MSc by Research in Statistics
About the course
In the MSc by Research in Statistics, you will investigate a particular project in depth and write a thesis that makes a contribution to the field. It may be possible to change from an MSc by Research and pursue a DPhil in Statistics. You will acquire a wide range of research and transferable skills, as well as in-depth knowledge, understanding and expertise in your chosen field of research. You will become part of a vibrant community of researchers.
The Department of Statistics in the University of Oxford is a world leader in research in probability, bioinformatics, mathematical genetics and statistical methodology, including computational statistics, machine learning and data science. Oxford’s Mathematical Sciences submission came first in the UK on all criteria in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF) and in 2016 the department moved to a newly-refurbished building in the centre of Oxford.
Much of the department’s research is either explicitly interdisciplinary or draws its motivation from application areas, ranging from genetics, immunoinformatics, bioinformatics and cheminformatics, to finance and the social sciences. The department is also part of a number of Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT) which admit graduate students; StatML (Modern Statistics and Statistical Machine Learning), an EPSRC CDT in applicable modern statistical theory and methods as well as on the underpinnings of statistical machine learning in association with Imperial; Mathematics of Random Systems: Analysis, Modelling and Algorithms, an EPSRC CDT in the area of probabilistic modelling, stochastic analysis and their applications in association with Imperial and Oxford Mathematics; Sustainable Approaches to Biomedical Science: Responsible and Reproducible Research (SABS R3), an EPSRC CDT focusing on quantitative and predictive research at the interface between the mathematical and physical, and the biological and medical sciences, focussing on industrially relevant challenges in collaboration with 22 pharmaceutical and biotech companies.
You will be expected to acquire transferable skills as part of your training and to prepare a research poster or give a research presentation each year in the department.
You are expected to teach approximately 12 contact hours per year in undergraduate and graduate courses in the department. This is mentored teaching, beginning with simple marking, to reach a point where individual students are leading whole classes of 10 to 12 undergraduate students. You will be encouraged to participate in social events and to take part in public engagement. The department also offers career development events.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Department of Statistics 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 Statistics.
You will be assigned a supervisor or supervisors, who will have overall responsibility for the direction of your work on behalf of the department. You will have the opportunity to interact with fellow students and other members of your research groups, and more widely across the department. Typically, as a research student you should expect to have meetings with your supervisor or a member of the supervisory team with a frequency of at least once every two weeks averaged across the year. The regularity of these meetings may be subject to variations according to the time of the year, and the stage you are at in your research programme.
Initially, you will be admitted as a Probationer Research Student in the same way as those intending to do a DPhil. The same standards are applied for admission for the two degrees.
There is a formal assessment of progress on the research project at around twelve months. The MSc by Research thesis is expected to be submitted for examination during the second or third year of the programme and there will be a viva voce examination.
After the MSc by Research in Statistics, graduates often move into research and academic careers. Others work, for example, in data analytics, in tech and biotech companies and in the financial 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 (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.
For further information please see our page on changes to courses and the provisions of the student contract regarding changes to courses.
Other courses you may wish to consider
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.
All graduate courses offered by the Department of Statistics
Entry requirements for entry in 2023-24
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 an appropriate subject. You will need a strong background in mathematics and/or statistics.
However, entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a first-class degree of the equivalent.
A previous master's degree (either an integrated master's degree or standalone) is preferred but is not required.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.6 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 expected but can be included with the application.
English language proficiency
This course requires proficiency in English at the University's standard 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 standard level are detailed in the table below.
|Test||Minimum overall score||Minimum score per component|
|IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713)||7.0||6.5|
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 for applicants who, on the basis of the written application, best meet the selection criteria. Interviews may be held in person or by telephone or video link such as Zoom, normally with at least two interviewers.
The interviews last about 30 minutes and include questions about motivation as well as questions from the proposed research area.
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.
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.
Whether or not you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.
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.
The Department of Statistics is based in St Giles, near the centre of Oxford. The building has spaces for study and collaborative learning, including a large interaction and social area, the Library and an Open Research Zone.
You will normally be provided with a computer and desk space in a shared office in this building.
You will have access to the Department of Statistics’ computing facilities and support, the department’s library (in addition to the nearby Radcliffe Science Library and other university libraries, and the centrally-provided electronic resources) and other facilities appropriate to your research topic. The provision of other resources specific to your research project should be agreed with your supervisor as a part of the planning stages of the agreed project.
The department runs seminar series in statistics and probability. There is also a graduate lecture series, involving snapshots of the research interests of the department. Several journal-clubs run each term, reading and discussing new research papers as they emerge.
Graduate training is an important part of the department's research mission. As well as the graduate lectures previously mentioned, formal lecture courses are also available, for example from the MSc in Statistical Science, from the fourth-year undergraduate courses in mathematics and statistics, and from the Centres for Doctoral Training. The MPLS Graduate School offers an extensive range of courses for graduate research students throughout the academic year, including academic subjects and skills; research skills and techniques; ethics and intellectual property; transferable, professional and personal effectiveness skills; and communication, interpersonal and teaching skills.
Departmental seminars and colloquia bring research students, together with academic and other research staff, to hear about on-going research, and provide an opportunity for networking and socialising. There are various social events held throughout the year, such as board game evenings, choir practice, a Summer party and a Winter party.
The University expects to be able to offer around 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2023-24. 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.
Annual fees for entry in 2023-24
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.
Following the period of fee liability, you may also be required to pay a University continuation charge and a college continuation charge. The University and college continuation charges are shown on the Continuation charges page.
Where can I find further information about fees?
The Fees and Funding section of this website provides further information about course fees, including information about fee status and eligibility and your length of fee liability.
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 2023-24 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,290 and £1,840 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 2023-24, it is suggested that you allow for potential increases in living expenses of 5% or more each year – although this rate may vary significantly depending on how the national economic situation develops. UK inflationary increases will be kept under review and this page updated.
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 by Research in Statistics:
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.
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?
Before you apply, you should identify an academic member of staff who is willing to supervise you and has the resources to support your proposed research project. You should do this by contacting them directly. Details of academic staff, including their research interests and contact details, can be found on the department's website.
General enquiries about the course should be directed to the department's graduate studies administrator using the contact details provided on this page.
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. 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
Under the 'Field and title of research project' please enter your proposed field or area of research if this is known. If the department has advertised a specific research project that you would like to be considered for, please enter the project title here instead.
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.
You should enter up to two names and you should list them in order of preference or indicate equal preference.
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.
Academic references are strongly encouraged, though a professional reference is acceptable in the exceptional case that the referee is able to offer comparable information on your background and suitability for the course to an academic referee.
Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation and commitment.
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.
A maximum of 1,000 words
Your research proposal should be written in English and should specify the area in which your research interests lie and why you have chosen this area. If you have a particular project in mind, you should describe this and why you are keen to work on this.
If you do not have a detailed project in mind at this stage, you should describe your research interests instead. In this case, the description can be very brief but should include your reasons for applying.
The proposal should aim to be helpful to the department in the selection process and can include a suggestion for potential supervisor(s) and/or research group. The overall word count should include any bibliography.
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.
Your statement should focus on specific research areas rather than personal achievements and aspirations.
Start or continue your application
You can start or return to an application using the relevant link below. As you complete the form, please refer to the requirements above and consult our Application Guide for advice. You'll find the answers to most common queries in our FAQs.