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About doing a dphil/phd

Path onto a DPhil/PhD

What is the typical path onto a doctoral (DPhil/PhD) degree?

Usually the path starts by generating pilot data that can be submitted as an application for a doctoral fellowship from organisations such as the MRC or Wellcome Trust. Whoever is supervising your research time will guide you. If you are on one of our academic programmes, OUCAGS will also provide guidance. Once funding is obtained, a period of 3 or 4 years out of clinical training will usually be required to complete the doctorate.

Timing of DPhil/PhD

When can I do a doctorate (DPhil/PhD)? 

You can take time to do DPhil/PhD at many different points in your training. There is no fixed point.

If you do it at the end of the foundation programme, after the DPhil/PhD you will need to apply competitively for specialty training programmes, or core training in medicine, psychiatry or surgery.  

If you do it part-way through specialty training, you can apply to do your DPhil/PhD as out-of-programme research (OOPR) with guaranteed return to training. If you have the funding, you can apply for OOPR after 1 year of specialty training.  

DPhil/PhD - Study patterns and clinical work

  • Can I do a part-time doctorate at Oxford? At Oxford, doctorates are usually full-time, but please check with the University department whose doctoral programme you are interested in.
  • Can I do clinical work during my DPhil/PhD? You can maintain some clinical activity during your DPhil/PhD, for instance, by doing locum work. However, there may be restrictions regarding the amount of time which you can spend in clinical work, such as from your funding body.

Getting Funding

How can I fund my DPhil/PhD? 

There are a number of options for funding a DPhil/PhD. The ideal way is to win a DPhil/PhD fellowship from an external funding body. For an overview, see  the Oxford Medical Sciences - funding pages.

National funding competitions take place several times a year. Many are highly competitive fellowships that fund the basic salary, and some provide allowances for equipment and travel. Given the competitive nature of the fellowships, an individual’s chance of success will be increased if they have already demonstrated an aptitude for research through publications. Alternative funding sources include local initiatives and departmental research funds).

Alternative ways of funding a DPhil/PhD include obtaining a clinical research fellowship to work on a clinical trial. In such cases, it may be possible to use the research work you do as part of the post towards gaining a doctorate. There may also be a clinic associated with the post, which may enable you to continue practising or developing your clinical skills. Oxford fellowships are advertised on the University's website job pages.

Find out more about funding on the medical sciences divisional site (MSD).


Last reviewed: November 2019