About the course
The DPhil in Education is intended to provide graduates with a wide range of research skills, as well as in-depth knowledge, understanding and expertise in their chosen field of research.
There are full-time and part-time routes available. Currently the overall expected contact time for the part-time route is thirty days at Oxford per year, but the majority of this will take place across the three eight week terms, and will include supervision meetings and core research training. Part-time students will normally be expected to be in the department every Thursday during term time in the first year and every Wednesday during term time in the second year. In later years there is greater flexibility and contact time will be agreed between the student and their supervisor.
The department's doctoral students develop their skills through a range of research methods and skills training courses in their first year (for full-time students) and in their first two years (for part-time students). At the heart of the skills provision is the Research Training Seminar, where students present and develop their research ideas and proposals with the benefit of feedback and support from their peers.
You will work closely with supervisors on literature review and study design for your thesis, and you are encouraged to make the most of the doctoral training and research methods provision available across the Social Sciences Division.
You are also encouraged to join one or more of the department's research groups, becoming part of a vibrant educational research community with an active set of doctoral student-led events, seminars and conferences. All DPhil students are given opportunities to present their work at a variety of seminars and sessions in the department.
The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Department of Education 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 second or co-supervisor may be found outside the Department of Education.
A full-time student will typically have three supervisions per term, with some variance according to stage or if they are on fieldwork.
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 or eight terms as a part-time PRS student, 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 and by the sixth term for part-time students.
A successful transfer of status from PRS to DPhil status will require submission of a research proposal. Students who are successful at transfer will also be expected to apply for and gain confirmation of DPhil status to show that your work continues to be on track. This will include submission of two chapters from your thesis (methodology and a findings chapter) and a framing document, and will need to be achieved within nine terms of admission for full-time students and eighteen terms of admission for part-time students.
Both milestones involve an interview with two assessors (other than your supervisor) and therefore provide important experience for the final oral examination.
Full-time students will be expected to submit a substantial thesis of at most 100,000 words after three or, at most, four years from the date of admission. If you are studying part-time, you will be required to submit your thesis after six or, at most, eight years from the date of admission. To be successfully awarded a DPhil in Education you will need to defend your thesis orally (viva voce) in front of two appointed examiners.
The most recent Oxford University Destination of Leavers from Higher Education Survey made contact with 635 master's course students who graduated from the Department of Education between 2012 and 2014. 90.2% of alumni were in work and 5.8% in further study with only 2.0% looking for work, ranking the department in the best 3 of the 15 departments in Oxford's Social Sciences Division.
Past DPhil students from the Department of Education have gone on to academic and research careers at universities in the UK (eg Oxford, Edinburgh, Warwick, UCL, King's College, St. Mary's, Liverpool) and across the world (eg Stanford, Princeton, MIT, Hong Kong, Chile, Norway), or are employed across a wide range of other sectors such as policy for government departments or NGOs, international organisations such as OECD, think tanks and administration at local and national levels. The department’s ‘Conversations with Alumni’ feature includes interviews with two DPhil alumni on their career paths after Oxford.
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, 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.
Entry requirements for entry in 2024-25
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, normally with a mark of at least 68 and at least 68 in your dissertation, in a relevant subject; and
- a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in a relevant subject, preferably in the social sciences.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.6 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
- 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.
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. 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 held as part of the admissions process.
Interviews are normally held with two interviewers using Teams videoconferencing. The interview will normally cover issues related to your research proposal, your fit with departmental research groups, and your career plan. Interviews normally take place in February.
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. Whether or not you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.
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.
Initiatives to improve access to graduate study
This course is taking part in the 'Close the Gap' project which aims to improve access to doctoral study.
For this course, socio-economic data (where it has been provided in the application form) will be used to contextualise applications at the different stages of the selection process. Further information about how we use your socio-economic data can be found in our page about initiatives to improve access to graduate study.
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.
The Department of Education has been making a major contribution to the field of education for over 100 years and the department has a world class reputation for research, for teacher education and for its master's and doctoral programmes. We combine international standing as a research-intensive department with the highest quality teaching.
In the 2021 evaluation of research quality in UK universities, the Research Excellence Framework (REF), Oxford University Department of Education had the highest overall percentage of research judged to be 4* (i.e. world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour) in Education in the UK. The department has ESRC recognition for its graduate training, and its teacher training was rated ‘outstanding’ by the Office for Standards in Education (OfSTED) in its most recent inspection in 2019.
Research in the department is organised around three major themes:
- Language, Cognition and Development
- Policy, Economy and Society
- Learning: Pedagogy, Learning and Knowledge.
Within each of these themes there are several research groups and centres. All staff and doctoral students belong to one or more of these research groups; each has its own seminar programme to which postgraduate students often contribute. In addition, the department as a whole sponsors regular seminars and public lectures which attract distinguished national and international speakers.
The Bodleian Education Library, located at the centre of the Department of Education, specialises in material on education and related fields. As well as a print collection of books, journals and statistics, the library provides access to a wide range of electronic resources. The library also houses a collection of teaching resources, primarily in support of subjects covered by the department's secondary PGCE course. The Social Sciences Library provides valuable additional resource to students pursuing programmes in the Department of Education.
Oxford has been a major contributor to the field of education for over 100 years and today the University’s Department of Education has a world class reputation for research, for teacher education and for its graduate courses.
The department offers one of the strongest graduate studies programmes in the UK with a range of full- and part-time MSc courses and a lively doctoral programme (DPhil) which is recognised for national funding by the ESRC.
The department's masters' courses are delivered by academics and research experts, the majority of whom are permanent staff engaged in their fields of research. The department's DPhil in Education has excellent facilities for the large number of full-time research students who are well integrated into the research of the department.
The department has an outstanding research profile. In the 2021 evaluation of research quality in UK universities, the Research Excellence Framework (REF), Oxford University Department of Education had the highest overall percentage of research judged to be 4* (ie world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour) in Education in the UK. A wide range of funded research projects are based in the department and many of these projects have had a major impact on national policy.
Oxford’s PGCE course has an international reputation for the quality of its work, undertaken in close collaboration with local Oxfordshire secondary schools. Over many years, it has consistently received the highest possible designation (Outstanding) from Ofsted in inspections.
The University expects to be able to offer over 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2024-25. 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 department's website.
Annual fees for entry in 2024-25
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.
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 2024-25 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,345 and £1,955 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 current economic climate and high national rate of inflation make it very hard to estimate potential changes to the cost of living over the next few years. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2024-25, it is suggested that you allow for potential increases in living expenses of around 5% each year – although this rate may vary depending on the national economic situation. 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.
Students enrolled on this course will belong to both a department/faculty and a college. Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 43 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as societies and permanent private halls (PPHs).
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. Before deciding, we suggest that you read our brief introduction to the college system at Oxford and our advice about expressing a college preference. For some courses, the department may have provided some additional advice below to help you decide.
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?
You do not have to contact anyone before you apply. You are encouraged, however, to approach academics whose research interests overlap with yours to informally solicit their capacity and interest in supervising you. You may also ask them to share with you specific publications that they have authored that you can’t access otherwise and that may help inform your research proposal. Details of academic staff, including their research interests and contact details, can be found on the departmental website.
In making this informal contact, you may wish to also provide some information about yourself. Please note that potential supervisors receive large numbers of informal requests each year, as such the department recommends getting in contact with a potential supervisor as early as possible. Please also note that final decisions about admission are not made by individual academics but by an appointed panel at the department level - supervisors will also be ultimately be allocated by the department.
General queries should be directed to the course administrator via the contact details provided on this page.
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.
For this course, the application form will include questions that collect information that would usually be included in a CV/résumé. You should not upload a separate document. If a separate CV/résumé is uploaded, it will be removed from your application.
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).
Under 'Proposed supervisor name' enter the name of the academic(s) who you would like to supervise your research.
You are strongly encouraged to enter the names of two proposed supervisors.
Three overall, academic and/or professional
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.
One of your references should be from your most recent academic tutor. If you are currently in employment, you would be expected to provide a reference from your employer alongside academic references which comment on your academic suitability for the course.
Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation and ability to work in a group.
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.
Personal statement and research proposal:
Statement of a maximum of 1,000 words and proposal of a maximum of 2,500 words
Your statement of purpose/personal statement and research proposal should be submitted as a single, combined document with clear subheadings. Please ensure that the word counts for each section are clearly visible in the document.
You should submit a convincing personal statement (statement of purpose) explaining your reasons for applying to the programme and highlighting your relevant academic and professional experience. The final part of your personal statement should indicate your future plans after a doctorate.
Your personal statement should be written in English and should be a maximum of 1,000 words.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
You should also submit a research proposal that should focus on your proposed research topic, rather than your personal achievements, interests and aspirations. Your proposal should include:
- an indicative title;
- a short introduction that introduces the topic and explains its importance;
- a discussion of the most relevant scholarly literature;
- research questions or hypotheses, and a description of the methods you plan to use to address them; and
- an indicative bibliography.
The issue or question should emerge from your review of the literature. Please also provide a rationale for the importance of this research topic.
Your research proposal should also indicate your proposed methodological approach. This will depend on the kind of research you envisage. If empirical research is planned, then please discuss the likely ‘data’ to be collected. At this stage these ideas are exploratory, and likely to develop and change once you are admitted to the course and start working with your supervisor.
Your research proposal should be written in English and should be a maximum of 2,500 words (not including the indicative bibliography).
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
Your research proposal will be assessed for your potential to carry out doctoral research, the quality and coherence of the proposal, the rigor of the proposed research design, and the originality of the project.
It will be normal for your ideas to subsequently change in some ways as you 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, a maximum of 2,000 words each
The written work should be related to the DPhil in Education and should be on separate topics. If you do not have any existing material that fits this requirement, you may wish to critique an article or write a book review based on the course subject.
You may submit written work completed for a prior course of study if the topic is relevant, eg an assignment or chapter of a dissertation etc, provided it meets the requirements. If your work is longer than the guide length it should be edited to meet the requirements.
A list of relevant references is required for your written work and should be included in your word count.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
This will be assessed for understanding of the subject area, an ability to construct and defend an argument, and proficiency in academic English.