Interdisciplinary Medical Research (MRC Doctoral Training Partnership) | University of Oxford
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Interdisciplinary Medical Research (MRC Doctoral Training Partnership)

About the course

The Oxford-MRC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) provides comprehensive fully-funded support for graduate students undertaking medical research in any area within the MRC’s remit, leading to a DPhil in Interdisciplinary Medical Research.

The MRC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) is a postgraduate research training programme, led by the University’s Medical Sciences Division and the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division, including several MRC Centres and Units, with external associated partners MRC Harwell and Diamond Light Source.

MRC DTP students undertake DPhil study in any area within the remit of the MRC. Approximately 25 new students are funded each year through the partnership, undertaking projects across the medical sciences, with a particular focus on four areas:

  • Infection and Immunology
  • Neuroscience (incorporating Psychology and Psychiatry)
  • Cancer
  • Population health, genomics and genes.

You will be admitted directly onto a research project with one of the University’s world-leading scientists, who will act as your supervisor. You will either choose a project or design your own project in collaboration with your proposed supervisor. In either case, you will be expected to play an active role in shaping your project over the course of the DPhil. Graduate students play a valuable part in life of the department in which they are based and are encouraged to be involved with the scientific and social life of the department at all levels. In addition, as part of a wider MRC DTP cohort, you will have access to a wide range of DTP training and activities.

Your DPhil studies will be guided by a specialised team led by an academic supervisor. DTP students also have one or more formal co-supervisors, who can provide additional scientific advice on their specialist areas and who will offer another viewpoint on the student’s project. As well as your supervisor, you will have the support of a Graduate Advisor, a departmental Director of Graduate Studies and the Director of the MRC DTP.

Your training will be tailored to your particular needs, drawing from the vast range of training available at Oxford and covering both specialist scientific methods and techniques and transferable skills. Much of your scientific training will take place in the lab, where you will be trained by your supervisor and members of the lab team in a variety of techniques and protocols. As a member of the Medical Sciences Graduate School you will have access to a comprehensive programme of Medical Sciences Skills Training. You will attend training sessions specifically for DTP cohorts, including induction events and termly discussion forums. You will have access to supplementary funding for high-cost training and to support your research and career progression. You will have the opportunity to apply for internships and to contribute to shaping the MRC’s future strategic plans through student engagement in the leadership of the Oxford-MRC DTP and in MRC-led activities.

Supervision

The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Medical Sciences Graduate School 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 leading the course.

Graduate destinations

It is anticipated that MRC DTP students follow a wide variety of career paths, including all branches of biomedical research, clinical medicine, teaching, health administration and commerce.

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. 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 sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.

For further information, please see our page on 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.

All graduate courses offered by the Medical Sciences Divsion

Biochemistry MSc by Research
Clinical Neurosciences MSc by Research
Clinical Neurosciences MSc by Research
Experimental Psychology MSc by Research
Experimental Psychology MSc by Research
Medicine BM BCh (Graduate entry)
Musculoskeletal Sciences MSc by Research
Neuroscience combined MSc and DPhil
Oncology DPhil
Oncology MSc by Research
Pharmacology MSc by Research
Psychiatry MSc by Research
Psychiatry MSc by Research
Radiation Oncology combined MSc and DPhil
Surgical Sciences MSc by Research

Entry requirements for entry in 2020-21

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 first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in a subject that ideally will support the chosen research path.

A previous master's degree is not a condition of entry.

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

  • Publications should be included within the CV/résumé if applicable.
  • It would be expected that graduate applicants would be familiar with the recent published work of their proposed supervisor.

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.

Detailed requirements - higher level

The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are:

IELTS Academic7.5Minimum 7.0 per component
TOEFL iBT110

Minimum component scores:

  • Listening: 22
  • Reading: 24
  • Speaking: 25
  • Writing: 24
Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE) or C1 Advanced191Minimum 185 per component
Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) or C2 Proficiency191Minimum 185 per component

Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. For more information about the English language test requirement, visit the Application Guide

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.

Interviews are held during the last week of January. All shortlisted candidates will have been assessed on completed applications only. Funded places are awarded purely on the basis of an assessment of candidates' excellence appropriate to their intended research path.

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.

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.

Resources

The course page on the Medical Science Graduate School website details the benefits of being a member of the Oxford-MRC DTP which include Discussion Forums and Research Symposium organised specifically for the DTP cohort. You will have two strands of supervision and the support of the Director of Graduate Studies, as well as administrative support within the department.

You will have access to the University Library services such as the Radcliffe Science Library and the Cairns Library, and experimental facilities are available as appropriate to the research topic. Workspace will be related to individual circumstances. If undertaking experimental work, bench space will be provided within a laboratory. If undertaking theoretical research, there will be shared office space. The provision of other resources specific to a project should be agreed with the supervisor as part of the planning stages of the agreed project.

Funding

There are over 1,100 full or partial graduate scholarships available across the University. You will be automatically considered for over two thirds of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant January deadline, with most scholarships awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential. To help identify those scholarships where you will be required to submit an additional application, use the Fees, funding and scholarships search and visit individual college websites using the links provided on our college pages.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2020-21

Full-time study

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU (including Islands)£7,970
Overseas£26,405

Part-time study

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU (including Islands)£3,985
Overseas£13,205

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

Full-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.

Part-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.

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 2020-21 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,135 and £1,650 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 2020-21, 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.

Colleges

You will have the opportunity to indicate a preference for a college on the application form. If you intend to indicate a preference for a college, you will need to ensure that your preferred college accepts students for each subject area that is connected to the supervisors that you have chosen. To do this you will need to:

  1. identify the DPhil course that your chosen supervisors usually accept applications for;
  2. visit the 'Colleges' tab on each DPhil course page that is connected to each of your chosen supervisors; and
  3. verify that your preferred college is shown on the 'Colleges' tab of all of these course pages.

Frequently asked questions

How do I identify colleges that are common to all of the supervisors that I have chosen?

As part of the application process for this course (outlined on the 'How to Apply' tab), you will be asked to identify up to three supervisors from the list of MRC supervisors on the Medical Sciences Division's Graduate School website. Each supervisor's profile page will show the DPhil course that they usually accept applications for. Once you have identified this course name, return to this website and use our A-Z of courses to open the relevant course page and access the 'Colleges' tab. Compare the list of colleges from each course page that is connected to each of your chosen supervisors. Once you have identified colleges that are common to all of your preferred supervisors, you can decide whether or not to state a preference for one of these colleges.  

What if I make a mistake and indicate a preference for a college that does not accept students in my preferred subject area?

Don't worry. If you are offered a place on the course and your preferred college does not accept students in your supervisor's subject area, the Medical Sciences Gradate School will contact you to discuss your college preference.

I have a question about stating a college preference for this course, who can I ask? 

If you have any questions about stating a college preference for this course, please email mrc@medsci.ox.ac.uk

Colleges accepting applications for this course

The colleges listed below accept students for at least one of subject areas that are offered as part of this course. You will need to follow the instructions above to identify which colleges accept for your chosen subject area(s).

How to apply

You are required to contact a potential supervisor in the first instance in order to discuss the area of research you wish to carry out during the DPhil, and to establish whether they are able to supervise your proposed project. Potential supervisors can be identified by referring to the list of MRC supervisors on the Medical Sciences Division's Graduate School website.

Once you have identified and contacted potential supervisors, you will need to enter the full name (given/first name and family name/surname) of your proposed supervisor(s) in the relevant box on the 'Courses' tab of the application form.  If there is room within the 100 character limit, it would be helpful if you could indicate each supervisor's department in brackets after their name eg 'Dr Ashley Western (Biochemistry)' (this information can usually be found on their profile page on the Graduate School website). For your application to be assessed, you must propose at least one supervisor and a maximum of three. If you do not complete this section of the application form it will not be possible to assess your application.

Your application for an MRC-funded DPhil in Interdisciplinary Medical Research will initially be considered by the department(s) in which your chosen supervisors are based. 

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.

Personal statement:
Required for all projects except those in the Department of Experimental Psychology
Up to two pages

If you are applying for projects in any department except Experimental Psychology, you will need to submit a personal statement of up to two pages in length. Your personal statement should simply state why you are choosing the projects you have and explain your interest in and aptitude for a research degree. Your statement should be written in English and the word/page count should include any bibliography or brief footnotes that you attach. It 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 intense work;
  • reasoning ability; and
  • your ability to absorb new ideas, often presented abstractly, at a rapid pace.

Research Proposal:
Required only for projects in the Department of Experimental Psychology
Up to 2,500 words

If you are applying for a project in the Department of Experimental Psychology, please submit a research proposal comprising a 300-word abstract followed by up to 2,500 words outlining your proposed area of research. The text of your document should be no smaller than size 10 Arial or similar. Your statement should be written in English and the overall word count does not need to include any bibliography.

You should be prepared to defend your proposal orally at interview if shortlisted.

This will be assessed for:

  • the coherence of the proposal
  • the originality of the project
  • evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
  • the ability to present a reasoned case in English
  • the feasibility of successfully completing the project in the time frame available for the course (a maximum of four years full-time equivalent 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
  • ability to absorb new ideas
  • the suitability of the research topic for part-time study (in applications for the part-time DPhil programme).

It is usual for your ideas to subsequently 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 point in the application process.

Your research proposal should focus on a specific area of research rather than personal achievements, interests and aspirations.

Written work:
Required only for projects in the Nuffield Department of Primary Health Care Sciences
One essay of 2,000 words

If you are applying for a project in the Nuffield Department of Primary Health Care Sciences, you will need to a provide (by email - see below) a first author publication, academic essay or other writing sample from your most recent qualification, written in English. An extract of the requisite length from longer work is also permissible.

It is not important that the written work relates closely to the proposed area of study. The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes. 

This will be assessed for a comprehensive understanding of the subject area; an understanding of problems in the area; an ability to construct and defend an argument; your powers of analysis; and your powers of expression.

Your written work should be provided by email to mrc@medsci.ox.ac.uk.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, of which at least two should usually be 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.

Your references will be assessed for:

  • your intellectual ability;
  • your academic achievement;
  • your motivation and interest in the course and subject area; and
  • your ability to work effectively both in a group and independently.

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).

Application GuideApply - Full time Apply - Part time

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