DPhil in Criminology | University of Oxford
A row of books
A row of books
(Image Credit: Drew Coffman / Unsplash)

DPhil in Criminology

About the course

The DPhil Criminology is offered as either a full-time 3-4 year degree, or a part-time 6-8 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 their chosen topic. 

As a first-year full-time student, or in your first two years as a part-time student, you will be admitted in the first instance to Probationer Research Student (PRS) status and will follow courses of instruction in criminological research methods to develop your skills whilst working under the guidance of at least one supervisor who will be an acknowledged authority on their chosen topic.

In your third term (sixth term for the part-time pathway), you will normally apply for transfer from PRS status to full DPhil status by 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.

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. Your thesis will be read by two examiners who conduct an in-depth oral examination with the student, known as a viva voce. On the basis of their report, you will either be awarded the DPhil or referred back to make revisions to the thesis.

Skills training sessions are offered by the Centre for Criminology, Faculty of Law and Social Sciences Division as appropriate to different stages of the graduate career. There are also opportunities to access advanced and specialist research training provided elsewhere in the division and University.

The areas in which members of the Centre for Criminology are able to offer supervision include:

  • policing and security
  • sentencing
  • crime, risk and justice
  • human rights and criminal justice
  • victims
  • procedural justice and legitimacy
  • prisons
  • sociology of punishment
  • restorative justice    
  • the death penalty
  • border control and the criminalisation of migration
  • public attitude and responses to crime
  • the politics of crime and justice
  • crime and the family
  • race and gender
  • miscarriages of justice
  • crime, criminology and social/political theory
  • youth justice

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.

You will be encouraged to attend the Oxford criminology and informal research seminars organised by the centre. You will also have the opportunity to discuss your research plan at the criminology discussion group and at the criminological research workshops, held in Trinity term.

Supervision

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.

Graduate destinations

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. 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.

All graduate courses offered by the Centre for Criminology

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 master's degree with an average mark of 67% or aboveand
  • a first-class or a strong upper second class (average mark of 65% or above) undergraduate degree with honours.

The qualifications above should be achieved in one of the following subject areas or disciplines:

  • law
  • sociology
  • politics
  • economics
  • social policy
  • psychology
  • history; or
  • another 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.

Part-time applicants

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

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.

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

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 to discuss your research plan at the lunchtime criminology discussion group and criminological research workshops, 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.

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)£7,970
Overseas£22,050

Part-time study

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU (including Islands)£3,985
Overseas£11,025

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.

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

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.

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:
Up to three pages

You should submit a detailed outline of your proposed research, written in English. The page limit does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.

You may wish to make reference to your personal achievements, interests and aspirations and the relevance of the course to your future career development plans.

This will be assessed for the coherence of the proposal, the originality of the project, the feasibility of successfully completing the project in the time available for the course.

It will also be assessed for:

  • your reasons for applying
  • evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
  • ability to present a reasoned case in English
  • commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course
  • 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

Academic essays or other writing samples from your most recent qualification, written in English, are required. 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.

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.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, generally 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.

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.

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.

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).

Application GuideApply - Full time Apply - Part time

Was this page useful?*