DPhil in Criminology | University of Oxford
A row of books
A row of books
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DPhil in Criminology

About the course

The DPhil Criminology is offered as either a full-time 3-4 year degree, or a part-time 6-8 year degree. The DPhil entails researching and writing a thesis of between 75,000 and 100,000 words under the guidance of at least one supervisor who will be an acknowledged authority on their chosen topic. 

As a first-year full-time student, or in your first two years as a part-time student, you will follow courses of instruction in criminological research methods to develop your skills whilst working under the guidance of at least one supervisor who will be an acknowledged authority on their chosen topic.

Skills training sessions are offered by the Centre for Criminology, Faculty of Law and Social Sciences Division as appropriate to different stages of the graduate career. There are also opportunities to access advanced and specialist research training provided elsewhere in the division and University.

The areas in which members of the Centre for Criminology are able to offer supervision include:

  • policing and security
  • sentencing
  • crime, risk and justice
  • human rights and criminal justice
  • victims
  • procedural justice and legitimacy
  • prisons
  • sociology of punishment
  • restorative justice    
  • the death penalty
  • border control and the criminalisation of migration
  • public attitude and responses to crime
  • the politics of crime and justice
  • crime and the family
  • race and gender
  • miscarriages of justice
  • crime, criminology and social/political theory
  • youth justice

Research seminars bring you and other students together with academic and other research staff in the department to hear about ongoing research and provide an opportunity for networking and socialising.

You will be encouraged to attend the Oxford criminology and informal research seminars organised by the centre. You will also have the opportunity to discuss your research plan at the criminology discussion group and at the criminological research workshops, held in Trinity term.

Graduate destinations

Recent graduates of the DPhil Criminology have pursued careers in the following areas:

  • professional careers in criminal justice agencies and the law
  • university research and teaching in academic criminology and law schools
  • research careers
  • government departments
  • voluntary organisations in the crime and justice field

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 a strong upper second class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications) as a minimum in law, sociology, politics, economics, social policy, psychology, history, or another subject relevant to criminology. A high upper second class graduate degree is normally defined as one in which an average mark of 65% or above is achieved. 

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA 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).

Applicants are also normally expected to be predicted or to have achieved a master's degree (or equivalent international qualifications) in law, sociology, politics, economics, social policy, psychology, history, or another subject relevant to criminology with an average mark of 67% or above.

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

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

Publications

Potential applicants should identify any relevant publications which may enhance their application.

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

Knowledge

Applicants will normally have a broad, deep, advanced, and integrated understanding of a subject relevant to criminology such as law, sociology, economics, politics, psychology, social policy or history.

Reasoning ability

Outstanding analytical abilities, the ability to separate speedily the relevant from the irrelevant, and the ability to develop and sustain complex arguments under pressure; capacities for accurate observation and insightful criticism, including willingness and ability to engage with other social science disciplines; originality and creativity of thought, open-mindedness, and capacity for lateral thinking; excellent powers of synthesis and economy of thought.

Communication

Willingness and ability to express highly complex ideas clearly and effectively in English, with a particular eye to finesse and economy and an aspiration to professional standards of style and organisation in scholarly writing.

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 Centre for Criminology 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 Centre for Criminology 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 Centre for Criminology.

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

As a new full-time DPhil student you will be offered a desk at the Centre for Criminology, however it may not be possible to accommodate every student who requests a desk, and the centre cannot guarantee the availability of workspace in future years.

Within the Faculty of Law, there is a dedicated graduate reading room available in the Bodleian Law Library. This includes 50 study spaces, many of which are equipped with an Ethernet socket. Wireless access is also available.

You will have access to the Bodleian Law Library and Bodleian Social Science Library (in addition to other University libraries, and the centrally provided electronic resources). Training on how to use the library’s legal and journal database is jointly provided by the Faculty of Law and the Bodleian Law Library.

You will have the opportunity to attend a variety of skills training sessions and you will be required to successfully complete research methods training provided by the centre, as a condition of your transfer/admission to DPhil student status. There are also opportunities to access advanced and specialist research training provided through the Social Sciences Doctoral Training Centre.  The Social Sciences Division also organises an academic and professional development programme covering a range of relevant generic transferable skills which you will be encouraged to attend.

You will be encouraged to attend the Oxford criminology and informal lunchtime seminars organised by the centre and you will also have the opportunity to discuss your research plan at the lunchtime criminology discussion group and criminological research workshops, which are held during term time. You will also have access to seminars organised by the Faculty of Law as well as other faculty discussion groups.

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

Full-time study

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

Home/EU
(including Islands)
c. £4,250£3,021c. £7,271
Overseas£15,755£3,021£18,776

Part-time study

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

Full-time study

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.

Part-time study

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.

How to apply

Supervision is arranged by the department at the point of admission and you do not need to contact potential supervisors before an offer is made.

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:
Up to three pages

You should submit a detailed outline of your proposed research, written in English. The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.

You may wish to make reference to your personal achievements, interests and aspirations and the relevance of the course to your future career development plans.

This will be assessed for the coherence of the proposal, the originality of the project, the feasibility of successfully completing the project in the time available for the course.

It will also be assessed for:

  • your reasons for applying
  • evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
  • ability to present a reasoned case in English
  • commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course
  • 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

Academic essays or other writing samples from your most recent qualification, written in English, are required. Extracts from longer pieces are welcome but should be prefaced by a note which puts them in context and it should be indicated with square brackets which elements have been omitted from the original piece of work.

Ideally the works should relate to the proposed area of study. 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, an understanding of problems in the area, an ability to construct and defend an argument, your powers of analysis and powers of expression.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, generally 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.

Normally, references will be provided by individuals familiar with the applicant's academic performance. In exceptional circumstances, other professional references will be accepted.

Your references will support exceptional academic motivation; capacity for sustained and intense work; developed ability to organise time and set own agenda for study; and an intrepid attitude towards investigation and learning.