Applying for a D. Phil. *
The Department welcomes enquiries and offers opportunities for MSc Res and DPhil (= PhD)* in a very wide range of subjects, from conservation ecology to disease biology, from molecular evolution to biomechanics, and from animal behaviour to evolutionary developmental biology. Despite the name of the Department, our research does not solely focus on animals, but also includes strong research programmes on bacteria, viruses, plants, protists and ecosystems.
If you are interested in joining this Department as a graduate student, then there are three routes:
- an enquiry directly to a specific research supervisor;
- an application in response to an advertised studentship project; or
- via a Doctoral Training Programme.
These are explained below.
Route (a). First, you should identify the areas of research that interest you, and the name or names of potential supervisor or supervisors. You can get an idea of the expertise and academic interests of prospective supervisors by browsing the research profiles of academic staff. Please note that not all academic staff will be able to take on new MSc or DPhil students at any given time. We strongly advise that before formally applying, prospective students identify prospective supervisors and discuss with them MSc or DPhil opportunities as well as the likely infrastructure for the research and availability of funding. The director of graduate studies responsible for admissions is Alex Kacelnik. After informal discussion you will need to complete an official application form for Graduate Study at Oxford. You may then be invited for interview, either in person, by telephone or by Skype. However, you should be aware that being accepted as a graduate student is not the same as obtaining funding to support your time as a student. Several sources of funding are available, including competitive scholarships awarded by the University on the basis of your application and interview, so even if there is not a funded place advertised it is worthwhile contacting potential supervisors and considering making an application. Some scholarships are restricted to residents of particular countries, but others are open to all. Prospective supervisors, and the University scholarship schemes, greatly value students who approach with some idea about the research questions that interest them, so give this some thought in advance. A summary of funding routes is given below.
Route (c). The Department of Zoology is a member of three Doctoral Training Programmes that provide training in scientific research methods for 6 to 9 months, followed by a research project which may be with a member of this Department or another Department (or co-supervision). These programmes are especially suitable for candidates who may be changing disciplines between first degree and graduate study, or who may wish to conduct interdisciplinary research. The programmes offer fully funded places:
- Interdisciplinary Bioscience Doctoral Training Programme. After following the training programme on this course, students may elect to undertake their main D. Phil. project in the Department of Zoology on a range of topics including (but not restricted to) Food security, Animal welfare, Ageing biology, and Industrial Biotechnology. Applicants for the Interdisciplinary Bioscience Doctoral Training Programme do not need to identify a supervisor at the time of application, as these students will follow a wide-ranging training course before being offered a selection of research projects.
- Life Sciences Interface Doctoral Training Programme. Students on this programme follow a training course at the interface of physical sciences and life sciences, and then select a research project in one of the MPLS Departments. In the Department of Zoology, projects especially suited to this programme are in the field of computational biology, and in bioinformatics, evolution and genomics. Applicants for the Life Sciences Interface Programme do not need to identify a supervisor at the time of application, as these students will follow a wide-ranging training course before being offered a selection of research projects.
- Systems Biology Doctoral Training Programme.
Potential sources of information
The following are the main sources of funding for a graduate research degree in the Department of Zoology at Oxford
- NERC Studentships: The department receives a number of these studentships each year. Potential projects, including names of supervisors, are advertised in the ‘available funded studentships’ link to the left.
- Interdisciplinary Bioscience Doctoral Training Programme: this 4-year graduate programme involves several University Departments, including Zoology, and provides funded DPhil studentships.
- Life Sciences Interface Doctoral Training Programme: this 4-year graduate programme involves several University Departments, including Zoology, and provides funded DPhil studentships.
- Systems Biology Doctoral Training Programme: this 4-year graduate programme involves several University Departments, including Zoology, and provides funded DPhil studentships.
- Tied studentships: These are studentships that are tied to a particular research grant awarded to individual supervisors: these are advertised in the ‘available funded studentships’ link to the left, when available.
- Oxford-based Scholarships: There are many sources of funding from the UK, Europe and further afield that are open to graduate students applying to Oxford. Schemes of particular relevance are the Christopher Welch / Newton Abraham Scholarships, the Clarendon Scholarships, and the Rhodes Scholarships. In addition, many colleges offer part funding. Full details of these schemes are available using Oxford Funding Search on the University of Oxford Graduate Admissions website.
- Wellcome Trust Four Year PhD Programme in Infection, Immunology and Translational Medicine: this includes two potential supervisors who are members of the Department of Zoology, offering projects on bacterial pathogens.
- Other funding sources: Many students bring their own DPhil funding to the Department, either through obtaining scholarships (e.g. Commonwealth, Fulbright) or by self-funding.
The application process
Details of the formal application procedure can be found online in the Graduate Studies Prospectus. Applications are made online: it is recommended that you read the notes of guidance before applying. You will need to know that the Department of Zoology is part of the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division (MPLS); the relevant ‘course codes’ are:
- DPhil Zoology (except for Doctoral Training Programmes) - 001730
- Interdisciplinary Bioscience Doctoral Training Programme - 002455
- Life Science Interface - 002460
- Systems Biology - 003700
To cover the administrative costs, the University has introduced a non-refundable £50 application fee for all applications. The Department of Zoology's formal admissions criteria, as set out by the Division of Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences, should be consulted. If you are currently studying for a taught course at Oxford and applying to carry on to a research programme with no break in your study, you can do so on a re-admission form. The Department of Zoology's formal admissions criteria, as set out by the Division of Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences, should be consulted.
* In Oxford, the degree qualification commonly referred to as a Doctor of Philosophy or Ph.D. is known as a D.Phil.