DPhil in Architectural History | University of Oxford
Divinity School
Vaulted ceiling in the Divinity School
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DPhil in Architectural History

About the course

It is possible to study for a doctorate by part-time research in architectural history. Students studying for the DPhil part-time normally study for five to eight years. This compares with a full-time DPhil which normally takes three to four years to complete.

The DPhil programme draws on considerable experience in providing advanced tuition in architectural history. It profits from the close links within the department between the disciplines of architectural history, art history, English local history and landscape archaeology. It also has links with other parts of the University, particularly the Faculty of History, the Department of the History of Art, and Kellogg College, amongst the fellows of which is the largest concentration of architectural historians associated with the University.

The programme is overseen by the Continuing Education Board of the University. Admission is through the Department for Continuing Education. 

Supervision on the DPhil programme is provided by specialist tutors from the Department and elsewhere in Oxford. In broad terms, supervision is possible in most areas of British architectural history (as defined above) from the middle ages to the present, and some European topics. In terms of Great Britain, academic staff currently have particular research interests in ecclesiastical buildings, medieval castles, great houses and their landscapes; country houses; vernacular architecture; urban and institutional architecture, especially of London and Oxford, from 1660 to the present.

Supervision is provided on an individual basis, tailored to the specific needs of students and to their subjects. Doctoral training is provided through the department’s Graduate School, and other agreed learning requirements (eg foreign languages) can draw on the resources of both the department and the wider University. Graduate students in the department have access to the full range of Oxford’s library, archive and computing facilities, as well as to Oxford’s extensive range of graduate and research seminars.

Graduate destinations

The number of students completing the DPhil is too small to provide information on destinations.

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 a related subject, or to have completed the OUDCE Postgraduate Certificate in Architectural History, or a master’s degree.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA normally sought is 3.5 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).

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

Applicants who have a Level 4 vocational qualification, rather than an undergraduate degree, may also be considered, as, in exceptional circumstances, may those who have substantial experience in a relevant profession (eg one related to building analysis and recording or to historic conservation).

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.

Applicants who fully meet the criteria, and for whom the programme directors determine suitable supervision can be arranged, may be invited for interview. If the number of potentially suitable candidates significantly exceeds the number of places available, preference will be given to those whose research proposals best match the research interests of such supervisors as are available. No applicant may be admitted to the programme without attending an interview in person, with at least two academic interviewers, one of whom will normally be a director of the programme.

Publications

Previous publications are not essential.

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

You need not necessarily have studied architectural history previously, but should be able to show evidence of prior serious interest in the subject, eg through work-related activities, voluntary work in a related field, completion of previous courses (including evening classes), or membership of relevant local or national societies.

You must have a sound research proposal,  be up to date with previous work in the field, and aware of the academic context of your proposed research.

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 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 programmes. The department’s graduate community comprises over 600 members following taught programmes and more than 60 undertaking doctoral research.

The department provides various IT facilities, including the Student Computing Facility which provides individual PCs for your use. 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).

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

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 Architectural History:

How to apply

You may find it useful to make contact with an academic member of 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.

Personal statement and research proposal:
One-page statement and two-page proposal

Applicants should provide a personal statement and research proposal, both written in English, as a single combined document.

Your personal statement should address your reasons for wishing to study at Oxford and to engage in this particular programme.

This will be assessed for:

  • your reasons for applying
  • evidence of motivation
  • commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course
  • capacity for sustained and intense work.

Your research proposal should define the topic of research, initial research questions, how the questions relate to existing work on the subject, and the proposed sources and methods of research. This is not intended to be comprehensive, but to provide the basis for seeking a supervisor and for further discussion. The overall page count should include any bibliography.

This will be assessed for:

  • the coherence of the proposal
  • the originality of the project
  • understanding of the proposed area of study
  • the feasibility of successfully completing the project in the time available for the course
  • preliminary knowledge of research techniques.

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

Written work in English, either from previous education or more recent, are required. The topic(s) of the work should ideally be related to architectural history or history, though other subjects are acceptable.

Extracts from longer pieces are acceptable, provided they are self-contained and prefaced by a note explaining their context (eg chapter or section of a dissertation).

The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.

This will be assessed for your command of written English, reasoning ability and ability to construct a logical argument.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, academic wherever possible

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.

References should generally be academic. However, where academic references cannot be provided, professional references will be accepted in lieu of academic references.
Your references will support appropriate indicators of academic ability and/or professional experience.

Referees should comment upon the applicant’s intellectual ability, academic aptitude and motivation, as well as on previous contributions to the field where possible.