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DPhil in International Relations

  • Entry requirements
  • Funding and Costs

College preference

  • How to Apply

About the course

The DPhil programme is a full-time programme of doctoral research in the academic study of International Relations with an expected length of three to four years of full-time study or six to eight years of part-time study. Note that the part-time option is not a distance-learning programme; part-time students are required to attend face-to-face teaching in Oxford on up to three separate days each week during term.

As a DPhil student you will be a member of a distinguished academic community that is renowned for its cutting-edge research and its intensive and individualised teaching and supervision. The programme has received the highest level of recognition in UK national and global assessment exercises. It is a community from which you will draw support and guidance but which will also learn from your own contribution to its work.

You will have rich opportunities for connecting with fellow-students, postdoctoral fellows, and temporary and permanent academic staff involved in disciplinary and cross-disciplinary research programmes. The department attracts many of the world’s leading figures in International Relations (IR) - as visiting scholars, speakers in the regular IR Colloquium, and participants in research conferences and workshops.

Doctoral students spend the first year of full-time study, or the first two years of part-time study, in the development of, and early work on, the thesis topic; in improving knowledge of quantitative and qualitative research methods; in attendance at relevant lectures, seminars and classes; and in preparing to transfer from Probationary Research Student (PRS - the status at which you will normally be admitted - see Assessment) to full DPhil status.

An academic supervisor will advise and guide you as you progress through the different stages of your doctoral research. In addition to work for your supervisor, you will be required to take a range of coursework. In the first term this includes: Research Design and Methods (RDM) in IR, Research Design, and introductory or intermediate statistics, as well as attendance at the regular IR DPhil Research Seminar which runs through the year and at which doctoral students present their work. In the second term students continue with RDM in IR and take one course in Formal Analysis, Causal Inference or Qualitative Methods. In the third term, there are a series of short, specialised methods courses. For part-time students, these coursework obligations are distributed across six terms.

Exemptions from particular elements of the coursework can be sought on the basis of previous training. Subsequent years are largely devoted to the development of the thesis project.

Doctoral theses will normally require substantial original research, often involving archives, fieldwork, interviewing or other forms of data generation and collection. For the doctoral degree the most crucial requirement is that the thesis makes a ‘significant and substantial contribution to the field of knowledge within which it falls’. There are many ways of achieving this.

The department is committed to the rigorous use of a plurality of methods. There are many different ways of conducting research for a thesis. Any or all may be valid in a given case, depending on the subject of the research and the questions addressed. Some theses may involve an analytical-descriptive attempt at understanding different events, perspectives and traditions of thought. Others may have a strong historiographical element - exploring, for example, the relation between events and ideas, or involving an original and expert use of sources. Others may involve advancing a hypothesis about a subject and then testing it with a range of qualitative and/or quantitative approaches. Apart from meeting the highest scholarly standards, there is no set template. There is also a strong and successful tradition of normative and critical work. Oxford IR seeks to combine the best of North American political science with deep engagement with the international relations of different parts of the world and with the history of different traditions of thought on the subject.

As a doctoral student of the department, you will have access to outstanding library and computing resources within the Social Sciences Division (of which the Department of Politics and IR is a major part), elsewhere in the University and, in most cases, in your college. The division runs network events to enable DPhil students to meet and network with their colleagues not only within politics and IR but with other social science disciplines.

As a part-time student you will be required to attend classes, seminars, supervision meetings and other obligations in Oxford for a minimum of thirty days each year. There will be limited flexibility in the dates and pattern of attendance. Attendance will be required during term-time at least one day each week throughout the first two years of your study on days determined by your class and seminar attendance and by your supervisor. Attendance will be required outside of term-time on dates to be determined by mutual agreement with your supervisor. You will be required to attend fieldwork and training sessions on dates to be determined by mutual agreement with your supervisor.

Successful completion of an Oxford DPhil requires an intense and sustained level of personal motivation and focus within a world-class research and teaching environment.

Supervision

The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Department of Politics and International Relations and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. Supervisors are usually selected from the  academic staff  within the Department of Politics and International Relations. Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Department of Politics and International Relations. 

You will be assigned an academic supervisor who will advise and guide you as you progress through the different stages of your doctoral research. 

Applicants are admitted to the DPhil with Probationer Research Student (PRS) status. As a PRS, you will develop your research proposal and skills, complete a programme of assessed research methods coursework, and produce a draft section or sections of the thesis, in order to apply for the Transfer of Status that will end your probationary period as a research student. The Graduate Studies Committee will require satisfactory completion of this training programme as a condition of your change of status from PRS to DPhil.

Once you have been admitted to full DPhil status, you must achieve confirmation of that status by the end of your ninth term as a full-time doctoral student, or by the end of your eighteenth term as a part-time student. Once you have completed your thesis, you will be examined viva voce .

Graduate destinations

International Relations has an outstanding placement record. The largest group of DPhil students go on to careers in academia or research. Many move on to post-doctoral fellowships in the UK, continental Europe and North America. Our doctoral students have a distinguished history of winning thesis and other prizes and of publishing their work in leading journals and with major university presses. The universities at which IR graduates have gained academic positions over recent years include: ANU, McGill, Waterloo, Sciences Po, Amsterdam, Groningen, The Graduate Institute Geneva, SAIS/JHU, ETH Zürich, The New School, Swarthmore, LSE, Oxford, Cambridge, King’s College London, University College London, Queen Mary London, St Andrews, Exeter, Reading, Warwick, PUC Santiago, and FGV São Paulo. Oxford IR DPhils also work at all levels in many of world’s leading think-tanks and research institutes in Europe and North America but also in Brazil, South Africa, and Singapore. Others still have moved to achieve leading positions in the policy and political world. The department runs regular courses on professional training, including on interviews, research grant applications and academic publishing.

DPIR is committed to engaging with its alumni community , through its Inspires alumni email newsletter and Alumni Career Conversations series of online talks. 

Changes to this course and your supervision

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in circumstances of a pandemic, epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, in certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.

For further information please see our page on changes to courses and the provisions of the student contract regarding changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2024-25

Proven and potential academic excellence.

The requirements described below are specific to this course and apply only in the year of entry that is shown. You can use our interactive tool to help you  evaluate whether your application is likely to be competitive .

Please be aware that any studentships that are linked to this course may have different or additional requirements and you should read any studentship information carefully before applying. 

Degree-level qualifications

As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the following UK qualifications or their equivalent:

  • a master’s degree at distinction level  in international relations, or in a closely related discipline that has prepared you to undertake advanced graduate research on your chosen thesis topic;  and
  • a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in politics or international relations, or in a related discipline such as economics, history, philosophy, sociology or law.

Entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a record of academic performance at first-class and/or distinction level.

Applicants without a master’s qualification will not normally be admitted for doctoral study.

Each application will be assessed upon its own merits, and candidates with a degree in an unrelated discipline should demonstrate the relevance of their academic background to their proposed subject or topic of study.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.7 out of 4.0.

If your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.

GRE General Test scores

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

  • Research or work experience that is relevant to your proposed study may provide further evidence of your academic potential.
  • Publications are not expected, but a peer-reviewed publication in international relations or an allied discipline may be taken as  prima facie  evidence of aptitude for research.

Part-time applicants

Part-time applicants will also be expected to show evidence of the ability to commit time to study and, if applicable, an employer's commitment to make time available to study, to complete coursework, and attend course and University events and modules in Oxford. Where appropriate, evidence should also be provided of permission to use employers’ data in the proposed research project. As a probationer research student, coursework requirements will necessitate attendance in Oxford for at least one day per week during full-term. It is therefore likely that part-time students are either already resident in Oxford or will live within commuting distance of the city, such as via the strong transport links along the M4 corridor and between major cities to the north (including Birmingham) and south (including Southampton).

English language proficiency

This course requires proficiency in English at the University's  higher level . If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement. The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are detailed in the table below.

Minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level requirement
TestMinimum overall scoreMinimum score per component
IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713) 7.57.0

TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'

(Institution code: 0490)

110Listening: 22
Reading: 24
Speaking: 25
Writing: 24
C1 Advanced*191185
C2 Proficiency 191185

*Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) † Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)

Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. Our Application Guide provides  further information about the English language test requirement .

Declaring extenuating circumstances

If your ability to meet the entry requirements has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (eg you were awarded an unclassified/ungraded degree) or any other exceptional personal circumstance (eg other illness or bereavement), please refer to the guidance on extenuating circumstances in the Application Guide for information about how to declare this so that your application can be considered appropriately.

You will need to register three referees who can give an informed view of your academic ability and suitability for the course. The  How to apply  section of this page provides details of the types of reference that are required in support of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application. The  How to apply  section of this page provides details of the supporting documents that are required as part of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview

Interviews are not normally held as part of the admissions process.

How your application is assessed

Your application will be assessed purely on your proven and potential academic excellence and other entry requirements described under that heading.

References  and  supporting documents  submitted as part of your application, and your performance at interview (if interviews are held) will be considered as part of the assessment process. Whether or not you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.

An overview of the shortlisting and selection process is provided below. Our ' After you apply ' pages provide  more information about how applications are assessed . 

Shortlisting and selection

Students are considered for shortlisting and selected for admission without regard to age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief (including lack of belief), sex, sexual orientation, as well as other relevant circumstances including parental or caring responsibilities or social background. However, please note the following:

  • socio-economic information may be taken into account in the selection of applicants and award of scholarships for courses that are part of  the University’s pilot selection procedure  and for  scholarships aimed at under-represented groups ;
  • country of ordinary residence may be taken into account in the awarding of certain scholarships; and
  • protected characteristics may be taken into account during shortlisting for interview or the award of scholarships where the University has approved a positive action case under the Equality Act 2010.

Initiatives to improve access to graduate study

This course is taking part in a continuing pilot programme to improve the selection procedure for graduate applications, in order to ensure that all candidates are evaluated fairly.

For this course, socio-economic data (where it has been provided in the application form) will be used to contextualise applications at the different stages of the selection process.  Further information about how we use your socio-economic data  can be found in our page about initiatives to improve access to graduate study.

Processing your data for shortlisting and selection

Information about  processing special category data for the purposes of positive action  and  using your data to assess your eligibility for funding , can be found in our Postgraduate Applicant Privacy Policy.

Admissions panels and assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

Other factors governing whether places can be offered

The following factors will also govern whether candidates can be offered places:

  • the ability of the University to provide the appropriate supervision for your studies, as outlined under the 'Supervision' heading in the  About  section of this page;
  • the ability of the University to provide appropriate support for your studies (eg through the provision of facilities, resources, teaching and/or research opportunities); and
  • minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to the University's taught and research programmes.

Offer conditions for successful applications

If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, your offer will outline any conditions that you need to satisfy and any actions you need to take, together with any associated deadlines. These may include academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions will usually depend on your individual academic circumstances and may vary between applicants. Our ' After you apply ' pages provide more information about offers and conditions . 

In addition to any academic conditions which are set, you will also be required to meet the following requirements:

Financial Declaration

If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a  Financial Declaration  in order to meet your financial condition of admission.

Disclosure of criminal convictions

In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any  relevant, unspent criminal convictions  before you can take up a place at Oxford.

The DPIR provides a stimulating research environment in which you can pursue your interests beyond the formal demands of the syllabus.

Many of the academic staff who teach on the graduate programmes also organise extracurricular research seminars for graduate students, such as, the International Relations Research.

The DPIR also hosts a wide range of research centres and programmes which actively seek to develop collaborative research activity via conferences, workshops and other academic events, and which include graduate students in their activities.

Research centres provide opportunities for you to present your own work in research seminar series and at conferences in the department and beyond. The research centres have an established and popular visitors’ programme which has allowed many scholars of international repute to participate in the DPIR’s research activities.

At Oxford you have access to an extensive range of libraries, books, journals, online resources, manuscripts and more. The Bodleian Libraries is the main library service supporting the University of Oxford. The Bodleian Libraries include the Bodleian Library, which has been a library of legal deposit for 400 years, as well as the Bodleian Social Science Library . This is located on the ground floor of the Manor Road Building and houses the main collection for Politics and International Relations alongside a wide range of other social sciences resources.

SOLO (Search Oxford Libraries Online)   is the search engine for all library collections across the university. It provides access to information in over 100 libraries including college and departmental libraries as well as the Bodleian Libraries. Your Single Sign-On offers easy access to subscription resources through SOLO. The Politics and International Relations subject guide provides up-to-date advice and the contact details of your Subject Librarian for further support.

Politics and International Relations

The Department of Politics and International Relations (DPIR) at Oxford is an internationally-renowned centre of excellence for teaching and research.

The study of these disciplines at Oxford has a long and distinguished history and the DPIR is now one of the largest in the field in the UK. DPIR is ranked first for research overall in the most recent THES global university rankings for Politics and International Studies and second in the 2023 QS World University Rankings.

The department's large community of academic staff work in research areas that extend in geographical scope across the globe, cover both historical and contemporary sources, and address technical, practical, and philosophical problems in networks that extend beyond the DPIR to other departments, universities, and global and local organisations.  

Graduate students have access to an unrivalled range of expertise and activity in the fields of government and politics, political theory, and international studies. Teaching is based on the most rigorous contemporary scholarship and students are trained in the highest standards of critical analysis, and in the understanding and use of rigorous research methods and techniques. The department’s graduate courses include both taught master's degrees (one-year research preparation MSc and two-year MPhil) and three- to four-year doctoral research degrees (DPhil). However, all taught degrees involve a research element, and all research degrees will involve some taught components, including quantitative and qualitative research methods. The DPIR graduate community currently numbers just over 300, with 150 students studying the taught courses and around 170 undertaking doctoral research.

View all courses   View taught courses View research courses

The University expects to be able to offer over 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2024-25. You will be automatically considered for the majority of Oxford scholarships , if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant December or January deadline. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential. 

For further details about searching for funding as a graduate student visit our dedicated Funding pages, which contain information about how to apply for Oxford scholarships requiring an additional application, details of external funding, loan schemes and other funding sources.

Please ensure that you visit individual college websites for details of any college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages or below:

Please note that not all the colleges listed above may accept students on this course. For details of those which do, please refer to the College preference section of this page.

Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the department's website.

Annual fees for entry in 2024-25

Full-time study.

Home£15,300
Overseas£29,140

Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.

Part-time study

Home£7,650
Overseas£14,570

Information about course fees

Course fees are payable each year, for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay course fees). For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on changes to fees and charges .

Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.

Continuation charges

Following the period of fee liability , you may also be required to pay a University continuation charge and a college continuation charge. The University and college continuation charges are shown on the Continuation charges page.

Where can I find further information about fees?

The Fees and Funding  section of this website provides further information about course fees , including information about fee status and eligibility  and your length of fee liability .

Additional information

There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees (or, after fee liability ends, continuation charges) and living costs. However, please note that, depending on your choice of research topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel and vaccination expenses, conference attendance, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.

There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees (or, after fee liability ends, continuation charges) and living costs.

Please note that you are required to attend in Oxford for a minimum of 30 days each year, and you may incur additional travel and accommodation expenses for this. Also, depending on your choice of research topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur further additional expenses, such as travel and vaccination expenses, conference attendance, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.

Living costs

In addition to your course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2024-25 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,345 and £1,955 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our living costs page. The current economic climate and high national rate of inflation make it very hard to estimate potential changes to the cost of living over the next few years. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2024-25, it is suggested that you allow for potential increases in living expenses of around 5% each year – although this rate may vary depending on the national economic situation. UK inflationary increases will be kept under review and this page updated.

If you are studying part-time your living costs may vary depending on your personal circumstances but you must still ensure that you will have sufficient funding to meet these costs for the duration of your course.

Students enrolled on this course will belong to both a department/faculty and a college. Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 43 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as societies and permanent private halls (PPHs). 

If you apply for a place on this course you will have the option to express a preference for one of the colleges listed below, or you can ask us to find a college for you. Before deciding, we suggest that you read our brief  introduction to the college system at Oxford  and our  advice about expressing a college preference . For some courses, the department may have provided some additional advice below to help you decide.

The following colleges accept students for full-time study on this course:

  • Balliol College
  • Blackfriars
  • Brasenose College
  • Campion Hall
  • Christ Church
  • Exeter College
  • Green Templeton College
  • Harris Manchester College
  • Hertford College
  • Jesus College
  • Keble College
  • Kellogg College
  • Lady Margaret Hall
  • Linacre College
  • Lincoln College
  • Magdalen College
  • Mansfield College
  • New College
  • Nuffield College
  • Oriel College
  • Pembroke College
  • Regent's Park College
  • Reuben College
  • St Anne's College
  • St Antony's College
  • St Catherine's College
  • St Cross College
  • St Edmund Hall
  • St Hilda's College
  • St Hugh's College
  • St John's College
  • St Peter's College
  • Somerville College
  • Trinity College
  • University College
  • Wadham College
  • Wolfson College
  • Worcester College
  • Wycliffe Hall

The following colleges accept students for part-time study on this course:

Before you apply

Our  guide to getting started  provides general advice on how to prepare for and start your application. You can use our interactive tool to help you  evaluate whether your application is likely to be competitive .

If it's important for you to have your application considered under a particular deadline – eg under a December or January deadline in order to be considered for Oxford scholarships – we recommend that you aim to complete and submit your application at least two weeks in advance . Check the deadlines on this page and the  information about deadlines and when to apply  in our Application Guide.

Application fee waivers

An application fee of £75 is payable per course application. Application fee waivers are available for the following applicants who meet the eligibility criteria:

  • applicants from low-income countries;
  • refugees and displaced persons; 
  • UK applicants from low-income backgrounds; and 
  • applicants who applied for our Graduate Access Programmes in the past two years and met the eligibility criteria.

You are encouraged to  check whether you're eligible for an application fee waiver  before you apply.

Readmission for current Oxford graduate taught students

If you're currently studying for an Oxford graduate taught course and apply to this course with no break in your studies, you may be eligible to apply to this course as a readmission applicant. The application fee will be waived for an eligible application of this type. Check whether you're eligible to apply for readmission .

Do I need to contact anyone before I apply?

You are advised to review the  profiles of academic staff  before you apply as successful applications always depend on the DPIR's capacity to offer appropriate supervision. A supervisor should be a permanent member of the Department of Politics and International Relations. You are not required to make contact with any prospective supervisors before you apply, as the DPIR arranges supervision for successful applicants. General questions about the course should be directed to the course administrator via the contact details provided on this page. 

Completing your application

You should refer to the information below when completing the application form, paying attention to the specific requirements for the supporting documents .

For this course, the application form will include questions that collect information that would usually be included in a CV/résumé. You should not upload a separate document. If a separate CV/résumé is uploaded, it will be removed from your application .

If any document does not meet the specification, including the stipulated word count, your application may be considered incomplete and not assessed by the academic department. Expand each section to show further details.

Proposed field and title of research project

Under the 'Field and title of research project' please enter your proposed field or area of research if this is known. If the department has advertised a specific research project that you would like to be considered for, please enter the project title here instead.

You should not use this field to type out a full research proposal. You will be able to upload your research supporting materials separately if they are required (as described below).

Proposed supervisor

Under 'Proposed supervisor name' enter the name of the academic(s) who you would like to supervise your research. 

You can enter the names of up to two supervisors, either in order of preference or indicating equal preference.

Referees: Three overall, academic preferred

Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

Your application must be supported by academic references, ie each referee should be able to testify to your academic abilities, achievements and motivation. In most cases, the academics who have taught you or who have known your academic work during earlier university-level study will be best placed to testify to these capabilities. When that is not possible, a professional reference from a colleague who has worked with you in a research capacity or is otherwise able to comment on your academic capabilities is acceptable in place of a tutor’s reference.

Official transcript(s)

Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.

More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.

Research proposal: A minimum of 4,000 words to a maximum of 6,000 words

You should submit a detailed outline of your proposed research, written in English, covering areas such as the background to the research, methodology, expected results and the contribution to the field of learning.

The research proposal should be written in English.

If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.

This will be assessed for:

  • your reasons for applying to the DPhil programme
  • the coherence of the proposal
  • the originality of the project
  • evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
  • the ability to present a reasoned case in English
  • the feasibility of successfully completing the project in the time available for the degree (a maximum of four years)
  • commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course
  • preliminary knowledge of research techniques
  • capacity for sustained and intense work
  • reasoning ability
  • ability to absorb new ideas, often presented abstractly, at a rapid pace.

It will be normal for your ideas subsequently to change in some ways as you investigate the evidence and develop your project. You should nevertheless make the best effort you can to demonstrate the extent of your research question, sources and method at this moment.

Your proposal should focus on your research project rather than personal achievements, interests and aspirations.

Written work: Two essays, a maximum of 2,000 words each

You may submit academic essays on any subject or theme within the discipline of international relations but preferably ones that relate to your proposed area of study.

The essays may be written specially for the application or may have been produced for other purposes, for instance as a coursework submission within a previous degree programme. Essays that comprise extracts or excerpted sections from longer pieces are acceptable but should be prefaced with a brief note that places them in context.

The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes. All written work should be in English.

This will be assessed for understanding of the subject area; understanding of problems in the area; ability to construct and defend an argument; powers of analysis; and powers of expression. 

Start or continue your application

You can start or return to an application using the relevant link below. As you complete the form, please  refer to the requirements above  and  consult our Application Guide for advice . You'll find the answers to most common queries in our FAQs.

Application Guide   Apply - Full time Apply - Part time

ADMISSION STATUS

Closed to applications for entry in 2024-25

Register to be notified via email when the next application cycle opens (for entry in 2025-26)

12:00 midday UK time on:

Friday 5 January 2024 Latest deadline for most Oxford scholarships Final application deadline for entry in 2024-25

Key facts
 Full TimePart Time
Course codeRD_YS1RD_YS9P1
Expected length3-4 years6-8 years
Places in 2024-25c. 14c. 2
Applications/year*133 10
Expected start
English language

*Three-year average (applications for entry in 2021-22 to 2023-24)

Further information and enquiries

This course is offered by the  Department of Politics and International Relations

  • Course page on the department's website
  • Funding information from the department
  • Academic and research staff
  • Departmental research
  • Social Sciences Division
  • Residence requirements for full-time courses
  • Postgraduate applicant privacy policy

Course-related enquiries

Advice about contacting the department can be found in the How to apply section of this page

✉ [email protected] ☎ +44 (0)1865 278727

Application-process enquiries

See the application guide

Visa eligibility for part-time study

We are unable to sponsor student visas for part-time study on this course. Part-time students may be able to attend on a visitor visa for short blocks of time only (and leave after each visit) and will need to remain based outside the UK.

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Department of Experimental Psychology

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DPhil (PhD) in Experimental Psychology

This is a full time 3 to 4 year research degree course. Students are required to submit a thesis of up to 100,000 words in their 3rd or 4th year. Successful applicants will be registered as students with the Department of Experimental Psychology.

Course Description

The DPhil in Experimental Psychology course is based upon independent research carried out under the supervision and guidance of principal investigators and researchers within the students' chosen research group or lab within this department.  Supervision and guidance may also include co-supervision from other collaborating groups or labs, both within the department or from other departments/faculties within the University or from another institution.

FINDING A POTENTIAL  SUPERVISOR

We require all applicants for the  DPhil (PhD) in Experimental Psychology courses  to contact a potential supervisor in the first instance.

This provides applicants with an opportunity to discuss the area of research they wish to conduct as a part of their DPhil (PhD) studies and whether the potential supervisor is able to supervise their proposed project. Details of staff who may be eligible to supervise DPhil students are listed on our Faculty and Research Fellows  page.

Applicants who do not approach a potential supervisor in the first instance and/or whose proposed Research Project falls outside the area of expertise of our  Research Themes  are unlikely to be successful with their application.

The department is not able to provide funding for all candidates who are successful in obtaining a place on the DPhil course.  However, candidates whose applications are ranked most highly may be eligible to be put forward to funding competitions run within the University, that allocate Research Councils funds (e.g. MRC, ESRC) on a competitive basis. Successful applicants are also welcome to seek their own funding from other sources, e.g. charitable bodies or international scholarships.

Please see the funding page for more detailed information.

Course Structure

First Year of Study

Successful applicants are initially registered as Probationary Research Students (PRS Status). During the first year, students are expected to attend various courses, lectures and seminars which will enable them to gain the most out of their time here at Oxford and assist them with the design and analysis of their own area of research. These will typically include:

  • Graduate Statistical Workshops
  • Skills Training Courses e.g. MatLab and fMRI methods
  • Analysis of Research Methods

The Medical Science Division also offers a large number of courses on transferable skills such as teaching and communicating scientific findings which all our students are encouraged to attend as a part of their DPhil studies.

Students are expected to be fully integrated within their own chosen group or lab and attend group or lab meetings as well as attending related seminars and conferences.

Second Year of Study

As a part of the department's Induction Programme, students will produce a poster and give a brief presentation based on their own research in the first term of their 2nd year on the course.

Third and Final Years of Study

Students submit a thesis of up to 100,000 words and attend an oral examination (the final viva).

Assessment of the Course

Assessment of students' progress on the course is monitored in three stages as well as via termly progression reports:

  • Transfer of Status

By their 4 th  term, students submit a Transfer Report based on their research to date and attend a transfer viva.

  • Confirmation of Status

By their 9 th  term, students are required to give a presentation and attend an interview to assess the progress of their research.

  • Thesis Submission

By their 12 th  term, students will submit a thesis of up to 100,000 words and attend an oral examination, known as a viva.

Students will need to have successfully completed all stages to be awarded a DPhil in Experimental Psychology from the University of Oxford.

Course code

Our graduate courses.

MSc in Psychological Research (Taught Masters)

MSc by Research in Experimental Psychology (Research Course) - full-time

MSc by Research in Experimental Psychology (Research Course) - part-time

DPhil (PhD) in Experimental Psychology (Research Course) - full-time

DPhil (PhD) in Experimental Psychology (Research Course) - part-time

Graduate Admissions Information

Application Deadline: 12noon, Friday 1 December 2023

What makes a successful application

Our Graduate Admissions Procedures

Entry Requirements for this Course

University Application Guidelines and How to Apply

Choosing a College

Fees and Funding Opportunities

Fees Information

Funding Information

Further Information

What happens after you've been made an offer

Student Profiles

Graduate Career Destinations

Graduate Admissions Statistics

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DPhil in Philosophy

The Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) in Philosophy is a three- to four-year research programme in which a candidate undertakes a doctoral level research project under the guidance of a supervisor. The doctoral work culminates in a 75,000-word thesis that is defended in the form of a viva voce examination ( oral defence). Satisfactory progress through the DPhil is checked in the form of a mini- viva voce examination taking place at the end of the first and second year of study.

The aim of the Faculty’s DPhil in Philosophy is to prepare you for an academic career in philosophy.

For information on how to make an application please see our   Admissions Procedure and Entry Requirements page .

The Philosophy Graduate Studies Committee recommends progression from Oxford's BPhil in Philosophy to the DPhil programme in view of the opportunity it offers to students to study a wide range of philosophical topics as well as to focus on a narrower field of research interest. Students proceeding to the DPhil programme via the BPhil will normally write a DPhil thesis which is an expansion of their BPhil thesis, although this is not a formal requirement. Indeed, sometimes, the BPhil thesis topic is not suitable for expansion into a DPhil thesis, or a student may wish to write their DPhil thesis on a different topic.

Each year, some students are admitted to the DPhil in Philosophy from programmes other than the BPhil in Philosophy. These students enter the DPhil initially as Probationary Research Students (“PRS”) from appropriate programmes at Oxford or elsewhere. Typically, these students will have already completed substantial graduate work in philosophy, usually equivalent to that required for the BPhil. Students may also progress from one of the Faculty of Philosophy's specialist MSt programmes - the MSt in Philosophy of Physics , the MSt in Ancient Philosophy  and the MSt in Practical Ethics .

In the third term after enrolment onto the DPhil, you are required to complete a transfer of status from PRS to full DPhil status. Two appointed examiners will interview you both on your two-page thesis outline, which explains in outline the intended line of argument or contribution to the subject, and on a piece of written work of approximately 5,000 words in the area and philosophical style of the proposed thesis which is typically, though not necessarily, a draft chapter of the thesis.

Students who progressed from the MSt in Philosophy of Physics course are required to write a 20,000-word thesis during their year as a PRS, as their MSt does not have a thesis element. Students who progress from the BPhil will enter the DPhil without being required to pass a year as a PRS and as a result will only have another six terms (instead of the usual nine terms) of fee liability for their DPhil.

At the end of the second year, you will be required to apply for confirmation of DPhil status. This entails an interview by one or two appointed examiners on your two-page thesis outline, which goes into some detail and comprises a reasoned statement of the nature of the proposed thesis together with a provisional table of contents, and a piece of written work of approximately 5,000 words.

You should have regular one-on-one tuition sessions with your supervisor(s). These will normally happen twice per term but in some terms, especially at the start of the degree and during the final stages of the thesis, the number of sessions may be increased. You are not required to attend any taught graduate classes as part of your DPhil degree, but you are encouraged to participate in lectures, classes, seminars and other educational opportunities offered throughout the university as relevant to your topic of study.

The course has no fieldwork, industrial placement or year abroad element, but you may decide to attend conferences, workshops or research training elsewhere.

Admission to the DPhil in Philosophy

Admission procedure an entry requirements.

For information on admissions to the BPhil in Philosophy please check the  Admissions Procedure and Enry Requirements page .

FAQs about Admission to the DPhil in Philosophy

Please find answers to frequently asked questions about admissions to the DPhil in Philosophy  here .

  • Teaching Opportunities

The Faculty believes that it is important both professionally and personally for graduate research students to have opportunities to teach. For graduates seeking an academic career, it is often crucial to have teaching experience when applying for jobs. For many graduate students, teaching is also an important supplement to their income.

The Faculty operates a number of schemes to help our research students secure relevant teaching experience:

  • Graduate Teaching Assistant Scheme
  • Graduate Lecturing Scheme
  • Graduate Teaching Register

For more information on these schemes, please visit the Teaching Opportunities page . 

  • DPhil Seminar

The DPhil Seminar at Oxford University provides a forum for graduate students to present and discuss thesis chapters, and workshop papers that are to be submitted for publication.  

Speaker Series:  DPhil students present a part of their dissertation to a faculty member and fellow students. The format is approximately 45 minutes for presentation, 15 minutes for faculty commentary, and 30 minutes for Q&A

Publishing Workshop:  DPhil students receive targeted feedback on papers they intend to submit for publication relatively soon. Each term participants are placed in groups of 3-4, according to topic. During each of the 3-4 workshops (per topic group) the paper of one group member is discussed. Participants will be expected to attend the workshops of their fellow group members and to have read each of the other papers in advance of the relevant sessions. The format will be approximately 10 minutes for author introduction, 30 minutes for faculty commentary, and 50 minutes for discussion. Other faculty members and students are very welcome, but are encouraged to read the paper in advance.

The Faculty expects that DPhil students will present their work in the DPhil seminar at some point during their studies: most likely in their second or third year. The seminar provides an excellent opportunity for presentation experience, as well as feedback from peers and at least one faculty member other than their thesis supervisor(s). All graduate students and faculty are encouraged to attend, and all students are welcome to present but advantage is given to those who have not yet presented a paper.

For more information, please contact the Graduate Training Student Representative .

  • Graduate Placement Scheme

The Faculty operates a Graduate Placement Service which aims to support graduate research students on the job market from the final year of their DPhil until they secure a tenure track / permanent position. To find out more, please visit the Graduate Placement Scheme page . 

  • DPhil Placement Record

The Faculty has an outstanding placement record, including a number of past students who have obtained positions within Oxford itself, such as an associate professorship and a junior research fellowship. Please visit the DPhil Placement Record page for an overview of the Faculty’s placements in recent years. 

Entry Requirements

For a detailed description of the entry requirements for the DPhil in Philosophy, please visit the DPhil in Philosophy page on the central university’s Graduate Admissions webpages.

We hold a Graduate Open Day in March each year, for applicants who receive an offer of a place. If your application is successful, you will receive further information about this in due course.

For the latest information on fees charged by the University, and living costs, please visit the Fees and Funding page .

Please visit our Graduate Funding page to identify various sources of funding for the Philosophy Faculty’s graduate programmes.

Please read through our applicant  Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)  regarding Admission to our courses.

Useful Links

DPhil programmes

oxford university for phd

Oxford's Department for Continuing Education offers part-time DPhil programmes in the following disciplines:

  • Archaeology
  • Architectural History
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  • English Local History
  • Evidence-Based Health Care
  • Literature and Arts
  • Sustainable Urban Development

What is a DPhil?

The term 'DPhil' stands for 'Doctor of Philosophy', sometimes referred to as a 'doctorate' or 'PhD'. This is an advanced research degree awarded on the basis of a thesis and an oral examination called the viva voce. The thesis must be a significant and substantial piece of research, make an original contribution to its field, and be presented in a lucid and scholarly manner. In the viva, the candidate is required to defend their thesis and to demonstrate a good general knowledge of their field of study.

A DPhil is the highest level of a degree that a student can achieve.

Level and demands

All DPhil applications are considered on their academic merits. 

As guidance, you should have achieved at least 2.1 honours, 3.5 GPA, or equivalent in an undergraduate degree. On some programmes, successful applicants have also normally achieved a distinction in a master’s degree. More information about entry requirements can be found on each individual programme page.

DPhil students are not required to be resident in Oxford, but will normally be required to attend for at least 30 days per year and to meet their supervisors at least once per term.

College affiliation

All students studying for a degree (including DPhil) must be a member of a college. There is single application process to the DPhil programme within which you can specify a college choice. Your choice of college is up to you, and does not affect the academic viability of your application to the DPhil itself.  A number of Oxford colleges accept applications from part-time postgraduates, whereas others do not: please consult the graduate prospectus or enquire with  individual colleges . (Even if you are accepted onto the degree, please note that you are not guaranteed a place at your first choice of college).

Applicants may wish to note that the majority of students on part-time degree programmes are members of Kellogg College and most of the tutors and lecturers are Fellows of the College. Kellogg is dedicated to graduate part-time students and has developed a unique expertise in attending to the intellectual, social, IT and welfare needs of part-time, mature graduate students. The College is based a short distance from the Department on the Banbury Road.

Libraries and computing facilities

Registered students receive an Oxford University card, valid for one year at a time, which acts as a library card for the Departmental Library at Rewley House and provides access to the unrivalled facilities of the Bodleian Libraries which include the central Bodleian, major research libraries such as the Sackler Library, Taylorian Institution Library, Bodleian Social Science Library, and faculty libraries such as English and History. Students also have access to a wide range of electronic resources including electronic journals, many of which can be accessed from home. Students on the course are entitled to use the Library at Rewley House for reference and private study and to borrow books. More information about the Continuing Education Library can be found at the  Bodleian website . 

The University card also provides access to facilities at Oxford University Computing Service (OUCS), 13 Banbury Road, Oxford. Computing facilities are available to students in the Students' Computing Facility in Rewley House and at Ewert House.

DPhil student spotlights

oxford university for phd

Discover what our students have to say about their experience of undertaking a part-time DPhil programme with the Department.

Graduate School

The Graduate School facilitates a stimulating and enriching learning and research environment for all of the Department’s diverse range of graduate students.

The Department has an active interdisciplinary research community, with a strong focus on the humanities and social sciences.

Student spotlights

Discover how others have used their Oxford DPhil for further study, career progression or personal enrichment. 

You can also view current DPhil research projects here .

oxford university for phd

Katherine Maxwell

Shaun morley, anne jensen, steve edwards, rosemary yallop, further information.

oxford university for phd

  • Search PhD Projects & Programmes
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Department of

Department of Education

Dphil in education, scholarships.

The DPhil in Education is a full-time programme which takes 3-4 years and is intended to provide graduates with a wide range of research skills as well as in-depth knowledge, understanding and expertise in their chosen field of educational research.

The DPhil in Education is an advanced research degree of a high standing and is awarded on the basis of a thesis and an oral examination.

A full-time programme takes 3-4 years to complete and is intended to provide graduates with a wide range of research skills as well as in-depth knowledge, understanding and expertise in their chosen field of research.

About 80 DPhil students are attached to the Department, researching a wide range of topics, normally linked to one or more of the Department’s Research Groups. Students come from over 40 different countries and are supported by a variety of scholarships and grants. Entry is highly competitive, and applicants are required to have a strong academic background and are required to submit a research proposal.

It is also possible to study part-time for a DPhil in the department. For more information, visit our part-time DPhil page .

The Department offers some part and full scholarships to attract the very strongest students who would otherwise not be able to come and study in Oxford.

It is committed to developing the number of fully-funded studentships it can offer to DPhil students, given their importance to the Department’s research culture. The funding deadline for all graduate courses in the Department of Education is January application deadline. Applications submitted after this date will not be considered for funding offered by Oxford. Funding deadlines for other University courses can be found on the relevant course page on the Graduate Admissions website . These are all highly competitive, and require high-quality, well-crafted research proposals.

All eligible applicants for graduate study are automatically considered for the University’s prestigious Clarendon Scholarships and the departmental scholarships. You will be notified around the beginning of March if you are being considered for any of these funding opportunities.

Reparative Futures of Education Scholarship

The Reparative Futures of Education (REPAIR-ED) research project is awarding two fully-funded doctoral scholarships based within Oxford University’s Department of Education.

The REPAIR-ED project involves working with primary school communities in the city of Bristol to examine the features and mechanisms of structural inequities in education. The project will use its empirical findings to facilitate dialogues with stakeholders (schools, their communities, policy-actors and the broader public) to explore how reparative justice in education might be conceptualised and enacted.

More information about the REPAIR-ED scholarships and how to apply.

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

The ESRC is the UK’s largest organisation for funding research on social and economic issues. The University, in collaboration with Brunel University and the Open University, hosts the Grand Union Doctoral Training Partnership – one of 14 Doctoral Training Partnerships accredited by the ESRC as part of a Doctoral Training Network.

In order to be considered for a Grand Union DTP ESRC studentship, you must select ‘ ESRC Grand Union DTP Studentships in Social Sciences ’ in the University of Oxford scholarships section of the University’s graduate application form. You must also complete a  Grand Union DTP Application Form and upload it, together with your graduate application form, by the funding deadline for your course.

Information about ESRC studentships at Oxford can be found here . Please ensure you have read all of the guidance available on the website before you complete the Grand Union DTP Application Form . If you have any questions, get in touch with the Grand Union DTP Office .

Talbot Scholarships

This scholarship fund is the result of a bequest to the Department in honour of Ms Elfrida Talbot, who ran the first women’s hostel for Education students in the University in the early years of the twentieth century. It is normally used to part-fund a UK/EU doctoral student for three years who was seen as strong contender for an ESRC doctoral studentship. Strong contenders for ESRC studentships will be automatically considered for this scholarship: no separate application process is needed. This scholarship is usually offered once every three years.

Clarendon scholarships

The very strongest applicants for all our MSc and DPhil programmes are automatically considered for University Clarendon scholarships. There is no separate application process. These are highly competitive and each year only one or two of our students are successful. During our initial admissions screening, supervisors nominate applicants with outstanding academic records to be considered. These supervisors then prepare a supporting statement.  A departmental panel ranks these candidates and the Director of Doctoral Research puts forward a shortlist of the strongest applicants to the divisional committee.

Departmental studentships

The Department is keen to attract the very strongest MSc students and encourage them to stay on for doctoral study. The shortlist will normally be made up of those students shortlisted for the ESRC and Clarendon scholarships. Interviews and decisions will be made once the ESRC and Clarendon awards are announced.

Awards will vary in range, but will seek to make a significant contribution to the overall cost of fees. Successful candidates will be expected to make an active contribution to the academic and professional life of the doctoral students within the Department. These scholarships may not be offered every year.

Further information on graduate scholarships and awards offered by the University and external agencies can be found on the  Student Funding Services  website.

Self-Funding

Scholarships are awarded on entry to the doctoral programme, not at any later point. If you are not awarded a scholarship in your first year, but elect to self-fund, you will be asked by the University to sign a declaration that you have the money to cover your fees and your living expenses for the first year. It should be noted that although you are only asked about the first year, it is extremely unlikely that you will acquire funding after that. There are no additional scholarships within the University for continuing doctoral students. The Department in general and individual staff members work hard to bring in funding for doctoral students, but we cannot fund everybody. It is worth carefully considering which colleges might have scholarships for which you are eligible when you apply.

Most colleges will offer some very small grants for fieldwork, travel or conference attendance. These are in the region of a couple of hundred pounds at most.

You can work part time during your doctorate, subject to the requirements of your visa, but you must obtain the support of your supervisor to do so, and it can have detrimental effects on your progress. There are occasionally some paid research assistant posts within the Department which are advertised to the doctoral cohort but these tend to be highly sought after. We do not have undergraduates so you are unlikely to be able to supervise as graduate students outside Education do.

There are some charitable trusts outside of the University to which you might be able to apply for some funding; we cannot keep track of all the potential requirements, so you should seek these out for yourself. However, they are not likely to be sufficient to cover fees and living expenses in their entirety.

Financial assistance run by colleges tends to be for ‘unexpected circumstances’; self-funders not getting any funding in second or subsequent years is not seen as unexpected. Both the University and the Department have some limited funds for those writing up the final stages of their doctorate. These are highly competitive and there are always more requests than there is money to fulfil them.

This advice is not intended to put you off, but it is important for self-funders to have a realistic view.

WHAT QUALIFICATIONS DO I NEED TO APPLY?

For more specific details of our admission criteria please visit the DPhil in Education course page .

HOW MANY STUDENTS DO YOU RECRUIT TO THE DPHIL IN EDUCATION PROGRAMME?

Approximately 25-35 students are recruited to our DPhil in Education programme each year.

CAN I STUDY ONLINE OR THROUGH DISTANCE LEARNING?

It is not possible to study at a distance or on-line on our DPhil programme.

What if I have already completed research training as part of a Masters degree?

All PRS students no matter what their previous training are required to undertake the Research Training Seminar course. This is the seminar specifically for PRS students, preparing you for the Oxford DPhil structure, creating a supportive cohort and enabling you to begin professional development for an academic or non-academic career. Other research training courses are: Beginners and Intermediate Quantitative Methods; Perspectives and Debates in Qualitative Research and Philosophy of Educational Research. The exact courses you will be required to take will depend on your previous training and experience, and the decision will be based on the evidence you provide in your application and in discussion with the Director of Doctoral Research on matriculation.

WHAT ARE THE BACKGROUNDS OF STUDENTS RECRUITED TO YOUR PROGRAMMES?

The Department offers a very wide range of courses. As well as a comprehensive Doctoral programme attracting students from all over the world, we offer full-time one year MSc in Education and in MSc Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition (ALSLA) courses, as well as a range of part-time courses, some aimed primarily at UK teachers (e.g. MSc Learning & Teaching, MS Teacher Education) and some at distance learning (e.g., Applied Linguistics and Language Teaching). Consequently our courses cater to students from a diverse range of backgrounds.

For example in 2021/22, the Department had a total complement of 780 students of whom 414 were studying full-time and 366 were studying part-time. For 2021/22, across the MSc Education, MSc ALSLA, and DPhil programmes, approximately 29% of our students came from the UK, and the remaining 71% from the EU or overseas. The cohort from those programmes included students from Afghanistan, Australia, Japan, Germany, India, Malaysia, China, Mexico, Estonia, Australia, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and the United States, among many others.

What our students share is exceptional academic achievement in their previous learning and an ambition to excel academically.

CAN I STUDY PART TIME?

Although doctoral research training programmes across the University tend to be structured around the needs of full-time students, we are able to offer a part-time DPhil option for students who reside and are employed locally.   See here for more information about studying for a part-time DPhil with us .

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST TO STUDY AND LIVE IN OXFORD?

To find out how much it will cost to undertake your studies at the University, please  visit the Fees and Living Costs webpage  for details.

CAN I APPLY FOR MORE THAN ONE COURSE?

We would strongly encourage you to focus your application on the course for which you have the most interest and experience.

CAN I APPLY FOR YOUR COURSES IF I AM IN THE PROCESS OF ACHIEVING MY QUALIFICATION TO GAIN ENTRY ONTO THE PROGRAMME?

Yes, you may apply for any of our courses whilst studying for another degree. If you are successful in achieving a place on one of our programmes, we would make a conditional offer which would include the condition of you achieving your qualification. You are required to submit an interim transcript at application. However, your final outcome would need to be available prior to you commencing the course at Oxford.

CAN SOMEONE CHECK IF MY RESEARCH PROPOSAL FITS INTO THE RESEARCH INTERESTS OF CURRENT MEMBERS OF STAFF BEFORE I SUBMIT AN APPLICATION?

Prospective DPhil applicants are expected to browse the online profiles of current members of staff to identify academics whose research interests overlap with theirs. If you can’t locate any academics with overlapping interests with yours, it is likely that your proposed area of research does not fit into the interests of current members of staff or the Department’s research centres.

ENGLISH IS NOT MY FIRST LANGUAGE; WHICH HIGHER LEVEL LANGUAGE QUALIFICATION IS ACCEPTABLE? AND WHAT SCORE DO YOU REQUIRE?

If you do not have English as your first language, we would like you to have achieved the higher level competence in English Language proficiency i.e. IELTS 7.5 overall with at least 7.0 in each component, or TOEFL 110 (Internet-based).

We do not accept tests which are more than 2 years old. We encourage applicants to apply with a successful IELTS test. If evidence that you successfully meet the English language condition cannot be provided with your application, the language requirement will be set as a condition if an offer is made.

For further information, please  visit the Application Guide .

CAN I APPLY FOR A WAIVER OF PROOF OF PROFICIENCY IN ENGLISH?

For information on applying for a waiver of the English test requirement, please  visit the application guide .

HOW DO I APPLY?

For information about applying, see the University Admission’s DPhil page . For a more detailed explanation of the process, please  click here for the application guide .

NOT ALL OF MY QUALIFICATIONS WILL FIT ON THE APPLICATION FORM, WHAT SHALL I DO?

If you require more space on the application form, please contact Graduate Admissions for advice.

I HAVE BEEN OUTSIDE OF AN ACADEMIC SETTING FOR SOME TIME NOW; WHO SHALL I HAVE TO ACT AS MY REFEREES?

We strongly recommend that you have at least one reference from your most recent academic tutor. If you are currently in employment, you would be expected to provide a reference from your employer as well as an academic referee who is able to comment on academic capability/suitability for Higher Degree study.

WHAT DO I NEED TO INCLUDE FOR THE SAMPLES OF WRITTEN WORK?

Two essays, a maximum of 2,000 words each.

The written work should be related to the DPhil in Education and should be on separate topics. If you do not have any existing material that fits this requirement, you may wish to critique an article or write a book review based on the course subject.

You may submit written work previously completed for a prior course of study if the topic is relevant, eg an assignment or chapter of a dissertation etc, provided it meets the requirements. If your work is significantly longer than the guide length it should be edited to meet the requirements.

A list of relevant references is required for your written work and should be included in your word count. [If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.] This will be assessed for understanding of the subject area, an ability to construct and defend an argument, and proficiency in academic English.

WHAT DO I NEED TO INCLUDE IN THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL AND PERSONAL STATEMENT?

If you are applying to the DPhil programme you need to submit a personal statement of a maximum of 1,000 words and a research proposal of a maximum of 2,500 words. Your statement and proposal should be submitted as a single, combined document with a clear subheading for each.

You should submit a convincing personal statement (statement of purpose) explaining your reasons for applying to the programme and highlighting your relevant academic and professional experience. The final line of your personal statement should indicate your future plans after a doctorate.

You should also submit a research proposal written in English. An indicative bibliography is required but you do not need to include this in your word count. Your proposal should include an indicative title and a short introduction/synopsis, a discussion of the most relevant scholarly literature, and a research question or hypothesis. This issue or question should emerge from your review of the literature. Please also provide a rationale for the importance of this research topic.

Your proposal should also indicate your proposed methodological approach. This will depend on the kind of research you envisage. If empirical research is planned, then please discuss the likely ‘data’ to be collected. At this stage these ideas are exploratory, and likely to develop and change once you are accepted.

This will be assessed for your potential to carry out doctoral research, the quality and coherence of the proposal and the originality of the project.

It will be normal for your ideas to subsequently change in some ways as you develop your project. You should nevertheless make the best effort you can to demonstrate the extent of your research question, sources and method at this moment.

Your proposal should focus on your proposed research topic, rather than personal achievements, interests and aspirations.

HOW IS MY SUPERVISOR DECIDED?

Although supervisors will be allocated by the Department and it is not necessary for you to contact academic members of staff directly, prospective applicants are encouraged to approach academics whose research interests overlap with theirs to informally solicit their capacity and interest in supervising new DPhil students. You may also ask them to share with you specific publications that they have authored that you can’t access otherwise and that may help inform your research proposal. There is a section in the application form in which you can indicate your suggested supervisors. You are strongly encouraged to fill it in with two names of suggested supervisors when you apply.

AM I REQUIRED TO ATTEND FOR INTERVIEW?

Interviews are normally held with two interviewers using Microsoft Teams. Interviews will normally take place in February.

WHAT WILL THE INTERVIEW BE LIKE?

We are keen to find out more about you and your interests, and how these might tie in with the research specialisms of academic staff within the department.

For DPhil applicants, we will ask you to talk in detail about your research proposal, its design, your methodological choices and potential challenges you might face. For MSc applicants, we will ask you about your knowledge of the course, your reasons for wanting to study in this area, and initial ideas for their dissertation research.

Applicants may be asked to explain how their areas of interest link to those of the departments’ research groups, centres and academic staff.

WHEN WILL THE OUTCOME OF MY APPLICATION BE KNOWN?

Applications will be considered by the admissions panel within the Department and decisions will be made in accordance with the following deadlines:

January application deadline – mid March

You will be informed of our decision by email to ensure that you receive the outcome as soon as possible.

In the event that we are not able to offer you a place, we regret that it is not possible to provide you with feedback on your application.

CAN I DEFER ENTRY TO A COURSE?

The University will only consider requests for deferral of entry due to exceptional unforeseen circumstances, and only after all conditions set for the offer (both academic and financial) have been met.

Couldn’t find your answers under our FAQ section?

Please direct all enquiries to our Higher Degrees Office and a member of the administrative team will be happy to assist you.

Email: [email protected]

  • Entry requirements
  • Fees and Funding

Meet our DPhil Students

Image: Eleanor Thomson

Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) in Geography and the Environment

Admissions guidance, potential supervisors and topics for dphil research, current graduate research, frequently asked questions, where can i get more information.

The Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) in Geography and the Environment is our premier research degree. The DPhil (or PhD as it is known in most other universities) is an advanced research degree awarded on the basis of a thesis and oral examination (assessment of other work is not taken into consideration). The DPhil is of a higher standing than the MSc by Research or the MLitt. Examiners of the DPhil must be satisfied that the thesis represents a significant and substantial piece of research, is conveyed in a lucid and scholarly manner and that the candidate has a good general knowledge of the field of their thesis. The DPhil in Geography and the Environment is offered as either a full time 3-4 year degree, or a part-time 6-8 year degree.

Students intending to read for the DPhil are initially admitted to the status of Probationer Research Student (PRS). During their first year (or second year for the part-time pathway) of work, students must apply for transfer to DPhil status, which requires successful completion of a Qualifying Test. This involves submission of a piece of written work which is examined by two assessors. Students will also be required to undergo a similar examination to confirm their DPhil status during their third year (or by the end of the sixth year for the part-time pathway).

Full-time DPhil students must be resident in Oxford for at least six terms (2 years). It is mandatory for students at the School of Geography and the Environment to spend their first year in Oxford so that they can take full advantage of the research training which is provided. Field work undertaken in the second or third year can be counted towards the residency requirement. Currently the expected contact time for the part-time pathway is thirty days at Oxford per year, the majority of this will take place across the three eight week terms, and will include supervision meetings and core research training.

It is expected that the thesis will be submitted after three or at most four years from admission (or within the sixth/eight year time limit for the part-time pathway). The standard fee liability for students registered for the DPhil is 9 terms (3 years) (or 6 years for the part-time pathway). The University applies a termly Continuation Charge for graduate students who exceed the standard period of University tuition fee liability.

Some DPhil study in the School is supported by various scholarships and grants available through Oxford University and from sources outside of the university such as government scholarships and research council funding. In the period 2019-2021, 40% of DPhil students at SoGE were fully funded, whilst 28% were partially funded. Each year around 20% of DPhil offer holders receive funding from Oxford University. The vast majority of Oxford scholarships are open to new graduate students only. Funding options for on-course students are extremely limited. The School of Geography and the Environment is working hard to expand access to funding for all students but unfortunately we feel we must discourage students who have not secured funding for the whole period of their DPhil from taking up their place.

For more information on scholarships and funding for under-represented groups, please see the University's scholarships and funding for under-represented groups webpage.

Currently available scholarships from SoGE are listed on our graduate fees and funding webpage.

For information on graduate admissions, selection criteria, funding and how to apply for the DPhil in Geography and the Environment, please see the DPhil in Geography and the Environment webpage on the University's Graduate Admissions website.

Please also read through the following information which will help support your application. Applicants are expected to have made contact with a potential supervisor and obtained their provisional agreement to act as a supervisor. Please note that provisional agreement from a supervisor is not a guarantee that you will be offered a place as final decisions are made by the departmental admissions panel. Applicants who have not made contact with a potential supervisor are unlikely to be considered for a place.

Read the form we use to assess every DPhil application

Guidelines to writing a research proposal

Meet potential DPhil supervisors and discover the topics for research that are available.

Explore our current graduate research

Why are there multiple application deadlines?

We offer two application deadlines to maximise the time scale for candidates to prepare and make their application.

Can I apply before I secure funding?

Applications will be considered without secured funding. The college which accepts you will require you to complete a Financial Declaration form in order to meet your financial condition of admission and the college will give you a deadline for meeting this requirement. For further details please see the University's Financial Declaration webpage. If you have any questions regarding the financial declaration, you should contact your college and not the department.

Is there funding available?

Do i need to submit a research proposal.

If you apply for the DPhil you must submit an acceptable research proposal which addresses the questions of what you plan to accomplish and why you want to and how you are going to do it. You can find full information and guidelines on writing a research proposal on our website.

Do I need to contact a supervisor before I apply?

Yes. All applicants are expected to have made contact with a potential supervisor before applying. Applicants who have not made contact with a supervisor are unlikely to be successful in obtaining an offer of a place.

Please note that provisional agreement from a potential supervisor is not a guarantee that you will be offered a place. Final decisions are made by the departmental admissions panel.

What level of written and spoken English do I need?

Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency of English at the higher level required by the University. You can find details of what is required from the University's Application Guide . The department may be able to consider a waiver of this requirement if you are currently completing, or have completed within the last two years, a degree-level course that is: full-time; at least nine months long; undertaken at a recognised institution where the medium of instruction and assessment throughout the course is entirely in English. To request a waiver, you will need to write a letter or statement giving the reasons for your request and upload this to your application. We will ask you for proof by means of a letter from your institution indicating that the medium of instruction and assessment has been in English.

You do not need to submit an English language test result at the same time as your application if you have not yet taken a test or received your results; your application will still be considered (provided that all other required documentation has been submitted) by the department but any offer of a place will be conditional on your supplying English language test results at the required level.

Can I apply to the DPhil from the MPhil?

Application process.

MPhil students who wish to apply for the DPhil in the department must follow the same application process as any other applicant for the DPhil. There is no automatic progression from MPhil to DPhil and applications from MPhil students will be assessed against the same criteria as all other applicants.

Current MPhil students are eligible to be considered for all Oxford funding schemes. If you are made an offer, you will automatically be considered for funding, but you should be aware that the funding available is limited and very competitive.

One year of MPhil fees counts toward DPhil fee liability, so students who have completed the MPhil only pay full DPhil fees for 6 terms. Thereafter, students are charged the University Continuation Charge until they submit their DPhil thesis.

The DPhil thesis via the 2+2 route

Students following the 2+2 route have the same thesis requirements as all other DPhil students: the book format following the traditional thesis-style, or the article-based thesis which comprises a minimum of three academic papers.

Students who have followed the article-based format for their MPhil should be aware that papers included in the thesis must have been written whilst holding the status of PRS or DPhil. A DPhil thesis may build directly on work completed during a Master's programme at Oxford but material which has already been submitted for assessment as part of an MPhil thesis cannot be included in the DPhil thesis.

When should I expect a decision on my application?

You can expect to hear the outcome of your application about 8 to 10 weeks after the application deadline. You should expect to receive college notification around 8 to 10 weeks following the department decision. This timetable is for guidance only and notifications may take longer in some cases. For further information on what to expect after you apply please see the University's After you apply webpage.

If my application is declined, will I receive feedback?

Due to the volume of applications the University receives; it is not possible to provide feedback on unsuccessful applications. For further information on admissions decisions please see the University's Decision timeline webpage.

When does the course begin?

The academic year starts in October each year and students are normally admitted for an October start. The department will notify you of the exact date in their offer letter which will also give you information about any pre-sessional courses/fieldwork that you may be required to attend and the relevant dates. Please see the University's Your offer and contract webpage for further information about your offer and contract.

I need to apply for a visa, when can I expect to receive my CAS number?

CAS numbers cannot be issued until you have successfully met all academic and financial conditions which were outlined in your offer letter. You are unable to apply for your visa until three months before your course start date. In most cases we would normally start issuing CAS numbers from July onwards. Once a CAS request has been made you will receive an email asking you to check the information that has been used for the CAS request. You should contact your departmental course-coordinator to let them know that the information is correct or let them have any amendments. Once the course-coordinator has been informed, they will be able to submit the CAS request and the CAS number will be sent to you via email within a few days of submission. For further information about the visa application please see the University's Before you arrive webpage and the University's information on the Student visa .

Do I need an ATAS certificate?

It is very unlikely that DPhil students will need to apply for a certificate. For information about the ATAS certificate please see the University's Student visa webpage.

What level of supervision can I expect?

Your offer letter will state who your supervisor(s) is and you should arrange to meet with them as soon as possible after arriving in Oxford to establish a timetable of regular meetings and they will help you devise a programme that allows you to realise the full benefits of the resources and intellectual community in Oxford. Your supervisor will meet with you regularly to provide advice about your specific project and suitable research methods and they will review your progress and help you to work within a planned framework and timetable. We would normally expect that you would meet with your supervisor(s) for at least nine one-hour meetings during each academic year. It is departmental practice for all research students to have two supervisors if possible. You may be allocated two supervisors when you are admitted however, in some cases only one supervisor may be allocated and a second supervisor will be allocated at the end of the first year if a suitable secondary supervisor can be found. You can find further information on research courses and supervision on the University's Research courses webpage.

What research training is provided?

DPhil students will be required to attend a weekly training seminar which is held each term. The aim of the DPhil training programme is to welcome, introduce and orientate students into DPhil work and life at the School. The seminars will be led by academics and some sessions will involve experiences from current DPhil students.

Doctoral students at Oxford will need to combine detailed subject knowledge with thorough training in relevant quantitative and qualitative research methods and techniques, as well as general research management skills, professional knowledge and career development. This combination of skills, knowledge and training is intended to help with research and also to enhance personal and professional development and employability.

DPhil students will have access to a wide range of training whilst undertaking their research at the University, including:

  • Research methods training within the department, and other departments as appropriate;
  • Researcher Training provided by Doctoral Training in the Social Sciences open to all doctoral student;
  • Training provided by University providers such as the Careers Service, IT Services and Bodleian Library.

Where can I find accommodation in Oxford?

Colleges are unable to accommodate all graduate students and the offer of a college place does not guarantee accommodation. The college which accepts you will contact you with regard to making an application for college accommodation. The Graduate Accommodation Office lets and manages rooms, flats and houses in and around Oxford city centre and on sites owned by the University to full-time graduate students. They also offer advice on renting private accommodation. If you wish to look for private accommodation and are based outside of the UK, please see the section on the International Students webpage about immigration checks required by law before agreeing a tenancy. We also recommend you look at the Oxford University Student Union's helpful guide on Living Out .

What are the likely career destinations of postgraduate students?

Many of our graduates are commanding influential positions in multinational corporations, in national, state and international government, in non-governmental organisations, and by continuing with further research. For further information on potential careers and alumni please see the departmental alumni webpages and the University's Careers and alumni webpage.

Can I work to help fund my studies?

We advise that no student should expect to fund their studies through taking on paid employment or teaching. The MSc or MPhil programmes have a very intensive teaching programme which leaves very little time to take on paid work. You should generally regard your studies as a full-time occupation of at least 40 hours per week, and you should normally be available for academic commitments during core working hours (i.e. 9am to 5pm on weekdays during term for MSc and MPhil students and year-round for DPhil). You may also have a work restriction placed on your student visa. If you do undertake some paid work, you should ensure that this does not impact on your studies. Please see the University Policy on Paid Work Guidelines for Oxford Graduate Students .

Are there any opportunities for developing teaching skills?

As the undergraduate and MSc teaching system at Oxford University is normally delivered by academic staff, there are very limited opportunities for graduate students to become involved and, if any teaching is available, it will only be available to DPhil students in their 2nd or subsequent years. Most opportunities arise from undergraduate teaching or acting as a teaching assistant on our MSc courses. Before students are allowed to commence any teaching, they must undertake an 'Introduction to Undergraduate Teaching' seminar which is held in the department each year and, after attending this, students can also take advantage of the Social Sciences Division Preparation for Learning and Teaching at Oxford seminars which are accredited.

Are there any opportunities for work experience and internships?

The School of Geography and the Environment does not normally arrange work experience or internships for DPhil students, however, many students have very successfully taken up opportunities related to their research and temporary suspension of studies can be arranged to cover any period which is spent undertaking this.

What workspace is provided?

DPhil students have access to the Staff Common Room where they will find a microwave, fridge and hot water. There are also three DPhil study rooms. Our large DPhil room offers space on a 'hot desk' basis and rooms two and three have allocated spaces for those who are writing up their thesis. Working space is also available in some of the Libraries.

If you have any questions about the University's application process you are strongly advised to contact the University of Oxford Graduate Admissions Office, tel: +44 (0)1865 270059, or by e-mail: [email protected] taking particular care to follow the instructions in the automatic reply, in the first instance.

If you have any further questions that have not been answered by the information provided by the Graduate Admissions Office or our website then please contact the Research Degrees Coordinator at the School of Geography and the Environment.

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