DPhil in Mathematics | University of Oxford
Calculations
Studying calculations on a white board
(Image Credit: Joseph Caruana / Graduate Photography Competition)

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 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 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:

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)

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

If invited you can expect to be interviewed by at least two people and for the interview to last around 30 minutes. The interview could take place face-to-face or by telephone or Skype.

It is expected that interviews will take place around three to five weeks after an application deadline.

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.

Resources

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 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.

For students applying to programmes within the MPLS Division at Oxford, Research Council and other funding opportunities available, subject to eligibility. These opportunities are included in the Fees, funding and scholarship search.

You may also be interested in departmental funding opportunities. Further details can be found on the department's website.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2017-18

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

Home/EU
(including Islands)
c. £4,250£3,021c. £7,271
Overseas£16,770£3,021£19,791

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 2017-18 academic year, the range of likely living costs 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.

How to apply

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 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.

Statement of purpose/personal statement:
Up to two pages

Your statement should be written in English and explain your motivation for applying for the course at Oxford, your relevant experience and education, and the specific areas that interest you and/or you intend to specialise in.

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

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.

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

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