DPhil in Archaeology | University of Oxford
DPhil Archaeology
DPhil students in the field
(Image Credit: John Cairns)

DPhil in Archaeology

About the course

It is possible to study for a doctorate by part-time research in archaeology. Completing the DPhil on a part-time basis normally requires between four and six years of study, compared with a full-time DPhil which normally takes three to four years to complete.

The part-time DPhil programme draws on knowledge and skills acquired over many years of providing specialist classes in archaeology and profits from close links with the many different archaeologists elsewhere in the University.

The DPhil programme is overseen by the University’s Continuing Education Board, and admission is through the Department for Continuing Education. 

The part-time DPhil programme caters for students specialising mainly in landscape and professional archaeology topics, largely concentrated on Britain and Europe. Occasionally, other topics are accepted but admission in these cases is strictly dependent on the availability of appropriate supervision elsewhere in the university. Please note that candidates, even those with an academically strong background, may not be admitted if appropriate supervision is not available for your proposed research topic.

The department has strong links with the School of Archaeology which is responsible for full-time provision within the University. Supervision is arranged to suit the DPhil topic. The department’s resident archaeologists, Dr David Griffiths (Director of Studies for Archaeology) and Dr Alison MacDonald (Departmental Lecturer in Archaeology), supervise the programme, along with colleagues from the School of Archaeology and elsewhere.

You will have access to the full range of Oxford’s library, archive and computing facilities. You are encouraged to participate as fully as possible in the wider research environment for archaeology at Oxford, including attending seminars, discussion groups and lectures advertised by the School of Archaeology, Oxford University Archaeological Society and Graduate Archaeology Oxford. The Department for Continuing Education has its own stock of fieldwork equipment and access to specialist facilities elsewhere in the University can be arranged where these are required.

The part-time DPhil regulations require a minimum of six years’ part-time study normally (equivalent to three years full-time), although this may be reduced to four years part-time (two years full-time equivalent) in certain circumstances, for example if you have successfully completed the MSc in Applied Landscape Archaeology or certain other master’s courses with a dissertation of direct relevance to your DPhil topic.

If you are a research student you may be required to undertake appropriate research training provided within the department. In addition, you will be strongly encouraged to participate in seminars and informal meetings with staff and other researchers. The major commitment of time will be to individual study and research, involving wide and intense reading, data collection and analysis, and writing

Graduate destinations

Graduates have taken on senior roles in academic research and professional practice. Several have become research associates on externally-funded University of Oxford research projects, and have combined this with developing teaching careers in higher education. One served as Chair of the Institute for Archaeologists, the UK’s leading professional body. Others have developed careers in heritage and archaeological practice, working for organisations such as Oxford Archaeology.

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 archaeology or a related subject. A master's level qualification is usually required. 

Please note that entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a distinction, a first-class degree and/or the equivalent.

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

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).

Successful applicants will have a proven track record in archaeological study. Substantial professional experience may be considered. 

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 normally held as part of the admissions process.  

We do not offer places on this programme without conducting an interview. All candidates whose applications demonstrate that they meet the stated entry criteria will be invited for interview. Candidates will normally be expected to attend interview in Oxford in person; if a candidate is unable to attend on the date initially proposed, s/he will be offered an alternative interview date. Skype interviews may be held in rare cases, at the discretion of the Programme Director, when travelling to Oxford is difficult or impossible for a candidate within the interview period.

Interviews are conducted by a minimum of two interviewers. An invitation to interview is not a guarantee of an offer of a place.

Publications

Publications are not expected. 

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 Department for Continuing Education 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 Department for Continuing Education 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 Department for Continuing Education.

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

The department is well-equipped for field teaching and supporting individual students’ field studies, mainly field survey. It has a range of archaeological survey and IT equipment, including GIS and geophysical equipment and software, which may be borrowed/used by students, after appropriate experience or training. You will be encouraged, where appropriate, to participate more widely in archaeological excavation and/or laboratory analysis, but the department does not normally offer its own resources/facilities for supporting these as part of the course. If you have a query about equipment or facilities needed to support your studies, please contact the Programme Director. 

The department is committed to supporting you to pursue your academic goals. 

The Rewley House Continuing Education Library, one of the Bodleian Libraries, is situated in Rewley House. The department aims to support the wide variety of subjects covered by departmental courses at many academic levels. The department also has a collection of around 73,000 books together with periodicals. PCs in the library give access to the internet and the full range of electronic resources subscribed to by the University of Oxford. Wifi is also available. The Jessop Reading Room adjoining the library is available for study. You will have access to the Central Bodleian and other Bodleian Libraries.

The Graduate School provides a stimulating and enriching learning and research environment for the department's graduate students, fostering intellectual and social interaction between graduates of different disciplines and professions from the UK and around the globe. The Graduate School will help you make the most of the wealth of resources and opportunities available, paying particular regard to the support and guidance needed if you are following a part-time graduate programme. The department’s graduate community comprises over 600 members following taught programmes and more than 70 undertaking doctoral research.

The department provides various IT facilities, including the Student Computing Facility which provides individual PCs for your use. Many of the department's courses are delivered through blended learning or have a website to support face-to-face study. In most cases, online support is delivered through a virtual learning environment. 

Depending on the programme you are taking with the department, you may require accommodation at some point in your student career. Rewley House is ideally located in central Oxford; the city's historic sites, colleges, museums, shops and restaurants are only a few minutes’ walk away. The department has 35 en-suite study bedrooms, all with high quality amenities, including internet access.

The Rewley House dining room has seating for up to 132 people. A full meal service is available daily. The department operates a Common Room with bar for students. 

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 range of scholarships are available to students on the programmes offered by the department, along with bursary funds to assist students on low incomes. Full information on these opportunities can be found on the departmental funding pages.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2017-18

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

Home/EU
(including Islands)
c. £2,125£1,511c. £3,636
Overseas£7,880£1,511£9,391

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).

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

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 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 for full-time study 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. 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.

Colleges

All graduate students must apply also for membership of a college. Kellogg College caters particularly for part-time mature students and is closely associated with the department, but students may seek membership of any college which admits applicants to the course.

The following colleges accept students on the DPhil in Archaeology:

How to apply

If you wish to discuss your research proposal please contact the Director of Studies, Dr David Griffiths. However, it is not necessary to contact a potential supervisor or other member of academic staff before you apply.

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:
1,500 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.

This will be assessed for:

  • your reasons for applying
  • 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 to 2,500 words each

Academic essays or other writing samples from your most recent qualification, written in English, are required. Extracts of the requisite length from longer work are also permissible. 

Academic essays or other writing samples, written in English, are required. Extracts of the requisite length from longer work are also permissible.

The topic(s) of your written work should be relevant to the subject area of the course. The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.

This will be assessed for 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 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.

Academic references are required. These should comment on your intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation, ability to work in a group.