MSc in Musculoskeletal Sciences | University of Oxford
Laboratory equipment
Equipment in an Oxford laboratory
(Image Credit: Rob Judges / Oxford University Images)

MSc in Musculoskeletal Sciences

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.

The course 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 three to five days that take place ten times over the two years.

Modules include:

  • Scientific Aspects of the Musculoskeletal System
  • Scientific Aspects of Musculoskeletal Diseases
  • 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 a considerable amount of self-directed learning in your own time, to build on the information provided in the teaching sessions.

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 written 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. 

Supervision

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.

Graduate destinations

The course has been running since 2008 and a small number of cohorts (10-15%) have been undertaking further post-graduate training in the form of PhD or DPhil. However, as most students were from clinical background, the majority have continued with their clinical duties (~85-90%).

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.

The department is currently working on a specific alumni website and this information is available to other colleagues and departments.

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 Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences

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:

  • 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.

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.  

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.

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

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.

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

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU (including Islands)£5,075
Overseas£12,455

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 dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

Additional information

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.

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

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:

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:
Up to two pages

Your personal statement should explain your scientific experience, background and motivation for wishing to undertake the course, and should indicate your future career plans.

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 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

Was this page useful?*