DPhil in Criminology
About the course
The DPhil Criminology is offered as either a full-time three to four year degree, or a part-time six to eight year degree. The DPhil entails researching and writing a thesis of between 75,000 and 100,000 words under the guidance of at least one supervisor who will be an acknowledged authority on your chosen topic. After three or at most four years (no later than eight years for the part-time pathway), you are expected to submit your final thesis.
As a first-year full-time student, or in your first two years as a part-time student, you will follow courses of instruction in criminological research methods to develop your research skills, unless you have acquired sufficient methods training on a master's degree.
The Criminology DPhil programme is offered by the Centre for Criminology to develop academic and transferable skills. You must complete both modules during your DPhil and you can choose which term/academic year it would be most useful for you to take each.
Module One, Intellectual Foundations will help you think theoretically about criminological research and engage with the intellectual foundations of criminology in order to assist you in developing theoretical and conceptual frameworks for your own projects.
Module Two, Professional Development will help you with your professional development and to give you opportunities to present your own work ‘in progress’ and learn to critique the work of your peers.
The Faculty of Law and Social Sciences Division also offer skills training as appropriate to different stages of the graduate career. There are also opportunities to access advanced and specialist research methods training.
The areas in which members of the Centre for Criminology may be able to offer supervision include:
- policing and security
- crime and the family
- border control and the criminalisation of migration
- the death penalty
- the politics of crime and justice
- youth justice
- sociology of punishment
- psychology, law and criminal justice
- crime, risk and justice
- restorative justice
- public attitudes and responses to crime
- race and gender in crime and justice
- miscarriages of justice
- crime, criminology and social/political theory.
In addition to the DPhil Programme and methods training, you will be encouraged to attend the Oxford criminology and informal research seminars organised by the centre and get involved in the various criminology discussion groups. Research seminars bring you and other students together with academic and other research staff in the department to hear about ongoing research and provide an opportunity for networking and socialising.
Further information about studying part-time
The faculty's research degrees are not available by distance learning. Although there will be no requirement to reside in Oxford, part-time research students must attend the University on a regular basis (particularly in term-time: October and November, mid-January to mid-March, and late April to mid-June) for supervision, study, research seminars and skills training. This is also to ensure a comprehensive integration into the faculty's and University's research culture and with your full-time peer groups. In addition, you will sometimes ‘meet’ with their supervisors online.
As a part-time student you will be required to attend classes in research methods (unless completed as part of the MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice), doctoral seminars, supervision meetings and other obligations in Oxford.
There will be some flexibility in the dates and pattern of attendance which will be determined by mutual agreement with your supervisor. Attendance will be required during and outside of term-time on dates to be determined by mutual agreement with your supervisor. You will have the opportunity to tailor your part-time study and skills training in liaison with your supervisor and agree your pattern of attendance.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Centre for Criminology 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 Centre for Criminology.
It is expected that you will have at least two substantial supervisions in each term (or for part-time students, at least one each term) and students and their supervisors tend to have other online or in person contact in addition to this, especially when the student is preparing for ‘milestone’ assessments.
All students will be initially admitted to the status of Probationer Research Student (PRS). Within a maximum of four terms as a full-time PRS student (eight terms for part-time pathway), you will be expected to apply for, and achieve, transfer of status from Probationer Research Student to DPhil status. This application is normally made by the third term for full-time students (sixth term for part-time pathway) and involves submitting a research outline and a substantial piece of written work. These are assessed by two members of the Centre for Criminology, who will also interview you about your work. A similar exercise then takes place in your sixth term (twelfth term for the part-time pathway) when you will apply for Confirmation of DPhil status to show that your work continues to be on track.
After three or at most four years (no later than eight years for the part-time pathway), you are expected to submit your original final thesis. Your thesis of between 75,000 and 100,000 words will be read by two appointed examiners who conduct an in-depth oral examination with you, known as a viva voce. On the basis of their report, you will either be awarded the DPhil Criminology or referred back to make revisions to the thesis.
Recent graduates of the DPhil Criminology have pursued careers in the following areas:
- professional careers in criminal justice agencies and the law
- university research and teaching in academic criminology and law schools
- research careers
- government departments
- voluntary organisations in the crime and justice field.
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. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in circumstances of a pandemic (including Covid-19), epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, 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 illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.
For further information please see our page on changes to courses and the provisions of the student contract regarding 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.
All graduate courses offered by the Faculty of Law
Entry requirements for entry in 2023-24
Proven and potential academic excellence
As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the following UK qualifications or their equivalent:
- a master's degree with an average mark of 67% or above; and
- a first-class or a strong upper second class (usually a minimum weighted average of 67%) undergraduate degree with honours.
The qualifications above should be achieved in one of the following subject areas or disciplines:
- social policy
- history; or
- another social science or humanities subject relevant to criminology.
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 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
Applicants will normally have:
- a broad, deep, advanced, and integrated understanding of a subject relevant to criminology such as law, sociology, economics, politics, psychology, social policy or history;
- outstanding analytical abilities, the ability to separate speedily the relevant from the irrelevant, and the ability to develop and sustain complex arguments under pressure; capacities for accurate observation and insightful criticism, including willingness and ability to engage with other social science disciplines; originality and creativity of thought, open-mindedness, and capacity for lateral thinking; excellent powers of synthesis and economy of thought;
- willingness and ability to express highly complex ideas clearly and effectively in English, with a particular eye to finesse and economy and an aspiration to professional standards of style and organisation in scholarly writing.
Potential applicants should identify any relevant publications which may enhance their application. Publications are not expected. They may, in certain circumstances, advantage an application but it is appreciated that the opportunity to publish may vary considerably depending on factors such as the stage the student has reached in their graduate career and the structure of the course(s) they have studied. Consequently, a lack of publications will not be assessed negatively.
Further guidance for part-time applicants
Part-time applicants will usually have some experience of working in criminal or social justice professions or in the law. In their applications, they 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.
English language proficiency
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. The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are detailed in the table below.
|Test||Minimum overall score||Minimum score per component|
|IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713)||7.5||7.0|
TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'
(Institution code: 0490)
*Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
†Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)
Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. Our Application Guide provides further information about the English language test requirement.
Declaring extenuating circumstances
If your ability to meet the entry requirements has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (eg you were awarded an unclassified/ungraded degree) or any other exceptional personal circumstance (eg other illness or bereavement), please refer to the guidance on extenuating circumstances in the Application Guide for information about how to declare this so that your application can be considered appropriately.
You will need to register three referees who can give an informed view of your academic ability and suitability for the course. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the types of reference that are required in support of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including an official transcript and a CV/résumé. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the supporting documents that are required as part of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
Performance at interview
Interviews are not normally held as part of the admissions process, though prospective supervisors may contact you for an online meeting to discuss your research plans before the Admissions Board meets to review applications.
How your application is assessed
Your application will be assessed purely on your proven and potential academic excellence and other entry requirements published under that heading. References and supporting documents submitted as part of your application, and your performance at interview (if interviews are held) will be considered as part of the assessment process.
An overview of the shortlisting and selection process is provided below. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about how applications are assessed.
Shortlisting and selection
Students are considered for shortlisting and selected for admission without regard to age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief (including lack of belief), sex, sexual orientation, as well as other relevant circumstances including parental or caring responsibilities or social background. However, please note the following:
- socio-economic information may be taken into account in the selection of applicants and award of scholarships for courses that are part of the University’s pilot selection procedure and for scholarships aimed at under-represented groups;
- country of ordinary residence may be taken into account in the awarding of certain scholarships; and
- protected characteristics may be taken into account during shortlisting for interview or the award of scholarships where the University has approved a positive action case under the Equality Act 2010.
Whether or not you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.
Processing your data for shortlisting and selection
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.
Other factors governing whether places can be offered
The following factors will also govern whether candidates can be offered places:
- the ability of the University to provide the appropriate supervision for your studies, as outlined under the 'Supervision' heading in the About section of this page;
- the ability of the University to provide appropriate support for your studies (eg through the provision of facilities, resources, teaching and/or research opportunities); and
- minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to the University's taught and research programmes.
Offer conditions for successful applications
If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, your offer will outline any conditions that you need to satisfy and any actions you need to take, together with any associated deadlines. These may include academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions will usually depend on your individual academic circumstances and may vary between applicants. Our After you apply pages provide more information about offers and conditions.
In addition to any academic conditions which are set, you will also 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.
As a new full-time DPhil student you will be offered a desk at the Centre for Criminology, however it may not be possible to accommodate every student who requests a desk, and the centre cannot guarantee the availability of workspace in future years.
Within the Faculty of Law, there is a dedicated graduate reading room available in the Bodleian Law Library. This includes 50 study spaces, many of which are equipped with an Ethernet socket. Wireless access is also available.
You will have access to the Bodleian Law Library and Bodleian Social Science Library (in addition to other University libraries, and the centrally provided electronic resources). Training on how to use the library’s legal and journal database is jointly provided by the Faculty of Law and the Bodleian Law Library.
You will have the opportunity to attend a variety of skills training sessions and you will be required to successfully complete research methods training provided by the centre, as a condition of your transfer/admission to DPhil student status. There are also opportunities to access advanced and specialist research training provided through the Social Sciences Doctoral Training Centre. The Social Sciences Division also organises an academic and professional development programme covering a range of relevant generic transferable skills which you will be encouraged to attend.
You will be encouraged to attend the Oxford criminology and informal lunchtime seminars organised by the centre and you will also have the opportunity participate in the criminology discussion group, criminological research workshops, and other relevant discussion groups which are held during term time. You will also have access to seminars organised by the Faculty of Law as well as other faculty discussion groups.
The University expects to be able to offer around 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2023-24. You will be automatically considered for the majority of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant December or January deadline. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential.
For further details about searching for funding as a graduate student visit our dedicated Funding pages, which contain information about how to apply for Oxford scholarships requiring an additional application, details of external funding, loan schemes and other funding sources.
Please ensure that you visit individual college websites for details of any college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages or below:
Please note that not all the colleges listed above may accept students on this course. For details of those which do, please refer to the College preference section of this page.
Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the faculty's website.
Annual fees for entry in 2023-24
Annual Course fees
Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.
Annual Course fees
Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.
Information about course fees
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 changes 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.
Where can I find further information about fees?
The Fees and Funding section of this website provides further information about course fees, including information about fee status and eligibility and your length of fee liability.
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.
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.
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 2023-24 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,290 and £1,840 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 2023-24, it is suggested that you allow for potential increases in living expenses of 5% or more each year – although this rate may vary significantly depending on how the national economic situation develops. UK inflationary increases will be kept under review and this page updated.
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.
All graduate students at Oxford belong to a department or faculty and a college or hall (except those taking non-matriculated courses). If you apply for a place on this course you will have the option to express a preference for one of the colleges listed below, or you can ask us to find a college for you. The Colleges section of this website provides information about the college system at Oxford, as well as factors you may wish to consider when deciding whether to express a college preference. Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 45 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as Permanent Private Halls (PPHs).
For some courses, the department or faculty may have provided some additional advice below to help you to decide. Whatever you decide, it won’t affect how the academic department assesses your application and whether they decide to make you an offer. If your department makes you an offer of a place, you’re guaranteed a place at one of our colleges.
The following colleges accept students for full-time study on this course:
The following colleges accept students for part-time study on this course:
Before you apply
Our guide to getting started provides general advice on how to prepare for and start your application. Check the deadlines on this page and the information about deadlines in our Application Guide. If it's important for you to have your application considered under a particular deadline – eg under a December or January deadline in order to be considered for Oxford scholarships – we recommend that you aim to complete and submit your application at least two weeks in advance.
Application fee waivers
An application fee of £75 is payable per course application. Application fee waivers are available for the following applicants who meet the eligibility criteria:
- applicants from low-income countries;
- refugees and displaced persons;
- UK applicants from low-income backgrounds; and
- applicants who applied for our Graduate Access Programmes in the past two years and met the eligibility criteria.
You are encouraged to check whether you're eligible for an application fee waiver before you apply.
Readmission for current Oxford graduate taught students
If you're currently studying for an Oxford graduate taught course and apply to this course with no break in your studies, you may be eligible to apply to this course as a readmission applicant. The application fee will be waived for an eligible application of this type. Check whether you're eligible to apply for readmission.
Do I need to contact anyone before I apply?
Supervision is arranged by the department at the point of admission and you do not need to contact potential supervisors before an offer is made. However, you are encouraged to visit the relevant departmental webpages to read any further information about your chosen course.
Completing your application
You should refer to the information below when completing the application form, paying attention to the specific requirements for the supporting documents. If any document does not meet the specification, including the stipulated word count, your application may be considered incomplete and not assessed by the academic department. Expand each section to show further details.
Proposed field and title of research project
Under the 'Field and title of research project' please enter your proposed field or area of research if this is known. If the department has advertised a specific research project that you would like to be considered for, please enter the project title here instead.
You should not use this field to type out a full research proposal. You will be able to upload your research supporting materials separately if they are required (as described below).
It is not necessary for you to identify a potential supervisor in your application.
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 strongly preferred, provided by individuals familiar with the applicant's academic performance but a professional reference will be accepted as long as you also provide two academic references. Part-time applicants can submit two professional references but should also include an academic reference where possible.
Your references will support exceptional academic motivation; capacity for sustained and intense work; developed ability to organise time and set own agenda for study; and an intrepid attitude towards investigation and learning.
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.
A minimum of 1,000 words to a maximum of 2,000 words
Your proposal should give details of the topic you propose to investigate, why it is legally or sociologically significant, and how you would carry out the research. It should also reflect the research interests and expertise of academics in the centre (see the list of areas in which members of the centre are able to offer supervision in About the Course). The proposal should be written in English, and the word limit does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.
This will be assessed for:
- the coherence of the proposal
- the originality of the project
- 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
- preliminary knowledge of research methods.
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 methods at the time of application.
Your proposal should focus on the proposed research project rather than personal achievements, interests and aspirations. However, you can make reference to any directly relevant personal achievements, interests or experiences that speak to the feasibility of the proposed project and to your motivations for research.
Two essays, a maximum of 2,000 words each
Academic essays or other writing samples from your most recent qualification, written in English, are required. Applicants for part-time study may include a report, or sections of a report, or other relevant document, they have written in their professional roles. Extracts from longer pieces are welcome but should be prefaced by a note which puts them in context and it should be indicated with square brackets which elements have been omitted from the original piece of work.
Ideally the works should relate to the proposed area of study. The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
This will be assessed for a comprehensive understanding of the subject area, an understanding of problems in the area, an ability to construct and defend an argument, your powers of analysis and powers of expression.
Start or continue your application
You can start or return to an application using the relevant link below. As you complete the form, please refer to the requirements above and consult our Application Guide for advice. You'll find the answers to most common queries in our FAQs.