Research Degrees in the Medical Sciences Division

1. ADMISSION OF RESEARCH STUDENTS

All research students will be admitted to the status of Probationer Research Student in the first instance.

Special provisions for part-time students

In assessing applications from candidates seeking to undertake a research degree through part-time study in [From MT 2018: Clinical Medicine,] Population Health, Experimental Psychology, Psychiatry and Primary Care Health Sciences, the responsible admitting body shall have regard to evidence that:

  • (i) the candidate is suitable to undertake research at doctoral level;

  • (ii) the candidate’s proposed topic of research is suitable for part-time study;

  • (iii) the candidate’s personal and professional circumstances are such that it is both practicable for them to fulfil the requirements of the course, and necessary for them to study on a part-time basis;

  • (iv) if appropriate, the candidate has the written support of their present employer for their proposed course of study and its obligations;

  • (v) the candidate can meet the following attendance requirements for their period of part-time study: attendance for a minimum of thirty days of university-based work each year, to be arranged with the agreement of their supervisor, for the period that their names remain on the Register of Graduate Students unless individually dispensed by the Board. During a candidate’s probationary period the attendance arrangements must take account of relevant induction and training events scheduled by the Board.

2. PROBATIONER STATUS

Students may hold the status of Probationer Research Students for a maximum of four terms (or eight terms in the case of a part-time student). Candidates should discuss with their supervisors whether to apply for transfer to M.Sc. status or D.Phil. status, and the most appropriate time at which to apply. In exceptional circumstances the Board may grant up to two terms' extension to this deadline (or one to four terms' extension for a part-time student).

Students on the programmes listed below may hold Probationer Research Student status for a maximum of six terms:

  • D.Phil. in Cardiovascular Science (BHF)

  • D.Phil. in Chromosome and Developmental Biology

  • D.Phil. in Genomic Medicine and Statistics

  • D.Phil. in Infection, Immunology and Translational Medicine

  • D.Phil. in Ion Channels and Disease

  • D.Phil. in Structural Biology

In exceptional circumstances the Board may grant up to one term's extension to this deadline.

3. ADMISSION OF STUDENTS TO THE STATUS OF STUDENT FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF SCIENCE BY RESEARCH

Candidates should submit the statement from the supervisor and the statement from the candidate’s society as specified by the regulations governing the degree of Master of Science by Research. [For students starting from MT 2016: All candidates must include a completed Training Needs Analysis detailing the skills training that they have undertaken and planned.] In addition, candidates should submit an outline of their project of no more than 500 words and a timetable for completion. Candidates will be required to give a presentation on their work. Further guidance on the form of the written submission and the form of the presentation should be sought from the departmental Director of Graduate Studies.

4. ADMISSION OF STUDENTS TO THE STATUS OF STUDENT FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

Candidates should submit the statement from the supervisor and the statement from the candidate’s society as specified by the regulations governing the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. [For students starting from MT 2016: All candidates must include a completed Training Needs Analysis detailing the skills training that they have undertaken and planned.] In addition, candidates, with the exception of those on the Doctor of Philosophy in Experimental Psychology, should submit a report of no more than 3,000 words which should include an abstract, introduction, results, discussion and future plans including a proposed timetable for completion. Students may add appendices as necessary of up to a further 2,000 words including methods, figure legends, and references. Candidates on the Doctor of Philosophy in Experimental Psychology should submit a report of no more than 6,000 words which should include an abstract, introduction, results, discussion and future plans including a proposed timetable for completion. Students may add appendices as necessary of up to a further 2,000 words including methods, figure legends, and references. Further guidance on the form of report should be sought from the departmental Director of Graduate Studies. [For students starting before MT 2016: Further guidance on the form of report should be sought from the departmental Director of Graduate Studies.]

5. PERMISSION TO WORK IN A WELL-FOUND LABORATORY OUTSIDE OF OXFORD

Applicants who are admitted to undertake research under the supervision of the Medical Sciences Divisional Board may, exceptionally, be permitted by the Divisional Board to undertake their research in a well-found laboratory outside of Oxford. Such candidates shall be dispensed from the residence requirements, but shall be required to attend Oxford for such instruction as the Division and department concerned shall require. Before admitting a candidate on this basis, the department concerned shall be required to satisfy itself and the Divisional Board that appropriate arrangements are in place for approving all aspects of the student's academic work, including the following:

  • (i) the availability of the equipment and facilities necessary for the project in the agency concerned;

  • (ii) the existence of a wider collaboration between the department and the agency in which the student is based;

  • (iii) the subject of their doctoral studies;

  • (iv) satisfactory induction procedures;

  • (v) satisfactory health and safety arrangements;

  • (vi) satisfactory supervision arrangements, to include specification of a minimum number of contact hours between student and supervisor, which shall include not less than two face-to-face meetings between student and supervisor, for a total of at least 8 hours, each term;

  • (vii) satisfactory arrangements for monitoring the student's progress within the department;

  • (viii) provision for the student to attend Oxford for such instruction as the division and department shall require.

6. CONFIRMATION OF STATUS OF STUDENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

Candidates shall normally apply for confirmation of status in the eighth term from their admission as a research student, and no later than the ninth term from their admission as a research student (or the sixteenth and eighteenth terms respectively for a part-time student). The Board strongly advises candidates to apply for confirmation of status a minimum of one term before they intend to submit their thesis (two terms for a part-time student).

Candidates should submit the statement from the supervisor and the statement from the candidate’s society as specified by the regulations governing the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Candidates must include a [For students starting before MT 2016: statement] [For students starting from MT 2016: completed Training Needs Analysis] detailing the skills training that they have undertaken. This paperwork should be accompanied by a full contents list for the thesis, and include the milestones of any remaining work to be undertaken, and dates for the submission of draft chapters to the supervisor(s) for comment.

Candidates shall be required to deliver a formal, oral presentation of their work. The presentation will be attended by two assessors who are deemed to have the appropriate expertise to comment on the content of the project. The assessors will be appointed by the candidate’s department; neither assessor will have had direct supervisory involvement with the student. Following the presentation the assessors will conduct an interview with the candidate.

The assessors will report to the Board on the candidate’s suitability for confirmation of D.Phil. status. This report will be based on the information provided in the statement from the supervisor and the statement from the candidate’s society as specified by the regulations governing the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, and in the supplementary statement from the candidate in conjunction with their presentation and interview. In cases where confirmation of status is not recommended the assessors will attach a short written report detailing where the work submitted falls below the standard required.

7. THESES

For students admitted prior to 1 October 2009.

A set of scientific papers that concern a common subject may exceptionally constitute an acceptable thesis, but only if with the addition of an introduction, general discussion, and general conclusion they constitute a continuous theme. Joint papers may not be included unless the supervisor certifies the extent of the candidate’s own contribution. Joint papers may be included as appendices in a thesis. Approval to submit a thesis using this format should be sought from the divisional board (via the Chair, Medical Sciences Graduate School Committee, c/o Medical Sciences Office, Level 3 John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford OX3 9DU) as soon as possible after admission and not later than the date at which the appointment of examiners is requested.

Candidates with some published work may also include that as part of a traditional thesis, normally as an appendix.

The length and scope of theses in each subject area in the Division is set out in the Graduate School Weblearn site https://weblearn.ox.ac.uk/portal/hierarchy/medsci/department/grad_school.