MSc in Clinical Trials | University of Oxford
The side of the Richard Doll building
The Richard Doll building, housing many of the University's research laboratories, offices and support spaces for the Medical Sciences Division
(Image Credit: Rob Judges / Oxford University Images)

MSc in Clinical Trials

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 around two hours per week self-directed study. The curriculum comprises eight compulsory modules of varying length and intensity across six terms:

  • An introduction to the principles of randomised trials
  • Design to implementation
  • The regulatory and ethical framework and participant involvement
  • Data management and analysis
  • Big data and new technologies
  • Health economics and Patient Reported Outcome Measures
  • Different types of trial in particular populations
  • Meta-analyses and the reporting of trial results

The course will include a one-week compulsory residential period in the Long Vacation (September) between years one and two. The aim of the residential period is to allow the students to meet the tutors and course teaching staff and to provide face-to-face teaching, discussion time and leadership training. The examination will also take place during this week.

A shorter optional residential period will also take place in Trinity Term in year two. This will allow discussion about dissertation content, practical guidance on statistical content and an opportunity for face-to-face discussion between the student and dissertation supervisor.

Supervision

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 meet with your supervisor once every three to four weeks.

Assessment

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 six summative assessments in total. In Hilary term of year one, a written assignment of 2,500 words (10%) is submitted. In the break between year one and two students will upload a scientific poster (10%) for assessment. The examination (20%) will be held at the end of the long vacation during the residential week. During Michaelmas term of year two a written assignment of 3,000 words (10%) will be submitted. During Hilary term of year two students will present a 15 minute presentation (10%) and finally during the Trinity term of year two, students will write a dissertation (40%) that will be submitted in September of year two.

Graduate destinations

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 (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.

All graduate courses offered by the Nuffield Department of Population Health

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 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.

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. 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.

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

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.

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

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home (UK, Republic of Ireland,
Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
£8,876
Overseas (including EU)£8,876

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.

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

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.

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.

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. 

The following colleges accept students on the MSc in Clinical Trials:

How to apply

You are not expected to make contact with an academic member of staff before you 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/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.

References/letters of recommendation:
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.

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 button 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

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