The side of the Radcliffe Camera through a black gate
The Radcliffe Camera, seen from the Bodleian Quad
(Image Credit: Christopher Wills)

MSc in Surgical Science and Practice

About the course

The MSc in Surgical Science and Practice is aimed at surgeons and other clinicians carrying out technical procedures. It has been designed as a part-time course to be  completed in two to four years by people working full-time. The modular nature of the course allows you to fit study around your work.

The aim of the course is to give you a strong foundation in the most important non-clinical skills you will need to be effective and to lead others. It will prepare you for life as an independent specialist and focuses on skills and knowledge which are not fully represented or are omitted from graduate training curricula.

The Masters programme has been designed to appeal to trainees and consultants in surgical disciplines as well as any medical discipline that involves technical skills.  Successful applicants have included interventional radiologists, anaesthetists and physicians performing invasive procedures (cardiologists, gastroenterologists, etc).

Students on the PGCert in Patient Safety attend some of the Masters Modules so the range of students on the programme often includes nurses, allied healthcare professionals and managers as well as doctors. This mix reflects the healthcare workplace and enriches classroom discussions during the taught module week. Some PGCert students whose work involves technical procedures (for example nurse practitioners, physicians assistants, cardiac perfusionists) have successfully applied to continue on to the Masters programme. This is subject to a further interview.

For simplicity the descriptions below will use the term ‘surgeon’ to include not only surgeons but also others carrying out technical procedures.

Surgeons work as part of multidisciplinary teams in complex organisations, and will need to adapt and develop new skills and roles throughout their professional lives. The MSc syllabus covers management skills, quality improvement, leadership, teamwork and patient safety, development and implementation of new technologies, as well as an introduction to the principles of medical education and clinical research methods. It also includes taught material on research skills. The knowledge gained during the course will stand you in good stead throughout your career.

You will complete six modules which are taught by experts in their field:

  • Leadership and Management in Healthcare
  • Quality Improvement Science and Systems Analysis
  • Human Factors, Teamwork and Communication
  • Healthcare Innovation and Technology
  • Practice of Evidence-Based Health Care
  • Becoming a Clinical Educator

Each module includes a period of preparatory study and one week of full time, face-to-face teaching in Oxford, which is then followed by a period for assignment work. The modules can be studied in any order and each module normally takes place once a year giving you the opportunity to individualise your patterns of study.

The taught weeks include seminar-style teaching, group work, class discussions, guest lectures, and interaction and feedback with tutors and lecturers. Where appropriate the taught week will include practical activities to develop skills.

In the four weeks running up to each taught week you should expect to dedicate 4-6 hours per week to preparatory reading. In the six weeks following each taught week you should expect to dedicate 10-15 hours per week to researching and writing your module assignment.

A virtual learning environment (VLE) provides support between modules. Assignments are submitted online and thus can be completed from anywhere in the world.

This flexible programme is offered jointly by the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences and the Department for Continuing Education.

Supervision

The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences and/or the Department for Continuing Education and this role will usually be performed by the Course Director.

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 Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences and/or Department for Continuing Education. 

The University expects there to be contact between supervisor and student at least once per month.

Assessment

To complete the MSc in Surgical Science and Practice, you will need to:

  • attend the six compulsory modules in Oxford;
  • undertake and pass an assessed written assignment for each module; and
  • after attending all six modules, complete and pass an assessed dissertation on a topic founded on a work-based research project that will build on the material studied in the taught modules.

The written assignments help you develop and demonstrate your growing knowledge and understanding of the subject areas covered, and will provide you with the opportunity to develop your critical appraisal and written presentation skills.  The assignments are an opportunity to apply what you have learned to your own work setting or practice, helping you translate classroom learning to your own context.

You will need to be able to write a good standard of academic English to pass the assignments. For those that require a refresher, the Department of Continuing Education offers a 10 week, online course to refresh and improve your reading, note-making and essay-writing skills. 

You will be given written feedback on each of the assignments you submit, intended to help you continue to develop your critical appraisal and academic writing skills.

Graduate destinations

Most students commencing this part-time programme are already in full-time employment. The MSc aims to prepare you for your future working life and to equip you for:

  • managing surgical/healthcare units and leading surgical/healthcare team
  • leading initiatives, such as quality improvement or a new pathway/ procedure
  • undertaking surgical and clinical research
  • embarking upon an academic career pathway
  • becoming a clinical educator.

Past students have also gone on to study for the part-time DPhil in Evidence Based Health Care.

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.

Courses suggested by the lead department

Evidence­‐Based Health Care MSc
Patient Safety PGCert
Paediatric Infectious Diseases PGDip
Evidence Based Health Care DPhil

All graduate courses offered by the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences

Entry requirements for entry in 2023-24

Proven and potential academic excellence

Degree-level qualifications

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 medicine, which must be recognised by the GMC and the MRCS.

Applicants whose undergraduate degree is in biomedical science, rather than medicine, will also be considered for entry to the course.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA normally 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

To be eligible for the course, you will need to:

  • hold a primary qualification in medicine recognised by the GMC and the MRCS, or an equivalent diploma in basic surgical training and education degree in the case of overseas candidates;
  • have held or currently occupy a training or service post at ST1 level or above (UK candidates), or provide evidence of basic surgical training including a logbook (overseas candidates);
  • possess an entry level qualification for specialist training in surgery, eg MRCS or international equivalent;
  • be able to demonstrate a commitment to surgical training and a realistic prospect of completing it;
  • show evidence of several years of accumulated practical surgical training is a requirement of entry; and
  • have a good working knowledge of email, internet, word processing and Windows applications.

As an alternative to surgical qualifications, training and experience as noted above, equivalent achievements in clinical specialties focused on skilled invasive therapeutic intervention will confer eligibility.  These specialties include interventional cardiology, neurology and radiology, endoscopic gastroenterology, obstetrics and gynaecology and dentistry. Candidates from other fields may be considered admissible at the discretion of the faculty if they can make a case for equivalence in terms of the skill set required for their practice.

Successful candidates will normally provide evidence of all of the following:

  • a demonstrated interest in surgical science, evidenced by prior experience, interest and work;
  • motivation and ability to complete the course; and
  • a clear and well-argued understanding of the benefits of the course to the candidate’s current employment and future prospects.

Evidence of relevant academic work in surgery, eg presentations and publications, will be considered.

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.

Minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level requirement
TestMinimum overall scoreMinimum score per component
IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713) 7.57.0

TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'

(Institution code: 0490)

110Listening: 22
Reading: 24
Speaking: 25
Writing: 24
C1 Advanced*191185
C2 Proficiency191185

*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.

References

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.

Supporting documents

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.

A telephone or video interview will be arranged for all of those who appear to fulfil the basic requirements for entry to the course and performance at interview will play a significant role in assessment of the selection criteria.

Interviews will be held after each standard deadline, and once in the admissions period following the March deadline. They will be conducted by a minimum of two interviewers.

The purpose of the interview is to:

  • establish your level of interest, motivation and potential to benefit from the course of study;
  • clarify any uncertainties about compliance with requirements; and
  • ensure that you are fully informed of the standard of achievement and level of commitment required by the course of study.

Where concerns remain about the suitability of applicants which cannot be resolved by other methods, they may be required to complete a short written assignment, normally in the form of a critical appraisal of a specified scientific paper.

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

Information about processing special category data for the purposes of positive action and using your data to assess your eligibility for funding, can be found in our Postgraduate Applicant Privacy Policy.

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:

Financial Declaration

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.

Resources

The department is committed to supporting you to pursue your academic goals. 

The Rewley House Continuing Education Library, one of the Bodleian Libraries, is situated in Rewley House. The department aims to support the wide variety of subjects covered by departmental courses at many academic levels. The department also has a collection of around 73,000 books together with periodicals. PCs in the library give access to the internet and the full range of electronic resources subscribed to by the University of Oxford. Wi-Fi is also available. The Jessop Reading Room adjoining the library is available for study. You will have access to the Central Bodleian and other Bodleian Libraries.

The department's Graduate School provides a stimulating and enriching learning and research environment for the department's graduate students, fostering intellectual and social interaction between graduates of different disciplines and professions from the UK and around the globe. The Graduate School will help you make the most of the wealth of resources and opportunities available, paying particular regard to the support and guidance needed if you are following a part-time graduate programme. The department’s graduate community comprises over 600 members following taught programmes and more than 70 undertaking doctoral research.

The department provides various IT facilities, including the Student Computing Facility which provides individual PCs for your use. Many of the department's courses are delivered through blended learning or have a website to support face-to-face study. In most cases, online support is delivered through a virtual learning environment. 

Depending on the programme you are taking with the department, you may require accommodation at some point in your student career. Rewley House is ideally located in central Oxford; the city's historic sites, colleges, museums, shops and restaurants are only a few minutes’ walk away. The department has 35 en-suite study bedrooms, all with high quality amenities, including internet access.

The Rewley House dining room has seating for up to 132 people. A full meal service is available daily. The department operates a Common Room with bar for students. 

Funding

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.

Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the following faculty websites:

Costs

Modular course fees

The fees for this course are charged on a modular basis. You will pay an annual course fee and an additional fee for each module studied. A minimum of two annual course fees are payable for this course. If this course includes a dissertation, three module fees will be charged for the dissertation.

Fees for the 2023-24 academic year

Fee status

Annual Course Fee

Fee per module

Total estimated fees

Home£1,870£2,340Please see the department’s website for further details
Overseas£8,820£2,340

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.

For more information about course fees and fee liability, please see the Fees and Funding section of this website, which includes detailed fee status information.

Additional information

This course has residential sessions in Oxford. You will need to meet your travel and accommodation costs in attending these sessions. Further, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. 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.

Living costs

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.

If you are studying part-time your living costs may vary depending on your personal circumstances but you must still ensure that you will have sufficient funding to meet these costs for the duration of your course.

College preference

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 Surgical Science and Practice:

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. We recommend that you submit your application well in advance - two or three weeks earlier. 

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.

Contacting the department

You do not need to make contact with the department before you apply but you are encouraged to visit the relevant departmental webpages to read any further information about your chosen course.

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.

Referees:
Three overall, academic and/or professional

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.

The department will accept professional references if these are relevant to the course.

Your references will support your academic ability and suitability for the programme. You should ask your referees to provide any other information they consider to be relevant to your application. If they have knowledge of your recent study, it would be helpful if they could indicate the standard attained.

Official transcript(s)

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.

CV/résumé

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.

Statement of purpose:
A maximum of 500 words

Your statement should be written in English and explain your motivation for applying for the course at Oxford, your relevant experience and education, and the specific areas that interest you and/or you intend to specialise in. 

There are no restrictions on font size or line spacing, although the document should be clearly legible.

If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.

This will be assessed for your motivation for applying to this particular programme of study; your relevant academic, research, or practical experience; and the areas of study within the subject that interest you.

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.

Application Guide Apply

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