About the course
The MSc by Research in Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics offers a wide range of research topics within a large multi-disciplinary and world-renowned department, spanning a diverse spectrum of research areas from neuroscience, cardiac science, ion channels transporters and signalling, metabolism and endocrinology, development and reproduction to neurobiology of sleep and circadian rhythms.
In the first instance, applicants are advised to identify potential supervisors with Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, based on their research area of interest. You will nominate a supervisor on the application form together with the agreed research project title. As science advances, projects may or may not change.
Your research will be conducted at Oxford under the supervision of academic staff who are generally at the forefront of developments in your chosen research project area. You will explore your research subject area to new depths and may have the opportunity to present your findings to members of the international scientific community with whom, one day, you may collaborate. MSc by Research students may complete the degree between one and three years.
After attending the new graduate students’ induction day, you will then meet your supervisor and fellow group members. You will complete an Analysis of your Training Needs (TNA) with your supervisor. You will attend any training courses from the divisional flexible skills training programme, which includes a range of workshops and seminars in transferable skills, generic research skills and specific research techniques, if pertinent to your MSc research area. You will have access to regular departmental seminars, peer presentation groups for fine tuning presentation deliverance and graduate student social events that incorporate informal talks aimed at students. Examples are Public Speaking and Securing Your First Postdoc Job, Careers, Poster Presentation and from seminars talks in various themes from eminent worldwide scientists to talks. Special lectures are given to recognise previous famous scientists of the department and will vary in subject.
You will be encouraged to submit termly reports on your progress and report courses undertaken. The supervisor will also contribute to the termly reports.
Applicants are encouraged to communicate with their potential supervisors prior to submitting an application.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics 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 Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics.
All students in the Medical Sciences Division are required to have a co-supervisor in place once the programme of study is underway.
At the end of your first year or start of the second year, you will prepare and undertake the first milestone, Transfer of Status from Probationary Research Student (PRS) status to MSc by Research status, for which you will submit a written report describing your research to date and plans for the future. This will be assessed by two independent experts, who interview you as part of the process. The Transfer of Status milestone is generally undertaken towards the end of the third term and no later than the fourth term of the programme. At this point of the programme, you are expected to have established methodology and collected sufficient data to demonstrate that you are able to complete within the timeframe.
The final assessment is the final examination, the Viva Voce. This may occur at the end of the third term at the earliest, having already transferred status, or no later than the ninth term. Once you have passed, you will be awarded Leave to Supplicate. You may then book your graduation ceremony through your college.
An alumni survey showed nearly two-thirds were employed in academic research or had returned to medicine in conjunction with academic research. Other careers include industrial research, high-tech start-up companies, financial and business sectors, pharmaceutical consulting, teaching, scientific publishing, patent law and banking. Some graduates enter charitable fundraising and charitable scientific employment.
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 a subject that ideally will support the chosen research path.
A previous master's degree is not a condition of entry.
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 should be included within the CV/résumé if applicable.
- It would be expected that graduate applicants would be familiar with the recent published work of their proposed supervisors.
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. 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 held as part of the admissions process and take place in January for entry in October of the same year. All shortlisted candidates called to interview will have been assessed on completed applications only. Funded places are awarded purely on the basis of an assessment of candidates' excellence appropriate to their intended research path
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.
Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)
Some postgraduate research students in science, engineering and technology subjects will need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate prior to applying for a Student visa (under the Student Route). For some courses, the requirement to apply for an ATAS certificate may depend on your research area.
The Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics (DPAG) is the top-ranked in Anatomy and Physiology in the world according to the QS World University Rankings 2023. It has excellent facilities for the large number of full-time research students who are fully integrated into the research of the department.
Research in the department is organised around six major themes:
- cardiac science
- development and reproduction
- functional genomics
- ion channels, transporters and signalling
- metabolism and endocrinology
Within each of these themes there are several research groups and centres. All staff and doctoral students belong to one or more of these research groups, each of which has its own seminar programme to which graduate students often contribute. In addition, the department as a whole sponsors regular seminars and public lectures which attract distinguished national and international speakers.
DPAG IT Services provides various services to the department. These include e-mail, network file storage and computer and printer management services, and maintenance of the network both wired and wireless across the departmental estate.
The Radcliffe Science Library provides a print collection of books, journals and statistics. In addition, it provides access to a wide range of electronic resources.
Incoming students will be allocated study space upon their arrival with their group. The lecture theatre and seminar rooms provide perfect settings to attend talks given by local and internationally acclaimed speakers.
Students will also be encouraged to support and attend social events ranging from informal talks to social DPAG graduate student events.
Physiology, Anatomy & Genetics
The Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics (DPAG) is a major basic-science department within the Division of Medical Sciences.
The department offers top-quality advanced degrees, covering an extraordinarily wide range of specialised and interdisciplinary topics. These include molecular, cellular and integrative neuroscience, cardiovascular physiology, cellular and whole-body metabolism, functional genomics, neurobiology of sleep and circadian rhythms.
DPAG is home to a large number of internationally-renowned teams of scientists addressing major questions in biomedicine, the answers to which will have a profound effect on modern biology. Crucially, DPAG thinks learning is just as important as research, and at the department's core lies a belief that a synthesis of the two is key to advancing our understanding. As such, DPAG works to provide outstanding opportunities for graduate students to enjoy cutting-edge training across a diverse range of state-of-the-art methodologies in leading laboratories in the field, to develop practical skills to excel in academia, industry, consulting, high-tech start-ups and have made outstanding achievements in a variety of career fields; from making ground-breaking discoveries into fundamental biological processes to translational contributions with real-life impacts.
Since the department's work is multidisciplinary and cross-cutting, researchers often work across more than one theme, as well as collaborating with colleagues in the physical sciences, life sciences and clinical departments across Oxford and elsewhere. It is hoped, the postgraduate students’ experiences in DPAG will help them to become the leaders in science of tomorrow, to communicate and employ their research in the wider world.
In parallel to research, DPAG staff undertake the majority of the pre-clinical teaching for the University's top-ranked medical degrees while the department's graduate courses also attract a wealth of international talent. Ultimately, the department is built on a desire to understand – its scientific research areas with a belief its students are the future of research.
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, please note that, depending on your choice of research 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 following colleges accept students on the MSc by Research in Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics:
Before you apply
We strongly recommend you consult the Medical Sciences Graduate School's research themes to identify the most suitable course and supervisor.
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.
Readmission for current Oxford graduate taught students
If you're currently studying for an Oxford graduate taught course and apply to this course with no break in your studies, you may be eligible to apply to this course as a readmission applicant. The application fee will be waived for an eligible application of this type. Check whether you're eligible to apply for readmission.
Do I need to contact anyone before I apply?
You are advised to make enquiries as soon as possible prior to your intended date of entry, ideally before the December application deadline.
Before applying you are strongly encouraged to identify areas of interest to you from the DPAG research pages and then directly contact the Principal Investigator ('Group Leader') to discuss the possibility of joining their group.
Applicants are expected to have communicated with their proposed research supervisor and to have agreed a research project with the full support of said supervisor before submitting an application. Communications are encouraged either in person or via Microsoft Teams, Zoom or Skype.
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.
Proposed field and title of research project
You must enter the project you are applying to under 'Field and title of research project' on the 'Course' tab of the application form.
You should not use this field to type out a full research proposal. You will be able to upload your research supporting materials separately if they are required (as described below).
Under 'Proposed supervisor name' enter the name of the academic(s) who you would like to supervise your research.
Three overall, academic preferred
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.
References should generally be academic but one or more professional references should be submitted.
Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation and ability to work in a group.
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.
Statement of purpose/personal statement and research proposal:
A maximum of 500 words each
Your statement of purpose/personal statement and research proposal should be submitted as a single, combined document with clear subheadings. Please ensure that the word counts for each section are clearly visible in the document.
Statement of purpose/personal statement
You should provide a statement of your research interests, in English, describing how your background and research interests relate to the programme. If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
The statement should focus on academic or research-related achievements and interests rather than personal achievements and interests.
This will be assessed for:
- your reasons for applying;
- evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study;
- the ability to present a reasoned case in English;
- capacity for sustained and focused work; and
- understanding of problems in the area and ability to construct and defend an argument.
It will be normal for students’ ideas and goals to change in some ways as they undertake their studies, but your personal statement will enable you to demonstrate your current interests and aspirations.
You should submit an outline of your proposed research, written in English, covering areas such as the background to the research, relevant methodology and research aims.
Your research proposal should be designed in cooperation with your proposed supervisors. A list of supervisors offering projects, as well as suggested research proposals, will be available on the DPAG admissions webpage, although you are welcome to discuss alternative projects and/or supervisors.
The project proposal will be assessed for:
- the coherence of the proposal
- the originality of the project
- evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
- the feasibility of successfully completing the project in the time available for the course (a maximum of two years)
- commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course
- preliminary knowledge of research techniques
- reasoning ability.
It will be normal for your ideas subsequently to change as you investigate the evidence and develop your project. You should nevertheless make the best effort you can to demonstrate the extent of your research question, sources and method at this moment.
Your proposal should focus primarily on the research rather than purely on personal achievements, interests and aspirations.