DPhil in Anthropology | University of Oxford
Pitt Rivers
The Pitt Rivers Museum, housing the University's anthropological collections
(Image Credit: Pitt Rivers Museum)

DPhil in Anthropology

About the course

The DPhil in Anthropology is the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography’s advanced research degree, and is awarded to candidates who have completed a substantial original piece of research in the field. 

The programme offers practice in developing research skills, especially through fieldwork with human subjects, though this is not compulsory. It also offers practice in analysing, interpreting and writing up research-related materials, and in presenting such materials in seminar-type formats. It is examined by the submission of a thesis and oral examination, after three to four years of full-time study, or six to eight years of part-time study.

You may be admitted to the course either with Probationer Research Student (PRS) status or, in the case of applicants holding an Oxford MPhil degree in anthropology who are continuing research in the area of their MPhil thesis, with full DPhil student status (see below for more details). Generally, you would only be admitted to the DPhil programme if you had successfully completed at least one taught degree in anthropology at the required level, whether in Oxford or elsewhere.

Exceptions may be made in the fields of cognitive and evolutionary anthropology, or for applicants with a distinction in a taught-course degree that includes some anthropology, but in a closely related discipline other than in anthropology. In the latter case, you would be expected to undertake some coursework in anthropology in the first year of the DPhil course. If you wish to undertake the DPhil with a focus on medical anthropology, you would usually be expected to have previously completed a taught master's degree in medical anthropology.

If you are admitted with PRS status, you will undertake research preparation for your fieldwork, and will have to apply to transfer to full DPhil student status by the end of the first year for full-time students or the end of the second year for part-time students. Once you attain the status of a full DPhil student in anthropology, you are immediately eligible to embark on fieldwork or other research. Such research typically lasts from 12 to 18 months (24 to 36 months for part-time students) and is then followed by a period of similar length to write up the thesis on which examination for the doctorate is based.

If you are admitted as a full DPhil student, in principle you are ready to embark on the programme of research as approved by your DPhil supervisor. However, in some cases, your supervisor may determine that you should complete a further programme of methodological training or other preparatory work necessary for your proposed programme of research.

Supervision

For this course, the allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography 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 Anthropology and Museum Ethnography.

Graduate destinations

Many graduates from the course enter teaching and research. Others go on to work in government, policy-making, public bodies, larger private companies, development agencies, NGOs and other organisations.

Changes to this course and your supervision

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. In certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.

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, parental leave or change in employment.

For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Other courses you may wish to consider

If you're thinking about applying for this course, you may also wish to consider the courses listed below. These courses may have been suggested due to their similarity with this course, or because they are offered by the same department or faculty.

Entry requirements for entry in 2020-21

Proven and potential academic excellence

Degree-level qualifications

As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the equivalent of the following UK qualifications:

  • a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in at least one taught course degree in any discipline.

At least one such degree should normally be in a branch of anthropology (eg social, cultural, medical, biological, evolutionary) relevant to their proposed research. Distinction-level students in a closely related discipline may be considered for direct entry as Probationer Research Students on the condition that they undertake some coursework in the relevant field of anthropology in their first year. The final degree result should be 67%, or equivalent.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.7 out of 4.0.

If your degree is not from the UK or another country mentioned above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.

GRE General Test scores

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

  • Part-time applicants will also be expected to show evidence of the ability to commit time to study and, if applicable, an employer's commitment to make time available to study, to complete coursework, and attend course and University events and modules. Where appropriate, evidence should also be provided of permission to use employers’ data in the proposed research project.
  • Publications are not expected of applicants.
  • This degree involves the close analysis of published sources as well as verbal and written critical reflections in the form of oral presentations, essays and exam answers. It is therefore essential to your chance of successfully completing the program that you meet these higher-level English language requirements as stipulated by the University.

English language requirement

This course requires proficiency in English at the University's higher level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement.

Detailed requirements - higher level

The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are:

IELTS Academic7.5Minimum 7.0 per component
TOEFL iBT110

Minimum component scores:

  • Listening: 22
  • Reading: 24
  • Speaking: 25
  • Writing: 24
Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE) or C1 Advanced191Minimum 185 per component
Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) or C2 Proficiency191Minimum 185 per component

Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. For more information about the English language test requirement, visit the Application Guide

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

Interviews are not normally held as part of the admissions process.  

Supervision

Any offer of a place is dependent on the University’s ability to provide the appropriate supervision for your chosen area of work. Please refer to the ‘About’ section of this page for more information about the provision of supervision for this course.

How your application is assessed

Your application will be assessed purely on academic merit and potential, according to the published entry requirements for the course. 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. Whether you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.

Admissions panels and assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

After an offer is made

If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, you will be required to meet the following requirements: 

Financial Declaration

If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.

Disclosure of criminal convictions

In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.

Resources

You will receive all or most of your academic supervision in the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography. You will have a named supervisor, possibly two, who will have overall responsibility for the direction of your work from inception to submission.

Workspaces are available in the school on a first-come, first-served basis, though your college will also have library and workspace facilities and desks are available in the Bodleian and other University libraries. Laboratory and other dedicated workspaces and equipment for methods teaching will be provided where required.

The school houses the Tylor Library, the main subject library for anthropology, and the Pitt Rivers Museum and centre has its own library, the Balfour Library. Most books in the Tylor Library will be available to you on loan, though journals and certain other materials are reference-only. You may also use other departmental libraries, your college library and the University’s Bodleian Library and its dependent libraries. The University has a wealth of electronic resources, some specific to particular libraries.

As a research student, you are permitted – though not obliged - to undertake some undergraduate teaching, where available. Methods and skills training are offered through the school, the Social Sciences Doctoral Training Centre and other institutions.

A programme of research seminars is available, some specifically for research students and others featuring talks by invited speakers, often from outside the university. The principal event in this programme is the departmental seminar, run weekly during term time.

A student-run society, the Oxford University Anthropology Society, runs coffee mornings, talks and other social and academic events throughout the year. Seminars, especially those involving outside speakers, often proceed to local pubs or restaurants after the talk.

Funding

There are over 1,100 full or partial graduate scholarships available across the University. You will be automatically considered for over two thirds of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant January deadline, with most scholarships awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential. To help identify those scholarships where you will be required to submit an additional application, use the Fees, funding and scholarships search and visit individual college websites using the links provided on our college pages.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2020-21

Full-time study

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU (including Islands)£17,070
Overseas£24,910

Part-time study

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU (including Islands)£8,535
Overseas£12,455

Course 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 course fees). 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.

Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.

Following the period of fee liability, you may also be required to pay a University continuation charge and a college continuation charge. The University and college continuation charges are shown on the Continuation charges page.

For more information about course fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

Additional information

Full-time study

There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees (or, after fee liability ends, continuation charges) and living costs. However, please note that, depending on your choice of research 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. Standard travel insurance can be provided by the University. However, students may be required to pay any additional insurance premiums associated with travel to areas with an increased level of risk and/or for travel of more than 12 months duration, and should factor this into their planning for fieldwork.

Part-time study

Please note that you are required to attend in Oxford for a minimum of 30 days each year, and you may incur additional travel and accommodation expenses for this. Also, depending on your choice of research topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur further 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 course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2020-21 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,135 and £1,650 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. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2020-21, you should allow for an estimated increase in living expenses of 3% each year.

If you are studying part-time your living costs may vary depending on your personal circumstances but you must still ensure that you will have sufficient funding to meet these costs for the duration of your course.

How to apply

You are invited to make prior and direct contact with a prospective supervisor to discuss possible supervision before applying to the course. At least one such supervisor should be a member of academic staff in the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography

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.

Research proposal:
Two to four pages

Your research proposal should state the research question, briefly discuss any key literature, discuss methods and provide a basic research timetable. The proposal should be written in English and the overall page count should include any bibliography.

This will be assessed for the coherence of the proposal; the originality of the project; evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study; the ability to present a reasoned case in English; the feasibility of successfully completing the project in the time available for the course; commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course; preliminary knowledge of research techniques; capacity for sustained and intense work; reasoning ability; ability to absorb new ideas, often presented abstractly, at a rapid pace.

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 should submit two pieces of academically-related written work in English, in any discipline. The two items may be separate extracts from a longer work like a taught-course thesis. The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.

This will be assessed for a comprehensive understanding of the subject area; understanding of problems in the area; ability to construct an defend an argument; powers of analysis; and powers of expression.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, all of which must usually 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.

Ideally three academic letters of reference are required. Only if one or more such letters cannot be provided should professional reference(s) be supplied instead.

Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement and motivation.

Start or continue an application

Step 1: Carefully read the entry requirements on this course page to make sure you meet all the criteria.

Step 2: Check above what documents are required and prepare to apply by reading our Application Guide.

Step 3: Apply as soon as possible. Consult the Application Guide for more information about deadlines.

Application GuideApply - Full time Apply - Part time

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