University of Oxford Neuroscience
The one year MSc is interdisciplinary in content and completely inter-departmental in structure, since at least nine departments or research centres contribute to it each year. Providing both theoretical and practical training, including two research laboratory placements, the course is modular and therefore flexible with respect to participants’ backgrounds and interests.
Applicants are strongly advised to visit the Medical Sciences Graduate School website to help them identify the most suitable course and supervisors.
The course takes an integrated approach to neuroscience and provides skills training in a wide range of experimental and theoretical methods intended to enable you to ask questions and tackle problems that transcend the traditional disciplines from which neuroscience has evolved.
You will undertake two extended research projects from a choice of over 100 offered each year by the extensive neuroscience research community in Oxford. You will also attend the graduate programme lecture series, which provides a broad education covering molecular, cellular, systems, computational and cognitive neuroscience.
The academic year begins in late September and is divided into three terms. The first term provides an introduction to neuroscience and research methods, while the second and third terms combine advanced taught courses, essay writing and two laboratory rotations (research projects). The course concludes the following September with an oral examination.
Each of the MSc research projects lasts for about 16 weeks and is selected from a very extensive list of approved abstracts. These are written up as 10,000-word dissertations. With over 100 abstracts submitted each year there is always plenty of choice, but if you are interested in a particular lab or research topic, you are welcome to discuss a potential project independently with an appropriate supervisor. Many of these projects lead to publications.
Immediately after the MSc in Neuroscience, almost 60% of the 220 students to graduate to date have gone on to do a PhD, either at Oxford or elsewhere. A further 17% continued into graduate medicine. Only 6% left science altogether.
Others have taken science-related jobs, including science journalism and science communication, or become management consultants in the biotechnology sector.
Entry requirements for entry in 2017-18
Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:
1. Academic ability
Proven and potential academic excellence
Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in any scientific discipline. The department encourages applicants with a physical sciences background, as well as those who have studied a biological subject, such as psychology, biochemistry or neuroscience, at undergraduate level.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0.
If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).
If in doubt about the eligibility of your qualifications, please contact the department.
No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.
Other appropriate indicators will include:
You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See ‘How to apply’ for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.
Performance at interview(s)
Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.
A shortlist is drawn up based on the academic excellence, potential and motivation for research of the applicants. Approximately 30 candidates will be shortlisted. Interviews usually take place four to five weeks after the application deadline. All shortlisted applicants will be asked to attend an interview in Oxford or, if overseas, to participate in an interview via Skype.
The interview panel will typically comprise five to seven members of the Organising Committee, with a range of expertise in neuroscience, and candidates will be required to give a ten-minute presentation on a research project in which they have been involved. The panel will then question the candidates about their presentation and also ask more general questions that explore their motivation for and interest in carrying out neuroscience research.
Although it is often the case that applicants for this programme have one or more publications, this is not a requirement.
Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience
Previous research experience as a vacation student or intern can provide an advantage.
2. English language requirement
Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.
3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places
The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:
- The ability of the Medical Sciences Division to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work.
- Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford’s research and taught programmes.
The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:
- The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Medical Sciences Division 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 Division.
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 sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.
4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties
Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.
Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.
Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.
All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).
Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.
6. Other information
Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.