Theory and Modelling in Chemical Sciences (EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training) | University of Oxford
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Theory and Modelling in Chemical Sciences (EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training)

About the course

The three primary activities in theoretical and computational chemistry are the development of new theory, implementation of methods as reliable software, and application of such methods to a host of challenges in chemical and related sciences. The aim of this programme is to train new research students to deliver all these outcomes. 

The first year is a set of training modules leading to an MSc, followed by a transfer to the DPhil or PhD programme for successful students in one of the participating universities (Oxford or Southampton) as appropriate.

In the first year you will study a number of compulsory core courses, including:

  • Mathematics
  • Quantum Mechanics
  • Introduction to Programming
  • Statistical Mechanics
  • Statistics
  • Software Development

You will also select a number of optional courses, which may include:

  • Applied Computational Chemistry
  • Biomolecular Simulation
  • Mathematics II
  • Quantum Mechanics in Condensed Phases
  • Intermolecular Potentials
  • Chemical Informatics
  • Reaction Dynamics
  • Advanced Quantum Mechanics
  • Advanced Statistical Mechanics

In addition, you will be required to undertake one short project with an allocated supervisor, at one of the three participating universities. Each project will be assessed based on a report that you will submit thereafter.

You will also be required to attend two transferable skills courses in the year, organised by the CDT administrator.

The compulsory and optional courses are assessed in various ways detailed on the course website. If you are successful in the first-year assessments, you will be awarded an MSc in Theoretical and Computational Chemistry, and you may transition to the DPhil or PhD in one of the two participating institutions. A termly report is submitted by your supervisor throughout the course. After seven terms you must pass Transfer of Status, which is to ensure that you do have the potential to gain a doctorate.

Research proceeds with termly reporting throughout the next two years, and there is the opportunity to follow further courses during this period. By the end of the third year you must pass Confirmation of Status, which is to ensure that you are on track to complete the thesis within a reasonable time.

The MSc degree is examined by assessment of set work for each of the modules offered and the six-week project. A board of examiners will be appointed by the University. The DPhil degree is examined by thesis and oral examination by two examiners, one of whom is normally from Oxford and one from elsewhere.

Graduate destinations

The department runs a number of activities in close cooperation with the Careers Service, including an annual careers conference, CV workshops and visits from many employers. The programme also has strong engagement with industrial partners.

Other courses in this area

Changes to the course

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2019-20

Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:

1. Academic ability

Proven and potential academic excellence

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in chemistry, physics, materials science or a related discipline, with an appropriate background in mathematics, quantum mechanics and statistical mechanics.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.6 out of 4.0.

However, entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a first-class degree or the equivalent.

A previous master's degree (either an integrated master's degree or standalone) is preferred but is not required.

Applicants with substantial professional experience are welcome.

If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

Other appropriate indicators will include:

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview(s)

Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process. The criteria for shortlisting are academic merit, references and motivation. Those who are shortlisted will be invited to attend an interview with the course leadership team. The interview is based on a series of structured questions and will last no longer than 45 minutes.


Prior publications are not expected.

2. English language requirement

Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.

3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places

The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:

  • The ability of the Department of Chemistry (in conjunction with Southampton University) to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work. 
  • Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.

The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:

  • The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Department of Chemistry (in conjunction with Southampton University) and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. 

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.

4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties

Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.

Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.

Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.

5. Assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

6. Other information

Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.

If you pass the MSc you will normally be permitted to progress to the second year of the programme. However, if you fail four or more modules of any type at the first attempt, you will not be permitted to progress to the second year of the programme.

In the case of students who require specific help to adjust to an academic programme or to a new range of skills, the leadership team will work with them to ensure that they have additional support.


The Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) has its own dedicated offices, teaching space, and student break-out area. In your first year you will be allocated your own desk and computer in the CDT.

You will have access to the CDT’s IT facilities. Access is open at all times to the departmental IT network and extensive software is available. Departmental computers, software licences and the network are supported by departmental IT staff. Network access is available at all times via the VPN.

Library facilities will be available for your use, including internet access to all relevant recent journals. Books and older journal issues are available in the university science library, within a five minute walk from the CDT.

Throughout your course, support will be available from your college, your project supervisor, the course leadership team, the administrator and the director of studies.


There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.


Annual fees for entry in 2019-20

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU (including Islands)£7,665

The fees shown above are the annual course fees for this course, for entry in the stated academic year.

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. You may have seen separate figures in the past for tuition fees and college fees. We have now combined these into a single figure.

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.

All students are enrolled on the MSc in Theoretical and Computational Chemistry for three terms, and are liable for three terms of fees. Following this, and subject to meeting the progression criteria, students remaining at Oxford are enrolled on the Theory and Modelling in Chemical Sciences programme and are liable for a further nine terms of fees. Those enrolled at the University of Southampton for years 2 to 4 of their programme will be liable for fees at those universities at their fee rates, and on successful completion of their programme will be awarded a PhD by the university where they have been enrolled.

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 is a compulsory contribution of £3,000, consisting of £2,000 towards the cost of travel and accommodation associated with project work in year 1, and a further £1,000 towards training and conferences outside Oxford. If you are funded by EPSRC or one of the industrial partners in the CDT, your funding package will cover this cost.

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 2019-20 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,058 and £1,643 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 2019-20, you should allow for an estimated increase in living expenses of 3% each year.

Please consult the University of Southampton website for further information about living costs while studying at these institutions.


You are encouraged to state no college preference when you apply in order to allow the CDT to assign your application to an appropriate college if you are accepted.

The following colleges accept students on the Theory and Modelling in Chemical Sciences CDT:

How to apply

You are welcome to make contact with the CDT administrator before applying, in order to work out whether this is the right choice, and the likely availability of funding. You are also advised to consult the TMCS CDT admissions webpage before applying.

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.


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 to 1,500 words

Your statement should explain your motivation for wanting to enrol on the programme. You do not need to produce a detailed research proposal, but your statement should indicate some understanding of potential research topics in the field. 

This will be assessed for:

  • the coherence of the statement
  • evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
  • the ability to present a reasoned case in English
  • commitment to the subject.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, generally academic

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.

References should generally be academic though a maximum of one professional reference is acceptable where you have completed an industrial placement or worked in a full-time position.

References should generally be academic though a maximum of one professional reference is acceptable where you have completed an industrial placement or worked in a full-time position.

Please note that emails you receive after submitting your application may refer to this course as the MSc in Theoretical and Computational Chemistry. This is the degree that is awarded to students who successfully complete the first year of study on this programme. 

Once you have submitted your application, you should send an e-mail with a PDF copy of your application attached to to inform the CDT that you have applied. 

Start or continue an application

Step 1: Carefully read the entry requirements on this course page to make sure you meet all the criteria.

Step 2: Check above what documents are required and prepare to apply by reading our Application Guide.

Step 3: Apply as soon as possible. Consult the Application Guide for more information about deadlines.

Application GuideApply

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