MSc by Research in Psychiatry

About the course

The MSc by Research in Psychiatry offers you the opportunity to gain a wide range of transferrable research skills alongside in-depth knowledge and expertise in one of an extensive range of research fields ranging from molecular biology to brain imaging and from behavioural research to epidemiology.

Applicants are strongly advised to visit the Medical Sciences Graduate School website to help them identify the most suitable course and supervisors.

The MSc by Research in Psychiatry is designed to allow you to develop the skills required to become an independent researcher, as well as acquiring expertise within a particular research area. You will have a supervisor from within the department and may have a co-supervisor/advisor from within the department or from elsewhere, such as the departments of Experimental Psychology, Clinical Neuroscience and Pharmacology and/or the Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain (fMRIB).

Working on a project of your own under the guidance of a supervisor provides you with a primary learning experience. You are encouraged to take advantage of the comprehensive, flexible training programme offered by the Medical Sciences Graduate School which includes general and specific research skills and more advanced academic courses.

You may also be required to undertake one or more training courses related to your area of research. In addition to this, the department organises opportunities for students to meet together and to present their research to their peers, enabling you to benefit from feedback and to begin networking with students in other research areas.

The range of research topics available to you is extensive and includes core areas of neurobiology, psychological treatments, developmental psychiatry and social psychiatry. You will be based in Oxford for your MSc by Research but you can be based elsewhere in the world during the data collection phase of your research.

Examination of an MSc by Research involves submission of a thesis which is examined by viva. Prior to this, you must transfer your status from probationary student to MSc by Research student. This involves making a brief presentation to assessors outlining your work and a timetable for completion of the thesis.

Graduate destinations

The destinations for students completing an MSc by Research in the department are very varied and dependent on the research area covered by the research degree. For example, some continue in academic research, others go on to start or complete training to be psychiatrists or clinical psychologists while others go into employment. 

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 2019-20

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 discipline that is relevant to your proposed research.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0.

A previous master’s degree is not required for entry to the MSc by Research programme.

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.

Other appropriate indicators will include:

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(s)

Whilst interviews are not mandatory, they are a normal part of the admissions process. Typically, only candidates who satisfy the minimal requirements and whose research interests overlap with an identified member of the academic staff will be interviewed. 

For departmental studentships, when available, interviews usually take place in February and will be conducted by at least two interviewers. The department aims to interview three applicants for each available place. If you are unable to come to Oxford for an interview it may be possible for it to be conducted by phone, Skype, or video-conference.

Occasionally, you will be asked to provide previous reports/papers prepared as part of your undergraduate degree or to complete some pre-admissions tests.


Publications are not required, but if available will be considered as part of your application.

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

Research or working experience related to your proposed area of study may be an advantage.

2. English language requirement

Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the standard 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 Psychiatry 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 Psychiatry 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 Psychiatry.

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.

5. Assessors

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.


There is a common room in the department with a small kitchen where students and staff can have lunch and hold informal meetings. There are also a number of conference rooms and a seminar room equipped with internet access for presentations, Skype calls etc.

The University provides many facilities outside the department, including the two main University libraries – the Radcliffe Science Library (including the Cairns Library at the John Radcliffe Hospital) and the Bodleian Library – both contain psychiatry journals and books. 

The department is developing closer links with the Cairns Library whose staff will be providing an introductory and some further training sessions for all members of the department during the academic year. The librarians are able to give individual help. You will need to register with the Cairns Library (laboratories, testing rooms and scanning facilities).

Oxford University Computing Services (OUCS) provides and support email accounts, network connections and internet access facilities. OUCS also runs a range of courses which may be helpful for your research, including general use of computers and various statistical and word processing packages.


There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course 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 applicants to this course, whatever your nationality. The Medical Sciences Graduate School website provides further details, as well as information about external funding opportunities.


Annual fees for entry in 2019-20

Full-time study