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 from medieval and early modern literature and culture through to modern and contemporary literature, film and cultural history.
Areas of particular interest that span our different languages and period specialisms include Performance and Voice, Postcolonial and Decolonial Studies, Gender and Diversity, Ecology and Environmental Humanities, Cognitive Literary Studies, Medical Humanities and Life Writing, and Comparative Literature and Translation Studies.
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. We will also work with you in developing the skills you will need to transition to academic and non-academic careers with our partners in the Oxford University Careers Service.
If you choose to study the DPhil in a part-time basis, you will be required to attend seminars, supervision meetings, and other obligations in Oxford for a minimum of 12 weeks (60 days) each year.
There will be flexibility in the dates and pattern of attendance, which will be required during and outside of term-time, to be determined by mutual agreement with your supervisor.
You may also be required to attend study and/or training sessions on dates determined by your supervisor and the faculty's Directors of Graduate Studies.
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. You might expect to see your supervisor once a fortnight in the early stages of your research, and less often as you become more independent. Your supervisor will also expect to stay in touch with you outside the eight weeks of full term. Graduate students may attend any lecture and most seminars in the faculty, some of which are specifically directed at doctoral students.
All students will be initially admitted to the status of Probationer Research Student (PRS). Within a maximum of four terms as a full-time PRS student or eight terms as a part-time PRS student, you will be expected to apply for transfer of status from Probationer Research Student to DPhil status. This application is normally made by the third term for full-time students and by the sixth term for part-time students.
A successful transfer of status from PRS to DPhil status will require submission of a research proposal and a piece of written work, which should be either a chapter of your thesis or an essay related to it. Students who are successful at transfer will also be expected to apply for and gain confirmation of DPhil status to show that your work continues to be on track. This will need to be done within six terms of admission for full-time students and twelve terms of admission for part-time students.
Both milestones normally involve an interview with two assessors (other than your supervisor) and therefore provide important experience for the final oral examination.
Full-time students will be expected to submit an original thesis of not more than 80,000 words after three or, at most, four years from the date of admission. If you are studying part-time, you be required to submit your thesis after six or, at most, eight years from the date of admission. To be successfully awarded a DPhil you will need to defend your thesis orally (viva voce) in front of two appointed examiners
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. 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
As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the following UK qualifications or their equivalent:
- 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 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
Interviews may be held as part of the admissions process either in person, by telephone, or by video call.
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.
The Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages at Oxford is one of the world’s leading centres for the study of European languages, literatures, and cultures and their relations with other communities and cultures around the globe. Academic staff working in the sub-faculties of French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Russian, and Slavonic offer expertise in areas ranging from the medieval period to the present day, including postcolonial and transnational contexts. In the Taylor Institution Library you will have an internationally renowned research collection at your disposal, which comprises well over 650,000 volumes, including 1,000 current periodical titles and approximately 58,000 pre-1801 titles, including 56 incunabula.
Academic activities include widespread links with universities in Europe, Africa, and the Americas, we also operate graduate exchange links and host exchanges with lecturers from other universities. The faculty has an active research culture and is committed to integrating graduate students into its regular research seminars. It regularly hosts workshops and conferences with Oxford-based and visiting academics, which bring together students and faculty members in – and between – individual languages and disciplines. The Modern Languages Graduate Network offers academic and social opportunities for graduate students, including graduate-led seminars, and a mentoring scheme is in place to help new graduates integrate into the Oxford academic community.
The faculty engages with the Oxford University Careers Service and programmes such as the Royal Literary Fund to provide professional development and training initiatives, including teaching qualifications, a mentored Graduate Lecture Scheme for doctoral students, writing workshops, and assistance in planning for academic and non-academic careers following graduation. Graduate students also often engage actively with other institutes such as TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities) to gain experience in public engagement and media training.
Medieval and Modern Languages
The Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages at Oxford is one of the world’s leading centres for the study of multiple literatures and cultures in one of the biggest and most vibrant languages faculties in the world.
These literatures embrace over a thousand years of human experience and invention, encompass both the formation of traditions and the wildest of innovation, and offer spaces for imaginative experiments in making, shaping, and representing worlds, identities, pasts, and futures.
Our graduate students work on projects that engage with these literatures and cultures from medieval and early modern literature and culture through to modern and contemporary literature, film and cultural history, investigating literature’s ability to address the formation and, in some cases, breakdown of political, aesthetic, and racial relations. Areas of particular interest that span our different languages and period specialisms include History of the Book, Performance and Voice, Translation and Adaptation, Postcolonial and Decolonial Studies, Gender and Diversity, Ecology and Environmental Humanities, Cognitive Literary Studies, Medical Humanities and Life Writing, and Comparative Literature. As a student on one of the faculty’s one- and two-year master’s courses, you may develop a more general study programme in your chosen language or choose to focus your study on Comparative Literature, Cultural Studies, Enlightenment Studies, Medieval Literature, Slavonic Studies, or Yiddish Studies.
With academic staff working across Czech, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Slavonic, and Spanish, an internationally renowned research collection in the Taylor Institution Library, and widespread links with universities in Europe, Africa, and the Americas, our graduate programmes offer a vibrant and unique environment with supervision in medieval, early modern and contemporary literature in each language.
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.
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 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 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 (See Further information and enquiries).
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.
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.
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 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
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
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, a maximum of 2,000 words each
Academic essays or other writing samples from your most recent qualification are required. Longer works 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.
The first of the two essays must be in English.
The second essay may be in either English or the language relevant to the proposed course of study.
It may be permissible for the second essay to be in another language not relevant to the proposed course of study, but you would need to consult with the Director of Graduate Studies before you submit your application.
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.
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.