MSc in Latin American Studies | University of Oxford
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MSc in Latin American Studies

About the course

This is a nine-month programme which spans three academic terms and is intended to provide an interdisciplinary understanding of the main developments in Latin America from c. 1900 to the present.

While the programme emphasises the specific features of individual countries, there is also broad comparative coverage of major trends such as authoritarianism and democracy, the economic cycle, the effect of international factors, the evolution of the Left and Right, revolutionary movements and the effects of neo-liberal economic models.

These topics are addressed through taught classes for a number of academic disciplines (including history, politics, sociology, international relations and economics), individual preparation for a range of exam papers, and a lively programme of seminars and conferences with visiting speakers.

You will be asked to submit two portfolios of essays on subjects of your choice during the first two terms.  In the final term of the programme, you will be required to sit three exam papers from a list to be provided on your arrival in Oxford. The exam papers for 2017-18 are not yet confirmed, but you may view the range of papers available for the current year in the Latin American Centre (LAC)’s MSc LAS webpage.

In addition to the three exams, you will be required to submit an extended essay of 10,000 words. The preparation of this extended essay will allow you to develop a critical focus by examining a particular topic in depth.

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. 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. They are 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

There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees and living costs.  However, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. Please note that, depending on your choice of 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 may find it useful 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.

This will be assessed for:

  • analytic and general scholarly ability 
  • 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.