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. The emphasis in the DPhil is on self-directed learning, with guidance from the supervisor and other faculty. You are expected to submit your thesis three, or at most four, years from the date of admission (six, or at most eight, years for part-time students).
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 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)
- Psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics
- ancient grammatical thought in the Greco-Roman tradition.
A part-time DPhil student will be required to attend classes, seminars, supervision meetings and other obligations in Oxford for a minimum of 40 days each year. There will be some flexibility in the dates and pattern of attendance, which will be determined by mutual agreement with your supervisor. Typically, attendance will be required during term-time on at least two days in at least two terms, determined by mutual agreement with your supervisor. You will have the opportunity to tailor your part-time study in liaison with your supervisor and agree your pattern of attendance.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Faculty of Linguistics, Philology and 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.
For students coming from Oxford's MPhil, there will be one internal viva voce (oral examination) known as confirmation, which will take place within two (or, if part-time, four) terms. For all other students, there will be two internal vivas (transfer and confirmation), which will usually take place in the third and eighth term after admission as a probationary DPhil student (with the appropriate adjustments for part-time students). These vivas are with two faculty members and discuss a sample of your work. 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 need to defend your thesis orally (viva voce) in front of two examiners, one of whom will be external to the University. You are expected to submit your thesis three, or at most four, years from the date of admission (six, or at most eight, years for part-time students).
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, 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
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 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 Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics or the research preparation strand of Oxford's MSt degree in Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics.
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
- - 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.
- In the case of mature students/intended career changes professional experience in cognate areas may compensate for shortcomings in the formal academic record.
- 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.
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, including an official transcript and a CV/résumé. 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
As part of the admissions process, you may be interviewed. Interviews are typically conducted online via Microsoft Teams (or, should it be possible and convenient, in person) by a minimum of two interviewers.
Please note that the faculty receives comparatively large numbers of applications for a small number of places.
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.
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.
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, computer workstations and printers and a photocopier. Most graduate courses in linguistics and philology are held in the building.
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 areas of research are: prosody and speech timing, especially: contact phonetics and prosody; geolinguistic variation; multimodal analysis of gesture and prosody; functional phylogenetic and other statistical-computational methods of reconstructing speech from the past. Languages of particular interest in our research projects are: Indian English and other languages in India and the diaspora; Italo Romance (especially Venetan); languages of the Eastern Mediterranean.
Language and Brain Laboratory
The language and Brain Laboratory offers research staff and students bespoke facilities and specialist equipment to conduct a wide variety of behavioural, eye-tracking and neurolinguistics experiments. Our research covers all aspects of linguistics, including phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics.
In the lab we have offices for Postdoctoral researchers, Research Assistants and DPhil students working in Psycholinguistics and Neurolinguistics under the supervision of Prof. Aditi Lahiri and Prof. Matt Husband. Our common room is used for tutorials and meetings.
The laboratory has separate spaces for Neurolinguistics, Eye-Tracking, Production, and Behavioural studies. We have two electronically shielded sound-proofed climate-controlled EEG booths for recording brain waves. EEG recordings are made using high-impedance (300 Mohms) active electrode systems: we are currently conducting experiments on two systems: BioSemi and Brain Vision. An additional soundproof room is used for high quality audio recordings and eye-tracking studies. Our state-of-the-art SR Research Eyelink1000 eye tracker can be used on its own, or in combination with our EEG equipment.
One of our largest spaces is our Behavioural Lab, where we have bespoke equipment and software to run experiments such as lexical decision tasks or timed forced choice experiments. We can currently run 8 participants simultaneously at individually screened desks, or up to 16 participants with a projector setup. All of our testing rooms have an associated control room to monitor the experiments and analyse the results.
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, ancient Indo-European languages, and non-Indo-European as well as Indo-European languages of Asia.
Linguistics, Philology & Phonetics
Linguistics is the study of language in all its aspects. In British English, the word ‘philology’ denotes the historical study of language. Phonetics is the study of speech.
A hallmark of the Faculty of Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics at Oxford is the marriage of theory with data, drawing on historical, philological and comparative linguistic data from ancient and modern languages, and on psycholinguistic and phonetic experimental data.
The faculty will provide you with an environment where a strong philological tradition is sustained while all core areas of linguistic theory are supported (phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics), from both synchronic and diachronic perspectives.
The faculty also has a strong profile in teaching and research on psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics.
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 faculty'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.
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.
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.
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 need to make contact with the department before you apply but you are encouraged to visit the relevant departmental webpages to read any further information about your chosen course.
If you have any questions about the course, these can 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).
If known, under 'Proposed supervisor name' enter the name of the academic(s) who you would like to supervise your research. Otherwise, leave this field blank.
The faculty assigns a supervisor (or in some cases, two supervisors) to each successful applicant. If you suggest a supervisor, 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.
Three overall, academic preferred
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 on this master's programme. If you do not provide a reference from your master's supervisor or course director, the faculty 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.
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 maximum of 2,500 words
The research proposal should be written in English and the overall word count does not need to 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.
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.