MPhil in Russian and East European Studies
About the course
The MPhil in Russian and East European Studies is a two-year programme for graduates who are interested in gaining a deeper knowledge and understanding of Russia, Eastern Europe and Eurasia through the study of the region across a range of disciplines including history, economics, politics, international relations and sociology.
In the first year of the programme students will study the following three core courses, along with Research Methods for Area Studies and Russian Language.
- History of Russia, the USSR and Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century
- Contemporary Russian and East European Studies Part 1: Politics and international relations. Covering topics in the politics, security and international relations of Russia and Eastern Europe.
- Contemporary Russian and East European Studies Part 2: Sociology and economics. Covering topics in the economics and sociology of Russia and Eastern Europe.
Courses are taught through a combination of lectures and classes. Students will be required to submit essays and make class presentations. Through the research methods course, students will receive training in relevant qualitative and quantitative methodologies to enable them to carry out research and writing for the 30,000-word thesis, while the Russian language course will deepen students’ connection with the region. It is a full time programme with ample time for self study.
In the second year students will be able to specialise more narrowly through the choice of two option courses chosen from a list of options available for that academic year. Option courses include:
- Central Asia and the South Caucasus
- Islam in the USSR
- Ideology and Popular Culture
- Illiberalism in Central and Eastern Europe
- Russian International Relations and Foreign Policy
- Post-Communist Cultures of Corruption, Practices, Institutions, Networks
- South East Europe Politics and European Intervention.
Russian language tuition will continue and students will work on completing their thesis which must be submitted during Trinity term.
Russian language tuition
Russian classes will focus on the development of language and communication skills relevant to research and study in the REES field. Students are required to pass the relevant Russian language qualifying exam as part of the MPhil programme. Students have two hours of tuition each week across two terms in the first year and one term in the second year. Additional language learning is available through the Oxford University Language Centre.
Advanced research seminars and webinars
Students will also be required to participate in weekly research seminars, which explore the societies and political economies of the region and showcase scholarship. The programme hosts the famous ‘Monday Seminar’ for the wider Oxford and UK academic community, which takes place at St Antony’s College. Student participation in research seminars is an important part of the programme, providing opportunities to see leading international scholars present their work and for networking and scholarly development.
Handwriting as a competence standard
Mastering the ability to handwrite in Russian has been identified as a competence standard for a mandatory core element of this course. This means that students will be required to produce handwritten work for assessment and it will not be possible to complete the assessment in an alternative format.
If you are interested in this course and your personal circumstances mean that handwriting may present a challenge, please contact the school/faculty for further information using the contact details provided in the Further information and enquires section of this page.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies (OSGA) 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 (OSGA).
In the case of students who require specific help to adjust to the programme in acquiring a new range of skills, the supervisor will work with them to ensure that they have additional support.
Students will typically meet with their supervisor at least two to three times per term.
In order to receive the MPhil degree, students must obtain pass marks in two, 3-hour written examinations (CREES 1, CREES 2), an extended essay (History), plus two option courses (methods of assessment vary). Students must also obtain a pass mark for their MPhil thesis.
In addition, students must also pass the Russian language qualifying exam and satisfy on a pass/fail basis each section of the Research Methods requirement (qualitative and quantitative). Whilst students must pass the Russian language and Research Methods components of the degree programme, any marks obtained are not part of the determination of the overall results and classification but are only recorded as pass/fail grades on the transcript. The skills learnt during the Research Methods training will be used in the development of the students’ thesis work.
The MPhil may be regarded as a qualification in its own right, or as preparation for a doctoral degree. A large proportion of REES graduates proceed to further research and to careers in academia. Recent MPhil in REES graduates have gone on to undertake DPhil courses in politics, political economy, history, and Area Studies at OSGA.
Graduates have also gone on to successful careers in many different countries in diverse areas of employment such as international organisations, the media, government, business and finance, diplomacy and teaching.
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. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in circumstances of a pandemic (including Covid-19), epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, 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 illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.
For further information please see our page on changes to courses and the provisions of the student contract regarding 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.
All graduate courses offered by the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies
Entry requirements for entry in 2023-24
Proven and potential academic excellence
As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the following UK qualifications or their equivalent:
- a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours.
The qualification above should be achieved in one of the following subject areas or disciplines:
- international relations
- Slavic languages and literature.
Students with degrees in other subjects are eligible to apply.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA 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 required.
English language proficiency
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. The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are detailed in the table below.
|Test||Minimum overall score||Minimum score per component|
|IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713)||7.5||7.0|
TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'
(Institution code: 0490)
*Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
†Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)
Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. Our Application Guide provides further information about the English language test requirement.
Declaring extenuating circumstances
If your ability to meet the entry requirements has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (eg you were awarded an unclassified/ungraded degree) or any other exceptional personal circumstance (eg other illness or bereavement), please refer to the guidance on extenuating circumstances in the Application Guide for information about how to declare this so that your application can be considered appropriately.
You will need to register three referees who can give an informed view of your academic ability and suitability for the course. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the types of reference that are required in support of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including an official transcript and a CV/résumé. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the supporting documents that are required as part of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
Performance at interview
Interviews are not normally held as part of the admissions process.
How your application is assessed
Your application will be assessed purely on your proven and potential academic excellence and other entry requirements published under that heading. References and supporting documents submitted as part of your application, and your performance at interview (if interviews are held) will be considered as part of the assessment process.
An overview of the shortlisting and selection process is provided below. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about how applications are assessed.
Shortlisting and selection
Students are considered for shortlisting and selected for admission without regard to age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief (including lack of belief), sex, sexual orientation, as well as other relevant circumstances including parental or caring responsibilities or social background. However, please note the following:
- socio-economic information may be taken into account in the selection of applicants and award of scholarships for courses that are part of the University’s pilot selection procedure and for scholarships aimed at under-represented groups;
- country of ordinary residence may be taken into account in the awarding of certain scholarships; and
- protected characteristics may be taken into account during shortlisting for interview or the award of scholarships where the University has approved a positive action case under the Equality Act 2010.
Whether or not you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.
Processing your data for shortlisting and selection
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.
Other factors governing whether places can be offered
The following factors will also govern whether candidates can be offered places:
- the ability of the University to provide the appropriate supervision for your studies, as outlined under the 'Supervision' heading in the About section of this page;
- the ability of the University to provide appropriate support for your studies (eg through the provision of facilities, resources, teaching and/or research opportunities); and
- minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to the University's taught and research programmes.
Offer conditions for successful applications
If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, your offer will outline any conditions that you need to satisfy and any actions you need to take, together with any associated deadlines. These may include academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions will usually depend on your individual academic circumstances and may vary between applicants. Our After you apply pages provide more information about offers and conditions.
In addition to any academic conditions which are set, you will also 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 Bodleian Libraries form the integrated library service of the University of Oxford, offering over 9 million volumes, 26 site libraries, 3,800 study places, 48,000 online journals, hundreds of research databases, document supply services, information skills training programmes and world-class staff expertise.
The Bodleian Social Science Library (SSL) is the main library for Russian and East European Studies. The SSL is housed on the ground floor of the Manor Road Building, and is open seven days a week during term-time with reduced hours during vacation. The library offers a variety of study spaces including graduate study rooms, individual study carrels, and two group discussion rooms which are available for booking.
Oxford college libraries offer collections and services to their own members. Nuffield College also offers reference access to its library to all postgraduate members of the University, and hosts and supports the data library with a Data Officer who specialises in supporting graduates needing to create or use qualitative data.
The RESC Library at St Antony’s College comprises approximately 24,000 volumes in Russian on Russian, Soviet and post-Soviet history, literature, politics, and economics. The holdings also include a number of Russian newspapers and periodicals covering a similar range of subjects.
You will have the use of IT facilities within your college and at the University of Oxford's IT Services. Oxford School of Global and Area Studies (OSGA) IT Services runs courses on various computer programmes and can offer help and guidance. Oxford University has an extensive library system and information about this will be provided at student induction and in the course guidance notes.
You will be a member of the Middle Common Room (MCR), or equivalent, of your college, which is the main social centre for graduates. The MCR provides a common room and usually organises a programme of social events throughout the year. The college will also provide other academic and social facilities, such as a library and a bar.
The University expects to be able to offer around 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2023-24. You will be automatically considered for the majority of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant December or January deadline. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential.
For further details about searching for funding as a graduate student visit our dedicated Funding pages, which contain information about how to apply for Oxford scholarships requiring an additional application, details of external funding, loan schemes and other funding sources.
Please ensure that you visit individual college websites for details of any college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages or below:
Please note that not all the colleges listed above may accept students on this course. For details of those which do, please refer to the College preference section of this page.
Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the school's website.
Annual fees for entry in 2023-24
Annual Course fees
Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.
Information about course fees
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 changes 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.
Where can I find further information about fees?
The Fees and Funding section of this website provides further information about course fees, including information about fee status and eligibility and your length of fee liability.
There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees and living costs. The use of primary sources through fieldwork is not compulsory for successful completion of the MPhil thesis. Students who decide to undertake fieldwork as part of their research should note that they will ordinarily have to meet all of the costs themselves. These costs are likely to include, but may not be limited to, travel, subsistence, insurance, and, where appropriate, visa and medical fees (eg for vaccinations). As research sites are ultimately determined by the individual, costs can vary considerably according to the duration and location of the proposed fieldwork. Travel grants of up to £150 per year may be made available to selected students as a contribution to the costs of conducting primary research activities connected with their thesis, subject to the approval of the Russian and East European Studies Management Committee. You may also be able to apply for small grants from your 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.
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 2023-24 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,290 and £1,840 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 2023-24, it is suggested that you allow for potential increases in living expenses of 5% or more each year – although this rate may vary significantly depending on how the national economic situation develops. UK inflationary increases will be kept under review and this page updated.
All graduate students at Oxford belong to a department or faculty and a college or hall (except those taking non-matriculated courses). If you apply for a place on this course you will have the option to express a preference for one of the colleges listed below, or you can ask us to find a college for you. The Colleges section of this website provides information about the college system at Oxford, as well as factors you may wish to consider when deciding whether to express a college preference. Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 45 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as Permanent Private Halls (PPHs).
For some courses, the department or faculty may have provided some additional advice below to help you to decide. Whatever you decide, it won’t affect how the academic department assesses your application and whether they decide to make you an offer. If your department makes you an offer of a place, you’re guaranteed a place at one of our colleges.
The following colleges accept students on the MPhil in Russian and East European Studies:
Before you apply
Our guide to getting started provides general advice on how to prepare for and start your application. Check the deadlines on this page and the information about deadlines in our Application Guide. If it's important for you to have your application considered under a particular deadline – eg under a December or January deadline in order to be considered for Oxford scholarships – we recommend that you aim to complete and submit your application at least two weeks in advance.
Application fee waivers
An application fee of £75 is payable per course application. Application fee waivers are available for the following applicants who meet the eligibility criteria:
- applicants from low-income countries;
- refugees and displaced persons;
- UK applicants from low-income backgrounds; and
- applicants who applied for our Graduate Access Programmes in the past two years and met the eligibility criteria.
You are encouraged to check whether you're eligible for an application fee waiver before you apply.
Do I need to contact anyone before I apply?
You are not expected to contact a potential supervisor before you apply. However, in addition to the standard contact details provided on this page, you may address any questions to the REES Administrator.
Completing your application
You should refer to the information below when completing the application form, paying attention to the specific requirements for the supporting documents. If any document does not meet the specification, including the stipulated word count, your application may be considered incomplete and not assessed by the academic department. Expand each section to show further details.
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.
References should generally be academic, though if you have been out of higher education for a number of years then one professional reference is acceptable.
Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation, ability to work in a group.
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.
Statement of purpose/personal statement:
A maximum of 1,500 words
Your statement should be written in English and explain your motivation for applying for the course at Oxford, your relevant experience and education, and the specific research areas that interest you and/or you intend to specialise in.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
This will be assessed for interesting research ideas, interest in the subject matter, knowledge of the REES programme and its components, and any experience in the region.
One essay of a maximum of 2,000 words
An academic essay or other writing sample from your most recent qualification, written in English, is required. An extract of the requisite length from longer work is also permissible.
It is desirable though not essential that the written work relates to the proposed area of study. The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
This will be assessed for clarity of argument, analytical writing skills, knowledge of the subject matter and relevant academic literature.
Start or continue your application
You can start or return to an application using the relevant link below. As you complete the form, please refer to the requirements above and consult our Application Guide for advice. You'll find the answers to most common queries in our FAQs.