About the course
The MSc in Clinical Trials is a two-year, part-time distance learning course that provides a thorough training in both the theoretical and practical aspects of conducting randomised clinical trials.
By the end of the course, students should have the knowledge and skills required to design and undertake a clinical trial. By running a fully integrated course covering all key aspects of clinical trials, students will acquire a good understanding of the theoretical underpinning as well as the practical aspects of randomised clinical trials and have an in-depth training in trials methodology. The course will cover different types of trials and clinical conditions, with a focus on large, streamlined clinical outcome trials in cardiovascular disease.
The specific aims are to provide:
- in-depth training in, and understanding of, the principles and practice of conducting randomised clinical trials
- a forum for the nurturing of future global leaders in clinical trials in cardiovascular medicine and beyond.
Teaching is delivered virtually (via online lectures, tutorials and group work) during the first year, and for the first two whole terms and part of the third term in the second year. You will receive around three hours of supported study per week and will be expected to complete between six and ten hours per week self-directed study. The curriculum comprises eight compulsory modules of varying length and intensity across six terms:
- Introduction to the principles of randomised trials
- Design to implementation
- Data management and analysis
- Regulatory and ethical framework and participant involvement
- Routine health care data, Big Data and new technologies
- Health economics for clinical trials and patient reported outcomes
- Meta-analyses and trial reporting
- Different types of trials and populations.
The course will include two residential periods. The first will be a one-week residential period in the Long Vacation (September) between years one and two. A shorter residential period will take place in Trinity term in year two.
The aim of the first residential period is to allow students to meet the tutors and course teaching team and to provide face-to-face teaching, discussion time and leadership training. The second residential period aims to allow discussion about dissertation content, practical guidance on statistical content and an opportunity for face-to-face discussion between student and dissertation supervisor.
The first residential is not mandatory for students who cannot attend the residential for unforeseen reasons, but students must attend at least one residential period during the course.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Nuffield Department of Population Health and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. A supervisor may be found outside the Nuffield Department of Population Health.
You will typically meet with your supervisor once every three to four weeks.
During all six terms of the course there will be a series of formative assessments designed to enable teaching staff and the students to monitor progress. These assessments are compulsory but the marks do not contribute to the final degree. All students are provided with detailed feedback that will enable them to improve their learning by helping them identify their strengths and weaknesses.
There are five summative assessments in total. In Trinity term of year one, a written assignment is submitted. The examination will be held at the end of year one long vacation period (September). During Michaelmas term of year two a written assignment will be submitted. During Hilary term of year two students will give a presentation and finally during the Trinity term of year two, students will write a dissertation that will be submitted in September of year two.
It is expected that MSc in Clinical Trials graduates will return to their full-time roles, but may include more clinical trials/studies in their duties. Some students may wish to progress to DPhil study.
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, 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.
Entry requirements for entry in 2024-25
Proven and potential academic excellence
As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the following UK qualifications or their equivalent:
- a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in medicine, health sciences, statistics or a related field.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.6 out of 4.0.
If your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.
GRE General Test scores
No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.
Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience
The course will be open to health professionals (eg physicians, surgeons and nurses), postgraduate scientists or statisticians (eg from industry, contract research organisations, regulatory agencies) and experienced trial managers.
Candidates will usually hold a doctoral or masters qualification and will be working in a health profession or as a post-graduate scientist, though this is not a requirement of entry.
English language proficiency
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.
|Test||Minimum overall score||Minimum score per component|
|IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713)||7.5||7.0|
TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'
(Institution code: 0490)
*Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
†Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)
Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. Our Application Guide provides further information about the English language test requirement.
Declaring 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.
You will need to register three referees who can give an informed view of your academic ability and suitability for the course. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the types of reference that are required in support of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the supporting documents that are required as part of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
Performance at interview
Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process. Applications will be shortlisted using a scoring system that takes into account the applicant’s degree, trials experience, prizes, research experiences, references and their proposal.
Interviews are expected to be held in mid-late February.
Interviews will be held via Skype (or other suitable online platform). Interviews will normally last around 15 to 20 minutes and will be conducted by an admissions panel of senior academics.
How your application is assessed
Your application will be assessed purely on your proven and potential academic excellence and other entry requirements published under that heading.
References and supporting documents submitted as part of your application, and your performance at interview (if interviews are held) will be considered as part of the assessment process. Whether or not you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.
An overview of the shortlisting and selection process is provided below. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about how applications are assessed.
Shortlisting and selection
Students are considered for shortlisting and selected for admission without regard to age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief (including lack of belief), sex, sexual orientation, as well as other relevant circumstances including parental or caring responsibilities or social background. However, please note the following:
- socio-economic information may be taken into account in the selection of applicants and award of scholarships for courses that are part of the University’s pilot selection procedure and for scholarships aimed at under-represented groups;
- country of ordinary residence may be taken into account in the awarding of certain scholarships; and
- protected characteristics may be taken into account during shortlisting for interview or the award of scholarships where the University has approved a positive action case under the Equality Act 2010.
Initiatives to improve access to graduate study
This course is taking part in a continuing pilot programme to improve the selection procedure for graduate applications, in order to ensure that all candidates are evaluated fairly.
For this course, socio-economic data (where it has been provided in the application form) will be used to contextualise applications at the different stages of the selection process. Further information about how we use your socio-economic data can be found in our page about initiatives to improve access to graduate study.
Processing your data for shortlisting and selection
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.
Other factors governing whether places can be offered
The following factors will also govern whether candidates can be offered places:
- the ability of the University to provide the appropriate supervision for your studies, as outlined under the 'Supervision' heading in the About section of this page;
- the ability of the University to provide appropriate support for your studies (eg through the provision of facilities, resources, teaching and/or research opportunities); and
- minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to the University's taught and research programmes.
Offer conditions for successful applications
If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, your offer will outline any conditions that you need to satisfy and any actions you need to take, together with any associated deadlines. These may include academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions will usually depend on your individual academic circumstances and may vary between applicants. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about offers and conditions.
In addition to any academic conditions which are set, you will also 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.
You will have access to the online University library services and online reading lists. You will also receive full access to the virtual learning environment (Canvas) where lectures, seminars and tutorials will occur.
You will also have access to recordings of weekly seminars held on the Old Road Campus and will be made aware of any other online seminars taking place across the Medical Sciences Division. You will be welcome to use any online courses within the Medical Sciences Skills Training programmes if you wish.
Nuffield Department of Population Health
The Nuffield Department of Population Health (NDPH) brings together over 500 staff from a number of world-leading research groups with the aim of reducing premature death and disability from human disease.
A number of world-renowned research groups and disciplines are part of the NDPH, including the Clinical Trial Service Unit and Epidemiological Studies Unit (CTSU), Cancer Epidemiology Unit (CEU), National Perinatal Epidemiology Group (NPEU), Health Economics Research Centre (HERC) and Ethox. These groups are responsible for some of the world’s largest population cohorts and randomised trials, and produce highly-cited practice-changing research, which continues to have a major impact on international clinical management guidelines (eg on statins, aspirin, hypertension, pre-eclampsia, heart failure, serious childhood illness and infections).
The department offers three taught courses: the one-year taught MSc in Global Health Science and Epidemiology, the PG Certificate in Statistics and Epidemiology and the two-year distance learning MSc in Clinical Trials. The department also offers the DPhil in Population Health, offered full-time over three to four years and part-time over six to eight years.
The University expects to be able to offer over 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2024-25. 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 December or 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 any college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages or below:
Please note that not all the colleges listed above may accept students on this course. For details of those which do, please refer to the College preference section of this page.
Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the department's website.
Annual fees for entry in 2024-25
Annual Course fees
Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.
Information about course fees
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 changes 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.
All students on this course will need access to a computer, webcam, microphone and a reliable broadband internet connection (compulsory). The recommended bandwidth for the software used is 1Mbps. This is estimated to cost approximately £1000. Departmental or college bursaries may be available for this. Students will have to attend a compulsory residential week between Years 1 and 2, and may wish to attend a further residential period in Year 2. The department will provide food and accommodation for these residential periods, but you will need to pay for your own travel. Students can apply to the course directors for support for travel, and may also be able to apply for small grants from their college. As part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. Please note that, depending on your choice of 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 2024-25 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,345 and £1,955 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. The current economic climate and high national rate of inflation make it very hard to estimate potential changes to the cost of living over the next few years. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2024-25, it is suggested that you allow for potential increases in living expenses of around 5% each year – although this rate may vary depending on the national economic situation. UK inflationary increases will be kept under review and this page updated.
Students enrolled on this course will belong to both a department/faculty and a college. Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 43 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as societies and permanent private halls (PPHs).
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. Before deciding, we suggest that you read our brief introduction to the college system at Oxford and our advice about expressing a college preference. For some courses, the department may have provided some additional advice below to help you decide.
The following colleges accept students on the MSc in Clinical Trials:
Before you apply
Our guide to getting started provides general advice on how to prepare for and start your application. Check the deadlines on this page and the information about deadlines in our Application Guide. If it's important for you to have your application considered under a particular deadline – eg under a December or January deadline in order to be considered for Oxford scholarships – we recommend that you aim to complete and submit your application at least two weeks in advance.
Application fee waivers
An application fee of £75 is payable per course application. Application fee waivers are available for the following applicants who meet the eligibility criteria:
- applicants from low-income countries;
- refugees and displaced persons;
- UK applicants from low-income backgrounds; and
- applicants who applied for our Graduate Access Programmes in the past two years and met the eligibility criteria.
You are encouraged to check whether you're eligible for an application fee waiver before you apply.
Do I need to contact anyone before I apply?
You do not need to make contact with the department before you apply but you are encouraged to visit the relevant departmental webpages to read any further information about your chosen course.
Completing your application
You should refer to the information below when completing the application form, paying attention to the specific requirements for the supporting documents.
For this course, the application form will include questions that collect information that would usually be included in a CV/résumé. You should not upload a separate document. If a separate CV/résumé is uploaded, it will be removed from your application.
If any document does not meet the specification, including the stipulated word count, your application may be considered incomplete and not assessed by the academic department. Expand each section to show further details.
Three overall, academic and/or 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 support:
- 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.
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.
Statement of purpose/personal statement:
A maximum of 1,000 words
Your statement should be written in English and explain your motivation for applying for the course at Oxford, your relevant experience and education, and the specific areas that interest you and/or you intend to specialise in.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
This 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; and
- awareness of key issues in clinical trials.