MSc in Digital Scholarship
About the course
This course introduces students to the full range of issues which arise when digital tools and methods are applied to traditional humanistic scholarship, and equips students with the tools and knowledge to surmount those challenges, enabling them to develop a digitally-enhanced scholarly project of their own.
The course will equip you to lead and manage digital projects in and outside the strictly academic domain, and provide you with the expertise to progress to innovative doctoral research projects.
The course is comprised of four main elements, each of which helps you prepare for the dissertation.
This core paper provides a systematic overview of every stage of a digital project and its data life-cycle. Each topic is illustrated by ongoing work in one or more of Oxford's flagship digital scholarship projects, the key problems they have encountered and the solutions they have developed. As such, the series also serves to introduce students to the Division's major projects in the field, with a view to choosing the practicum placement and the dissertation topic.
Methods of Digital Scholarship, running in the first term, will require you to choose two Technical Options Papers which provide the hands-on training needed to equip students with specific methods relevant to their project.
You will choose a Subject-Specific Paper to provide graduate-level work of a more traditional kind in each student's 'home discipline' in the second term. The option will be selected from a list of existing master's papers available in the faculties of the Humanities Division.
The fourth element is a practicum placement in which you will gain experience developing your proposed research topic while working within Oxford's vast array of flagship Digital Scholarship projects and planning their own research projects with potential supervisors.
All of this work culminates in the dissertation, which is formulated flexibly to encourage both traditional academic prose and non-traditional digital outputs. You will work closely with a supervisor, starting at the end of Michaelmas term and continuing through Hilary term, though the bulk of the work will be concentrated in Trinity (summer) term.
If your application is successful, it is recommended that you take an open-access online course Humanities Research in the Digital Age (developed by the Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership) before the MSc begins to ensure that you have comprehensive background knowledge of the field.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the steering committee for the MSc in Digital Scholarship in consultation with faculties in the Humanities Division, 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 Humanities Division.
Each student will be given the opportunity to participate in an optional career mentor system in which they are paired with one of Oxford's renowned digital scholars with whom they can discuss and seek advice on their own careers.
Elements of Digital Scholarship will be assessed by two essays, one due at the start of Hilary term and the other due at the start of Trinity Term.
Methods of Digital Scholarship (Technical Option Papers): the aim is for the student to obtain sufficient mastery of the specific digital tools and methods needed for their dissertation projects. Assessment methods will depend on the options chosen but are likely to involve both a practical and written element.
The Subject-Specific Paper will follow the assessment regime determined by the convenor of the individual course selected by the student.
The practicum placement is designed to offer each student the opportunity to join one of Oxford's flagship digital projects deploying innovative digital methods to teaching, research, or collections in the humanities. The specific team chosen will typically be the one most closely related to some aspect of your own dissertation project. The placement will be assessed by submission of a digital asset and short report due at the end of Trinity term.
The dissertation (or equivalent if a practical component or digital asset is included) will be due in at the beginning of August. The supervisor will give advice on the scope of the dissertation, guide the research, and give feedback on written work.
As this is a new course, it is anticipated that graduates might typically go on into further research within the Humanities, or work in a cultural institution or creative industry. However, the themes covered and skills learned should prepare students for a wide range of jobs and industries; they will be ready to evaluate critically the challenges and opportunities of a digital society.
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.
Interdisciplinary courses offered by the Humanities Division
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 in a relevant discipline in the humanities.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA normally sought is 3.75 out of 4.0.
Entrance is competitive and most successful applicants have a first-class degree or the equivalent.
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.
- No previous coding or technical expertise is 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.
You will be able to participate in the rich research culture of Oxford’s Digital Scholarship @ Oxford. This includes a programme of talks and seminars, an annual Summer School, and networking opportunities within Oxford's vibrant digital scholarship community at the Bodleian's Centre for Digital Scholarship.
You will have access to a study space. The Oxford Centre for Research in the Humanities (TORCH) offers a stimulating range of interdisciplinary activities. Further opportunities for exchange are provided by the interdisciplinary communities fostered within individual colleges.
You will also be able to attend seminars and other events from across the faculties of the Humanities Division, thereby encountering a wide range of leading writers, critics, and theorists from within and beyond the University.
Oxford has internationally renowned libraries and archives. The combined collections of the Bodleian Libraries contain more than 11 million printed items, in addition to more than 50,000 e-journals and a vast quantity of manuscripts, maps, music and other materials. The Centre for Digital Scholarship, based in the Weston Library, is a hub for translating innovative digital technologies into multidisciplinary academic practice and public engagement. The centre runs a range of talks, workshops, training events, symposiums, and conferences.
The Bodleian Libraries, the University’s Research Skills Toolkit, IT Services and the Humanities Researcher Development Programme provide training in study and IT skills and career development. You can also learn an additional language at the Oxford University Language Centre.
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 Humanities division 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. However, as part of your course requirements, you may 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.
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 MSc in Digital Scholarship:
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 do not need to make contact with the department before you apply but you are encouraged to visit the relevant departmental webpages to read any further information about your chosen course.
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, two 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.
At least two of your references should be academic; the third may be professional but it should nevertheless speak to your ability to study your proposed course.
Your references will be assessed for:
- your intellectual ability
- your academic achievement
- your motivation and interest in the course and subject area
- your ability to work effectively both in a group and independently.
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.
A minimum of 500 words to a maximum of 1,000 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 areas that interest you.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
Your statement will be assessed for:
- your reasons for applying
- your ability to present a coherent case in proficient English
- your commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course
- your preliminary knowledge of the subject area and research techniques
- your capacity for sustained and intense work
- your reasoning ability
- your ability to absorb new ideas, often presented abstractly, at a rapid pace.
It is normal for your ideas subsequently to change in some ways as you commence your research and develop your project. However, you should make the best effort you can to demonstrate the extent of your research question, sources and method at this moment.
Your statement should focus on your academic achievements and interests rather than personal achievements, interests and aspirations.
Two essays of a maximum of 2,000 words each or one essay of a maximum of 4,000 words
Academic essays or other writing samples, typed and written in English, are required. The written work should be related to the subject you propose to study. Extracts of the requisite length from longer work are also permitted if prefaced by a note that put them in context.
Work should be submitted in English. 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.
Your written work will be assessed for:
- a comprehensive understanding of the subject area, including problems and developments in the subject
- your ability to construct and defend an argument
- your aptitude for analysis and expression
- your ability to present a reasoned case in proficient academic English.
Instructions for submitting one long piece of work instead of two short pieces
To submit one longer piece of work in your application instead of two shorter pieces, you should upload this document in the first 'Written work' slot on the 'Supporting Documents' tab of the Application Form. In the second 'Written work' slot, you should upload a PDF document with the following statement:
'I have included one long essay in lieu of two short essays. I have checked the course page to confirm this is permitted for this course.'
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.