Oxford’s approach to graduate study reflects an emphasis on the individual student’s ability to work independently, to take the initiative in exploring a line of research or acquire a new skill, or identify and remedy a perceived area of weakness.
Academic responsibility for the progress and support of all graduate
students at Oxford, including appointment of an appropriate supervisor
and arrangement of lectures and classes, rests with the University
faculty or department.
Each graduate student also has a college
adviser, who is a member of the college’s academic staff, and will be
able to offer support and general advice on work or personal matters.
graduate programmes available at Oxford range from one to three or more
years in length. All students enrolled on a full-time programme of
study must spend a period in residence, which means that during term
they must live within 25 miles of the centre of Oxford.
three terms per year – Michaelmas (autumn), Hilary (spring) and Trinity
(summer) – and each full term consists of eight weeks. Graduates will
normally be in residence for most of the year, and in many departments
formal lectures, seminars and classes for graduates continue into the
vacations. You should also expect to spend some part of each vacation
on your academic work.
The dates of full term for the academic year 2012-13 are:
|Michaelmas 2012||Sunday 7 October
||Saturday 1 December
||Sunday 13 January
||Saturday 9 March
||Sunday 21 April
||Saturday 15 June
Some programmes of study start in September, before the beginning of
Michaelmas term, so please check when your programme starts and ends
before finalising your travel and accommodation plans. A' Meet and Greet'
service and orientation programmes for international students also run
before the start of Michaelmas term, please see the Student Advisory and Information Service website for details.
For most diplomas, MSt and MSc degrees the minimum period of residence is three terms. For the degrees of MPhil (BPhil in Philosophy), MLitt, or DPhil the minimum period is six terms.
Whether you are taking a taught course, diploma or studying for a research degree, your academic supervisor will meet regularly with you to provide guidance and advice throughout your programme. Your supervisor will help you to construct a programme that allows you to optimise the benefits from the intellectual resources available but students should be aware that the level of detailed teaching may be considerably less than they have experienced in undergraduate or graduate courses taught elsewhere. Each term your supervisor will prepare a report on your progress and you will have the chance to do the same. You, your supervisor and your college will be able to see these reports online.
Options for graduate study
Graduate programmes offered by the University of Oxford fall into two broad categories: research and taught.
Students on research programmes undertake research under the supervision of an academic with whom they will meet regularly. Supervisors provide advice about the specific project, the nature of research, data collection methods, and the standards expected. As part of their research degree, students often attend courses on specific research skills as well as a range of seminars and lectures.
Taught programmes usually involve a range of core and optional courses and the submission of a dissertation. Assessment may be by coursework, as well as by examination papers and a dissertation. Study is supported by seminars and lectures
Students undertaking degrees by research often attend courses on specific research skills such as computer and statistical techniques, and supervisors provide advice about the nature of research, sources available and the standards expected. Supervisors meet with their graduate students at specifically agreed times and are also accessible at other times if you encounter particular issues that you need to discuss.
In the experimental sciences, graduate students will be in regular contact with their supervisor through shared work in the laboratory. In addition they are also part of a research team under their supervisor and this collaborative style of working can also provide an important additional information stream and advice network. Students in the humanities, social sciences and theoretical sciences will have regular meetings with their supervisors to discuss progress.
There are certain key stages during the progress towards a research degree when input from your supervisor is particularly crucial:
- At the beginning, when your research topic and treatment are being defined.
- When you transfer from one formal status to another – for example, from Probationer Research Student to full DPhil status.
- When the thesis is in the final stages of preparation for submission.
Students undertaking research degrees must apply for transfer and confirmation of status within specified time limits for their programme of study, as detailed below.
Degrees by research offered by the University of Oxford include:
Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil)
A DPhil is the Oxford term for a PhD. It is an advanced research degree awarded on the basis of a thesis and an oral examination (assessment of other work is not taken into consideration). The DPhil is of a higher standing than the MSc by Research or the MLitt. Examiners must be satisfied that the thesis represents a significant and substantial piece of research, is conveyed in a lucid and scholarly manner and that the candidate has a good general knowledge of the field of their thesis.
Students intending to read for the DPhil are normally admitted to the status of Probationer Research Student (PRS) initially. Before the completion of six terms the student is normally expected to apply for transfer of status from probationer research student to DPhil status. This is not an automatic process and your supervisor will need evidence of satisfactory progress to support the transfer. In some subjects, students are required to undertake successfully a Master’s course during their first year before they may apply to transfer to DPhil status.
Student are also expected to apply for and gain confirmation of DPhil status, normally within nine terms of admission. It is expected that the thesis will be submitted three or, at most, four years from the date of admission.
MSc by Research
This degree is also awarded on the basis of a thesis submission and is available in some subject areas that offer a DPhil. Please see individual subject entries in the Course Guide for specific information. The examiners must be satisfied that the thesis shows competence in investigating the chosen topic and that the results have been presented in a lucid and scholarly manner. A satisfactory oral examination is also required.
Students will normally initially hold the status of Probationer Research Student and will be expected to apply to transfer to MSc status during the first year of their research.
Master of Letters (MLitt)
Available to students in Humanities and Social Studies subjects only, the MLitt is a research degree awarded on the submission of a thesis. It is broadly equivalent to the MSc by research in science subjects and the examiners must be satisfied that the thesis shows competence in investigating the chosen topic and that the results are presented in a lucid and scholarly manner. A satisfactory oral examination is also required.
Master of Philosophy (MPhil)
This course is of a higher standing than the Master of Studies (MSt) and normally lasts for two years (six terms). In the first year, some of the course elements may be common with the MSt and at its end candidates may be required to pass a qualifying test before continuing.
In the second year students are expected to complete a substantial dissertation of up to 30,000 words and to sit examination papers.
Some MPhils are organised so that the first year is taught and the second is predominantly research based.
Master of Studies (MSt)
Students are normally required to undertake three terms of study followed by an examination. The exact composition will vary according to the programme of study, but will usually involve a range of core and optional courses often including research methods and the submission of a dissertation of 10,000–15,000 words. Study is supported by seminars and lectures. Assessment may be by coursework as well as by examination papers and dissertation. Some course elements may be common with Master of Philosophy (MPhil) programmes and it is possible in some cases to progress subsequently to either the MPhil or DPhil.
Master of Science (MSc) by coursework
These degrees are generally offered in Science or Social Science subjects and typically require students to undertake one year of study. The exact composition of the course will vary according to the programme of study, but will often comprise a range of core and optional modules, supported by teaching in the form of lectures and seminars. Assessment is by a combination of course assignments (in many cases including a dissertation of around 10,000–15,000 words) and written examinations.
Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL); Magister Juris (MJur)
These Master’s level courses require one year of study. The BCL course is aimed at applicants whose previous legal training has been primarily in the common law, while the MJur is suitable for those with non-common law backgrounds. Further details are available on the Law page.
Master of Business Administration (MBA); Executive MBA (EMBA)
The MBA is a one-year full-time programme, and the EMBA is a 21-month part-time modular programme.
For full details of both these courses, please see the Said Business School website.
Master of Public Policy (MPP)
The MPP is a twelve month full time master’s course offered by the Blavatnik School of Government. As a Blavatnik student, you will learn from top scholars to acquire the key cross-disciplinary knowledge and professional skills to address the complex public policy challenges of the twenty-first century. Students learn how policy is made, implemented and evaluated in governments around the world, and at local, regional and global levels.
For full information on the MPP programme please see the Blavatnik School of Government website.
Master of Theology (MTh)
The MTh in Applied Theology is two years in duration if taken full time. It comprises five taught courses, an experiential project and a thesis of up to 25,000 words.
Diplomas, Postgraduate Certificates and Postgraduate Diplomas
A number of one-year (three terms) Certificates and Diplomas are available to postgraduate students.
Organisational Leadership Foreign Service Programme
This is a one-year postgraduate course in Diplomatic Studies aimed at serving diplomats. Successful completion leads to the award of either the Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma in Diplomatic Studies.
Further details are available on the Diplomatic Studies page.