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Policy approved by Senior Management Committee on Tuesday 23 March 2021.

Approval process

The department primarily supports two University website platforms (Haiku CMS and Mosaic CMS). However, in some cases an alternative platform is required, which may be considered if specific features are needed which are not supported by either the Haiku CMS or Oxford Mosaic (for example, if the website is the primary output of a research project or grant, or is a front-end to an online database or secure trials system).

For all new website requests, a short business case should be developed and submitted to NDPCHS Finance, Resources and General Purpose Committee (FRGPC) for approval via the Head of Administration and Finance, Nicola Small.


  • An outline of the project and why a website is needed.
  • If researchers decide not to use the Haiku or Mosaic platform, an outline of the benefits of using an alternative platform and why the University’s own platforms are not suitable.
  • Suggested URL/domain.
  • Strategy and funding for the development and long-term maintenance of the web presence can be demonstrated. For externally hosted systems with a ox.ac.uk domain, detailing how they will comply with the University DNS redirection and DNS naming policies.
  • Compliance with the University’s brand guidelines can be demonstrated.
  • Compliance with University’s accessibility requirements cookie laws, data protection and information security policies can be demonstrated.
  • Agreement that the NDPCHS Communications will have CMS access to the finished website (or there is an agreed formal mechanism to report issues) and will be involved in its development.
  • The request is accompanied by written support from both the NDPCHS Head of Communications and Head of IT.

See below for further details:

Website platforms

There are two supported University CMS platforms:

Haiku: A Content Management System (CMS) developed and launched in 2012 by the Medical Sciences Division with NDPCHS as pilot. This platform is now utilised for department, unit, institutional and project websites by almost all departments in the MSD and provides a consistent visual identity and user experience across all of Oxford medical sciences. The platform integrates with several University digital services including Symplectic and is fully maintained and supported by department and divisional communications staff. External maintenance and development is handled by Fry IT, the external website developer. It is currently the platform of choice across the division.

Set-up is free of charge and is supported by NDPCHS Communications. There are standard annual fees for unit and department websites. The development of new functionality is included in the annual fee, or it may be costed separately.

Oxford Mosaic: A CMS developed by IT Services providing an easy-to-use interface. It is centrally maintained and fully supported by University IT Services, and aims to be a cost-effective and sustainable web publishing platform. It is used by many departments in Humanities and Social Sciences.

There are four charging levels. New functionality will be charged at a development day rate, and it will be appropriate to enlist the services of a professional website developer to ensure the website looks professional and meets accessibility criteria. Requests for all new websites are approved by committee in IT Services, the department is asked to comment on these requests before approval is granted.

Legal requirements on accessibility

In 2020, the University of Oxford committed to making its websites accessible in accordance with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018, which is enforced by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Websites and apps owned and managed by the University and funded through grants to the University must therefore be built in compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1 AA standard and must publish an accessibility statement similar to https://www.phc.ox.ac.uk/accessibility. The statement should include details of known issues and steps being taken to address these.

While the department Communications staff and the Medical Sciences Divisional Office are responsible for ensuring that websites on the Haiku CMS are compliant, it is the responsibility of editors and owners of any other website within the department’s infrastructure to achieve and maintain WCA 2.1 compliance.

IT policy on domain names

The University's policy is that all University activities (other than those within OUP's remit) should be presented within the ox.ac.uk domain.

The term www domain refers to the first part of a web address prefaced by www and ending in .ox.ac.uk, for example www.phc.ox.ac.uk, www.cebm.ox.ac.uk and www.phc-trials.ox.ac.uk

University policy also states that web pages for University-led projects should be situated within departmental website domains. It is possible for a sub-unit or other organisation to apply to IT Services for a new www domain name.  See IT Services’ DNS Naming Policy http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/network/dns/policy.xml and the DNS direction policy: http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/network/dns/dns-redirection.xml

Strict conditions must be met, including:

  1. University-owned websites will only be allowed to situate themselves on a separate www domain (e.g. not within ox.ac.uk) with permission from Oxford University Computer Services, and only in connection with projects which have a wider reach than the University, and which need a distinct and identifiable presence (as such, a department unit or group will be unlikely to use a separate domain). See: https://legal.admin.ox.ac.uk/trademarks
  2. A .ox.ac.uk domain name may not be used for a site hosted on an external server (e.g. Wordpress), except in very exceptional cases.
  3. If the website is to be hosted on an external server, then there is a process (which includes appropriate remote access arrangements be they physical and/or virtual) to take down the server within 30 minutes (during normal working hours) of being requested to do so by IT Services.
  4. Domains within phc.ox.ac.uk must be approved by the Head of Department.
  5. The University may issue a 30-day notice of withdrawal if strict conditions are not met.

Such requests for domain names are referred to the Medical Sciences Division for approval.

Full guidance on how to apply, approved by MSD IT Committee (2014), is available here: https://www.medsci.ox.ac.uk/divisional-services/support-services-1/communications-web/systems/domain-name/www-domain-name-policy

Department website domains

It is possible to embed a unit’s site within the departmental website infrastructure, without central approval and with the support of the NDPCHS Communications and IT staff, e.g.:

-          https://[name].phc.ox.ac.uk

-          https://www.phc.ox.ac.uk/[name]

Branding and Trade Mark policy

The University logo is a registered trade mark. Legal Services are responsible for implementing the Trade Mark and Domain Name Strategy, promulgated by Council in 2000 and given legislative effect through Financial Regulations.

In 2014, the University’s Public Affairs Directorate created the current NDPCHS department logo. This consists of the University logo alongside the name of the department. While departments are permitted to use the University brand in line with visual identity guidelines, the University maintains a strategy for protecting its brand, which can be found here https://legal.admin.ox.ac.uk/trademarks.

Importantly, this has implications for logo use across NDPCHS websites:

Department websites: The University allows for departments to apply the University logo (in line with brand guidelines) on websites built on University-managed CMS platforms. This is managed by the department Communications Team. 

Webpages connected with research collaborations: Where researchers wish to use the department logo on a separate third-party website to demonstrate the involvement of Oxford University researchers in a project, they must first request permission from the Communications Team, who will then provide the necessary logos.

Research content and editorial access

There is often a need to upload working papers, un-peer reviewed research papers, reports or rapid reviews to the internet, bypassing traditional publication methods. Preprint servers are available (e.g. https://www.medrxiv.org) for some of this content, with their own editorial policies, and the University provides an open access Oxford Research Archive within the Bodleian Library for reports and other grey literature that isn’t suitable for journal publication. These platforms will exist in perpetuity and therefore provide permanent indexing to support the wider dissemination of these resources.

The NDPCHS Head of Communications is Editor-in-Chief of the department website, supported by the Professional & Support Team. Staff in each research groups are given access to their own research group pages, and have responsibility for keeping these up-to-date. On websites commissioned as part of a research project, other individuals are responsible for the day-to-day management of their content and their site maintenance.

Websites within the department infrastructure are intended as neutral platforms for peaceful, free expression within a framework of robust civility. Opinions may be expressed as quotes or blogs, but a disclaimer should be presented that they are the opinions of the individual only and not the department or the University. See the University’s Freedom of Speech policy https://compliance.admin.ox.ac.uk/freedom-of-speech