About the course
The Department of Social Policy and Intervention offers a DPhil in Social Intervention and welcomes students from across the world. Research students are an important part of the department’s community and you will be fully involved and immersed in the life of the department.
The department welcomes DPhil candidates who are interested in a wide range of areas of social intervention and policy evaluation research, such as evaluation methodology in social intervention, effectiveness of policies, public health, violence and injury prevention, alcohol and drug misuse, mental health, antisocial behaviour in children and youth, parenting and family interventions including those delivered across the perinatal period, HIV prevention, AIDS affected children, violence against children and cross-cultural adaptation of interventions.
The department's approach to graduate study emphasises your ability to work independently to explore a new line of research under an academic supervisor. Each member of academic staff has expertise in a particular area of social intervention and you should try to contact your potential supervisor prior to applying as you will only be accepted for a DPhil if there is an appropriate supervisor available.
As a doctoral student you will be offered a unique graduate programme tailored to your individual needs. In addition to individual supervision, the department offers a large and diverse range of research groups, seminars, workshops and advanced training opportunities in order to further enhance graduate research experience.
Many graduates of the DPhil go on to pursue academic careers in world-leading research universities, while others hold influential positions in government, non-governmental and international organisations, such as the World Bank, the World Health Organisation and the UN.
Other courses in this area
- DPhil Social Policy
- MPhil Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation
- MSc Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation
- MPhil Comparative Social Policy
- MSc Comparative Social Policy
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 demography, economics, political science, psychology, social policy, social work and sociology, or closely related fields.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.7 out of 4.0.
A previous relevant master's or honours degree with sufficient methods training is a requirement.
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 only held with shortlisted candidates. The criteria by which applicants are shortlisted are as follows:
- outstanding academic ability
- proven proficiency in English (in the case of non-native speakers)
- an excellent research proposal.
The interviews are normally held by Skype or telephone and will be with two members of faculty; normally with the potential supervisors.
You will asked about your academic background, motivations and future career plans. The panel will also discuss your research proposals with you in detail, particularly the research questions and the proposed methodology.
The duration of the interview is around 30 minutes. You are strongly recommended to indicate times during which you will not be available for an interview in your application form.
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 of Social Policy and Intervention to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work. A list of current supervisors can be found here.
- 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 of Social Policy and Intervention 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 Department of Social Policy and Intervention.
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.
To continue to a research degree after the MSc. or MPhil, you would normally be expected to gain a mark of at least 65% for both the written exams and the thesis. The department's Graduate Studies Committee will also consider the clarity and viability of the research proposal and the availability of appropriate supervision.
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.
Students on the DPhil in Social Intervention belong to the Centre of Evidence-based Intervention (CEBI) research group, that gives an opportunity to explore topics around social intervention and policy evaluation in more depth. DPhil students will have the opportunity to present their ongoing project in the research group.
The department has a shared office space designated for graduate research students, for social intervention students it is based in the Centre of Evidence-based Intervention (CEBI) area. The department aims to provide as much space as possible. You will also be able to book the department’s meeting rooms and lecture rooms if required.
The department runs two seminar series during the year providing the opportunity to hear external expert speakers on topics such as “natural experiments” or the implementation of e-health interventions. In addition, there is a fortnightly colloquium at which members of the department present and discuss their research, creating an excellent chance for staff and students to learn more about each others’ ideas or receive input on their own research.
The department’s research MethodsHub provides research students with specialist support on qualitative and quantitative research methods, as well as tailored training. Through the Oxford Social Sciences Division a range of methods-training seminars and summer schools are offered.
DPhil students have access to the world-leading Bodleian Social Science Library, in addition to other University libraries, and the centrally provided electronic resources (giving access to the majority of academic journals published). Some college libraries, such as the Nuffield College Library, are open to graduate research students on request.
The department has its own IT provision and specialist IT support staff. Students have access to the University’s high-performance computing environment. Software training in a range of standard and specialist programmes is available through the University IT services.
The department has a common room open to both staff and students. Barnett House Thursday - coffee mornings - are held weekly and these occasions provide excellent opportunities for talking to academics and research staff, and fellow students.
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.
Further information on scholarships and funding opportunities specific to this academic department is also provided on the Department of Social Policy and Intervention's funding webpage.
Annual fees for entry in 2019-20
Annual Course fees
|Home/EU (including Islands)||£12,570|
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. Students may also wish to attend or present their work at academic conferences. 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 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.
The following colleges accept students on the DPhil in Social Intervention:
How to apply
The department is interested in applicants with proposals in the areas of its research expertise and interest. Therefore, you are strongly advised to learn more about the department's supervisory expertise by researching the profiles of academic staff on the DSPI website.
You are strongly recommended to make contact with a potential supervisor 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.
Research proposal and personal statement:
Proposal of up to 2,000 words and statement of up to 1,000 words
Your statement and proposal should be submitted as a single, combined document with a clear subheading for each.
Your research proposal should comprise a detailed outline of your proposed research, written in English and not exceeding the guide length. The proposal needs to have a clear research question and a research design and methods section, and should discuss the background, existing literature and significance of the topic. We recommend you have section headings for each of these parts. You must also indicate a potential thesis supervisor in the proposal.
The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.
This will be assessed for:
- the coherence of the proposal
- the academic interest of the project
- ability to present a reasoned case in English
- the feasibility of completing the project in the time available.
It will be normal for your ideas subsequently to 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.
Your personal statement should be written in English and explain your motivation for applying for the course and its specific focus on evidence-based social intervention and policy evaluation at Oxford, your relevant experience and education, and the specific areas that interest you and/or you intend to specialise in.
This will be assessed for evidence of:
- commitment to graduate studies in evidence-based policy evaluation and intervention
- reasons for selecting the department.
- motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
- fit of your research interest to research undertaken in the Department
- any relevant practical/applied experience (such previous jobs).
- ability to present a reasoned case in English.
Two essays of 2,500 words each
Academic essays or other writing samples from your most recent qualification, written in English, are required. Extracts of the requisite length from longer work are also permissible.
The topic of the work does not need to relate directly to the proposed subject of study but academic essays are preferred to reports. The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.
This will be assessed for:
- ability to construct and defend an argument
- ability to explain complex subject matter
- ability of analytical thinking
- clarity and accuracy of expression.
References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, all of which 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.
Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement and motivation for the chosen area of study. Academic references are required.
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.