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 three core courses:

  • History of Russia, the USSR and Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century
  • Contemporary Russian and East European Studies Part 1: Politics and international relations. Modules cover topics in politics, security and international relations of Russia and Eastern Europe.
  • Contemporary Russian and East European Studies Part 2: Sociology and economics.  Modules cover topics in economy and society 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. 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.

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

You will be required to sit a Russian language qualifying exam in either the first year or second year of the course, depending on ability. The exam must be passed before the final MPhil examinations are taken. Russian classes will focus on the development of language skills relevant to research and study in the REES field.

Advanced research seminars

REES and the Russian and Eurasian Studies Centre 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 at 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.


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 Russian language qualifying exam and satisfy on a pass/fail basis each section of the methodology requirement (qualitative and quantitative). Whilst you must pass the methods component 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. 

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.

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 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 history, politics, economics, international relations, sociology or 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 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:

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(s)

Interviews are not normally held as part of the admissions process.  


Publications are not required. 

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 Oxford School of Global and Area Studies (OSGA) to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work. 
  • 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 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).

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.

5. Assessors

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.

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.



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.


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.


Annual fees for entry in 2019-20