About the course
The DPhil in Engineering Science will offer you the opportunity to develop in-depth knowledge, understanding and expertise in your chosen field of engineering research. To support your research, you will develop broad skills in relevant areas of mathematical and computational modelling, in the design and build of apparatus, in the development of software, and in data analytics and visualisation.
You will join your supervisor's research group and laboratory, and enjoy day-to-day contact with your supervisor, post-doctoral researchers and other research students working on broadly similar research themes.
A key aspect of your research experience in the department will be exposure to the broad sweep of today's engineering research. The department’s research groups cluster into fields as apparently diverse as:
- thermofluids and turbomachinery
- solid mechanics and materials,
- civil and offshore
- information, control and vision
- electrical and optoelectronic
- chemical and process
- biomedical engineering
However, the department is committed to considering engineering as a unified subject, allowing interdisciplinary research to flourish.
In the first year, you will develop research skills in two ways. Firstly, you will read the current literature, often in reading groups, and attend research seminars, relevant lectures and training courses. Secondly, you will design and build apparatus, develop software, or both to address your own research topic. Often there is external involvement and you will develop your work in collaboration with researchers from industry and other research organisations.
As well as ongoing assessment by your supervisors, you will be required to write a report and give a presentation on your research at the end of the first year and to present a detailed and coherent plan for the research-intensive phase in the second and third years of your doctoral studies. Progress towards completion is again formally assessed some way in to the third year of study.
You will be required to submit a substantial thesis which is read and examined by experts in the field, one from the department and one from elsewhere. Often the thesis will result in the publication of two or three journal papers.
Doctoral graduates are ideally equipped for careers in commercial engineering in their specialisms, and most enjoy engineering-related careers ranging from consulting to research and development, both nationally and internationally. Others continue to spend time in postdoctoral research, sometimes developing the work in their theses towards products. Others enter the broad range of professions where their high degree of ability in mathematical and systems modelling is required.
Other courses in this area
- MSc by Research in Engineering Science
- Autonomous Intelligent Machines and Systems (EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training)
- Synthetic Biology (EPSRC and BBSRC Centre for Doctoral Training)
Changes to the course
The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.
Entry requirements for entry in 2019-20
Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:
1. Academic ability
Proven and potential academic excellence
Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in engineering or a related discipline relevant for the proposed area of research, such as physics, materials science, computer science, applied mathematics or chemistry.
A previous master's qualification is not required.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0.
If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).
Other appropriate indicators will include:
You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.
Performance at interview(s)
Interviews in person or by other means may form part of the admissions process.
Prior publications may be an advantage when applying for graduate study in engineering science.
2. English language requirement
Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.
3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places
The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:
- The ability of the Department of Engineering Science to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work
- Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.
The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:
- The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Department of Engineering Science 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 Department of Engineering Science.
Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.
4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties
Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.
Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.
Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.
All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).
Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.
6. Other information
Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.
Engineering research and teaching at Oxford takes place in a unified Department of Engineering Science with over 100 academic staff who are committed to advanced work in their own specialities while recognising a common engineering foundation. This creates an intellectual space where interdisciplinary work thrives and where expert advice is available to students in areas which though not central to their core research still impinge on it.
There are strong links too with researchers in other departments in the mathematical and physical sciences and, ever increasingly, with researchers and practitioners in medical science departments and University hospitals.
The eight research clusters in engineering science at Oxford are:
- thermofluids and turbomachinery
- solid mechanics and materials
- civil and offshore
- information, control and vision
- electrical and optoelectronic
- chemical and process
- biomedical engineering.
These research clusters are well-supported by experienced teams of technical, computing, and administrative support staff. The department has well-equipped research areas and workshops, which together with offices, lecture theatres, library, common room, stores, reprographics and other facilities, occupies some 16,000 square metres.
The department has around 350 research students and about 200 postdoctoral researchers and research fellows. Direct funding of research grants and contracts, from a variety of sources, amounts to an annual turnover of approximately £25m in addition to general turnover of about £26m.
There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.
For students applying to programmes within the MPLS Division at Oxford, Research Council and other funding opportunities available, subject to eligibility. These opportunities are included in the Fees, funding and scholarship search.
Further information on scholarships and funding opportunities specific to this academic department is also provided on the Department of Engineering Science funding webpage.
Annual fees for entry in 2019-20
Annual Course fees
|Home/EU (including Islands)||£7,730|
Annual Course fees
|Home/EU (including Islands)||£3,865|
The fees shown above are the annual course fees for this course, for entry in the stated academic year.
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. You may have seen separate figures in the past for tuition fees and college fees. We have now combined these into a single figure.
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.
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.
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 and research expenses. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for grants from your department and/or college, or from an industrial sponsor, 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 2019-20 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,058 and £1,643 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 2019-20, 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.
The following colleges accept students for full-time study on the DPhil in Engineering Science:
- Balliol College
- Brasenose College
- Campion Hall
- Christ Church
- Exeter College
- Harris Manchester College
- Hertford College
- Jesus College
- Keble College
- Kellogg College
- Lady Margaret Hall
- Linacre College
- Lincoln College
- Magdalen College
- Mansfield College
- New College
- Oriel College
- Pembroke College
- The Queen's College
- St Anne's College
- St Catherine's College
- St Cross College
- St Edmund Hall
- St Hilda's College
- St Hugh's College
- St John's College
- St Peter's College
- Somerville College
- Trinity College
- University College
- Wadham College
- Wolfson College
- Worcester College
The following colleges accept students for part-time study on the DPhil in Engineering Science:
How to apply
You are encouraged to communicate with the department in order to refine your application, especially where studentships are involved.
Please ensure that you have researched the specialisms of the department and those of your potential supervisor(s) before making contact. Once you have done this, you can either contact the academic staff member directly or route your enquiry via the Admissions Administrator using the details provided on this page.
You should name at least one potential supervisor where requested in the application form, up to a maximum of four.
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.
1,000 to 1,500 words, around two pages
You should submit an outline of your proposed research, written in English. The overall page count should include any bibliography.
This will be assessed for:
- your past commitment to sustained and intense study and your reasons for wishing to undertake research
- evidence of interest in, experience of, and understanding of the proposed area of study
- the originality of the proposed research
- the feasibility of successfully completing the project in the time available
- your ability to present a reasoned and coherent case in English.
Inevitably your ideas will change as you develop your project. You should nevertheless make the best effort you can to describe the extent and ambition of your proposed research using sources and methods from the current literature. Your proposal should focus on your research ambitions in engineering, rather than on personal achievements, interests and aspirations.
References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, of which at least one must be 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.
Professional references are welcomed, but these must be obtained from your line manager (or equivalent). At least one academic reference must be provided.
Your references will support your intellectual ability, academic achievement and potential, motivation, creativity, and ability to work singly and in a group.