About the course
In the DPhil in Medieval and Modern Languages programme, students complete a major piece of original research. Supervision is offered in most fields, covering not only modern and contemporary literature, film and cultural history in each language, but medieval and early modern literature and culture as well.
The DPhil programme enables you to acquire the research skills necessary to complete a substantial piece of original research. You will work under the guidance of a supervisor who is a specialist in their subject. In cases where two areas of expertise are essential, joint supervision will be arranged.
The faculty groups a large number of research-active staff with an exceptionally wide range of interests. The faculty is therefore able to offer supervision in most fields, covering not only modern and contemporary literature, film and cultural history in each language, but medieval and early modern literature and cultural history as well. Areas of particular strength include:
- Enlightenment studies
- women’s writing and gender studies
- life writing
- Walter Benjamin and Modernism
- Dante studies
- the Spanish Golden Age
- Latin American (including Brazilian) studies
- Russian cultural studies.
Please note that the Celtic language options are no longer available for entry in 2018-19.
All applicants for research degrees are admitted first as Probationer Research Students (PRS). Full-time DPhil students spend up to four years completing a thesis of not more than 80,000 words. Part-time students spend up to eight years completing their thesis.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages 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 Medieval and Modern Languages.
Many doctoral students go on to take up academic positions in the UK and overseas. Other graduate destinations include teaching, journalism, law, publishing 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. 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.
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 master's degree with a very good result or a distinction; and
- a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours.
The qualifications above should be achieved in the relevant modern language for their proposed study, or a similar course of academic study with substantial course components in the area of the modern language to be studied.
Degree-level competence in at least one modern language is a requirement for admission.
Entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a high first-class degree or the equivalent.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.75 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
Details of any publications would be of interest to the assessors and should be included in the application.
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 are normally held as part of the admissions process.
Interviews will be held as soon as possible after the deadline and will be held either in person, by telephone, or Skype.
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.
The Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages at Oxford is one of the world’s leading centres for the study of European language, literature, and culture. Academic staff working in the sub-faculties of French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Russian, Slavonic and Celtic offer expertise in areas ranging from the medieval period to the present day. You may focus your studies on medieval literature, the Enlightenment, comparative literature, cultural studies, women’s studies or film studies, or you may develop a more general study programme.
Academic activities include widespread links with European universities, graduate exchange links and Erasmus exchanges with lecturers from other universities. The Graduate Language Students Association offers academic and social opportunities for graduate students and a mentoring scheme is in place to help new graduates integrate into the Oxford academic community.
The Taylor Institution Library is an internationally renowned research collection, which comprises well over 650,000 volumes, including 1,000 current periodical titles and approximately 58,000 pre-1801 titles, including 56 incunabula.
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)||£10,145|
Annual Course fees
|Home/EU (including Islands)||£5,075|
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 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 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 faculty in order to refine your application, especially where studentships are involved, using the contact details provided on this page.
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.
Up to 1,200 words
You should submit a detailed outline of your proposed research, written in English. Your proposal should focus on your research rather than on personal achievements, interests and aspirations.
The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes
The proposal will be assessed with reference to:
- 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 4 years for full-time students or eight years for part-time students)
- commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course
- preliminary knowledge of research techniques
- capacity for sustained and intense work
- reasoning ability
- the ability to absorb new ideas, often presented abstractly, at a rapid pace.
It will be normal for your ideas to 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
Academic essays or other writing samples from your most recent qualification are required. Longer should have a section of the requisite length clearly highlighted. Where necessary a cover note may be attached, placing an extract in a larger context.
Work should be submitted in English or the language relevant to the proposed course of study. Submissions in other languages may be permissible after consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies, but at least one sample of written work should be in English or, if necessary, translated into English by the candidate.
At least one piece of work should relate closely to the proposed area of study. The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.
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.
References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, of which at least two 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.
At least two of your references should be academic; the third may be professional but it should nevertheless speak to your ability to study European language/literature.
Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement and motivation.
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).