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.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course 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.
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.
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 Department of Engineering Science
Entry requirements for entry in 2020-21
Proven and potential academic excellence
As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the equivalent of the following UK qualifications:
- a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours 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 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
- Prior publications may be an advantage when applying for graduate study in engineering science.
English language requirement
This course requires proficiency in English at the University's higher level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement.
Detailed requirements - higher level
The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are:
|IELTS Academic||7.5||Minimum 7.0 per component|
Minimum component scores:
|Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE) or C1 Advanced||191||Minimum 185 per component|
|Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) or C2 Proficiency||191||Minimum 185 per component|
Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. For more information about the English language test requirement, visit the Application Guide.
You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.
Performance at interview
Interviews in person or by other means may form part of the admissions process.
Any offer of a place is dependent on the University’s ability to provide the appropriate supervision for your chosen area of work. Please refer to the ‘About’ section of this page for more information about the provision of supervision for this course.
How your application is assessed
Your application will be assessed purely on academic merit and potential, according to the published entry requirements for the course. Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background. Whether you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.
Admissions panels and assessors
All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).
Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.
After an offer is made
If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, you will be required to meet the following requirements:
If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.
Disclosure of criminal convictions
In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.
Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)
Some postgraduate research students in science, engineering and technology subjects will need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate prior to applying for a Tier 4 visa. Further information can be found on our Tier 4 (General) Student visa page. For some courses, the requirement to apply for an ATAS certificate may depend on your research area.
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 1,100 full or partial graduate scholarships available across the University. You will be automatically considered for over two thirds of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant January deadline, with most scholarships awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential. To help identify those scholarships where you will be required to submit an additional application, use the Fees, funding and scholarships search and visit individual college websites using the links provided on our college pages.
Annual fees for entry in 2020-21
Annual Course fees
|Home/EU (including Islands)||£7,970|
Annual Course fees
|Home/EU (including Islands)||£3,985|
Course fees are payable each year, for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay course fees). For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.
Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.
Following the period of fee liability, you may also be required to pay a University continuation charge and a college continuation charge. The University and college continuation charges are shown on the Continuation charges page.
For more information about course fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.
There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees (or, after fee liability ends, continuation charges) and living costs. However, please note that, depending on your choice of research topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.
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 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.
The following colleges accept students for full-time study on this course:
The following colleges accept students for part-time study on this course:
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.
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).