About the course
The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Approaches to Biomedical Science: Responsible and Reproducible Research (SABS: R³) is an innovative open collaboration between the University of Oxford and 22 partner industrial organisations.
This course is taking part in a pilot on the assessment procedure of graduate applications to address conscious and unconscious bias for entry in the 2021-22 academic year. Please carefully read the instructions concerning submission of your CV/résumé in the How to apply section page of this page, as well as the full details about this pilot.
SABS: R³ is predicated on the increasing reliance of biomedical research on computational approaches, and hence on well-engineered research software. The programme aims to train first-rate biomedical scientists equipped with the skills needed to transform their research through the creation of innovative, reusable computational tools and solutions for cutting-edge biomedical research problems.
This four-year programme of research and training has strong industrial links, with each student having both academic and industrial supervision.
The programme enables students from a range of quantitative scientific backgrounds to focus on biomedical research problems, including the design and testing of new chemical and biological entities, the modelling of biological and physiological systems, the robust analysis of large complex datasets and the development of novel computational methods for medical and biological imaging. This cross-disciplinary work introduces students to cutting-edge software engineering, machine learning, cheminformatics, computational simulation, bioinformatics, data mining, statistical analysis, physical and structural study of biomolecules, mathematical modelling, and medical and biological imaging. Underpinning the entire programme will be an appreciation of the vital importance of taking a responsible and reproducible approach to computational biomedical research.
The CDT's industrial partners are currently AC Immune, AstraZeneca, BenevolentAI, the Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre, Diamond Light Source, Elsevier, e-therapeutics, Exscientia, GE Healthcare, Hoffmann La Roche, Immunocore, Lhasa, LifeArc, Lurtis, MedImmune, Microsoft Research, Moffitt Cancer Center, Novo Nordisk, Oxford Drug Design (formerly InhibOx), Perspectum Diagnostics, SimOmics, UCB and Zegami.
A major advantage of the programme is that you are not required to choose the substantive DPhil project until after the initial taught training phase, allowing a more informed choice of research project to be made.
In addition to learning about biomedical science, the first six months of the course are devoted to acquiring advanced software development and theoretical and technical skills that form the backbone of interdisciplinary research in this area. This training draws from the engineering, mathematical, physical, chemical and biological sciences through a combination of intensive lecture courses, project work and hands-on software development. Each taught module lasts for either one, two or three weeks and is assessed using a method appropriate to the course: for example, open-source software development, presentations, group assignments or written work. This will be complemented with relevant research and communication skills training throughout the four years of the programme. A key element of the programme is the group-development of an open-source software solution to a current research problem put forward by our industrial collaborators.
After completion of the taught training phase, you will undertake two exploratory research projects of thirteen weeks' duration each, similar in scope to a master's-level project, followed by the three-year DPhil project. You will be based within the research group of your principal supervisor for these, which may be in the University or with an industrial partner.
The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Centre for Doctoral Training and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. In the first year of the course, students will be supervised by the programme directors, who will also support students in choosing their doctoral research project. Supervision arrangements for years two to four will therefore be confirmed at the end of the first year when the doctoral project is chosen.
Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of the doctoral research phase of your course (years two to four), however it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.
During the first year students are assessed on the each of the taught modules undertaken in the first two terms as well as on each of the two short rotation projects undertaken. Satisfactory achievement will be required for progression to the research stage.
Assessment during the following three years of the programme will follow the regulations of the department in which you are hosted.
The programme is part of the DTC which has a strong record of alumni success. To date, around 60% of students have gone on to pursue academic careers and 20% have entered into industrial research. The DTC’s alumni are responsible for at least 20 start-up companies and over 30 granted or pending patents. Many students who have gone onto successful careers are invited back to talk to current students within the Research Skills sessions.
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.
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 centre
All graduate courses offered by the MPLS Doctoral Training Centre
Entry requirements for entry in 2021-22
Proven and potential academic excellence
As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the equivalent of the following UK qualifications:
- a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in physical sciences (ie chemistry, computer science, engineering, mathematics, statistics or physics)
Applicants with degrees in other scientific disciplines with strong quantitative/mathematical backgrounds and/or strong programming/software engineering skills are also encouraged to apply.
Entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have or are on track to obtain a first-class degree or the equivalent.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0. However, most successful applicants have or are on track to obtain a GPA of 3.7.
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 and experience
- Successful applicants will have demonstrable interest in programming.
- Applicants will be required to demonstrate their experience and interest in the use of quantitative approaches.
- Research or working experience in a relevant area may be an advantage. Preference may be given to those who have previously studied in a relevant area. Evidence of training in a relevant area may be an advantage.
- Although publications are not required, a strong publication record may advantage an application.
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.
English language requirement
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.
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
Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process for all suitably qualified applicants following initial assessment by the programme directors. Interview panels usually consist of two members, including a programme director and an academic expert in the areas relevant to the student. Interviews last for around 40 minutes and include questions and exercises to ascertain the level of mathematics, biology and programming obtained by the applicant to date. If necessary, interviews will be held via telephone or Skype for candidates based outside the UK.
Any offer of a place is dependent on the University’s ability to provide the appropriate supervision for your chosen area of work. Please refer to the ‘About’ section of this page for more information about the provision of supervision for this course.
How your application is assessed
Your application will be assessed purely on academic merit and potential, according to the published entry requirements for the course. 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. Whether you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.
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.
After an offer is made
If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, you will 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 Tier 4 visa. Further information can be found on our Tier 4 (General) Student visa page. For some courses, the requirement to apply for an ATAS certificate may depend on your research area.
The taught component of the programme is held within the University of Oxford Doctoral Training Centre (DTC). The DTC provides excellent facilities specifically designed to promote interdisciplinary study and currently houses six programmes with multiple seminar rooms available. All students have individual study spaces with access to a desktop computer and appropriate IT support. Social break-out space is provided and there is a small well-stocked library.
The DTC provides opportunities for all cohorts to come together regularly for both academic and social purposes.
The short projects and DPhil projects are hosted in a range of departments across the University or with the industrial collaborator, as appropriate.
The University expects to be able to offer up to 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2021-22. 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 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 college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages.
Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the centre's website.
Annual fees for entry in 2021-22
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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 likely increases 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.
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 2021-22 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,175 and £1,710 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 2021-22, you should allow for an estimated increase in living expenses of 3% each year.
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 Sustainable Approaches to Biomedical Science: Responsible and Reproducible Research CDT:
The following colleges accept students on the Sustainable Approaches to Biomedical Science: Responsible and Reproducible Research CDT:
How to apply
This course is taking part in a pilot on the assessment procedure of graduate applications to address conscious and unconscious bias for entry in the 2021-22 academic year. Please carefully read the instructions concerning submission of your CV/résumé.
You are not expected to make contact with an academic member of staff before you apply.
The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:
Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.
More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.
Submission of a separate online CV form is required
A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. For this course, you will be asked to fill out an online form that requests certain information that you will likely have included on your CV. This form will request the same information from all applicants, and will provide this information to the assessors in an identical format.
You will not be able to submit an application using the main graduate application form until you have confirmed that you have completed the separate CV form. To do this, simply upload a document containing the text "I have submitted the required online CV." into the place where you are asked to upload a CV. Please do not upload another CV.
Considering socio-economic data as part of the assessment procedure is one of the actions we are taking as part of a pilot aimed at minimising conscious and unconscious bias in the admissions procedure for graduate students.
Statement of purpose/personal statement:
A maximum of 1,000 words
The statement should be in English and written in the form of an essay. Your proposal should 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.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
It is not necessary to provide a detailed information on your proposed research, but you should give a brief description of the area in which you wish to carry out research. This need not be specific if you have not yet decided on your preferred topic or area.
This will be assessed for your research interests and your reasons for applying to the course, as well as how your background and experience relates to the area of sustainable approaches to biomedical science. It will also be assessed for coherence, evidence of motivation and understanding of the proposed area of study.
References/letters of recommendation:
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.
One professional reference can be accepted if you have relevant work experience, but academic references are preferred.
Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation and ability to work in a group.
Start or continue an application
Step 1: Read our guide to getting started, which explains how to prepare for and start an application.
Step 2: Check that you meet the Entry requirements and read the How to apply information on this page.
Step 3: Check the deadlines on this page and the deadline information in our Application Guide. Plan your time to submit your application well in advance - we recommend two or three weeks earlier.
Step 4: Check if you're eligible for an application fee waiver. Application fee waivers are available for:
- UK applicants from low-income backgrounds who meet the eligibility criteria;
- residents in a country listed as low-income by the World Bank (refer to the eligibility criteria);
- current Oxford graduate taught students applying for readmission to an eligible course; and
- additional applications to selected research courses that are closely related to your first application.
Step 5: Start your application using the relevant link below. As you complete the form, consult our Application Guide for advice at each stage. You'll find the answers to most common queries in our FAQs.