About the course
The one-year, full-time, taught course in radiation biology leading to an MSc awarded by the University of Oxford. The MSc in Radiation Biology comprises a five-month core theoretical course covering the emerging areas of fundamental biology for oncology and its treatment by radiotherapy and a six-month high-quality basic and clinically-applied research project.
Applicants are strongly advised to visit the Medical Sciences Graduate School website to help them identify the most suitable course and supervisors.
The MSc can form the first year of training for students who may wish to continue in academic research at the DPhil/PhD level at the University of Oxford or elsewhere.
It will also provide a MSc degree for individuals who wish to continue in academic research in radiation biology at other universities or to start a career in other professions that require knowledge of radiation biology, eg academic personnel associated with radiation protection issues.
Fundamental radiation biological science and laboratory methods/practical skills are taught in the first term (Michaelmas) and the first half of Hilary term, over a series of 12 modules. Each module is delivered over a period of one or two weeks and together the 12 modules comprise the core content of the course.
Lectures will be given by local, national and international experts, with additional tutorials and practical sessions given by local staff. Sessions using distance learning material will complement these and give you a wide knowledge and understanding of radiation biology.
Demonstration and practical sessions will enable you to learn particular techniques that are used in this speciality subject area.
The remaining six months is allowed for a high quality laboratory research project.
Five short essays and a series of journal clubs will be assessed to provide formative assessment of your progress. You will also sit a qualifying examination in week 9 of Michaelmas term based upon modules 1 to 6, normally in an MCQ format. You will submit an extended essay in week 6 of Hilary term and a second examination comprising short questions is sat in week 9 of Hilary term. You will submit an assignment and the research dissertation of approximately 10,000 words based on your project and you will be examined by research dissertation, by oral presentation and by a short viva voce.
Graduates move to PhD/DPhil positions both in Oxford, across the UK and internationally. Among other destinations, many students go into, or back to, medicine.
Changes to the course
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. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.
Entry requirements for entry in 2017-18
Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:
1. Academic ability
Proven and potential academic excellence
Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in a biological, medical, chemical, mathematical and physical science background.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0.
If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).
No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.
However entrance is highly competitive and most successful applicants have a first-class degree or the equivalent.
Other appropriate indicators will include:
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(s)
Applicants who are shortlisted are normally interviewed as part of the admissions process. There will be a minimum of two members on the interview panel, which will include at least one academic. There is normally a 3:1 target ratio of interviewees to places.
Interviews will be held either person or by Skype/videoconference. The format of the interview is a discussion of your research experience or recent scientific project, followed by a question-and-answer session designed to investigate your:
- experience or potential
- knowledge of field
- interactive skills
- presentation skills
- analytical skills
- experimental design
- scientific motivation, career plan
- proficiency in English at the University’s higher level.
Publications are not required, but they may advantage an application.
2. English language requirement
Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.
3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places
The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:
- The ability of the Department of Oncology to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work
- Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.
The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:
- 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.
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, maternity leave or change in employment.
4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties
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.
Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.
Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.
All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).
Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.
6. Other information
Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.
In the case of students who require specific help to adjust to an academic programme or to a new range of skills, the supervisor will work with them to ensure that they have additional support.
The course has a director and an administrator who provide students with scientific and practical support. During the six-month research project all students will have a supervisor who is responsible for their scientific training and the identification of the appropriate external courses that they should attend. 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 their progress; identify their training needs; and encourage you to participate in the wider Oxford community.
Students benefit from the extensive complementary and transferable skills training freely available to all researchers within the University. The University has a well-developed skills training portfolio which is in accordance with the UK Research Councils Joint Statement on graduate skills. The divisional training provides for all research students and covers all 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 who offers bespoke courses for eligible students where English is a foreign or additional language and the Oxford Learning Institute for professional development.
There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.
Full funding opportunities are available for all Medical Sciences Graduate School programmes, whatever your nationality. The Medical Sciences Graduate School website provides further details of these, as well as information about external funding opportunities.
Annual fees for entry in 2017-18
Total annual fees
The fees shown above are the annual tuition and college fees for this course for entry in the stated academic year; 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.
Tuition and college 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 tuition and college fees).
For more information about tuition fees, college 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.
There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees 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 tuition and college fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.
For the 2017-18 academic year, the range of likely living costs is between £1,002 and £1,471 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 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. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.
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.
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 you may use up to one professional reference provided that it is relevant to the course.
Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation and ability to work in a group.