About the course
This one-year, full-time, taught course leads to an MSc in Radiation Biology, which comprises a seven-month theoretical lecture-based syllabus followed by a five-month research project.
The core theoretical course covers the emerging areas of fundamental radiation biology for oncology and its treatment by radiotherapy, along with the hazards associated with radiation exposure. Lectures will also introduce students to key areas of research and innovative developments in treatment.
The modules are:
- Physics and Chemistry of Radiation Action
- Molecular Radiation Biology
- Cellular Radiation Biology
- Normal Tissue and Applied Radiation Biology
- Whole Body Exposure and Carcinogenesis
- Radiation Epidemiology
- Imaging Technologies
- Tumour Microenvironment
- Applications of Radiation Therapy
- Translational Radiation Biology
- Clinical Radiation Biology
- Radiation Protection.
Each module is delivered over a period of one to two weeks and together the 12 modules comprise the core content of the course. Lectures will be led by local, national and international experts, with time allocated for questions and informal discussion. These lectures are supported by additional tutorials, practical sessions and demonstrations to provide a wide knowledge and understanding of radiation biology. Students should expect to spend 6-8 hours per week in formal lectures and a further 2-3 hours in tutorial or practical sessions in the first two terms. It is expected that students will spend approximately 20 hours per week engaging in independent study. This can include required preparatory reading for lectures, completing set tasks ahead of tutorial sessions, completion of formative and summative essays, exam preparation, and further self-directed reading.
The high-quality laboratory research project in basic or clinically applied research lasts approximately five months and projects are hosted by active research groups. Specific training and guidance is provided to enable students to complete the research project. There will be a short transition period between the taught content and the research project in the third term of study, after which the student will be embedded full time with their research group.
Full details of the syllabus, schedule and assessments can be found on the course webpage on the Department of Oncology's website.
This MSc is designed for individuals who are interested in a career in academic research in radiation biology, radiation oncology or a career in professions that require knowledge of radiation biology (eg academic personnel associated with radiation protection issues). The MSc provides excellent training for students interested in studying academic research at a PhD/DPhil level.
Applicants are recommended to visit the Department of Oncology website to review the range of radiation research undertaken within the department before they apply.
The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Department of Oncology 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 Department of Oncology.
All students will have termly one-to-one meetings with the Course Director to review their progress. During the research project students are expected to meet with their supervisor on a regular basis, at least twice a month, with additional day-to-day support provided by members of their group or collaborators on the project.
In order to be awarded the MSc you need to successfully complete the following summative assessments that contribute to your final degree:
- Qualifying examination (December)
- Short essay (December)
- Extended essay (April)
- Written examination (May)
- Dissertation (August) and Viva (September).
Many of the Department of Oncology's former students have either continued academic studies towards a PhD/DPhil, applied to study medicine, returned to finalise their clinical training or become academic professionals in the area of radiation protection.
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.
Entry requirements for entry in 2022-23
Proven and potential academic excellence
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 a biological, medical, chemical, mathematical and physical science background.
However entrance is highly competitive and most successful applicants have a first-class degree or the equivalent.
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
Publications are not required, but they may benefit an application.
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.
It is expected that interviews will be scheduled in early February and will normally be held by video conference.
Shortlisting meetings to consider applicants for interview are chaired by the MSc Course Director and will include a minimum of two academic members of the department. Applicants will be assessed on their academic results, relevant experience, enthusiasm and academic references.
The format of the interview is a discussion of the applicant's research experience or recent scientific project, followed by a question-and-answer session designed to investigate the applicant's:
- experience or potential
- knowledge of field
- interactive skills
- analytical skills
- experimental design
- scientific motivation
- career plan
- proficiency in English at the University’s higher level.
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 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, 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.
Lectures are classroom based, either within or in close proximity to the Old Road Campus Research Building (ORCRB) or in other suitable University buildings for the seven-month theoretical part of the course. Students will have access to quiet areas for further study in the ORCRB and will also have access to the department's IT support services and the University’s library services.
Students will be invited to the weekly seminar held in the ORCRB and will be made aware of any other seminars taking place across the Medical Sciences Division. Students will be welcome to attend the Medical Sciences Skills Training programmes.
During the five-month research project all students will be allocated a supervisor who is responsible for their scientific training. The University has a code of practice for supervision of research under which supervisors must:
- advise, guide and support students in all aspects of their research project identify a clear plan of research;
- draw up a timetable for research;
- have regular meetings;
- report on students' progress;
- identify students' training needs; and
- encourage students to participate in the wider Oxford community.
Students benefit from the extensive complementary and transferable skills training freely available within the University.
The MSD Skills Training portfolio offers courses for all taught and research students and covers many aspects of research-related or technical skills, such as ethics, data analysis and statistics and bioinformatics; communications skills including scientific writing and oral and poster presentations, careers and personal development such as personal effectiveness and career planning; and finally academic practice including grant writing, teaching and intellectual property.
In addition, the Careers Service provides a full list of online courses, which are complementary to the divisional provision, and will advise on career progression and job applications. Other facilities and support are available through the Oxford University IT Services, Language Centre, that offers bespoke courses for eligible students where English is a foreign or additional language, and the Oxford Learning Institute for professional development.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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 Radiation Biology:
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.
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 (email@example.com).
A maximum of 1,000 words
You should submit a personal statement explaining your scientific experience and background, your motivation for wishing to undertake the course and/or programme and to 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
- commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course
- preliminary knowledge of research techniques
- capacity for sustained and intense work
- reasoning ability.
Your statement should focus on research experience rather than personal achievements, interests and aspirations.
References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, academic strongly encouraged
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.
Academic references are strongly encouraged, though one professional reference is acceptable provided that it is relevant to the course.
Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation and ability to work in a group.
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.