About the course
This four-year DPhil programme aims to train and nurture future leaders in the application of genomics to advance human health, equipping them with skill sets spanning experimental and analytical genomic science in order to realise the potential of genomics and practice the qualities of fair and inspiring leadership that we will instil during the course.
The first year includes taught modules focused within the first term. First-year students then undertake short research projects in up to three laboratories in three-month rotations, with further training and teaching sessions tailored to the needs of individual students. The research projects and lab visits help inform the choice of DPhil project to be undertaken over the subsequent three years of the programme. The final three years of the course will comprise doctoral research under the supervision of two named supervisors and a doctoral committee. Applicants are advised to visit the Doctoral Training Centre course webpage for further information about supervisors connected to this programme.
The programme actively seeks to recruit students from very diverse backgrounds, ranging from genetics to pure maths but united by a track record of academic excellence and enthusiasm for this field. Students receive world-class training, supervision, mentorship and pastoral support. Promoting excellence in research culture underlies all aspects of the programme with a commitment to support creativity, prioritise diversity and inclusion, and promote best practice.
The programme is focused on the following themes:
- genomic and -omic technologies (including method development, single cell genomics, imaging, model systems, CRISPR screens, genome engineering, proteomics, metabolomics, high throughput screening)
- functional genomics (gene regulation and epigenetics)
- genome biology (genetic variation, recombination, human history, evolution, palaeogenomics, pathogen genomes)
- genomics of disease (Mendelian, multifactorial traits, cancer)
- genomic analysis (bioinformatics and statistical genetics)
- from genes to clinical proof of concept (integrated drug development pipeline spanning genetic-led target discovery, structural biology, medicinal chemistry)
- application of genomics in the clinic (rare disease diagnostics, cancer therapeutics, personalised medicine and genome therapies).
Teaching modules combine theoretical and practical classes, with further skills training available through the Medical Sciences Doctoral Training Centre.
Teaching and learning
The taught component of the course will be delivered by expert faculty including experienced principal investigators and postdoctoral scientists. Class sizes for taught modules will typically be between 5 and 20 students depending on format and content (median estimated at 12 students). Peer-to-peer and independent learning is also encouraged. Lab rotations will be under the supervision of a named principal investigator. Workload involved is commensurate with full time employment.
Training will be tailored to the individual needs of the student throughput the course. There will be opportunities for internships and support for transitions into and out of the programme. Student feedback is recognised and valued. Mental health is a priority with a proactive approach to prevention, early recognition, peer and professional support. Bullying and harassment is prevented by promoting an encouraging and enabling culture with leadership by example and compulsory supervisor training. In addition to departmental membership, all students will be members of an Oxford college which further enhances interdisciplinarity, understanding of excellence in research culture, provision of outstanding pastoral and welfare support, and wider educational experience.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Medical Sciences Doctoral Training Centre and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Medical Sciences Doctoral Training Centre.
The first year will be overseen by an academic mentor who will monitor academic progress and be available to offer advice and support throughout the programme. The final three years of the course will comprise doctoral research under the supervision of two named supervisors and a doctoral committee, who will bring together complementary expertise and experience relevant to the doctoral research. The programme supervisors represent the full spectrum of cutting-edge interdisciplinary research relevant to genomic medicine and statistics across the University with supervisor training and monitoring to ensure the highest quality supervision.
Applicants are advised to visit the course page on the centre’s website for further information about supervisors associated with this course (see Further Information and Enquires).
All students will be initially admitted to the status of Probationer Research Student (PRS). Within a maximum of six terms as a PRS student you will be expected to apply for transfer of status from Probationer Research Student to DPhil status.
A successful transfer of status from PRS to DPhil status will require the submission of a report on progress to date on research and future plans. Students who are successful at transfer will also be expected to apply for and gain confirmation of DPhil status within ten terms of admission, to show that your work continues to be on track.
Both milestones normally involve an interview with two assessors (other than your supervisor) and therefore provide important experience for the final oral examination.
You will be expected to submit an original thesis of up to 50,000 words within a maximum of four years from the date of admission. To be successfully awarded a DPhil in Genomic Medicine and Statistics you will need to defend your thesis orally (viva voce) in front of two appointed examiners.
The interdisciplinary nature of the programme is reflected in the destination of graduates which includes academic research in prestigious laboratories worldwide together with biotech, spin-outs, consulting and working in health care settings.
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.
For further information please see our page on changes to courses and the provisions of the student contract regarding changes to courses.