MPhil in Russian and East European Studies | University of Oxford
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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 and Eastern Europe 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 you 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.

The specific provision of subject teaching in Contemporary Russian and East European Studies Parts 1 and 2 is dependent on teaching availability.

Courses are taught through a combination of lectures and classes. You will be required to submit essays and make class presentations. Through the research methods course, you will receive training in relevant qualitative and quantitative methodologies to enable you to carry out research and writing for your 30,000-word thesis, while the Russian language course will deepen your connection with the region. 

In the second year you will be able to specialise your knowledge through the choice of two special subject courses chosen from a list of options available for that academic year.

Russian language tuition will continue and you will work on completing your thesis which must be submitted by Monday in Week 4 of 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. You will be required to pass the relevant Russian language qualifying exam as part of the MPhil programme. 

REES Lectures and Seminar Series

REES students will have a weekly lecture, throughout the first two terms, delivered by a member of the department. Topics will include Twentieth Century Russian History, Central East European Politics, and Economics of the region. Students will also be required to participate in the departmental weekly seminar series, where they will get the opportunity to debate and discuss important topics concerning the region.

Advanced research seminars

REES and the Russian and Eurasian Studies Centre (RESC) run an Advanced Research Seminar Series each term at St. Antony’s College. This is an essential component of the REES MPhil course and takes place each Monday during term time.

Presentations are made by leading REES researchers from Oxford and other universities. Students are expected to attend and participate in discussions with these experts during the seminar and afterwards in more informal settings.

Assessment

In order to receive the MPhil degree, you must obtain pass marks in four three-hour written examinations and one extended essay (three core courses plus two optional courses) and for the thesis.

In addition you 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 you must pass the Russian language and Research Methods components of the degree programme, any marks obtained are not part of the determination of your overall results but are only recorded as pass/fail grades on your transcript. The skills you learn will be used in the development of your thesis work. 

Supervision

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 an academic programme or to a new range of skills, the supervisor will work with them to ensure that they have additional support.

Graduate destinations

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 and 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. 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.

The qualification above should be achieved in one of the following subject areas or disciplines:

  • history
  • politics
  • economics
  • international relations
  • sociology
  • Slavic languages.

Students with degrees in other subjects are eligible to apply.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.6 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 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

Libraries

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.

IT support

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.

Social facilities

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.

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

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.

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 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.

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/personal statement:
Around two pages

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. 

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.

Written work:
One essay 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.

This will be assessed for clarity of argument, analytical writing skills, knowledge of the subject matter and relevant academic literature.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, generally 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.

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.

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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