary Bioscience (BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership)

About the course

The Oxford Interdisciplinary Bioscience Doctoral Training Partnership programme provides training for graduates from a life science or physical science background who wish to conduct leading edge bioscience research. Research areas within the programme include integrative animal and plant biology, mechanistic molecular and cellular biology, agriculture and food security, and industrial biotechnology and bioenergy. 

The programme also provides training for graduates working on specific industry-supported projects, including projects funded through BBSRC Industrial CASE studentship awards and Collaborative Training Partnership awards.

The Oxford Interdisciplinary Bioscience Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) programme is a four-year doctoral training programme run in partnership between the University of Oxford, and six partner organisations - the Pirbright Institute, which provides the UK’s national capabilities for the study and control of viral diseases of livestock, Oxford Brookes University and four research organisations at Harwell Oxford (Diamond Light Source, ISIS, the Central Laser Facility and the Research Complex at Harwell) that provide the UK’s national capabilities for synchrotron science, neutron science and laser science.

You will undertake a four-year doctoral training programme. In your first term you are based at the Doctoral Training Centre (DTC) at the University of Oxford and undertake an individually-tailored training programme that includes training in research skills such as mathematics and statistics, programming, imaging and image analysis, bioinformatics, and modelling biological processes and systems. You can also access a wide variety of additional training provided across the partnership throughout your doctoral studies.

The DTP’s core training programme draws on expertise in all seven partner organisations and you will have the opportunity to visit different sites and learn about the facilities and expertise available across these organisations during the initial training phase.

A distinctive feature of the DTP training programme is that you are required to undertake a 12-week internship to gain experience of work in a professional environment and in transferable skills that will be beneficial in your future career. Areas that may be explored during internships include industrial research and development, science policy, teaching, science communication, publishing, entrepreneurship and project management. 

You will have the ongoing support of the DTP throughout your studies, including an ongoing training programme in professional skills such as scientific writing, project management, CV writing and interview skills, teaching skills, public engagement and enterprise and entrepreneurship. You can also access specific training in advanced research skills that are relevant to your research interests through specialist training courses and practice-led training groups tailored to the interests of small groups of researchers. 

Course features for DTP students (not applicable to Industrial Studentships)

After the initial training phase, you will have the opportunity to undertake two 12-week research projects in two different research groups within the partnership, which are tailored to meet the likely requirements of your main doctoral project. You are encouraged to use these rotation projects to further develop your interdisciplinary skills. You will have the opportunity to undertake a three-year doctoral research project with an internationally leading research group and have access to world-class facilities and expertise.

Course features for Industrial Studentships

If you apply to the DTP’s Industrial Studentship programme you will have an academic supervisor in one of the DTP partner organisations and undertake research in collaboration with an industrial or non-academic partner organisation. You will undertake a placement (12 weeks minimum) with the partner organisation to gain experience of work in a non-academic professional environment.

Graduate destinations

The majority of bioscience graduates from the University of Oxford go into a bioscience-related position after graduation. Many stay in academic research, others work in government, for charities and within the commercial sector.

An increasing number of students are exploring and taking up opportunities for entrepreneurship, supported by the highly entrepreneurial environment within the University and across Oxfordshire as a whole.

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 2019-20

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 relevant academic subject (eg biochemistry, biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, statistics, computer science).

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0.

It is not an application requirement to have completed or to be in the process of completing a master's degree.

However, entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a first-class degree or the equivalent and/or a master's degree.

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.

Other appropriate indicators will include:

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(s)

Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.  

Applicants will be selected for interview based on the aforementioned criteria. Shortlisting will take place and we aim to reach a target ratio of interviewees to places such as 3:1. Interviews will normally be held within four to six weeks of the application deadline and will either be in person or by video (eg Skype) and will take around 30 minutes. Admission decisions are made by the DTP admissions committee.

Applicants will be asked to discuss their academic history and any research projects(s) that they may have pursued. They will also be questioned on aspects of their research training to date, understanding of the proposed area of study and motivation for doing a DPhil. If appropriate, they may be asked questions to assess their mathematical and quantitative skills or their ability to critically analyse scientific literature.


Although publications are not required, a strong publication record may advantage an application.

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

Research or working experience in a relevant area may be an advantage. Preference may be given to those who have previously studied in a relevant area.

Evidence of training in a relevant area and/or the relevance of course to future career development plans may also be an advantage.

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 Interdisciplinary Bioscience DTP 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 Interdisciplinary Bioscience DTP and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff

In the first year of the course, students will be supervised by the programme directors, who will also support students in choosing their doctoral research project. Supervision arrangements for years two to four will therefore be confirmed at the end of the first year when the doctoral project is chosen.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of the doctoral research phase of your course (years two to four), however it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor 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.

5. Assessors

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.

It would be expected that graduate applicants would be familiar with the recent published work of one or more potential supervisors within the partnership, although applicants are not required to contact or identify a specific supervisor prior to admission.


Oxford has an extremely rich and diverse library service provided by over one hundred libraries.  The Radcliffe Science Library is the main science reference library of the University of Oxford. The library subscribes to many journals published overseas, most of which are in English.

In addition to the University facilities the DTP has a stock of reference books on the shelves in the combined kitchen and social area. You will have access to ejournal and other electronic resources provided by the University of Oxford when working within University departments or in partner organisations such as The Pirbright Institute or research organisations at Harwell Oxford.

You will have access to a wide variety of world-class research facilities across all seven of the partner organisations within the DTP, depending on your research interests. These include:

  • beamlines at Diamond Light Source and ISIS;
  • a wide variety of advanced imaging and microscopy systems that enable biological imaging across all scales from single molecules to high speed video imaging of animal flight;
  • containment facilities for animal virology, transgenic plant and plant disease research; 
  • facilities and expertise for advanced methodologies such as mass spectrometry, proteomics, genome engineering, protein production and purification; and 
  • supercomputing facilities for data-intensive applications.

As a DTP student in your first year, you will undertake the majority of the taught components of your training programme in a modern purpose-designed Doctoral Training Centre (DTC) located in the heart of the University’s South Parks Road Science Campus, shared by the DTP and the other CDT programmes.

The co-localisation of six interdisciplinary life science graduate programmes in the DTC, each with its own distinctive remit and student cohorts, provides a unique opportunity for students in the DTP to establish friendships and scientific collaborations with graduate researchers from a wide range of academic backgrounds, with expertise and interests ranging from mathematical modelling of biological systems to medical imaging and drug discovery.


There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course 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.

This programme has a dedicated stream of funding, and the majority of students on the programme are funded. Eligibility restrictions apply. More information is available on the DTP funding webpage.


Annual fees for entry in 2019-20

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU (including Islands)£7,665

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, 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.

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 2019-20 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,058 and £1,643 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 2019-20, you should allow for an estimated increase in living expenses of 3% each year.

How to apply

Before applying to the course, you are requested to send a copy of your most recent CV via e-mail to the Programme Administrator.  

You can apply for entry to the DTP and be considered for a specific research project offered through the Industrial Studentship Scheme. The same course title and code is used for applications to both the DTP programme and the Industrial Studentship programme.

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.


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/personal statement:
500 words

You should provide a statement of your research interests, in English, describing how your background and research interests relate to the programme.

This will be assessed for:

  • your reasons for applying
  • evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
  • the ability to present a reasoned case in English
  • preliminary knowledge of research techniques; capacity for sustained and intense work
  • understanding of problems in the area and ability to construct and defend an argument.

It will be normal for your ideas and goals to change in some ways as you participate in the programme and you are not in any sense committed to work in the specific subject area or with any supervisor(s) you highlight in your application. You should nevertheless make the best effort you can to demonstrate your current interests and aspirations.

The statement should focus on academic or research-related achievements and interests rather than personal achievements and interests.

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.

One professional reference can be accepted if you have relevant work experience, but academic references are preferred.

Your references will support proven and potential academic excellence in terms of intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation, communication skills and ability to work in a group.

Start or continue an application

Step 1: Carefully read the entry requirements on this course page to make sure you meet all the criteria.

Step 2: Check above what documents are required and prepare to apply by reading our Application Guide.

Step 3: Apply as soon as possible. Consult the Application Guide for more information about deadlines.

Application GuideApply

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