DPhil in Anthropology | University of Oxford
Pitt Rivers
The Pitt Rivers Museum, housing the University's anthropological collections
(Image Credit: Pitt Rivers Museum)

DPhil in Anthropology

About the course

The DPhil in Anthropology offers practice in developing research skills, especially through fieldwork with human subjects, though this is not compulsory. It also offers practice in analysing, interpreting and writing up research-related materials, and in presenting such materials in seminar-type formats.

You may be admitted to the course either with Probationer Research Student (PRS) status or, in the case of applicants holding an Oxford MPhil degree in anthropology, with full DPhil student status. Generally, you would only be admitted to the DPhil programme if you had successfully completed at least one taught degree in anthropology at the required level, whether in Oxford or elsewhere.

Exceptions may be made in the fields of cognitive and evolutionary anthropology, or for applicants with a distinction in a taught-course degree that includes some anthropology, but in a closely related discipline other than in anthropology. In the latter case, you would be expected to undertake some coursework in anthropology in the first year of the DPhil course. If you wish to undertake the DPhil with a focus on medical anthropology, you would usually be expected to have previously completed a taught master's degree in medical anthropology.

If you are admitted as full DPhil student, in principle you are ready to embark on the programme of research as approved by your DPhil supervisor. However, in some cases, your supervisor may determine that you should complete a further programme of methodological training or other preparatory work necessary for your proposed programme of research.

If you are admitted with PRS status, you will have to apply to transfer to full DPhil student status by the end of the first year. Once you attain the status of a full DPhil student in anthropology, you are immediately eligible to embark on fieldwork or other research. Such research typically lasts from 12 to 18 months and is then followed by a period of similar length to write up the thesis on which examination for the doctorate is based.

Part-time course arrangements

A part-time route through the DPhil programme is currently under development for first admission in October 2018. For further details on part-time doctoral study and for updates on when the part-time programme will open for admission, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies for Anthropology, Dr Bob Parkin (robert.parkin@anthro.ox.ac.uk).

Graduate destinations

Many graduates from the course enter teaching and research. There is also some recruitment by public bodies, larger private companies, development agencies, NGOs and other organisations.

Related courses

Changes to the course

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. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2017-18

Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:

1. Academic ability

Proven and potential academic excellence

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in at least one taught course degree in any discipline. At least one such degree should normally be in cultural or social anthropology. Distinction-level students in a closely related discipline may be considered for direct entry as Probationer Research Students on the condition that they undertake some coursework in social or cultural anthropology in their first year.

The final degree result should be 67%, or equivalent; for applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.7 out of 4.0.

Applicants for the DPhil in Anthropology will normally be required to have, or obtain, a taught-course qualification in social or cultural anthropology before embarking on doctoral research. Exceptions apply.

If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).

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

Other appropriate indicators will include:

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview(s)

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

Publications

Publications are not expected of applicants.

2. English language requirement

Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.

3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places

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

  • The ability of the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work. 
  • Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.

The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:

  • The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. 
  • Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography.

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 sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.

4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties

Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.

Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.

Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.

5. Assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).

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

6. Other information

Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.

Resources

You will receive all or most of your academic supervision in the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography. You will have a named supervisor, possibly two, who will have overall responsibility for the direction of your work from inception to submission.

Workspaces are available in the school on a first-come, first-served basis, though your college will also have library and workspace facilities and desks are available in the Bodleian and other University libraries. Laboratory and other dedicated workspaces and equipment for methods teaching will be provided where required.

The school houses the Tylor Library, the main subject library for anthropology, and the Pitt Rivers Museum and centre has its own library, the Balfour Library. Most books in the Tylor Library will be available to you on loan, though journals and certain other materials are reference-only. You may also use other departmental libraries, your college library and the University’s Bodleian Library and its dependent libraries. The University has a wealth of electronic resources, some specific to particular libraries.

As a research student, you are permitted – though not obliged - to undertake some undergraduate teaching, where available. Methods and skills training are offered through the school, the Social Sciences Doctoral Training Centre and other institutions.

A programme of research seminars is available, some specifically for research students and others featuring talks by invited speakers, often from outside the university. The principal event in this programme is the departmental seminar, run weekly during term time.

A student-run society, the Oxford University Anthropology Society, runs coffee mornings, talks and other social and academic events throughout the year. Seminars, especially those involving outside speakers, often proceed to local pubs or restaurants after the talk.

Funding

There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.

A number of Research Council awards are available each year from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), and Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2017-18

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

Home/EU
(including Islands)
£12,300£3,021£15,321
Overseas£19,335£3,021£22,356

The fees shown above are the annual tuition and college fees for this course for entry in the stated academic year; for courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

Tuition and college 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 tuition and college fees).

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.

For more information about tuition fees, college fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details on the impact of the result of the UK referendum on its membership of the European Union.

Additional information

There are no compulsory elements of this programme that entail additional costs beyond fees 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 expenses, 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 tuition and college fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2017-18 academic year, the range of likely living costs is between £1,002 and £1,471 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.

How to apply

You are invited to make prior and direct contact with a prospective supervisor to discuss possible supervision before applying to the course. At least one such supervisor should be a member of academic staff in the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography

The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:

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.

CV/résumé

A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.

Research proposal:
Two to four pages

Your research proposal should state the research question, briefly discuss any key literature, discuss methods and provide a basic research timetable. The proposal should be written in English and the overall page count should include any bibliography.

This will be assessed for 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 course; 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.

Written work:
Two essays of 2,000 words each

You should submit two pieces of academically-related written work in English, in any discipline. The two items may be separate extracts from a longer work like a taught-course thesis. The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.

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

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, all of which must usually be academic

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.

Ideally three academic letters of reference are required. Only if one or more such letters cannot be provided should professional reference(s) be supplied instead.

Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement and motivation.