Graduate about our courses

We offer two direct-entry postgraduate courses, a research MSc in biochemistry or a DPhil in biochemistry, as well as a number of other DPhil programmes that allow you to perform your own research under our supervision.

 

All our programmes aim to train students in cutting-edge laboratory research, applying techniques in bionanotechnology, biophysics, computational biology, microscopy, molecular biology, structural biology and systems biology to a broad range of fields - including cell biology, chromosome biology, drug discovery, epigenetics, host-pathogen interactions, membrane proteins, ion channels and transporters, and RNA biology.

Our courses

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You can complete your research in any area of biochemistry covered by one of our 45 research groups. You’ll be based in one particular research lab and will work on the project you and your supervisors have agreed together, working towards the production of a final thesis of no more than 30,000 words (exclusive of appendices, bibliography, diagrams and tables).

Although there aren’t any taught courses as part of the programme, you’ll still have access to a wide range of lectures at undergraduate and master’s level. These can be particularly useful for filling in gaps in your background knowledge if you’ve changed fields.

You’ll begin your course as a probationary research student (PRS) and near the end of the first year you apply to transfer to MSc by Research status - this involves a research report and a statement of future research plans. You’ll also take an independent assessment, with two assessors, and will only be able to continue on the programme if you pass this Transfer of Status exam.

You can also choose to apply to transfer to DPhil status instead of MSc by Research status at the end of your first year. This will involve the same Transfer of Status exam, but will also need to be accompanied by supporting statements from your supervisor(s) and college.

The MSc by Research in Biochemistry is normally a two-year course, although if you have an appropriate background in research you may be able to complete it in one year.

You can find more information about our MSc in Biochemistry on the university’s main graduate site.

You can complete your research in any area of biochemistry covered by one of our 45 research groups. You’ll be based in one particular research lab and will work on the project you and your supervisors have agreed together, working towards the production of a final thesis of no more than 50,000 words (exclusive of appendices, bibliography, diagrams and tables).

Although there aren’t any taught courses as part of the programme, you’ll still have access to a wide range of lectures at undergraduate and master’s level. These can be particularly useful for filling in gaps in your background knowledge if you’ve changed fields.

You’ll begin your course as a probationary research student (PRS) and near the end of the first year you apply to transfer to DPhil (PhD) status - this involves a research report and a statement of future research plans. You’ll also take an independent assessment, with two assessors, and will only be able to continue on the programme if you pass this Transfer of Status exam. After eight terms of study you’ll need to formally apply to confirm your DPhil status. This means you have to present your ongoing work to be reviewed by two independent assessors, and will only be able to continue on the programme if you successfully complete the Confirmation of Status assessment.

The DPhil programme ranges from three to four years, with the exact duration depending on how your supervisors judge the focus and rate of your research development and progress, as well as the length of available funding. A small proportion of DPhil students (about 5%) submit their theses within three years of starting, but on average most students submit between three to four years in.

You can find more information about our DPhil in Biochemistry on the University’s graduate site.

The Skaggs-Oxford programme is a joint five-year course of study which allows you to combine two areas of research and study at two different institutions - you can choose from biology, chemistry, or chemical biology at the Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in La Jolla, California, and biochemistry at the University of Oxford. It leads to the award of a DPhil/PhD degree jointly by the University of Oxford and the Scripps Research Institute. 

If you want more information on the programme or details of how to apply, you can find them on either the University’s graduate site or the Scripps Research Institute website.

Just note that the application deadline for this programme is earlier than for our direct-entry graduate courses - you’ll need to apply by December 1.

A structured DPhil has the same outcome as our DPhil in biochemistry, but it involves a first year of taught courses and rotation through two or more supervisors' laboratories before you begin your main research project in year 2.

Group leaders in our department can supervise students on the following structured programmes:

The NIH-Oxford-Cambridge Scholars programme enables students from the US to do collaborative four-year DPhil training based in both Oxford and the intramural campus of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at Bethesda (Maryland, US).

Whichever programme you choose, as a graduate student you’ll also spend the equivalent of 10 days each year receiving formal training in research and other transferable skills like public speaking, grant writing, or how to organise research for publication. You’ll need to keep a record of all your training, as it’s a requirement of getting your MSc/DPhil status confirmed.

You can find out more about specific training opportunities through our Divisional Skills Portal.