MPhil in Russian and East European Studies | University of Oxford
Radcliffe Camera
The Radcliffe Camera, through the window of the Bodleian Library
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MPhil in Russian and East European Studies

About the course

The MPhil in Russian and East European Studies is a two-year programme for graduates who are interested in gaining a deeper knowledge and understanding of Russia and Eastern Europe through the study of the region across a range of disciplines including history, economics, politics, international relations, society and culture.

In the first year of the programme you will study three core courses:

  • History of Russia, the USSR and Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century
  • Contemporary Russian and East European Studies Part 1: Politics and international relations
  • Contemporary Russian and East European Studies Part 2: Social anthropology/culture

The specific provision of subject teaching in Contemporary Russian and East European Studies Parts 1 and 2 is dependent on teaching availability.

Courses are taught through a combination of lectures and classes. You will be required to submit essays and make class presentations.

In the second year you will be able to specialise your knowledge through the choice of two special subject courses chosen from a list of options available for that academic year.

Russian language tuition will continue and you will work on completing your thesis which must be submitted by Monday in Week 4 of Trinity term.

Russian language tuition

You will be required to sit a Russian language qualifying exam in either the first year or second year of the course, depending on ability. The exam must be passed before the final MPhil examinations are taken. Russian classes will focus on the development of language skills relevant to research and study in the REES field.

Advanced research seminars

REES and the Russian and Eurasian Studies Centre run an Advanced Research Seminar Series each term at St. Antony’s College with eight weekly sessions. This is an essential component of the REES MPhil course.

Presentations are made by leading REES researchers at Oxford and other universities. Students are expected to attend and participate in discussions with these experts during the seminar and afterwards in more informal settings.

Assessment

In order to receive the MPhil degree, you must obtain pass marks in five three-hour written examinations (three core courses plus two optional courses) and for the thesis.

In addition you must also pass the Russian language qualifying exam and satisfy on a pass/fail basis the methodology requirement (qualitative and quantitative). Whilst you must pass the methods component of the degree programme, any marks obtained are not part of the determination of your overall results but only recorded as pass/fail grade on your transcript. 

Graduate destinations

The MPhil may be regarded as a qualification in its own right, or as preparation for a doctoral degree.  A large proportion of REES graduates proceed to further research and to careers in academia. Recent MPhil in REES graduates have gone on to undertake DPhil courses in politics and history.

Graduates have also gone on to successful careers in many different countries in diverse areas of employment such as international organisations, the media, government, business and finance, diplomacy and teaching.

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 history, politics, economics, international relations or Slavic languages. Students with degrees in other subjects are eligible to apply.

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

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 School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies 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 School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies 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 School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies.

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.

In the case of students who require specific help to adjust to an academic programme or to a new range of skills, the supervisor will work with them to ensure that they have additional support.

Resources

Libraries

The Bodleian Libraries form the integrated library service of the University of Oxford, offering over 9 million volumes, 26 site libraries, 3,800 study places, 48,000 online journals, hundreds of research databases, document supply services, information skills training programmes and world-class staff expertise.

The Bodleian Social Science Library (SSL) is the main library for Russian and East European Studies.  The SSL is housed on the ground floor of the Manor Road Building, and is open seven days a week during term-time.  The library offers a variety of study spaces including graduate study rooms, individual study carrels, and two group discussion rooms which are available for booking.

Oxford college libraries offer collections and services to their own members.  Nuffield College also offers reference access to its library to all postgraduate members of the University, and hosts and supports the Data Library with a Data Officer who specialises in supporting graduates needing to create or use qualitative data.

The RESC Library at St Antony’s College comprises approximately 24,000 volumes in Russian on Russian, Soviet and post-Soviet history, literature, politics, and economics. The holdings also include a number of Russian newspapers and periodicals covering a similar range of subjects.

IT support

You will have the use of IT facilities within your college and at the University of Oxford's IT Services. There is also a room at the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies which is available to students for study purposes, and where REES MPhil and MSc theses from previous years are available for consultation. IT Services runs courses on various computer programmes and can offer help and guidance. Oxford University has an extensive library system and information about this will be provided at student induction and in the course guidance notes.

Social facilities

You will be a member of the Middle Common Room (MCR), or equivalent, of your college, which is the main social centre for graduates. The MCR provides a common room and usually organises a programme of social events throughout the year. The college will also provide other academic and social facilities, such as a library and a bar.

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

The use of primary sources through fieldwork is not compulsory for successful completion of the MPhil thesis. Students who decide to undertake fieldwork as part of their research should note that they will ordinarily have to meet all of the costs themselves. These costs are likely to include, but may not be limited to, travel, subsistence, insurance, and, where appropriate, visa and medical fees (e.g. for vaccinations). As research sites are ultimately determined by the individual, costs can vary considerably according to the duration and location of the proposed fieldwork. Travel grants of up to £150 per year may be made available to selected students as a contribution to the costs of conducting primary research activities connected with their thesis, subject to the approval of the Russian and East European Studies Management Committee.

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 expect to contact a potential supervisor before you apply. However, in addition  to the standard contact details provided on this page, you may address any questions to the REES Admimistrator.

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:
Around 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 research areas that interest you and/or you intend to specialise in. 

This will be assessed for interesting research ideas, interest in the subject matter, knowledge of the REES programme and its components, and any experience in the region.

Written work:
One essay of 2,000 words 

An academic essay or other writing sample from your most recent qualification, written in English, is required. An extract of the requisite length from longer work is also permissible.

It is desirable though not essential that the written work relates to the proposed area of study. The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.

This will be assessed for clarity of argument, analytical writing skills, knowledge of the subject matter and relevant academic literature.

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.

References should generally be academic, though if you have been out of higher education for a number of years then one professional reference is acceptable.

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