DPhil in Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics | University of Oxford
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DPhil in Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics

About the course

The DPhil is an advanced research degree for qualified students who are ready to begin thesis work in the field of general linguistics (including phonetics but not applied linguistics), in historical and comparative philology and linguistics, or in the linguistics of a specific language.

The DPhil in Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics is an advanced research degree, awarded on the basis of a thesis and an oral examination. You are expected to submit your thesis three, or at most four, years from the date of admission. 

You are encouraged to attend and to contribute to the wide range of research seminars, conferences and workshops organized by the faculty. You will also have access to specialist training courses offered by the Advanced Core Training in Linguistics programme (ACTL), Bodleian Library, Language Centre and IT services.

Linguistics at Oxford is an interdisciplinary subject, with most areas of general linguistics as well as Indo-European, Romance and Slavic historical and comparative linguistics being represented by one or several members of staff.

Current research falls into seven main areas:

  • linguistic theory (morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics and their interfaces)
  • Indo-European comparative philology (especially Greek, Italic/Latin, Indo-Iranian, Anatolian, Celtic, Slavic and Tocharian)
  • phonetics and phonology (especially phonetics/phonology interface, speech perception, language comprehension)
  • Romance philology (Research Centre on Romance Linguistics, especially diachronic morphology, syntax of Italo-Romance and phonetics of French)
  • neurolinguistics/psycholinguistics
  • sociolinguistics (language variation and change, language and gender)
  • ancient grammatical thought in the Greco-Roman tradition.

Supervision

The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Faculty of Linguistics, Philology & Phonetics 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 Faculty of Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics.

You will be supported by a supervisor or supervisors who will help you develop a programme of research and writing. You will also benefit from the advice and support of other members of the faculty and can draw on the expertise of scholars and colleagues throughout the faculty and University.

Supervision meetings vary in frequency, from once weekly to once a month in term time, depending on the student's needs. In the summer vacation, meetings will be less frequent.

Assessment

For students coming from either Oxford's MSt research preparation or MPhil, there will be one internal viva voce (oral examination) known as confirmation. For all other students, there will be two internal vivas (transfer and confirmation). These vivas are with two faculty members and discuss a chapter of 10,000 words. You will be required to pass these vivas before proceeding.

Your thesis will be based on extensive original research and engagement with current scholarship. You will also defend you thesis orally in front of two faculty members.

Graduate destinations

Graduates follow career paths that include academia and higher education, research services, research and development, secondary and further education, industry and the civil service.

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 Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics

Entry requirements for entry in 2021-22

Proven and potential academic excellence

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 in a relevant subject with a very good result or a result close to distinction level; and
  • a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in a relevant subject.

However, entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a first-class degree or the equivalent.

Applicants are expected to have a background in linguistics comparable to Oxford's MPhil degree in General Linguistics and Comparative Philology.

Under exceptional circumstances substantial professional experience may be considered a substitute.

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

  • In the case of mature students/intended career changes professional experience in cognate areas may compensate for shortcomings in the formal academic record. 
  • Applicants are not expected to have publications already, but if they happen to have publications in a relevant area they are encouraged to submit them as their written work.
  • Applicants should already have the knowledge and skills necessary to begin work on their chosen topic. This may include knowledge of the language to be studied, or for a computational thesis, relevant programming skills.

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.

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. The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are detailed in the table below.

Minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level requirement
TestMinimum overall scoreMinimum score per component
IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713) 7.57.0
TOEFL iBT (Institution code: 0490)110Listening: 22
Reading: 24
Speaking: 25
Writing: 24
C1 Advanced*191185
C2 Proficiency191185

*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.

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 normally held as part of the admissions process.

The faculty receives comparatively large numbers of applications for a small number of places. Therefore, only those candidates who have scored highly in the paper-based assessment are invited for interview. Interviews are generally conducted by telephone or Skype, or in person if the candidate finds that convenient. There will be a minimum of two interviewers.

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

Teaching and research in linguistic subjects is centred around the Centre for Linguistics and Philology, which occupies part of the former Clarendon Press Institute on Walton Street. Facilities for graduate students include a common room, individual lockers, computer workstations and printers and a photocopier. Most graduate courses in linguistics and philology are held in the building, which as a whole is shared with the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies.

Phonetics Laboratory

The Phonetics Laboratory has excellent provision for research in speech physiology and acoustics, and outstanding computing facilities. The experimental area consists of a recording studio, an acoustics and speech processing laboratory, a physiological laboratory and a speech perception laboratory. Hardware for physiological study, available to students and staff, includes labial electromyography, oral/nasal aerometry (measurement of air pressures and flow) and ultrasound tongue imaging.

The studios, for recording and for running experiments, are equipped with high-quality microphones and digital recording equipment, and computer systems for the presentation of visual and/or auditory stimuli.

Currently, the Phonetics Laboratory's main priorities for research are: temporal coordination of consonant clusters (production and perception); prosody and consonant timing in child language acquisition and child-directed speech; prosodic variation in Indian English; functional phylogenetic reconstruction of speech from the past, and acoustic-phonetic variation in English and Modern Greek.

Language and Brain Laboratory

The Language and Brain Laboratory contains 15 rooms including graduate student desk spaces, a meeting room, and several rooms fitted with specialised equipment for running practical experiments to help us understand how the brain processes language. It is an active research laboratory covering all aspects of linguistics, including phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics.

The experimental area includes a sound-proofed audiology booth for recording speech and running speech production and eye-tracking experiments, and a behavioural testing suite containing individual workstations for running up to ten participants simultaneously. There are also two state-of-the-art electrically shielded, sound-proofed and climate controlled EEG booths for recording brain waves. All testing rooms have an associated control room to monitor the experiments and computers to analyse the results.

Library provision

Oxford's library provision in linguistics is one of the largest in the country. Oxford's libraries are superbly provided with material on theoretical linguistics, the structure and history of European languages (including specialist libraries in Romance and Slavic linguistics), ancient Indo-European languages, and non-Indo-European as well as Indo-European languages of Asia.

Funding

The University expects to be able to offer up to 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2021-22. 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 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 college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages.

Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the faculty's website.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2021-22

Full-time study

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home (UK, Republic of Ireland,
Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
£8,870
Overseas (including EU)£22,930

Part-time study

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home (UK, Republic of Ireland,
Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
£4,433
Overseas (including EU)£11,466

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 detailed fee status information and the Oxford and the EU webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s exit from the EU.

Additional information

Full-time study

The faculty makes available some funding for language training, where relevant, and for conducting experiments or carrying out fieldwork, where required by the students research activities. 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. The faculty makes available some funding for language training, where relevant, and for conducting experiments or carrying out fieldwork, where required by the student’s research activities. 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.

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 2021-22 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,175 and £1,710 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 2021-22, 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.

College preference

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. 

How to apply

You are not required to make contact with an academic member of staff before you apply, but if you already have a potential supervisor in mind then you are invited to state this in your application.

The faculty assigns a supervisor (or in some cases, two supervisors) to each successful applicant. If you suggest a supervisor when you apply, this will be taken into account when a supervisor is assigned, but for various reasons the assigned supervisor will not always be the one proposed in your application.

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:
A maximum of 2,500 words

The research proposal should be written in English and the overall word count should include any bibliography. It should include information about your background in linguistics and degree of preparation already achieved for the research, as well as an outline of your thesis and of the research you plan to conduct.

If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.

This will be assessed for:

  • your reasons for applying
  • the coherence of the proposal
  • the originality of the project
  • evidence of motivation for and 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 (a maximum of four years)
  • commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course
  • preliminary 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.

Your statement should focus on the research itself rather than personal achievements, interests and aspirations.

Written work:
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. Extracts of the requisite length from longer work are also permissible.

The written work should demonstrate your competence in 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 comprehensive understanding of the subject area; understanding of problems in the area; ability to construct and defend an argument; powers of analysis; and powers of expression in English.

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.

All references should generally be academic. However, in the case of mature students or intended career changes, a professional reference may be submitted instead of one of the academic references.

If you are a current master’s student or have completed a master’s course, one of your referees should be your supervisor or course director from this course. If you do not provide a reference of the kind, the department will usually ask you to do so before completing the assessment of your application.

Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation, and ability to work 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).

Application GuideApply - Full time Apply - Part time

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