MPhil in Latin American Studies | University of Oxford
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The Radcliffe Camera, through the window of the Bodleian Library
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MPhil in Latin American Studies

About the course

This course offers an interdisciplinary approach towards the understanding of modern Latin America, allowing you to develop an in-depth research project that may involve a period of fieldwork in the region.

This is a 21-month programme which spans six academic terms, including a fieldwork project in Latin America (up to three months). The course will be informed by five core disciplines: history, political science, sociology, economics and international relations. Major trends in the development of Latin America will be analysed with reference to the main categories of explanation advanced to interpret that development.

The course will provide you with a critical understanding of the major elements in the development of Latin America over the past two hundred years. You will be taught to relate economic and political trends, and to assess the importance of international influences. The course will demonstrate the way in which different disciplines contribute to an overall understanding of the historical development of the continent. You will also be taught the importance and the limitations of the comparative method of analysis.

In your first year, you will take three courses in preparation for examination in three written papers at the end of Trinity term in the year of registration. Additionally, you will be required to attend and participate in the research methods course organised in collaboration with other units from the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies, and to satisfy the assessment criteria for that course. 

During the first year, you will also work with your supervisor on your thesis proposal and preparation for field work. You will write a number of essays to be arranged with the various tutors of each of the courses. You will be required to submit five of these marked essays to the Latin American Centre (LAC) Administrator (two by the beginning of Hilary term and a further three by the beginning of Trinity term). The timetable and subject of the essays should be arranged with the tutors of the respective courses. Examinations at the end of the first year will serve to qualify for entry to the second year of the course.

In the second year, you will be expected to write a thesis of not more than 30,000 words, including footnotes and appendices, but excluding bibliography. The assessment of the thesis constitutes 33.3%.

You will sit two additional examination papers, or with the permission of your supervisor, the LAC Administrator and the relevant department, you may take methodologies or other examination papers from another MPhil of the University of Oxford as appropriate. In the second year, you will be required to attend a viva voce as part of the examinations process.

A lively programme of LAC seminars, workshops and conferences with visiting speakers complements the MPhil programme, and you are encouraged to make the most of these opportunities to meet with and learn from fellow Latin Americanists.

Supervision

The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies 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 Oxford School of Global and Area Studies.

Graduate destinations

Latin American Centre alumni work in a wide range of careers, both within and outside of Latin America, in the public and private sectors. 

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 first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in any discipline.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 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

  • The Latin American Centre requires you to have a working knowledge of Spanish or Portuguese as appropriate to your individual area(s) of research. This is particularly important for those applying for the MPhil course, which includes a period of fieldwork abroad in Latin America. Please refer to your language skills in your statement of purpose. 
  • Publications are not required.

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

The Latin American Centre houses an important collection of books, academic journals, periodicals and some other significant documents relevant for the study of the region. It is a specialist loan collection, whose primary role is to support graduate students taking the master’s courses in Latin American Studies, although the library welcomes all current resident members of the University who are interested in the subject area. 

The library has three reading rooms, all with wifi, including a seminar room and workspace. It subscribes to twenty journals, including popular titles like the Latin American Research Review, the Journal of Latin American Studies and the Hispanic American Historical Review.

The centre’s main seminar room serves to host our main regular Latin American seminar, a weekly event where Oxford-based and visiting academics present and discuss the results of their most recent research activities on a wide range of topics. In addition, the seminar room serves to host the Latin American History seminar. These events are accompanied by social receptions, which will offer you opportunities to mix socially with your fellow students, staff and visitors.

Spanish and Portuguese classes at the Language Centre

If you are a non-native speaker of Spanish or Portuguese and feel that you could benefit from additional classes, you may wish to register for one of the Languages for Study and Research (LASR) courses offered by the University Language Centre. As an LAC student you are eligible to make a ‘priority application’ to attend a Spanish or Portuguese course.

IT facilities

Oxford University IT Services offers facilities, training and advice to members of the University in all aspects of academic computing. OUCS is responsible for the core networks reaching all departments and colleges.

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

Fee status

Annual Course fees

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

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.

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

You will need to cover all costs related to the compulsory fieldwork element of this course, eg travel and living expenses. Travel to Chile from the UK is estimated to cost between £900 and £1600. Monthly living expenses (accommodation and food) are expected to range from £300 to £600. Other costs, including visas, photocopying, researcher fees for some institutions are expected to be in the region of £200. You will also need to cover the cost of travel to the workshop sessions that comprise some of the course content; all of these sessions currently take place in London. You may be eligible to apply for grants from the Latin American Centre and/or external sources, to assist with these costs. You may also be eligible to apply for small grants from your college. You may also need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. Please note that, depending on your choice of 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 should factor this into their planning for fieldwork.

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.

How to apply

You are not expected to make contact with an academic member of staff before you apply.

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.

Statement of purpose:
One to two pages

The statement of purpose is an important document for assessing your application. It is your opportunity to explain why you are applying to the Latin American Centre specifically and what you hope to achieve during the course.

You should consider the following points:

  • What relevant academic, research, or practical experience do you have?
  • Why are you applying to this particular programme of study?
  • What areas of Latin American Studies are you interested in?
  • Have you looked through the course information and staff profiles on this website?
  • Do you have any future career plans that would be informed by study at the Latin American Centre?

The statement should all be in your own English, not another language.

This will be assessed for:

  • your reasons for applying
  • evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
  • commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course
  • capacity for sustained and intense work
  • reasoning ability.

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.

Written work:
Two essays of 2,000 words each

You are required to submit academic written work in your own English (i.e. not professionally translated). The work should all be in English, not another language.

It is helpful, but not essential, if the work is in the field of Latin American studies that you hope to pursue.

The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.

This will be assessed for your analytic and general scholarly ability, as well as the following:

  • comprehensive understanding of the subject area
  • understanding of problems in the area
  • ability to construct and defend an argument
  • powers of analysis
  • powers 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 your academic ability and suitability for the course. All references should be academic.

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

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