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

About the course

The DPhil in Migration Studies, offered by the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography (SAME) and the Oxford Department of International Development (ODID), presents the unrivalled opportunity to undertake an interdisciplinary, in-depth project focused on a specific and contemporary challenge facing the world by drawing on world-class research departments, centres and scholars. 

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, 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 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 courses 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 the Quantitative Research Methods for Migration Studies 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.

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. Academics from SAME and ODID can offer supervision in a wide range of subjects. 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.

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).

Supervision

The allocation of graduate supervision for this course 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. 

In some circumstances we could consider making a joint supervision arrangement and in that case one of the two supervisors may be found outside SAME or ODID.

Graduate destinations

The increasing importance of the issue of migration on the global stage means that there are multiple paths to future employment in academia – 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 and multilateral organisations.

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

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

Degree-level qualifications

As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the equivalent of the following UK qualifications:

  • a master’s degree with distinction or an overall grade of 67% or above and a distinction in the thesis element, in a relevant subject that includes appropriate research methods training; and
  • a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in any subject.

However, entrance is competitive and most successful applicants have a first-class degree and a master's degree with distinction or the equivalent.

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.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA normally sought is 3.7 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

  • Publications are not expected.
  • 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.

Further guidance

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

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 Academic7.5Minimum 7.0 per component
TOEFL iBT110

Minimum component scores:

  • Listening: 22
  • Reading: 24
  • Speaking: 25
  • Writing: 24
Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE) or C1 Advanced191Minimum 185 per component
Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) or C2 Proficiency191Minimum 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

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

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

Supervision

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: 

Financial Declaration

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.

Resources

Work space

Doctoral Students will be accommodated principally at COMPAS, 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.

Libraries

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.

Funding

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.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2020-21

Full-time study

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU (including Islands)£14,765
Overseas£23,505

Part-time study

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU (including Islands)£7,385
Overseas£11,755

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.

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 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.

Colleges

Full-time study

The following colleges accept students for full-time study on this course:

Part-time study

The following colleges accept students for part-time study on this course:

 

How to apply

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.

CV/résumé

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 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 should include an indication of the area in which you wish to carry out your research and relevant supervisor(s) and/or group(s). 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: 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).

Application GuideApply - Full time Apply - Part time

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