Sustainable Approaches to Biomedical Science: Responsible and Reproducible Research (EPSRC and MRC Centre for Doctoral Training) | University of Oxford
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Sustainable Approaches to Biomedical Science: Responsible and Reproducible Research (EPSRC and MRC Centre for Doctoral Training)

About the course

The EPSRC and MRC 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.

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 AstraZeneca, BenevolentAI, the Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre, Diamond Light Source, Elsevier, e-therapeutics, Exscientia, GE Healthcare, Hoffmann La Roche, 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.

Supervision

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.

Graduate destinations

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. 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 sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.

For further information, please see our page on 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 centre

Statistics DPhil
Computer Science DPhil
Biochemistry DPhil
Mathematics DPhil
Clinical Medicine DPhil
Physical and Theoretical Chemistry DPhil
Engineering Science DPhil

All graduate courses offered by the MPLS Doctoral Training Centre

Entry requirements for entry in 2020-21

Proven and potential academic excellence

Degree-level qualifications

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

  • 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.

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.

Detailed requirements - higher level

The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are:

IELTS Academic7.5Minimum 7.0 per component
TOEFL iBT110

Minimum component scores:

  • Listening: 22
  • Reading: 24
  • Speaking: 25
  • Writing: 24
Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE) or C1 Advanced191Minimum 185 per component
Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) or C2 Proficiency191Minimum 185 per component

Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. For more information about the English language test requirement, visit the Application Guide

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

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.

Supervision

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: 

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 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.

Resources

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.  

Funding

There are over 1,100 full or partial graduate scholarships available across the University. You will be automatically considered for over two thirds of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant January deadline, with most scholarships awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential. To help identify those scholarships where you will be required to submit an additional application, use the Fees, funding and scholarships search and visit individual college websites using the links provided on our college pages.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2020-21

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU (including Islands)£7,970
Overseas£26,405

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.

For more information about course fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

Additional information

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.

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 2020-21 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,135 and £1,650 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 2020-21, you should allow for an estimated increase in living expenses of 3% each year.

How to apply

Before making a formal application for the programme you are encouraged to submit an up-to-date CV for assessment to the contact details provided on this page.

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:

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/personal statement:
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. 

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 plan your time to submit your application well in advance.

Step 4: Our Application Guide will help you complete the form. It contains links to FAQs and further help.

Step 5: Submit your application as soon as possible (you can read more information about our deadlines).

Application GuideApply

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