About the course
The DPhil in Sociology provides academically outstanding students an unrivalled opportunity for those who would like to undertake original and independent research in preparation for an academic career and other research-intensive occupations.
The DPhil in Sociology can be taken full-time in three years or part-time over six to eight years. The DPhil is examined by a thesis, prepared under the guidance of one or two academic supervisors.
The DPhil programme offers individualised training in sociological analysis to prepare you for academic life and the job market. You will develop your skills by undertaking empirical research under the guidance of an academic supervisor and by participating in the department's DPhil workshops and seminars. Apart from these DPhil-specific set of seminars, you will be given ample opportunities to present your work in the department, and to develop your research ideas and proposals with the advice and support of your peers In addition, you will find a wide variety of courses, lectures and seminars taking place all over Oxford, that are relevant for your research and allow you to become a well-rounded sociologist.
As a research student, you will have the opportunity to be fully involved in the department's research environment, which is characterised by a rich tradition of methodologically rigorous empirical sociology. You will be exposed to cutting-edge research undertaken by your supervisor(s), scholars in the department and the many visitors that the department welcomes each year.
Part-time course arrangements
The DPhil programme in Sociology is also available on a part-time basis. The part-time version of the degree has the same high standards and requirements as the full-time degree, but spread over 6-8 years. The degree is particularly well suited for students who are seeking the flexibility of part-time study. Part-time study also provides an excellent opportunity for professionals to undertake rigorous long-term research that may be relevant to their working life. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The allocation of doctoral supervision takes place as part of the admissions process, and it is helpful for applicants to indicate their preferred supervisor on their application. Moreover, applicants are encouraged to discuss their research plans with potential supervisors in advance of making a formal application, although due to the number of enquiries we receive a response is not always guaranteed. 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 Sociology.
Alumni have gone on to academic/research positions at universities in the UK (eg Cambridge, LSE, Manchester, UCL, Bath, Essex, Birmingham and Durham) and across the world (eg UCLA, Yale, Penn, Stanford, EUI Florence, ETH Zurich, Berlin, Stockholm, Hong Kong, Tsinghua) and to research-intensive jobs in government and international organisations (eg OECD), think-tanks, NGOs and the private sector (eg banks and marketing).
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 high pass (2.1) or distinction; and
- a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in sociology or a related social science discipline.
However, entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a first-class degree or the equivalent.
The department will only consider applicants who have a master's degrees in arts, humanities or science subjects if they can demonstrate a strong interest in sociology and have had sufficient methodological training.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0. However, most successful applicants have a a GPA of 3.7 or above.
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, though you may include these scores as part of your application.
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.
- Publications are not expected.
- It would be expected that graduate applicants would be familiar with the recent published work of their proposed supervisor.
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 not normally held as part of the admissions process.
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 Department of Sociology has a vibrant graduate programme. About 60 students are currently engaged in original research for the DPhil degree. Many students come from the United Kingdom and other European countries; the department also attracts students from all over the world, from Chile to China.
There are over 100 libraries at Oxford and the largest, the Bodleian, has over six million volumes. The Social Science Library is located in the Manor Road Building, a short distance from the Department of Sociology. Nuffield College Library also has extensive holdings in the social sciences including a data library of British and international datasets. Individual area studies centre libraries are clustered in St Antony's College.
Many colleges offer computing facilities and desk space is available in the Department of Sociology for DPhil students.
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)||£11,605|
Annual Course fees
|Home/EU (including Islands)||£5,805|
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, accommodation and living expenses, insurance premiums and, where appropriate, visa and medical fees (eg for vaccinations). Costs can vary considerably according to the duration and location of the fieldwork, but the department would generally expect the cost of such field research to range from £200 to £1,000. If you choose to collect your own data, you may also incur transcription costs. There may also be costs if you choose to acquire quantitative data from non-ESRC sources. The department has no funds available to help with these costs, however, you may be able to apply for small grants from your 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:
How to apply
You are encouraged (but not required) to nominate a potential supervisor on your application form. In general, the department encourages contact with individual supervisors in advance of applying, but please note that due to the volume of applications we receive responses are not guaranteed. Contact details for the academics can be found on their departmental profile pages.
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 five pages
Your proposal should give details of the topic you propose to investigate, why it is sociologically significant, and how you would carry out the research. You are encouraged to discuss the research proposal with potential supervisors before submitting the application.
The proposal should be written in English and the overall page count should include any bibliography.
This will be assessed for:
- the coherence of the proposal
- the originality of the project
- 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
- preliminary knowledge of research techniques.
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 the time of application.
Your proposal should focus on the proposed research project rather than personal achievements, interests and aspirations.
Two writing samples of 2,000 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 and should be prefaced by a short note which puts them in context.
The written work ought to have sociological content and should preferably be closely related to the proposed area of study. The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes. It is not permitted to submit one 4,000-word essay in place of the two shorter ones.
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, academic 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.
Academic references are preferred, though professional references are acceptable if you have spent a significant amount of time in work.
Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation for doctoral studies, ability to work 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).