MPhil in Latin American Studies | University of Oxford
Radcliffe Camera
The Radcliffe Camera, through the window of the Bodleian Library
(Image Credit: Christopher Wills / Graduate Photography Competition)

MPhil in Latin American Studies

About the course

This course offers an interdisciplinary approach towards the understanding of modern Latin America, allowing you to develop an in-depth research project that may involve a period of fieldwork in the region.

This is a 21-month programme which spans six academic terms, including a fieldwork project in Latin America (up to three months). The course will be informed by five core disciplines: history, political science, sociology, economics and international relations. Major trends in the development of Latin America will be analysed with reference to the main categories of explanation advanced to interpret that development.

The course will provide you with a critical understanding of the major elements in the development of Latin America over the past two hundred years. You will be taught to relate economic and political trends, and to assess the importance of international influences. The course will demonstrate the way in which different disciplines contribute to an overall understanding of the historical development of the continent. You will also be taught the importance and the limitations of the comparative method of analysis.

In your first year, you will take three courses in preparation for examination in three written papers at the end of Trinity term in the year of registration. Additionally, you will be required to attend and participate in the research methods course organised in collaboration with other units from the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies, and to satisfy the assessment criteria for that course. 

During the first year, you will also work with your supervisor on your thesis proposal and preparation for field work.  You will write a number of essays to be arranged with the various tutors of each of the courses. You will be required to submit five of these marked essays to the Latin American Centre (LAC) Administrator (three by the beginning of Hilary term and a further two by the beginning of Trinity term). The timetable and subject of the essays should be arranged with the tutors of the respective courses.  Examinations at the end of the first year will serve to qualify for entry to the second year of the course.

In the second year, you will be expected to write a thesis of not more than 30,000 words, including footnotes and appendices, but excluding bibliography. The assessment of the thesis constitutes 33.3%, or the equivalent of two examination papers.

You will sit one additional examination paper, or with the permission of your supervisor, the LAC Administrator and the relevant department, you may take a methodology or other examination paper from another MPhil of the University of Oxford as appropriate. In the second year, you will be required to attend a viva voce as part of the examinations process.

A lively programme of LAC seminars, workshops and conferences with visiting speakers complements the MPhil programme, and you are encouraged to make the most of these opportunities to meet with and learn from fellow Latin Americanists.

Graduate destinations

LAC alumni work in a wide range of careers, both within and outside of Latin America, in the public and private sectors. 

Related courses

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 any discipline.

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).

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

The Latin American Centre requires you to have a working knowledge of Spanish or Portuguese as appropriate to your individual area(s) of research. This is particularly important for those applying for the MPhil course, which includes a period of fieldwork abroad in Latin America. Please refer to your language skills in your statement of purpose. 

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 not normally held as part of the admissions process.  

Publications

Publications are not required.

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 Latin American Centre 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 Latin American Centre 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 Latin American Centre.

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 Latin American Centre houses an important collection of books, academic journals, periodicals and some other significant documents relevant for the study of the region.  It is a specialist loan collection, whose primary role is to support graduate students taking the master’s courses in Latin American Studies, although the library welcomes all current resident members of the University who are interested in the subject area. 

The library has three reading rooms, all with wifi, including a seminar room and workspace.  It subscribes to twenty journals, including popular titles like the Latin American Research Review, the Journal of Latin American Studies and the Hispanic American Historical Review.

The centre’s main seminar room serves to host our main regular Latin American seminar, a weekly event where Oxford-based and visiting academics present and discuss the results of their most recent research activities on a wide range of topics. In addition, the seminar room serves to host the Latin American History seminar. These events are accompanied by social receptions, which will offer you opportunities to mix socially with your fellow students, staff and visitors.

Spanish classes at the Language Centre

If you are a non-native speaker of Spanish and feel that you could benefit from additional classes, you may wish to register for one of the Languages for Study and Research (LASR) courses offered by the University Language Centre. As an LAC student you are eligible to make a ‘priority application’ to attend a Spanish course.

IT facilities

Oxford University IT Services offers facilities, training and advice to members of the University in all aspects of academic computing. OUCS is responsible for the core networks reaching all departments and colleges.

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) (further details will be announced in October 2016), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), and Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2017-18

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

Home/EU
(including Islands)
£10,230£3,021£13,251
Overseas£18,080£3,021£21,101

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).

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

You will need to cover all costs related to the compulsory fieldwork element of this course, eg travel and living expenses. Travel to Chile from the UK is estimated to cost between £900 and £1600. Monthly living expenses (accommodation and food) are expected to range from £300 to £600. Other costs, including visas, photocopying, researcher fees for some institutions are expected to be in the region of £200. You will also need to cover the cost of travel to the workshop sessions that comprise some of the course content; all of these sessions currently take place in London. You may be eligible to apply for grants from the Latin American Centre and/or external sources, to assist with these costs. You may also be eligible to apply for small grants from your college.

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 not expected 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.

Statement of purpose:
One to two pages

The statement of purpose is an important document for assessing your application. It is your opportunity to explain why you are applying to the Latin American Centre specifically and what you hope to achieve during the course.

You should consider the following points:

  • What relevant academic, research, or practical experience do you have?
  • Why are you applying to this particular programme of study?
  • What areas of Latin American Studies are you interested in?
  • Have you looked through the course information and staff profiles on this website?
  • Do you have any future career plans that would be informed by study at the Latin American Centre?

The statement should all be in your own English, not another language.

This will be assessed for:

  • your reasons for applying
  • evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
  • commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course
  • capacity for sustained and intense work
  • reasoning ability.

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

You are required to submit academic written work in your own English (ie not professionally translated). The work should all be in English, not another language.

It is helpful, but not essential, if the work is in the field of Latin American studies that you hope to pursue.

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

This will be assessed for your analytic and general scholarly ability, as well as the followng:

  • comprehensive understanding of the subject area
  • understanding of problems in the area
  • ability to construct and defend an argument
  • powers of analysis
  • powers of expression.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, all of which must be 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 will support your academic ability and suitability for the course. All references should be academic.