About the course
The DPhil in Literature and Arts is an interdisciplinary part-time doctorate offered by the Department for Continuing Education, focusing on a subject in British history between c. 1450 and c. 1914.
Structure, content and assessment
The DPhil in Literature and Arts is an advanced research degree by part-time research. Usually this course is intended for students who have already completed the MSt in Literature and Arts, although other suitably qualified students who have completed an interdisciplinary master’s degree in the humanities may also apply. Students will often be building on research and skills developed during the MSt in Literature and Arts.
The DPhil will be awarded on the basis of a thesis of up to 100,000 words and an oral examination. Your thesis will be based on extensive original research and engagement with current scholarship. The part-time DPhil regulations normally require a minimum of four years' part-time study, equivalent to two years' full-time, up to a maximum of eight years part-time study.
Admission is through the Department for Continuing Education. All graduate students on this course will be members of the department’s Graduate School.
Pattern of teaching, learning and supervision
You will be strongly encouraged to participate in seminars and informal meetings with staff and other researchers in the University of Oxford. The major commitment of your time will be to individual study and research, involving wide and intense reading, collection of primary evidence, analysis and writing. You will be expected to attend and to contribute to the wide range of research seminars, conferences and workshops organised in the University. You will also have access to specialist training courses offered by the Bodleian Library and IT services.
Supervision on the DPhil will be provided by two supervisors, usually university lecturers/professors from the Department for Continuing Education and from within the University of Oxford. The two supervisors will be from different disciplines. Your supervisors will help you to develop a programme of research and writing.
Support in making decisions about graduate destinations will be provided by the course team. Many students at the Department for Continuing Education continue to work full-time or part-time while they study. You will also have access to the University Careers Service.
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 2017-18
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 any relevant subject. A good master's level qualification is usually required.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA normally sought is 3.7 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).
No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.
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 are normally held as part of the admissions process.
Interviews will be held with all short-listed candidates, either in person or using Skype with video, and it is expected that the majority of eligible candidates will be interviewed. Interviews will be held any time after application by arrangement with short-listed candidates.
Interviews are conducted with a minimum of two academics on the interview panel.
Publications are not expected.
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 for Continuing Education 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 for Continuing Education and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff.
- A supervisor may be found outside the Department for Continuing Education.
Two supervisors will be assigned. One supervisor may be found outside of the Department for Continuing Education but one will be based within the department.
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.
The department is committed to supporting you to pursue your academic goals.
The Rewley House Continuing Education Library, one of the Bodleian Libraries, is situated in Rewley House. The department aims to support the wide variety of subjects covered by departmental courses at many academic levels. The department also has a collection of around 73,000 books together with periodicals. PCs in the library give access to the internet and the full range of electronic resources subscribed to by the University of Oxford. Wifi is also available. The Jessop Reading Room adjoining the library is available for study. You will have access to the Central Bodleian and other Bodleian Libraries.
The Graduate School provides a stimulating and enriching learning and research environment for the department's graduate students, fostering intellectual and social interaction between graduates of different disciplines and professions from the UK and around the globe. The Graduate School will help you make the most of the wealth of resources and opportunities available, paying particular regard to the support and guidance needed if you are following a part-time graduate programme. The department’s graduate community comprises over 600 members following taught programmes and more than 70 undertaking doctoral research.
The department provides various IT facilities, including the Student Computing Facility which provides individual PCs for your use. Many of the department's courses are delivered through blended learning or have a website to support face-to-face study. In most cases, online support is delivered through a virtual learning environment.
Depending on the programme you are taking with the department, you may require accommodation at some point in your student career. Rewley House is ideally located in central Oxford; the city's historic sites, colleges, museums, shops and restaurants are only a few minutes’ walk away. The department has 35 en-suite study bedrooms, all with high quality amenities, including internet access.
The Rewley House dining room has seating for up to 132 people. A full meal service is available daily. The department operates a Common Room with bar for students.
There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course and college 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.
A range of scholarships are available to students on the programmes offered by the department, along with bursary funds to assist students on low incomes. Full information on these opportunities can be found on the departmental funding pages.
Annual fees for entry in 2017-18
Total annual fees
The fees shown above are the annual tuition and college fees for this course for entry in the stated academic year; 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.
Tuition and college 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 tuition and college fees).
For more information about tuition fees, college 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.
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 tuition and college fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.
For the 2017-18 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between £1,002 and £1,471 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. 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.
How to apply
It is not necessary for you to contact an academic member of staff before you apply.
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.
Statement of purpose/personal statement:
500 to 1,000 words, typically two to four pages double spaced
You should submit a detailed outline of your proposed research, written in English. A bibliography may also be provided and is not included in the word count, though any footnotes should be included.
Research proposals are required to fall within the broad area of British culture or British cultural relationships with other parts of the world between c.1500 and c.1900. This range is identified because it reflects the scope of the MSt in Literature and Arts (MLA). The proposal should be interdisciplinary and it should be a developed proposal of your individual research project. It will provide crucial evidence of your readiness for doctoral research.
Your proposal should cover all of the following:
- research question: the central issue or problem with which you intend to grapple, and a working title;
- historiography: some account of the current state of scholarship in this area. You may want to explain why you are dissatisfied with existing scholarship: is it limited, dated or unconvincing? What kind of contribution will your work make?
- sources: an indication of the sources you expect to use, where these can be found, how they will contribute to your research, what if any technical skills you will need to work with them (eg language, quantitative, use of specialist software), and whether you already have, or will need to acquire, those skills; and
- method: some discussion of your interdisciplinary approach to dealing with sources and constructing your thesis and what this approach can offer. Some of the following considerations may apply. At what level is your inquiry: micro or local, regional or national, comparative or transnational? Will you be using case studies?
This will be assessed for:
- 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
- preliminary knowledge of research techniques
- capacity for sustained and intense work
- the ability to contextualise, and analyse the evidence.
It will be likely that your ideas will subsequently 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.
Two essays of 2,000 words each or one essay of 4,000 to 5,000 words
Academic essays or other writing samples from your most recent qualification, written in English, are required. Extracts from a longer dissertation are welcome but a preface which puts them in context is expected.
This will be assessed for a 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.
To submit one longer piece of work in your application, upload your work as 'Written work' and for 'Written work 2' upload the following text as a PDF:
"I have included one long essay in lieu of the two short essays as permitted by the department."
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.
Your references should generally be academic, though if you are returning to study after extended periods of non-academic employment then you are welcome to nominate professional referees where it would be impractical to call on your previous university tutors.
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 this type, 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, ability to work in a group.