About the course
The one year MSc is interdisciplinary in content and completely inter-departmental in structure, since at least nine departments or research centres contribute to it each year. Providing both theoretical and practical training, including two research laboratory placements, the course is modular and therefore flexible with respect to participants' backgrounds and interests.
The course takes an integrated approach to neuroscience and provides skills training in a wide range of experimental and theoretical methods intended to enable you to ask questions and tackle problems that transcend the traditional disciplines from which neuroscience has evolved.
You will undertake two extended research projects from a choice of over 100 offered each year by the extensive neuroscience research community in Oxford. You will also attend the graduate programme lecture series, which provides a broad education covering molecular, cellular, systems, computational and cognitive neuroscience.
The academic year begins in late September and is divided into three terms.
The first term provides an introduction to neuroscience and research methods through five compulsory introductory modules and associated practical classes:
- Introduction to Neuroscience
- Synapses and Transduction
- Neuronal Cell and Molecular Biology
- Systems Neuroscience.
During the second and third terms you will combine advanced taught courses, essay writing and two laboratory rotations (research projects).
Advanced modules offered in previous years have included:
- Cognitive neuroscience
- Neuroscience and clinical mental health
- Computational neuroscience
- Sensory systems
- CNS Development, Plasticity and Repair
- Molecular neuroscience
- Genes, circuits and behaviour.
Examples of projects that have been published from the rotations can be found on the department's website. This will give an indication of the breadth of projects available.
Each of the MSc research projects lasts for about 16 weeks and is selected from a very extensive list of approved abstracts. With over 100 abstracts submitted each year there is always plenty of choice, but if you are interested in a particular lab or research topic, you are welcome to discuss a potential project independently with an appropriate supervisor. Many of these projects lead to publications.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Medical Sciences Division 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 will have a day to day supervisor and student will meet this person regularly, often daily at the beginning of the project.
Each of the MSc research projects are written up as dissertations. The course concludes with an oral examination. The first term is assessed by the Qualifying Examination. In both the second and third terms there is a project that is written up as a dissertation. Students also complete 4 optional modules over the 2 terms. This may be 2 per term but this is not mandatory. Each option is written up as a practical portfolio (Computational Neuroscience) or an essay for all other options. Students are also expected to attend Journal Club in both terms.
Immediately after the MSc in Neuroscience, almost 60% of the over 300 students to graduate to date have gone on to do a PhD, either at Oxford or elsewhere. A further 17% continued into graduate medicine. Only 6% left science altogether.
Others have taken science-related jobs, including science journalism and science communication, or become management consultants in the biotechnology sector.
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 any scientific discipline.
The department encourages applicants with a physical sciences background, as well as those who have studied a biological subject, such as psychology, biochemistry or neuroscience, at undergraduate level.
If in doubt about the eligibility of your qualifications, please contact the department.
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
- Previous research experience as a vacation student or intern can provide an advantage.
- Although it is often the case that applicants for this programme have one or more publications, this is not a requirement.
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, including an official transcript and a CV/résumé. 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.
A shortlist is drawn up based on the academic excellence, potential and motivation for research of the applicants. Approximately 30 candidates will be shortlisted. Interviews usually take place four to five weeks after the application deadline. All shortlisted applicants will be asked to attend an interview in Oxford or, if overseas, to participate in an interview via video link.
The interview panel will typically comprise five to seven members of the Organising Committee, with a range of expertise in neuroscience, and candidates will be required to give a ten-minute presentation on a research project in which they have been involved. The panel will then question the candidates about their presentation and also ask more general questions that explore their motivation for and interest in carrying out neuroscience research.
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.
An MSc office, within the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics in the heart of the University Science Area, provides a base for MSc in Neuroscience students. IT support is provided by an in-house team and all the MSc lectures are given in this department.
This office provision is most important: we are very conscious that people on interdisciplinary courses that span different departments are prone to suffer from a lack of identity, as compared to students who work within a designated department.
The Radcliffe Science Library is the main library facility for biomedical sciences and students also have access to their college libraries. During the first year, lab rotations are available in at least nine University departments or research centres that contribute to the MSc in Neuroscience.
The Cortex Club, a student-led organisation for those studying neuroscience in Oxford, provides an extensive series of seminars and social events where students from all departments can meet to exchange ideas. This is in addition to the seminars and other events that are organised at both divisional and departmental level.
Oxford Neuroscience is represented by a thriving research community based across a number of departments in the University, with interests spanning molecular medicine to cognitive science.
With this large concentration of resources and a wide range of research and teaching expertise, two innovative graduate courses are offered: the four-year Doctoral Training Programme in Neuroscience (1+3) and the one-year MSc in Neuroscience.
The aim is to provide formal training in the theory and practical technology of neuroscience, from the most basic molecular mechanisms right up to clinical issues, coupled with the opportunity to conduct research projects selected from well over 100 active laboratories.
The courses are designed to give students a better technical and conceptual grasp of neuroscience than traditional graduate courses, expose them to a wide range of laboratory techniques and provide training in organisational and research skills.
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.
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, 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 department recommends that you indicate a preference for a college where a member of the Programme Organising Committee is a fellow from the list of colleges available on the Neuroscience website.
However, all of the following colleges do accept students on the MSc in Neuroscience:
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.
Applying for the DPhil in Neuroscience (1+3)
Please note that if you are applying for the DPhil in Neuroscience (1+3) and your application is unsuccessful, your application will automatically be considered for this course (unless you have requested otherwise in your statement of purpose/personal statement). You will not need to make an additional application for this course or pay an additional application fee to be considered for both courses under these circumstances.
Do I need to contact anyone before I apply?
It is recommended that you contact Dr Deborah Clarke before you apply, using the contact details that can be found under Further information and enquires.
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 intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation, ability to work in a group, aptitude for research, and evidence of a genuine interest in neuroscience. Both academic and professional references are acceptable.
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.
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
- evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of 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, often presented abstractly, at a rapid pace.
Your statement should focus on scientific interests and motivation rather than personal achievements, interests and aspirations.