MSc in Surgical Science and Practice

Course details

The MSc in Surgical Science and Practice is a part-time, modular course completed in two to three years by surgical trainees.

Delivered in collaboration with the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences it is designed to prepare senior surgical trainees for life as independent specialists by providing key skills and knowledge essential for modern practice, which are not fully represented or are omitted from most postgraduate training curricula. The course is unique as its part-time nature is designed to allow students to fit their study around work.

The MSc in Surgical Science and Practice provides a foundation in some of the most important additional life long skills which the future leaders of the profession need to acquire. Surgeons in the future will work as part of multi-disciplinary teams in complex organisations, and will need to adapt and develop new skills and roles throughout their professional lives. Thus the syllabus covers management skills, quality improvement, leadership, teamwork and patient safety, as well as an introduction to the principles of medical education and clinical research methods. The knowledge gained during this Master's course will stand students in good stead throughout their careers.

Coronavirus update

The admissions cycle for this programme is progressing as planned, and the University is committed to ensuring that offer holders can take up their place as expected. Information will be made available as the situation develops. Find out more here

Programme details

This Master's in Surgical Science and Practice is organised around six compulsory modules, plus a work-based research project and dissertation. The programme is normally completed in two to three years. Students are full members of the University of Oxford and are matriculated as members of an Oxford college.

The course features a significant component of online and distance learning, as well as one week of intensive teaching in Oxford per module.

* Modules:

Each module takes place once a year, giving students the opportunity to individualise their patterns of study. 

* Please note the module links will take you to this academic years running of the module (so the dates will be for the current year).

During the course there is an exceptional opportunity for an introduction, with hands-on experience, to leading edge modern surgical technology such as the Da Vinci robot.

Taught by global experts, the modules in this programme can also be taken as individual stand-alone courses.

Course aims

The overarching aim of the MSc in Surgical Science and Practice is to provide the next generation of surgeons with the tools to build and lead successful surgical units delivering safe, high quality, high reliability care.

By the end of the course candidates will be able to understand the following important principles:

  • How to evaluate clinical research evidence critically and understand how it should be interpreted and applied to one’s own context and practice;
  • How to design, conduct and evaluate teaching and training for postgraduate clinicians, and how to assess curricula and teaching programmes;
  • Financial and quality management ideas, and methods for analysing and restructuring the systems in which surgeons work;
  • A theoretical understanding of the use of modern surgical technology linked to baseline practical training in minimally invasive and robotic surgical techniques;
  • The teamwork, leadership and communication skills required for effective and safe working in a modern surgical environment.

What will you gain from attending the programme?

At the end of the programme you will be able to:

  • Critically appraise relevant clinical research and estimate its validity and relevance to your practice;
  • Understand in principle how to design your own clinical research studies, and what expert support you need to be successful;
  • Understand basic business and financial planning in the health care industry;
  • Develop your own business plans and cases for your practice;
  • Understand the principles of leading a team and how to foster an appropriate culture to promote good teamwork and communication;
  • Analyse and improve systems of work within surgery using standard industrial quality improvement and human factors principles;
  • Understand how to act as a mentor and trainer for postgraduate trainees, how to set up and run courses and curricula, and how to evaluate and improve trainee progress;
  • Understand and have some experience of using up to the minute surgical technology which is likely to become important during your career.

Teaching methods

The class-based modules include a period of preparatory study, a week of intensive face-to-face lectures and tutorials, followed by a period for assignment work. Attendance at modules is a requirement for study. Some non-classroom activities are provided at facilities elsewhere in the University, including surgical simulators and operating theatres on the University's hospital sites. The course includes taught material on research skills.

The taught modules include group work, discussions, guest lectures, and interaction and feedback with tutors and lecturers. Practical work develops the student's knowledge and understanding of the subject. This includes supervised access to surgical simulators and robots as part of the Healthcare Innovation and technology module.

A virtual learning environment (VLE) provides extensive support between modules.

Resources available:

University of Oxford libraries, including:

Plus facilities from the Department for Continuing Education, including:

Assessment methods

To complete the MSc, students will need to:

  • Attend the six compulsory modules in Oxford, and undertake assessed written assignments for each module;
  • Complete a dissertation on a topic selected by the candidate in consultation with the supervisor and approved by the Standing Committee.


The dissertation will be founded on a work-based research project that will build on the material studied in the taught modules. The dissertation should normally not exceed 15,000 words.

The project will normally be supervised by an academic supervisor from the University of Oxford, and an employer-based mentor.

IT requirements

This course uses the Department’s online assignment submission system. In order to prepare and submit your course assignments, you will need access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification. Students of this course may use the student computing facilities provided in Departmental buildings.

Tuition and college fees

The annual award and college fees are payable at the start of each academic year. The module and dissertation fees become payable throughout the programme, before they are undertaken. All amounts are in pounds sterling. 

Fee rates for the academic year 2021/22

The fees listed are for the 2021/22 academic year: see note [1] below for fees for 2021/22

Annual award fee (see note [2] below regarding fee status):

    £1,665 for Home/EU students
    £7,850 for Overseas students

Module fee: £2,080 (per taught module)
Dissertation fee: £6,240 (equivalent to 3 module fees)

Illustration for MSc programme (assumes completion within two years)


    2 x annual award fee = £3,330 (see note [3] below)
    6 x module fee (6 taught modules) = £12,480
    1 x dissertation fee = £6,240
    Total: £22,050


    2 x annual award fee = £15,700 (see note [3] below)
    6 x module fee (6 taught modules) = £12,480
    1 x dissertation fee = £6,240
    Total: £34,420

Stand-alone module fee rate

Stand-alone module fee in 2020/21 academic year: £2425.00

Stand-alone module fee in 2021/22 academic year: To be confirmed


[1]. The fee rates listed are for the academic year shown, and you should be aware that these rates will increase annually, so students should expect the total to be higher than is shown in the Illustration. The exact amount will depend on the fee rates set annually, and upon the years you are in attendance; these are normally published well before the start of each academic year, but for your own budgetary purposes you may wish to estimate a 5% annual increase on fee rates.

[2]. See the Oxford University website for Home/EU and Overseas classification of students for fees purposes.

[3]. MSc students are matriculated and are full members of the Collegiate University; college fees are included within the MSc programme fees and are paid to the colleges on a student’s behalf

Entry requirements

Please visit the MSc in Surgical Science and Practice page on the University of Oxford Graduate Admissions website for details of the entry requirements.

Apply for this course

Applications for this course should be made online via the University of Oxford Graduate Admissions website. Please see the Application Guide for more information on how to apply.

If you would like to discuss the programme please contact the Course Administrator:

Help us to help you. Apply early - if you submit your application early, the Graduate Admissions team will be able to let you know if any items are missing. Applications must have been fully completed by the relevant application deadline in order to be considered, so please ensure that you have gathered your supporting materials in advance and have given your referees plenty of time to prepare their references before the deadline. Click here for a recommended timeline for applications.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to telephone interview.