About the course
The DPhil in Archaeological Science provides students with the opportunity to pursue substantial independent research on their own which contributes to the development and application of scientific methods to the study of the past.
The DPhil is examined only by thesis and there is no formal course of instruction. Instead, students develop their own topic under the guidance of their supervisors, who are experts in their field of research. Projects which cross disciplinary boundaries, for example with archaeology or classical archaeology, are welcome.
While the degree of contact varies depending on individual circumstances, students generally develop a close relationship with their supervisors. You are also encouraged to attend lectures and participate in research seminars, including the numerous and wide-ranging weekly seminar series organised within the cutting-edge research groups, particularly bioarchaeology, chronology, and materials and technology. These also often provide opportunities for you to present your own work. You are strongly encouraged to undertake fieldwork, which, if appropriate, can often be in relation to one of the department's projects.
The DPhil is a full-time degree and students are expected to complete their theses, which have a maximum word length of 80,000 words, within three or at the most four years. To begin with, students are admitted as Probationer Research Students, transferring to full doctoral status within four terms of their arrival. Their progress is formally assessed through the submission of written work and an interview by a small assessment panel ('transfer of status'), while a further similar assessment ('confirmation of status') is held within seven terms of their arrival.
At each stage you will also make a short formal presentation of your research at one of the doctoral student symposia organised by the School of Archaeology, which will help you to develop your presentational skills at an early stage of your career.
Successful doctoral theses must, among other things, display evidence of substantial and original research, lucid and scholarly presentation and a sound knowledge of the general field within which the thesis falls.
Graduates from the DPhil in Archaeological Science are successful in obtaining academic posts at universities in the UK, USA and elsewhere, while others engage in postdoctoral research, or go on to positions in industry, commercial archaeology, and heritage management organisations.
- MSt in Archaeological Science
- MSc in Archaeological Science
- MSt in Archaeology
- MPhil in Archaeology
- DPhil in Archaeology
- MSt in Classical Archaeology
- MPhil in Classical Archaeology
- DPhil in Classical Archaeology
In applying for this programme, you may submit further applications for up to two of the following associated programmes without paying an additional application fee:
For instructions, see Applying for more than one course in the Application Guide.
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 archaeology or science.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0.
However, entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a GPA of 3.7 or above, a first-class degree or the equivalent.
A previous master's degree in archaeological science is normally required.
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.
Other appropriate indicators will include:
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.
Relevant publications are not expected, but may add to the strength of an application.
Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience
Applicants may have either a predominantly archaeological or science based education, although it is advantageous to have some experience of both subjects.
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 School of Archaeology 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 School of Archaeology 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 Archaeology.
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.
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.
Archaeological science students are based at the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art (RLAHA). You will have the use of workspace in the RLAHA, which has computers and desk space with points for laptop computers. The RLAHA also has excellent laboratory facilities which are used by all members of the laboratory, including students undertaking dissertations. You may also make use of specialised IT (including GIS) and other facilities in the Institute of Archaeology.
The Radcliffe Science Library, the Sackler and Balfour Libraries are the main services within the University for the material you will require. The RLAHA library also carries some core texts and journals that can be viewed on site.
Graduate students run their own organisation, Graduate Archaeology at Oxford, which provides further skills seminars, a mentoring programme, social events and a very successful conference series. This provides many opportunities for you to develop your skills, present your research and develop ideas for the next stage of your career.
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), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), and Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).
Annual fees for entry in 2017-18
Total annual fees
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).
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 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.
If you decide to undertake fieldwork as part of your studies, you will need to cover all expenses, eg travel, accommodation and living expenses, visa and medical fees (such as vaccinations), etc. The location and duration of fieldwork will vary for each student, which means that the cost of the fieldwork requirement will vary depending on your area of study. You may be eligible to apply for grants to help with these costs from the School of Archaeology, the Faculty of Classics, and/or your college. In the past the costs of fieldwork have ranged from between £0 to £10,000, but to a considerable extent the fieldwork element in a project may be tailored to take account of the funding available.
If you choose a laboratory-based project, you may incur additional costs, such as analytical costs, travel expenses for sample collection, etc. With the approval of your supervisor, these will usually be met from Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art funds, or, if the costs are substantial, you may be eligible to apply for grants to help with these costs from the School of Archaeology, your college, and/or external sources. Your supervisor will help you with such funding applications.
The department's website provides further information in the Notes for Guidance documents, which are available to download from the Graduate Resources page.
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.
The following colleges accept students on the MSc in Archaeological Science:
How to apply
You are strongly encouraged to make contact with an academic member of staff as a prospective supervisor before you apply.
The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:
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.
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.
Up to two pages
A clearly set out and well-documented research proposal, written in English, is required. The overall page count should include any bibliography.
This will be assessed for:
- evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
- your reasons for applying
- the coherence of the proposal
- the originality of the project
- the ability to present a reasoned case in English
- the feasibility of successfully completing the project in the time available for the course (a maximum of four years)
- 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.
Two essays of 2,500 words each
Written work in English and relating directly to the field of archaeological science is required. This can be undergraduate essays or excerpts from a longer work such as chapters from a dissertation. An excerpt should be prefaced by a note which puts it in context.
The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.
This will be assessed for ability to assess evidence, derive logical conclusions, and write in a scholarly and lucid manner.
References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, academic preferred
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.
Academic references are generally preferred. One professional reference is acceptable, but in cases where more than one such reference is sought you should contact the department to explain why this is necessary.
Your references will support academic achievement, and potential for graduate study and research.