Frequently asked questions

  1. Can I apply to do a MSc?
  2. How do I apply to do a DPhil (PhD)?
  3. Should I contact a supervisor before applying?
  4. How much does a degree cost?
  5. How many references must I supply?
  6. By which date must references be submitted?
  7. Where can I get a prospectus?
  8. What is the minimum academic standard required?
  9. Is research experience required?
  10. What level of proficiency in English is required?
  11. Do you have any funding available?
  12. Can you please send me an offer or acceptance letter?
  13. Can I follow a course part-time or through distance learning?
  14. What is the DPhil (PhD) programme?
  15. How long does a DPhil take?
  16. For how many terms/years do I pay fees?
  17. Where can I find out about available projects?
  18. Will I be interviewed?
  19. Can I do internships?
  20. What do you offer parents?


Can I apply to do an MSc?

No. We no longer offer an MSc.

How do I apply to do a DPhil (PhD)

Please see instructions here. All applicants should apply using the online application form. The application fee is £75 and is paid online using a credit card. If for any reason you are unable to submit an application online you should contact us for advice.  You may apply for up to three related courses under one application fee - see details at  for permitted combinations of courses for a CDT waiver and the process for applying.

Should I contact a supervisor before applying?

We encourage all students to contact a potential supervisor(s) whose research interests them, prior to submitting an application.  Details of the available supervisors and their field of research can be found here. If you are applying to our Departmental studentship competition it is not necessary for you to contact a supervisor, although you may do so if you wish.  If you have your own funding, it is essential that you should contact a supervisor and find one who is in a position to consider an application from you.

How much does a degree cost?

Basic information can be found here. More detailed information is available here. The four-year Prize PhD studentships are fully funded, and include a stipend of ~£16,777 per annum.

How many references must I supply?

We require three academic references for an application.

By which date must references be submitted?

References must be submitted by the application deadline. If you are applying online the referees will be contacted directly by us. Nevertheless you should contact your referees yourself to tell them to expect a request for a reference and to advise them of the deadline. This is particularly important if you submit your application within a few days of the deadline.

Where can I get a prospectus?

We do not send out hard copies of the prospectus. The online graduate studies prospectus is available online here. The section on the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology is here

What is the minimum academic standard required?

The minimum academic requirement is a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject with upper second class honours (2.1/GPA3.5) or equivalent. Because of the large number of applicants applying, successful applicants typically have or are predicted to get a first class honours degree (1st/70%/GPA3.7) or equivalent.

Is research experience required?

Yes. Applicants are highly unlikely to be successful unless they have relevant research experience and a reference from the person that supervised them.

What level of proficiency in English is required?

If English is not your first language or you not from majority English-speaking countries recognised by UK Visas and Immigration (these include UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand), you will be required to supply test certificates stating that your proficiency in English achieves a minimum score. Full details of the test certificates accepted and the score level required can be found in the Application Guide. We require you to meet the standard level score. While you do not need to have met this requirement in order to submit an application, you will be required to meet it prior to admission. Candidates for whom English is not their first language but who are fluent in English, can apply for exemption from this requirement. Exemption may be given if the candidate has been educated at an English-medium University for at least three years and shows clear evidence of fluency at interview and in written work.

Do you have any funding available?

Yes.   Funding is available for D.Phil (PhD) students. We offer full funding for four years for DPhil students through our Departmental Prize Studentships.  To be considered for funding you must apply by the early January deadline. Further details on funding can be found here.

Can you please send me an offer or acceptance letter?

We are often asked to provide such a letter to students who need it for an application for external funding/fellowships/bursaries etc. We are unable to send out an offer letter until we have received a formal application. However an application can be made at any time and an offer letter provided promptly, following an interview, if the application is successful. You should identify and contact a potential supervisor and contact us before submitting an application. The application should be made online.

Can I follow a course part-time or through distance learning?

No. All our students are inititally full time and resident in Oxford for at least the minimum of six terms. Students have the option of switching to part time if, for example, they acquire new caring/parental responsibilities.

What is the DPhil (PhD) programme?

After a very short induction period during which some basic training is provided students start a research project in their supervisor’s laboratory. Whilst working on their main project students participate in a comprehensive skills training programme over the four years which includes workshops, seminars, symposia etc. There is no compulsory course work. There are distinct structured four year DPhil Programmes which involve course work and rotations through 2-3 laboratories in the first year before the main research project begins.

How long does a DPhil (PhD) take?

The minimum time for a DPhil is two years. Most students (>90%) submit their thesis within four years. 

For how many terms/years do I pay fees?

You pay coursefees for every term that you are here for a minimum of two years (six terms) and a maximum of three years (nine terms) at the full rate.  Students may pay a 'continuation' University fee after their third year which will be approximately half the value of the home/EU rate for all students (including overseas students).   

Where can I find out about available projects?

You can find details of supervisors and their areas of research here and should contact them directly if you want more details about specific projects. Projects for which we provide funding through our Departmental Studentships are advertised from October each year here.

Will I be interviewed?

All applicants are initially screened and ranked by a panel of assessors and the most highly ranked applicants will be invited for interview. You will only receive an offer once you have been interviewed.

 Can I do internships?

Yes. Students are entitled to do up to two week of internships during their training to explore career options. Longer internships are possible if supported by your supervisor. The University Careers Service advertises many opportunities and supports applications. 

 What do you offer parents?

The Department is committed to helping its students balance the demands of pregnancy or adoption with their study commitments. We provide benefits and support equivalent to support provided to staff. This includes the following:

  • 26 weeks maternity leave on a full stipend*
  • 13 weeks further leave at the rate of statutory maternity pay*.
  • 13 further weeks of unpaid leave.
  • The option of returning as a part-time student, subject to the needs of the student's research project (50%).

Further information and advice, including full details of University policy on parental leave can be found here.

*In order to qualify for paid leave there needs to be an intention to return and complete the DPhil. Students who do not return may be required to pay back the funds received during their leave period.