About the course
The part-time taught MSc in Musculoskeletal Sciences provides practising clinicians or those with a degree in biomedical or biological sciences with an academic training in the sciences underlying musculoskeletal diseases, promoting an understanding of the ways in which research can be used to improve knowledge and treatment of musculoskeletal diseases.
This is a biennial course and is designed to complement any graduate clinical teaching that you may be receiving as part of a specialist training programme. Completing the course will provide a firm foundation for students wishing to progress to full-time doctoral research. The programme consists of five modules, studied part-time over two years. Attendance at the University is required for short residential sessions of four to five days that take place eight times over the two years.
- Musculoskeletal Diseases: Scientific Principles
- Musculoskeletal Diseases: Applied Clinical Sciences
- Research, Statistics and Epidemiology
- Advanced Orthopaedics
- Advanced Rheumatology.
Teaching methods include lectures, small group sessions, problem-based learning scenarios and evaluation of academic papers. In addition, you will be expected to undertake self-directed learning in your own time, to build on the information provided in the teaching sessions.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Medical Sciences Division and the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences (NDORMS) 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 Medical Sciences Division.
Students are encouraged to meet with their Academic Advisors during the teaching residentials in Oxford which occur eight times over the two years.
There are a number of formative and summative assessments throughout the two-year course which include literature review, two MCQ papers and two short answer question papers. In the final year, students are required to submit a research proposal in the form of a 'mock' grant application. In addition, throughout the course students will be required to give a number of formative and summative oral presentations.
Since the course began in 2008, up to 15% of student alumni have undertaken further post-graduate research training in the form of PhD or DPhil. Many of our students have also gone on to successfully pursue further specialist clinical training in the MSK Sciences.
The department's Director of Graduate Studies follows the paths of each student - to date, 100% of attendees indicated that they thoroughly enjoyed the programme and that they would recommend the course to their peer groups.
NDORMS has developed a specific taught MSc alumni website and this information is available to other colleagues and departments. Alumni and current students are connected through social events organised by the department.
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.
All graduate courses offered by the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences
Proven and potential academic excellence
As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the equivalent of the following UK qualifications:
- medically qualified individuals or those with a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in biological sciences and/or related topics.
In special circumstances, applications from other medically related subjects (eg nurses, and/or allied health professionals) will be considered for the MSc.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.75 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
- Research or working experience may be an advantage. Where applicable, evidence of your employer's support will be required.
- Although it is not essential, preference will be given to applicants who have had recent publications and/or awards from various funding bodies.
- It would be advantageous for you to have published peer-reviewed articles in the relevant journals.
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.
|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.
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.
Short-listing will depend on the references, personal statement of the candidate as well as their motivation and commitment to the programme. Usually over 70% of applicants are short-listed for interviews. Interviews are likely to be held two to four weeks after the application deadline, in person, in the presence of at least three senior academics and the MSc Administrator. In exceptional circumstances, interviews may be conducted by Skype.
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. The After you apply section of this website provides further information about the academic assessment of your application, including the potential outcomes. Please note that any offer of a place may be subject to academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions may vary depending upon your individual academic circumstances.
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 on selection procedures 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.
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, your offer letter will give full details of your offer and any academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. In addition to any academic conditions which are set, 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.
The NDORMS is committed to training the next generation of scientists in biological and clinical sciences and has a large number of staff (over 400 people), approximately 100 postgraduate research students and a grant portfolio of £147 million.
As a student on the course you will have access to extensive library facilities within Oxford, namely Girdlestone Memorial Library (located at Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre), the Cairns Library (based at John Radcliffe Hospital), the Knowledge Centre (at the Old Road Campus) and the Radcliffe Science Library (based at South Parks site).
You will be encouraged to develop a range of transferable skills, including use of research software applications such as EndNote, written and oral communication skills, working as part of a team, using literature databases (such as PubMed, MedLine, Cochrane), data analysis, evaluation of scientific papers, research grant writing and critical reasoning. Skills courses run by the Medical Sciences Division will be highlighted and you will be encouraged to attend, where appropriate.
You will be allocated at least two academic advisors who will be responsible for your progress throughout the two-year programme.
The department has a very active student committee, which arranges social events for students, and a Communications Officer, who disseminates relevant communications.
The University expects to be able to offer around 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2022-23. 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 2022-23
Annual Course fees
Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.
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.
Please note that this course requires that you attend in Oxford for teaching, and you may incur additional travel and accommodation expenses for this. Further, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. 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 2022-23 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,215 and £1,755 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 2022-23, 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.
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 Musculoskeletal Sciences:
How to apply
Prior contact with an academic member of staff is not required.
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.
Full instructions and link to standard CV creation form
A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. You will need to upload a standardised CV to the graduate application form as part of your application. This standardised CV should be generated using the online form that requests certain information that you will likely have included on your CV. Once you have completed the form, you will have 15 minutes to download your CV as a PDF document.
This PDF document will be in the same format for all applicants and you should not modify the document before you upload it, or submit your CV in a different format.
Full instructions and a link to the standard CV creation form are provided on the Medical Sciences Division website. The instructions page contains links to example clinical and non-clinical CVs, with details of what to include and suggested answer formats.
If you require help or advice while generating your CV using the online form, please contact the Medical Sciences Graduate School for assistance (firstname.lastname@example.org).
A maximum of 1,000 words
Your personal statement should explain your scientific experience, background and motivation for wishing to undertake the course, and should indicate your future career plans.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
This will be assessed for:
- your reasons for applying
- evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
- ability to present a reasoned case in English
- capacity for sustained and intense work
- reasoning ability
- ability to absorb new ideas, often presented abstractly, at a rapid pace.
References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, of which at least two must 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.
One professional reference is acceptable, though your other two references should be academic and should comment specifically on your academic ability.
Your references should support a desire to undertake a further degree, intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation, ability to work in a group as well as capable of self-driven distance learning.
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:
- UK applicants from low-income backgrounds who meet the eligibility criteria;
- residents in a country on our low-income countries list (refer to the eligibility criteria);
- current Oxford graduate taught students applying for readmission to an eligible course; and
- additional applications to selected research courses that are closely related to your first application.
Step 5: Start your application using the relevant link 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.