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MSc in Surgical Science and Practice

Course Description

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 (http://www.nds.ox.ac.uk/) 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 course will stand students in good stead throughout their careers.

Visit the website https://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/about/msc-in-surgical-science-and-practice

Programme details

The MSc 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.


- Becoming a Medical Educator
- Human Factors, Teamwork and Communication
- Introduction to Surgical Management and Leadership
- Quality Improvement Science and Systems Analysis
- Surgical Technology and Robotics
- The Practice of Evidence-Based Health Care (Surgery)

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

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. The programme also features lectures by staff from the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine based in the world-renowned Department of Primary Care Health Sciences.

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 Surgical Technology and Robotics module.

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

Resources available:

University of Oxford libraries, including:

- The Cairns Library at the John Radcliffe Hospital
- Radcliffe Science Library
- Rewley House Continuing Education Library
- Bodleian Libraries e-Resources

Plus facilities from the Department of Continuing Education, including:

- The Graduate School
- WebLearn virtual learning environment

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.

Find out how to apply here - http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/graduate/applying-to-oxford

Visit the MSc in Surgical Science and Practice page on the University of Oxford website for more details!

All Available Videos:

(Student Profile)

Jon Wells

"The MSc in Surgical Science and Practice has effectively introduced me to the science behind analysing what is done in theatre, and enabled me to pick up a range of collabortive research projects with a national and international group of researchers."

Jon Wells, Paediatric Surgery Registrar, Birmingham Children's Hospital, UK

(Student Profile)

Geoffrey Chiu

"The MSc in Surgical Science and Practice has provided me with a solid foundation to take my career to the next level as a successful surgeon, not only as a clinician but also as an educator and a manager. Through the course I have developed a skill set that will allow me to work effectively in a team that provides high quality care in today’s and tomorrow’s NHS. The course has provided me with opportunities that have broadened my horizons. Definitely a worthwhile investment, I have new and enhanced attributes that I will use for the rest of my surgical career.”

Geoffrey Chiu, Consultant Maxillofacial Surgeon, UK

(Student Profile)

Gabie de Jong

"The MSc Surgical Science and Practice covers critical aspects of the training of surgical specialists based on competencies. The teachers make you think out of the “doctors”-box; you are not just becoming a medical specialist, you will also be involved in research, quality improvement, teamwork, organisation, management, education etc. As a Dutch registrar, I found the discussions with international colleagues and teachers very insightful. Moreover, combining this part-time MSc (containing 6 short visits to lovely Oxford and mostly internet-based learning) with a regular training in your home country is very feasible. I would recommend it to every surgical registrar who is looking for a broader perspective on health care.”

Gabie de Jong, Surgical Registrar, The Netherlands


Oxford scholarships - No. of awards TBC

Key facts :
There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available for courses starting in 2016-17. Full scholarships will cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs.For over 70% of Oxford scholarships, nothing more than the standard course application is usually required. If you fulfil the eligibility criteria, you will be automatically considered.
The vast majority of Oxford scholarships are awarded to applicants who submit their course application by the January deadline. Oxford scholarships worth over £1,000 are advertised through the Fees, Funding and Scholarship Search. You should use this tool to find out whether you are eligible for scholarships which require an additional application. If you are, the tool will include links to full details of how to apply.In order to be considered for some scholarships offered by departments, you need to enter a scholarship reference code in the relevant section of the graduate application form. If this is the case, the code will be provided in the scholarship information given on department websites. When are Oxford scholarships awarded?:
Most Oxford scholarships are awarded between late February and June. The approximate date by which decisions are expected to be made will normally be given in the scholarship information, as linked through the Fees, Funding and Scholarship Search.A scholarship may be awarded either at the same time or after you are offered a place by your department. It may be awarded either before or after you have been offered a college place.

Value of Scholarship(s)

worth over £1,000


See the website

Application Procedure

See the website

Further Information


Entry Requirements

Please see course website.

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