The one-year taught course begins in October and is divided into three terms. The first two terms are taught terms, while the third term is spent on a research project which leads to a dissertation. This project will take place within a University of Oxford laboratory.
The first term
In Michaelmas Term (Term One) students study the fundamental science of immunology. These include immunogenetics, molecular, cellular and in vivo (whole animal, including human) immunology. These areas are integrated with relevant areas of related sciences e.g. genetics, molecular and cellular biology, biochemistry, pharmacology, anatomy and physiology.
The second term
In Hilary Term (Term Two) students study clinical and applied aspects of immunology. These include infection and immunity, immunodeficiencies, autoimmunity and hypersensitivity, cancer and immunomodulation including drugs, transplantation and vaccinology. These areas are integrated with relevant areas of clinical sciences e.g. virology, bacteriology, mycology and parasitology, organ-based pathologies (e.g. examples from neurology, rheumatology, and gastroenterology), and clinical oncology.
Structure of the taught terms
Each of the two taught terms is eleven weeks in duration with nine weeks for teaching, one week for revision and one week for examination. This taught course is not modular, i.e. all teaching elements are compulsory for all students and there are no options to choose. An average teaching week comprises approximately seven lectures, each lecture being 60-90 minutes in duration. In addition there are class-directed learning sessions, tutorials and problem based learning sessions (group work-based workshops). Students are expected to undertake self-directed learning, including pre-reading for lectures and revision of lecture notes. Continuing professional development classes take place throughout both taught terms. These include presentation and IT skills, statistical methods for research, animal and human research ethics, and clinical trial methodologies.
The third term
In Trinity Term (Term Three) students undertake an original, supervised research project to gain an understanding of research techniques in immunology or a related area. This is achieved by means of a fourteen week supervised project, plus two week write up time, in an University of Oxford laboratory. The research supervisor provides regular supervision and guidance during the course of the research project.
The degree examination comprises five formally assessed components. These are of equal weight (20%), and include:
- an essay (up to 4,000 words);
- a computer-based examination on fundamental aspects of immunology;
- clinical case commentaries (two of up to 3,000 words each);
- a computer-based examination on applied aspects of immunology;
- a dissertation on a research project (up to 10,000 words).
Candidates are also examined viva voce at the end of each term.