MSc in Social Science of the Internet | University of Oxford
MSc students
MSc students at the OII
(Image Credit: Oxford Internet Institute)

MSc in Social Science of the Internet

About the course

The MSc in Social Science of the Internet is highly multidisciplinary, providing students from a wide variety of backgrounds with in-depth understanding of the social science concepts, theories and methods required to undertake rigorous empirical quantitative and qualitative research and policy analysis about the Internet.

The course aims to equip you with essential theoretical tools and methodological skills. You are introduced to the empirical evidence necessary for an in-depth understanding of the role of the Internet in society, including the changing nature of governance and the theoretical, practical and ethical questions surrounding Internet use.

You will take a combination of core and option papers and produce a 10,000- to 15,000-word dissertation on a topic of your choosing based on discussions with a dissertation supervisor. The dissertation provides you the opportunity to apply the methods and approaches you have covered in the other parts of the course and carry out a substantive piece of academic research.

During Trinity term, you will attend weekly seminars where you will present and develop your dissertation research and receive feedback from fellow students and academic staff. The MSc seminars also include brief talks from academics within the OII, the University and the greater academic community across the UK.

Graduate destinations

Employers recognise the value of a degree from the University of Oxford, and OII MSc graduates have secured excellent positions in industry, government, NGOs, or go on to pursue doctoral studies at top universities. For example, non-academic destinations of recent graduates have included large Internet companies such as Google or Facebook, smaller start-ups like Academia.edu, as well as regulatory positions and consultancy. MSc alumni have progressed to further graduate study at institutions such as Oxford, Harvard, Princeton and LSE.

The OII Alumni Wall features interviews from both MSc and DPhil alumni about their time at the Department and career paths after Oxford.

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 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 or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in any subject.

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).

In exceptional circumstances, applicants with a distinguished record of workplace achievement since graduation may be accepted with lower grades at first degree level.

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, aptitude and outstanding academic achievement.

Professional references are acceptable, particularly if you have been out of education for some time.

Written work produced by the student

Applicants should provide one relevant academic essay or other writing sample (in English) from their most recent qualification of 2,000 words, or a 2,000-word extract of longer work.

This will be assessed for academic potential; analytical and clear thinking and writing.

Applicants who have not previously written on areas closely related to the social science of the Internet may provide written work on any topic that best demonstrates their abilities.

Statement of purpose/personal statement

All applicants must submit a personal statement of 500 words with their application, which must be written in English. 

This will be assessed for interest and enthusiasm for study of the many social aspects of information, and communication technologies. Applicants should also include details of any relevant experience in engaging in research on social aspects of the Internet.

Your statement should focus on your motivations to undertake research on the social aspects of the Internet rather than solely on personal achievements, interests and aspirations.

Performance at interview(s)

Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.  

All applications will be assessed by two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise. The OII Admissions Committee will give final approval to a decision.

Interviews are held as part of the admissions process, although some students will be admitted without an interview. If a student clearly exceeds all the admission criteria and their proposed research is innovative and can be supervised at the Oxford Internet Institute then they may be made an offer without an interview.

If an interview is required, these are usually held about 1 month after the application deadline has passed. Interviews can be done in person, by telephone or via Skype with or without video. There is usually only one interview held which lasts up to 30 minutes. You will be asked questions about research interests, interest in the course, and why you think the Oxford Internet Institute would be the best place to conduct your studies.

Provisional interview dates associated with each deadline are available via the MSc webpage on the OII website.

Publications

MSc applicants are not expected to have published academic work previously, although publication may help the assessors judge your writing ability and thus could help your application.

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

Academic research related to the Internet or experience working in Internet-related businesses is not required, but 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 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 Oxford Internet 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 Oxford Internet 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 Oxford Internet 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 OII works at the cutting-edge of their fields, and this innovative research is fully reflected in their course teaching. The department prides itself on providing a stimulating and supportive environment in which all students can flourish. As a fully multidisciplinary department, the OII offers you the opportunity to study academic, practical and policy-related issues that can only be understood by drawing on contributions from across many different fields.

The department's busy calendar of seminars and events brings many of the most important people in Internet research, innovation and policy to the OII, allowing students to engage with the 'bleeding edge' of scholarship and debates around the Internet.

OII students also take full advantage of the substantial resources available at the University of Oxford, including world-leading research facilities and libraries, and a buzzing student scene. The departmental library provides students access to a range of resources including the texts required for the degree. Additionally, the Social Sciences Library provides valuable additional resources which many students choose to take advantage of.

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

Oxford hosts one of 21 Doctoral Training Centres accredited by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). In 2016 approximately 65 ESRC studentships are available across the Social Sciences. See the Social Sciences Doctoral Training Centre website for details. Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded studentships are available for the Oxford Doctoral Training Partnership in Environmental Research and Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) studentships are available through the AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership.

Departmental funding opportunities

In addition to funding available from the University and college sources, the OII offers one annual partial scholarship equivalent to the cost of the University fees for the MSc. This is allocated on the basis of outstanding academic merit and will not normally be awarded to students holding other substantial awards.

Candidates wishing to be considered for this scholarship must submit their MSc application to the OII no later than the January deadline. All prospective students who are offered a place on the MSc programme after the November and January deadlines will be considered automatically and need not submit any additional information. More information is available on the MSc webpage.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2016-17

Full-time study

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

Home/EU
(including Islands)
£11,940£2,933£14,873
Overseas£18,770£2,933£21,703

Part-time study

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

Home/EU
(including Islands)
£5,970£1,467£7,437
Overseas£9,385£1,467£10,852

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).

For more information about tuition fees, college fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of the website.

Additional information

Full-time study

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.

Part-time study

Please note that this course requires that you attend in Oxford for teaching, and you may incur additional travel and accommodation expenses for this. Further, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. 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.

Employment

Whilst many graduate students do undertake employment to support their studies, please remember that for students on the full-time arrangement of the OII's MSc course it is not recommended that students take on even part-time employment during term-time.

Within these limitations, some of the OII's existing MSc students have been employed on a short-term basis as Research Assistants on grant-funded projects, but only with the agreement of their supervisor, the MSc Course Convener and the Director of Graduate Studies.

Part-time students will often have jobs outside their studies at Oxford; part-time graduate students should ensure that any paid work does not interfere with the commitment of time required for their course, and that they have spoken with their employer to ensure that any study leave requirements may be accommodated.

For full information on employment whilst on course, please see the University's Paid work guidelines.

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.

The standard set of materials you should send with any application to a taught course comprises:

  • a personal statement, 500 words in length
  • a CV/résumé
  • three references
  • official transcripts detailing your university-level qualifications and marks to date
  • one relevant academic essay or other writing sample from their most recent qualification of 2,000 words, or a 2,000-word extract of longer work.

Applicants who have not previously written on areas closely related to the social science of the Internet may provide written work on any topic that best demonstrates their abilities.