DPhil in Mathematics | University of Oxford
Calculations
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DPhil in Mathematics

About the course

This is a higher research degree suitable for candidates with a very strong academic record. The DPhil requires a significant and substantial contribution to knowledge. Subject areas cover the entire spectrum of mathematics and the department’s research is conducted in many fields.

The DPhil is a research-based degree, with subject areas including:

  • algebra (primarily group theory and representation theory)
  • number theory
  • algebraic geometry
  • differential geometry
  • complex manifolds
  • global analysis
  • functional analysis
  • stochastic analysis
  • dynamical systems
  • mathematical logic, optimisation
  • combinatorial theory
  • quantum theory
  • string theory
  • relativity
  • mathematical biology and ecology
  • mathematical modelling
  • fluid and continuum mechanics
  • numerical analysis
  • mathematics applied to problems in earth sciences, materials science and finance.

You are normally admitted to a research group suitable to your research interests and allocated a supervisor before arrival. You are admitted initially to a probationary status and approved for transfer to DPhil only when the Mathematical Institute is satisfied of your ability to attempt such a contribution; this transfer involves the submission of written work and oral examination.

You normally undergo a confirmation of status in the third year of your DPhil. Similarly to transfer this involves the submission of written work and oral examination. The purpose of the confirmation of status is to enable you to receive an assessment of your work by one or more assessors. It is intended to provide an important indication that if work on the thesis continues to develop satisfactorily, and then it would be reasonable for you to consider submitting your thesis within three terms.

You are expected to undergo 100 hours of broadening courses before confirmation of status. This involves the submission of written work for five 16-hour lecture courses, which should be distinct from and not linked to your research area, and attendance at workshops and colloquia. You will also be expected to participate in skills training. Your progress in these areas will be assessed at both transfer and confirmation status.

Undertaking the course is regarded as equivalent to working full-time hours and may also sometimes require some additional hours. The minimum period of registration for the DPhil is six terms but in practice you may need nine terms at least.

Graduate destinations

Further research into mathematics and/or computer science or industry.

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 undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in mathematics or a related discipline. 

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.6 out of 4.0.

A previous master's degree is not required, though the requirement for a first-class undergraduate degree with honours can be alternatively demonstrated by strong performance in a master's degree.

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:

References/letters of recommendation 

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

Your references should generally be academic, though up to one professional reference will be accepted.

Written work produced by the student

Submission of written work is optional. All written work must be in English.

Statement of purpose/personal statement

You should write a statement which can be anything between a short paragraph and two pages, and must be in English.

This will be assessed for evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study and whether we can provide a suitable supervisor. 

Your statement should focus on research rather than personal achievements, interests and aspirations.

Performance at interview(s)

Technical interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.  

If invited you can expect to be interviewed by at least two people. The interview could take place face-to-face or by telephone or Skype.

Publications

Publications are not expected.

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

Research or working experience in the proposed research may be an advantage.

2. English language requirement

Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the standard 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 Mathematical Institute 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 Mathematical Institute 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 Mathematical Institute.

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.

The Mathematics Institute provides six lecture theatres and six class rooms. The largest lecture theatre seats up to 363 people and all classrooms can accommodate 24 people.

The Mathematical Institute provides IT support and the department's Whitehead Library. An office is allocated to students on arrival, and each desk is equipped with a computer. 

Graduate students have access to the department common room and the mezzanine level of the Andrew Wiles Building houses a canteen and teaching spaces. 

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£16,280£2,933£19,213

The fees shown above are the annual tuition and college fees for this course for entry in the 2016-17 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 the website.

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 welcome to contact academics involved in their preferred area of research, although this is not a necessary prerequisite to the application process. If you are unsure of who to contact, please use the contact details provided on this page and your email will be forwarded onto the relevant academic.

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

  • a statement of purpose/personal statement, giving an indication of the area of your proposed research, from a brief paragraph up to two pages in length as appropriate
  • a CV/résumé
  • three references
  • official transcripts detailing your university-level qualifications and marks to date.

Your references should generally be academic, though up to one professional reference will be accepted.

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
  • transcript
  • 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.