About the course
The DPhil in Archaeology provides students with the opportunity to pursue substantial independent research on their own, over a wide range of periods and subjects, including British, European, African, and Asian archaeology, and in theoretical aspects of the discipline.
The DPhil is examined only by thesis and there is no formal course of instruction. Students are encouraged to develop their own topic under their own research project under the guidance of their supervisors, who are experts in their field of research. Projects which cross disciplinary boundaries, for example in archaeological science or cultural heritage, 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, particularly the numerous and wide-ranging weekly seminar series organised within the cutting-edge research groups; 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 you are expected to complete your thesis, which has a maximum word length of 80,000 words, within three or at the most four years. Students can apply to submit the thesis as a collection of publishable papers. To begin with, you are admitted as Probationer Research Students, transferring to full doctoral status within four terms of your arrival. Your 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 your 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.
For this course, 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.
Many graduates from the DPhil in Archaeology 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 within museums. Others find careers elsewhere in education, commercial archaeology, and the heritage industry.
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.
Courses suggested by the school
Archaeology (Part Time) DPhil offered by the Department for Continuing Education
Entry requirements for entry in 2020-21
Proven and potential academic excellence
As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the equivalent of the following UK qualifications:
- a master's degree in archaeology; and
- a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in any relevant subject.
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.
If your degree is not from the UK or another country specified 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
- Working experience in archaeology may be an advantage.
- Relevant publications are not expected, but may add to the strength of an application.
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 Academic||7.5||Minimum 7.0 per component|
Minimum component scores:
|Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE) or C1 Advanced||191||Minimum 185 per component|
|Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) or C2 Proficiency||191||Minimum 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.
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
In the majority of cases interviews are not held.
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:
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.
The School of Archaeology has premises at South Parks Road and the Institute of Archaeology. The School provides computer rooms for the use of all graduate students, with 24-hour access. These have both Windows and Mac machines offering the usual range of software in addition to stations set up for specialist GIS and mapping-related software.
The School of Archaeology has a wide-range of digital facilities, including desktop imaging and manipulation for publication and dissertation/thesis production such as full-colour scanning of slides, negatives, maps and other paper plan originals.
There is a small library in the Institute and a searchable catalogue is available on-line. The Sackler Library, a world-class library for archaeology, is situated between the Institute of Archaeology and the Ashmolean Museum, and is the central facility, providing for most student needs. Students also use the Balfour Library of anthropology and ethnography, as well as their college libraries.
The department has close ties with the Ashmolean Museum and the Pitt Rivers Museum, the collections of which may contribute to graduate teaching.
The School of Archaeology has lecture rooms, seminar rooms and common rooms at both premises.
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 1,100 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.
Annual fees for entry in 2020-21
Annual Course fees
|Home/EU (including Islands)||£13,075|
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.
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.
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.
The following colleges accept students on the DPhil in Archaeology:
How to apply
You are strongly encouraged to contact a prospective supervisor (academic member of staff) before applying to establish if they are accepting new students, and to get their advice on the research proposal. Details of staff members who act as primary DPhil supervisors are listed on the School of Archaeology website.
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 proposal giving details of your proposed research, 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 with the resources and time (a maximum of four years) available for the course
- capacity for sustained and intense work
- reasoning ability.
To demonstrate that the project is feasible you must provide sufficient detail on the essential and desirable resources required for your proposed research project. This should be discussed with your potential supervisor and should include information on collaborations, fieldwork, samples, and the analytical equipment required. It is normal for aspects of the project to change once you have started but your proposal should highlight the main research question, methods, data and sources that are key to the project.
Two essays of 2,500 words each
Written work in English and relating directly to the field of archaeology 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.
Please note that this course does not allow the submission of one longer piece of work instead of the two essays.
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.
Start or continue an application
Step 1: Read our guide to getting started, which explains how to prepare for and start an application.
Step 2: Check that you meet the Entry requirements and read the How to apply information on this page.
Step 3: Check the deadlines on this page and plan your time to submit your application well in advance.
Step 4: Our Application Guide will help you complete the form. It contains links to FAQs and further help.
Step 5: Submit your application as soon as possible (you can read more information about our deadlines).