DPhil in Engineering Science | University of Oxford
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DPhil in Engineering Science

About the course

The DPhil in Engineering Science will offer you the opportunity to develop in-depth knowledge, understanding and expertise in your chosen field of engineering research. To support your research, you will develop broad skills in relevant areas of mathematical and computational modelling, in the design and build of apparatus, in the development of software, and in data analytics and visualisation.

You will join your supervisor's research group and laboratory, and enjoy day-to-day contact with your supervisor, post-doctoral researchers and other research students working on broadly similar research themes.

A key aspect of your research experience in the department will be exposure to the broad sweep of today's engineering research. The department’s research groups cluster into fields as apparently diverse as:

  • biomedical, chemical and process engineering
  • civil and offshore engineering
  • electrical and opto-electronic engineering
  • energy
  • information, vision and control engineering
  • solid mechanics and materials
  • thermofluids and turbomachinery.

However, the department is committed to considering engineering as a unified subject, allowing interdisciplinary research to flourish.

In the first year, you will develop research skills in two ways. Firstly, you will read the current literature, often in reading groups, and attend research seminars, relevant lectures and training courses. Secondly, you will design and build apparatus, develop software, or both to address your own research topic. Often there is external involvement and you will develop your work in collaboration with researchers from industry and other research organisations.

As well as ongoing assessment by your supervisors, you will be required to write a report and give a presentation on your research at the end of the first year and to present a detailed and coherent plan for the research-intensive phase in the second and third years of your doctoral studies. Progress towards completion is again formally assessed some way in to the third year of study.

You will be required to submit a substantial thesis which is read and examined by experts in the field, one from the department and one from elsewhere. Often the thesis will result in the publication of two or three journal papers.

Graduate destinations

Doctoral graduates are ideally equipped for careers in commercial engineering in their specialisms, and most enjoy engineering-related careers ranging from consulting to research and development, both nationally and internationally. Others continue to spend time in post-doctoral research, sometimes developing the work in their theses towards product. Others enter the broad range of professions where their high degree of ability in mathematical and systems modelling is required.

Related courses

Multiple applications

In applying for this programme, you may submit further applications for up to two of the following associated programmes without paying an additional application fee:

For instructions, see Applying for more than one course in the Application Guide.

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 2016-17

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 engineering or a related discipline relevant for the proposed area of research, such as physics, materials science, computer science, applied mathematics or chemistry. 

A previous master's qualification is not required.

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

Other appropriate indicators will include:

References/letters of recommendation 

Your references will support your intellectual ability, academic achievement and potential, motivation, creativity, and ability to work singly and in a group. 

Professional references are welcomed, but these must be obtained from your line manager (or equivalent). At least one academic reference must be provided.

Research proposal

You are required to supply a research proposal written in English (c. two A4 pages).

This will be assessed for:

  • your past commitment to sustained and intense study and your reasons for wishing to undertake research
  • evidence of interest in, experience of, and understanding of the proposed area of study
  • the originality of the proposed research
  • the feasibility of successfully completing the project in the time available
  • your ability to present a reasoned and coherent case in English.

Inevitably your ideas will change as you develop your project. You should nevertheless make the best effort you can to describe the extent and ambition of your proposed research using sources and methods from the current literature. Your statement should focus on your research ambitions in engineering, rather than on personal achievements, interests and aspirations.

Performance at interview(s)

Interviews in person or by other means may form part of the admissions process. 

Publications

Prior publications may be an advantage when applying for graduate study in engineering science.

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 of Engineering Science 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 of Engineering Science 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 of Engineering Science.

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.

Engineering research and teaching at Oxford takes place in a unified Department of Engineering Science whose close to 90 academic staff are committed to advanced work in their own specialities while recognising a common engineering foundation. This creates an intellectual space where interdisciplinary work thrives and where expert advice is available to students in areas which though not central to their core research still impinge on it.

There are strong links too with researchers in other departments in the mathematical and physical sciences and, ever increasingly, with researchers and practitioners in medical science departments and University hospitals.

The seven research clusters in engineering science at Oxford are:

  • turbomachinery
  • materials engineering
  • civil and offshore
  • information, control and vision
  • electrical and optoelectronic
  • chemical and process
  • energy and biomedical engineering.

These research clusters are well-supported by experienced teams of technical, computing, and administrative support staff. The department has well-equipped research areas and workshops, which together with offices, lecture theatres, library, common room, stores, reprographics and other facilities, occupies some 16,000 square metres.

The department has approximately 280 research students and about 80 postdoctoral researchers and research fellows. Direct funding of research grants and contracts, from a variety of sources, amounts to an annual turnover of approximately £10m in addition to general turnover of about £12m.

Funding

There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available for courses starting in 2016-17. Full scholarships will cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. Information about the full range of funding available can be found in the Fees and funding section.

For over 70% of Oxford scholarships, nothing more than the standard course application is usually required. If you fulfil the eligibility criteria and apply by the relevant January deadline, you will be automatically considered. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out whether you are eligible for scholarships which require an additional application. If you are, the tool will include links to full details of how to apply.

Divisional funding opportunities

There are many different funding opportunities for students studying in the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences (MPLS) Division at Oxford. Funding covering fees and living costs is available for a substantial number of doctoral training programmes. Research Council and other funding opportunities are also available for doctoral programmes in MPLS subjects.

Departmental funding opportunities

Additional funding opportunities may also be offered by your department. Department scholarships are included in the funding search tool, with links to further information. More details on funding opportunities may also be available on the department’s website.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2016-17

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

Home/EU
(including Islands)
£4,121£2,933£7,054
Overseas£18,770£2,933£21,703

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 2016-17 academic year, the range of likely living costs is between £970 and £1433 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.

You are encouraged to communicate with the department in order to refine your application, especially where studentships are involved.

Please ensure that you have researched the specialisms of the department and those of your potential supervisor(s) before making contact. Once you have done this, you can either contact the academic staff member directly or route your enquiry via the Admissions Administrator using the details provided on this page.

You should name at least one potential supervisor where requested in the application form, up to a maximum of four.

The set of materials you should send with an application to this course comprises: 

  • a research proposal of 1,000 to 1,500 words (c. two A4 pages)
  • a CV/résumé
  • three references
  • official transcripts detailing your university-level qualifications and marks to date.

Professional references are welcomed, but these must be obtained from your line manager (or equivalent). At least one academic reference must be provided.

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.

For continuing Oxford graduates

If you are a current Oxford graduate on an eligible graduate taught course and you are using the readmission form to apply for this course, you are permitted to re-submit the following documents from your previous application:

  • two references, of the required three overall
  • CV/résumé
  • English proficiency scores, if appropriate.

If you are permitted to reuse any references, you should indicate which you wish to reuse in your application form and we will add these to your application after you submit.

If you are permitted to reuse other documents, like your transcript or written work, you must upload your own copies of these files to your application.

For further information on the readmission process and your eligibility to use this process, see our guidance for continuing Oxford graduates.