DPhil in Migration Studies | University of Oxford
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DPhil in Migration Studies

About the course

The DPhil in Migration Studies offers the unrivalled opportunity to undertake an interdisciplinary in-depth project focused on a specific and important contemporary challenge facing the world by drawing on world class research departments, centres and scholars.

The School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography (SAME) and the Oxford Department of International Development (ODID) now offer a new DPhil in Migration Studies from October 2019 (full time and part time).

You will be admitted initially as a Probationer Research Student (PRS), with full-time students transferring to full DPhil status by the end of their first year and part-time students transferring by the end of their second year.

During the probationary period, you will develop and begin work on your thesis topic. You will be offered training in relevant research methods, language, computing and other skills, and have the opportunity to attend lectures, seminars and classes in your general topic area. Full-time students are expected to be resident in Oxford for the PRS period.

In terms of research methods training you are likely to have already completed appropriate research training at master’s degree level, either within Oxford or (when recognised by appropriate research councils) another university. There is a joint Quantitative Research Methods for Migration Studies course for master's-level students on the MSc in Migration Studies and MSc in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, and separate ones in qualitative methods. Graduates who have followed this route will therefore have completed the necessary training. Students new to Oxford will be expected to attend and pass this course unless they can demonstrate equivalent research training or experience, assessed and approved. Supervisors will conduct a Training Needs Analysis to discuss the required skills and identify any gaps. You will not be expected to pass any summative assessment associated with this, since master's training will be a prerequisite for admission.

As a DPhil student you will undertake your own original research project under the guidance of your supervisor, with whom you will typically meet two to three times a term. The supervisor will help develop and guide your project and, at later stages, provide feedback on chapter drafts. However, you will work to a significant extent on your own, and you will need a high level of motivation and self-discipline.

Academics from SAME and ODID can offer supervision in a wide range of subjects, including: linking newly emergent economies in China and India to new flows of people, the multiple dimensions of mass mobility at the heart of Europe’s ‘migration crisis’, or the interface of new urban science and the dynamics of migrant settlement.

You will also benefit from long established research and teaching programmes on migration, each with particular focus on collaborating with non-academics and generating research ‘impact’. The DPhil programme offers the opportunity to link research training to research practice at the two research centres: The Centre on Migration Policy and Society (COMPAS) and the Refugee Studies Centre (RSC).

Graduate destinations

The increasing importance of the issue of migration on the global stage means that there are multiple paths to future employment both within the academy – where migration is growing in importance, with the establishment of numerous migration-related programmes at universities around the world – but also with significant opportunities in national governments, multilateral organisations such as the EU, UN and World Bank, NGOs, businesses and the legal sector, to name but a few.

As part of the 'training needs analysis' you will have an opportunity to consider transferrable and professional skills and experience that you would like to obtain during your DPhil.

Oxford graduates in similar programmes have gone on to occupy key posts in leading institutions of international governance and professional opportunities, including: UNCHR, Norwegian Refugee Council, European Council on Refugees and Exiles, IOM, ILO, and the European Commission.

Other courses in this area

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 2019-20

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 subject.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA normally sought is 3.7 out of 4.0.

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

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).

Applicants for the DPhil in Migration Studies will normally be required to have, or obtain, a taught-course qualification in a relevant social science subject before embarking on doctoral research.

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

A distinction in a master’s degree in a relevant subject, which includes appropriate research methods training will normally be required, or where a distinction has not been achieved, an overall grade of 67% and above in the master’s degree and a distinction in the thesis element of that master’s degree. 

Other appropriate indicators will include:

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview(s)

Interviews are not normally held as part of the admissions process.


Publications are not expected.

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

Part-time applicants will also be expected to show evidence of the ability to commit time to study and, if applicable, an employer's commitment to make time available to study, to complete coursework, and attend course and University events and modules. Where appropriate, evidence should also be provided of permission to use employers’ data in the proposed research project.

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 School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography (SAME) or Oxford Department of International Development (ODID) 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 School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography (SAME) or Oxford Department of International Development (ODID) 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 of the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography (SAME) or Oxford Department of International Development (ODID).

In some circumstances we could consider making a joint supervision arrangement and in that case one of the two supervisors may be found outside the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography or Oxford Department of International Development.

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.

5. Assessors

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.

It would be expected that graduate applicants would be familiar with the recent and published work of their proposed supervisor and have an understanding of the background to their proposed area of study.

It is essential that you apply as early as possible and ensure that you submit all required materials by the advertised deadlines.

In the case of students who require specific help to adjust to an academic programme or to a new range of skills, the supervisor will work with them to ensure that they have additional support.


Work space

Doctoral Students will be accommodated principally in the research centres at COMPAS and RSC, but you can also access space in the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography (SAME) and the Oxford Department of International Development (ODID). Social meetings, seminars, and clear office hours for methods support, will bring you together with other students and staff working in different parts of the university.

Networks and links

As a doctoral student you will become part of a vibrant research community. The Oxford network on migration and mobility will provide a focus of activity, linking across research centres and departments. You will also be able join and Migration Studies Society, and there will be opportunities to take on leadership roles.

SAME and ODID have student representation on Graduate Joint Consultative Committee (GJCC) that meets every term and broader participation in other student representative structures.

Programmes of research seminars are available from both departments, some specifically for research students and others featuring talks by invited speakers, often from outside the university.

You will also have access to training opportunities provided by the Social Sciences Divisional Office, which offers advanced research and career development training.


You can make use of the Social Sciences Library, the largest freestanding social science library in the UK with considerable print and digital strengths. This is complemented by the world-class resources of the Bodleian Library and the satellite libraries, such as the Tylor Library, the main subject library for anthropology, and the Pitt Rivers Museum's Balfour Library. You will be able to access key online journals and as alumni of the University can sign up for lifetime access.


There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course 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.

Further information about scholarships and funding opportunities available through this academic department and for this course (if applicable) can be found on the department's website. These may include Grand Union DTP ESRC studentships, and in order to be considered for an award you will need to complete the scholarships section of the course application form and submit additional supporting material. The programme’s website provides more details about the application process, as well as any eligibility criteria that may apply.


Annual fees for entry in 2019-20

Full-time study

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU (including Islands)£14,195

Part-time study

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU (including Islands)£7,098

The fees shown above are the annual course fees for this course, for entry in the stated academic year.

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. You may have seen separate figures in the past for tuition fees and college fees. We have now combined these into a single figure.

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.

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.

Additional information

Full-time study

There are no compulsory elements of this programme that entail additional costs beyond fees 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. Standard travel insurance can be provided by the University. However, students may be required to pay any additional insurance premiums associated with travel to areas with an increased level of risk and/or for travel of more than 12 months’ duration, and should factor this into their planning for fieldwork.

Part-time study

There are no compulsory elements of this programme that entail additional costs beyond fees and living costs. 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.

Living costs

In addition to your course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2019-20 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,058 and £1,643 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 2019-20, 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 colleges accepting students on the DPhil in Migration Studies may vary according to your chosen specialism and mode of study:

DPhil in Migration Studies (Anthropology) - Full Time RD_GA6A1

DPhil in Migration Studies (Anthropology) - Part Time RD_GA6A9P1

DPhil in Migration Studies (Development) - Full Time RD_GA6B1

DPhil in Migration Studies (Development)  - Part Time RD_GA6B9P1

How to apply

Students are admitted to this course via one of two strands, so you must decide which strand you would like to follow and select it when you choose your course.

It is advisable but not necessary for you to make contact with potential supervisors before you apply. However, as an offer of a place cannot be made if there is no suitable supervisor in the department, you are advised to check the Oxford Department of International Development (ODID), School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography (SAME),  Centre on Migration, Policy and Society  (COMPAS) and Refugee Studies Centre (RSC) websites to see if your proposed research matches with research being done in the department.

Supporting documents

The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:

Official transcript(s)

Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.

More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.


A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.

Research proposal:
Two to four pages

Your research proposal must be written in English. The page count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.

Your statement should explain your motivation for applying for the course at Oxford, your intended relevant experience and education, and the specific areas that interest you and/or you intend to specialise in.

You do not need to provide a very detailed research proposal, only a brief indication of the area in which you wish to carry out your research and relevant supervisor(s) and/or group(s). This may be quite specific, but need not be if you have not decided on your preferred supervisor or project. Please indicate if you have a preference for specific projects and if you have previous experience in related areas.

This will be assessed for:

  • the originality of your project
  • evidence of understanding of the proposed area of study
  • your ability to present a reasoned case in proficient English
  • the feasibility of successfully completing your project in the time available for the course
  • your preliminary knowledge of research techniques
  • your capacity for sustained independent work.

It is normal for your ideas to change in some ways as you commence your research and develop your project. However, you should make the best effort you can to demonstrate the extent of your research question, sources and method at this moment. Your proposal should focus on the research project rather than personal achievements, interests and aspirations.

Written work:
Two essays of 2,000 words (maximum of 4,000 each)

You can submit an extract or excepted sections from a longer essay as your written work as long as you include a brief note to give the context of the extract (for example, to explain that it is two chapters of a research dissertation that comprises twelve chapters in all, giving the full title of the dissertation).

Please note that multi-authored works are not acceptable. Work that is not academic, for example journalism or popular writing, is not appropriate. The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, academic references are 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.

Your references will be assessed for your intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation and interest in the course and subject area, and ability to work in both a group and independently.

Start or continue an application

Step 1: Carefully read the entry requirements on this course page to make sure you meet all the criteria.

Step 2: Check above what documents are required and prepare to apply by reading our Application Guide.

Step 3: Apply as soon as possible. Consult the Application Guide for more information about deadlines.

Application Guide

Students are admitted to this course via one of two strands, so you must decide which strand you would like to follow:

Course and strandFull-time studyPart-time study
DPhil in Migration Studies (Anthropology)Apply
DPhil in Migration Studies (Development)Apply
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