Supporting documents | Application Guide | University of Oxford
The Senior Library, Oriel College
The Senior Library, Oriel College
(Image credit: Vinesh Rajpaul / Graduate Photography Competition)

Supporting documents

This section of the Application Guide covers the requirements for supporting documents, and how to provide them with your graduate application. 

Requirements

You must submit your supporting documents by the deadline to which you are applying. Documents should be submitted as part of your application.

To find out which documents you need to provide in your course application, see ‘How to Apply’ on the relevant course page. This provides information about each required document, such as guidance on length/word count and how it will be assessed.

You are responsible for making sure that all required documents, including references, are submitted in time for your chosen deadline and meet the University’s requirements. If your application is submitted late, and/or it is incomplete, it will not normally be assessed at that deadline.

Check the documents you submit carefully. You will not be able to upload revised versions once your application is ready for assessment.

You should not upload documents that are not specifically required to apply for your course, such as degree certificates, or documents relating to training courses or study below degree level. Your supporting documents must meet the specifications set out in the ‘How to Apply’ section of your course page. If your documents significantly differ from these specifications, they may be removed from your application. 

All of your supporting documents should meet the following requirements:

  • PDF, .jpg or .png format. Word documents (.doc or .docx) are not accepted. If you are unsure how to convert your files to PDF format, see below for instructions;

  • smaller than 4MB (for upload to your application form). Documents larger than 4MB cannot be uploaded to your application form. If your document is larger than 4MB, see below for instructions;

  • written in English, unless otherwise permitted by the department. Documents you have written yourself, such as a research proposal or written work, must be in English unless indicated otherwise on your course page. An English translation by a third party is not acceptable, unless explicitly permitted by the department. Official transcripts not issued in English should be translated by a professional translator, the relevant issuing body of the original document, or an authorised notary;
  • entirely your own work, except where clearly indicated. Your work may be checked using plagiarism detection software (see our guidance on plagiarism);
  • accessible. When your application is processed, all of the documents you have uploaded will be merged into a single PDF document, so make sure you have removed any encryption or password protection;
  • legible and easy to identify. Make sure that the documents are as clear and easy to read as possible. Remember to give your name and the type of document (eg 'Research proposal') in each document.

If you are offered a place, you may be asked to send the original(s) of any official documents uploaded to your online application. You should only send these if they are specifically requested, as these documents cannot be returned to you.

Should I post my paper documents to you when I apply?

There is no need to send in hard copies of your application materials when you apply. Any paper documents should be scanned and uploaded to your application. If you have done so, there is no need to send hard copies at the application stage.

If it is not possible for you to scan your paper documents and upload them to your application, you should only post documents to us after you have submitted your application, unless they would otherwise arrive too late for the deadline to which you are applying.

If your application is successful, you may be required to provide the original paper versions of documents you have scanned in. The relevant academic department will be in touch to request these from you later in the process.

How do I convert Word documents to PDF?

You can convert Word (or similar) documents into PDF format by selecting 'Save As' from the Microsoft Word 'File' menu and selecting 'PDF' from the 'Save as type' drop-down menu.

If the software are using to create your document does not permit you to save the document as a PDF file, you may need to print out a hard copy of the document and then scan this to produce either a .jpg or .png image or a PDF file before uploading this in the relevant document slot.

How do I upload a document larger than 4MB?

If your document is larger than 4MB, you must submit it via the upload portal after you submit your application. Make sure you provide your full name and the name of the course to which you are applying, so that we can make sure your document is added to the correct application.

For documents that are a mandatory part of your application form, you must upload a placeholder document to the relevant slot on the Supporting Documents tab in order to be able to submit your application form. The placeholder document should be in an accepted format (PDF, .jpg, .png) and include only the following statement: 'My document is over 4MB and will be sent separately.'

I'm unable to upload one of my supporting documents to my application

If you are having trouble uploading a supporting document to your application:

  • make sure it is one of the required file formats (PDF, .jpg, .png);
  • make sure it does not exceed the maximum file size (4MB)

If your document exceeds the maximum file size, upload it via the upload portal (see the instructions above).

If you believe that your supporting document meets our requirements, but you are still unable to upload it to your application form, please contact Graduate Admissions for guidance.

If a document has been removed from your application by Graduate Admissions because it does not meet the academic department's requirements, you should consult the instructions on your course page and on this page before uploading a replacement document. Make sure that you are only uploading documents that are required for your course, and that the document you are uploading is not exceedingly over the required word count/length.

As part of your application, you must submit a detailed record of all your university-level education up to the present, including courses taken and grades achieved.  

To be considered official, your transcript should come from the institution where you studied. Your institution may need several months to produce your transcript, so you should look into your institution's arrangements as soon as you decide to apply.

Accepted transcript formats

Any transcript you provide must clearly display your name, institution, qualification and breakdown of grades to be accepted. 

We don't require hard or electronic versions of transcripts to be sent in by email or post when you apply. Before you submit your application, you can upload transcripts via the ‘Supporting Documents’ section of the online application form. After submitting your application, you can upload transcripts to your application using Graduate Applicant Self Service.

You can upload up to five transcript documents with your application.

The following formats are acceptable for assessment purposes:

  • a scanned version of an official transcript. This will often have a signature or stamp to certify it. The document(s) provided must be readable, but may show watermarks caused by copying or scanning;
  • an official e-transcript via a secure third-party electronic system. If you'd like to share an official transcript using an electronic system such as Digitary, register the email address graduate.admissions@admin.ox.ac.uk and choose the longest possible time for the document to be available. We will then add your transcript to the applications you have submitted, although you should let us know if you make any further applications later;
  • an electronic copy of an interim or provisional transcript provided by your institution. If you're currently studying and/or you do not have access to a transcript of your final results, you should submit an official interim or provisional transcript;
  • screenshot images from self-service portals, if you're unable to obtain a transcript document;
  • a Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR);
  • a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) certificate.

The academic department may require you to send in a final and/or more formal transcript as a condition of any offer made to you.

We do not accept:

  • Word documents (.doc and .docx)
  • transcripts you have typed yourself.

A degree certificate will not usually qualify as a transcript as it does not include detailed grade information, although it can be used as evidence of a PhD/DPhil qualification.

Applicants who are currently studying

If you have not yet completed your current degree and/or you do not have access to a transcript of your final results, you will need to submit an official interim or provisional transcript with details of your grades achieved to date. We will also accept screenshots from self-service portals.

If you are offered a place on a course starting in Michaelmas term (October) 2020, you will normally be required to submit an official transcript with your final results by 31 August (or earlier, depending on the department’s requirements). If you're applying for a research course and it isn't possible for you to meet this deadline, you should ask your department if you can be considered for a later course start date.

Applicants with transcripts not in English

If your official transcript is in any language other than English, you must submit:

  • the original official transcript, and
  • a translation of the transcript into English which is either:
    • issued and stamped by the institution that issued your transcript, or
    • translated by a professional translator and visibly certified – ie signed and stamped – by the professional translator or an authorised notary.

Any non-English transcripts you upload to your application without a translation will be rejected.

Current and former Oxford students

If you are a current or former Oxford student, you must still submit an official transcript when applying for graduate study.

The University's Academic transcripts page provides guidance on how to obtain a final or on-course transcript for your studies at Oxford. You may submit a transcript downloaded from Student Self Service.

What if my institution is unable to provide me with a transcript?

If your institution is unable to provide you with an official or provisional transcript – for example, due to the length of time since you studied there – you must ask them to provide written confirmation of this. This should include any details about your study that the institution can confirm, such as when you started and finished your degree, your degree title and your final grade. You may upload the written confirmation to your application instead of your transcript, or your institution may send it to us directly.

Statement of purpose and research proposal

Many courses require you to submit a statement of purpose (sometimes called a 'personal statement') and/or a research proposal.

The ‘How to Apply’ tab of your course page will state which of these documents are required, the specifications and the criteria by which they will be assessed.

There is one slot on the ‘Supporting Documents’ tab of the application form for documents of this category. If your course requires both a statement of purpose (or personal statement) and a research proposal, you should submit them within the same document with a clear subheading for each.

Your research proposal or personal statement is not considered to be a piece of written work.

If you have questions about the permitted content and length of your statement of purpose (personal statement) or research proposal, contact the relevant academic department using the contact details on the relevant course page.

Written work

Written work is a piece of your writing, usually an essay on an academic subject, that helps the academic department assess your suitability for the course.

Not all courses require written work, and requirements for written work are specific to each course. You should read the instructions on your course page under ‘How to Apply’ carefully.

Each piece of written work should be in English, unless stated otherwise on your course page. They should ideally be pieces you have written during previous university-level study, such as an essay, project, or extract from a dissertation, thesis or published paper. They should, as far as possible, relate to your chosen course. 

Written work must be entirely your own original work except where clearly indicated. If the work involved other authors, you should include the full list of authors and clearly indicate your own contribution. Supporting quotations from any work authored by others must be properly identified and referenced. Departments may screen your written work using plagiarism-detection software. For more information, consult our guidance on plagiarism.

Your work can be marked or unmarked, and published or unpublished. Your work can be single- or double-spaced, and you may use any citation style.

If you have questions about the written work requirements for your chosen course, such as the permitted content and length/word limit, please contact the academic department. Contact details for each academic department are available via the relevant course page, under ‘Course-related enquiries’.

If you are submitting an extract from a longer piece of work, you should include a note explaining the context. Make sure that the extract is clearly indicated in the document.

Submitting one longer piece of work instead of two shorter pieces

For certain courses, you may choose to submit one longer piece of work (usually around 4,000-5,000 words) instead of two shorter pieces. You should only do so if this is explicitly permitted on the 'How to Apply' tab of your course page.

If you are allowed to submit one longer piece of work instead of two shorter pieces, you should upload this document in the first 'Written work' slot on the 'Supporting Documents' tab. In the second 'Written work' slot, you should upload a PDF document with the following statement: 

'I have included one long essay in lieu of the two short essays as permitted by the department.'

CV/résumé

All graduate applicants must submit a CV (résumé). This is in addition to your application form and other supporting documents.

Your CV should usually be one or two pages in length and provide a summary of your recent achievements. It should provide details of your qualifications, any publications and any other experience relevant to your application.

Read advice from one of our DPhil students on approaching your academic CV on our Medium blog

English language test score report/certificate

You are encouraged to provide English language test scores when you submit your application, but it is not compulsory.

If you have indicated on the 'Languages' tab of your application form that you intend to submit English language test results, a slot will become available on the 'Supporting Documents' tab for you to do so.

We accept test score documents in any of the following formats:

  • An official score report/certificate
  • A PDF version of your score report
  • A screenshot from the testing agency website, as long as your name, registration number and test scores are clearly visible.

The University checks IELTS and TOEFL results directly with test providers. For these tests, you can also nominate the University of Oxford as a test recipient when you sit your test.

If you provide Cambridge C1 Advanced (CAE) or C2 Proficiency (CPE) results, you will be asked to supply your original test certificate if you are offered a place.

To find out more about language requirements and submitting test scores, visit the English language proficiency section of this Application Guide.

English language test waiver request

If you have indicated on the 'Languages' tab of your application form that you intend to submit a request for an English language test waiver, you will see a slot for uploading this document on the 'Supporting Documents' tab.

To find out more about the test waiver and whether you are eligible, visit the English language test waivers section of this Application Guide.

Certificate of language proficiency

Some courses require evidence of proficiency in a language other than English, such as a Japanese language proficiency certificate. This should be uploaded to your application as a transcript.

GRE certificate

For a small number of courses, applicants are required or encouraged to submit GRE General Test scores.

If you have indicated on the 'Qualifications' tab of your application form that you are providing GRE scores with your application, you will see the 'GRE certificate' slot for uploading your GRE Test-taker Score Report. 

For more information about providing GRE scores as part of your application, visit the Qualifications section of this Application Guide.

Scholarship supporting statement

The 'Funding' tab of your application form may display one or more Oxford scholarships with an asterisk (*), which indicates that you must submit additional documentation in order to apply for them. If you have ticked the box for a scholarship that requires additional documentation to be uploaded with your application, such as a supporting statement or questionnaire, you will see a slot for this on the 'Supporting Documents' tab.

For more information, visit our Fees and funding pages and the Funding section of this Application Guide.

Portfolio

A number of courses require applicants to submit a portfolio as part of an application. Some portfolio items, such as musical scores, can be uploaded to your application as written work in document format (PDF or .jpg).

Any music and video files (.mp3 or .mp4) should be submitted to Graduate Admissions via the document portal. It is not currently possible to upload these file types to the application form.

Instructions for how to send us your portfolio and what it should contain are available on course pages.

Admissions exercises

Some courses require you to submit answers to an admissions exercise, along with a signed statement of authenticity. This will be listed under ‘How to Apply’ on your course page. Please make sure you are completing the current version of the admissions exercise for the course. The exercise should be downloaded directly from the relevant course page.

Your completed test should be uploaded to your application in one of the written work slots.

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