MSc in Taxation | University of Oxford
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MSc in Taxation

About the course

The MSc in Taxation is taught jointly by the Law Faculty and the Centre for Business Taxation based at the Saïd Business School. It is aimed at both lawyers and non-lawyers, and combines intensive engagement with the detail of relevant case law and statute with broader theoretical and inter-disciplinary perspectives.

Structure, content and assessment

The MSc in Taxation offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of taxation which will encompass perspectives drawn from the fields of law, economics and accounting and will provide students with a thorough understanding of policy issues relating to taxation as well as the technical aspects of the subject, and of an understanding of the relationship between the two.

The course is part-time only and undertaken over a period of 24 months. It comprises three compulsory courses - Tax Principles and Policy, Principles of International Taxation, and the Tax Research Round Table course – and six electives, typically three per year. Electives will be selected from a list of options which will include courses such as UK Corporate Tax, EU Tax Law, Value Added Tax, Comparative Tax Systems, Taxation of Corporate Finance, Tax Treaties, US International Tax and Tax and Public Policy.

The compulsory courses are taught in three one-week residential periods held in Oxford. The first, Tax Principles and Policy, takes place at the start of the programme, typically in September of the first year. The second, Principles of International Taxation, takes place in January of the first year. The third, the Tax Research Round Table, takes place at the start of the second year of the course.

The electives are taught by intensive weekend sessions or in other three- and/or four-day blocks of time spread throughout both years. All teaching will take place in Oxford and attendance is compulsory. The degree will feature a combination of forms of assessment. Tax Principles and Policy will be assessed by way of an exam in Oxford. Principles of International Taxation will be assessed by way of two 3,000-word assignments. The Tax Research Round Table course will be assessed by way of an extended essay. Elective courses typically will be assessed by way of two 3,000 word assignments. A 12,000-word dissertation in lieu of two elective courses is also available, with the permission of a programme director.

Pattern of teaching, learning and supervision

All courses will be taught by a combination of lectures and interactive classes. Lectures will introduce students to topics and provide a high-level overview of key questions and insights to be considered. Classes serve as a forum for the discussion of key issues and will consolidate students’ understanding through discussion with the course leaders and their fellow students. Preparation for lectures and classes will be directed by detailed reading lists and students will be expected to undertake substantial independent reading.

There will be opportunities for one-to-one meetings with supervisors but students will also be encouraged to form study groups and to participate in discussion groups both face-to-face, during the residential courses, and remotely, through a virtual learning environment and social media, between the residential sessions.

The compulsory Tax Research Round Table course will also involve lectures, but as the course culminates in an individual exercise, in the form of an extended essay, its learning methods are more research orientated and include a research methods session and a tutorial with a designated supervisor.

Graduate destinations

Students will generally pursue careers in taxation law and regulation, accountancy, and economics. The Careers Service provides advice and support for students seeking to pursue careers in a wide range of professions. The Law Faculty has an extensive network of relationships within the legal profession and each year offers a number of talks and events run by law firms and barristers’ chambers.

Related courses

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 2018-19

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) in law, economics or accounting; or, if in another subject, applicants should have a suitable professional qualification and/or experience, or other evidence of an interest in taxation. 

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.7 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.

Applicants who cannot satisfy the upper second-class degree requirement may be considered in exceptional circumstances where there is alternative evidence of real academic strength and aptitude for the degree, such as professional qualifications from the Law Society, ICAEW, CIOT or overseas equivalent professional body plus at least two years professional tax experience; or at least five years experience working in tax and other evidence of academic capacity (eg having written articles or a book).

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 expected. They may, in certain circumstances, advantage an application but it is appreciated that the opportunity to publish may vary considerably depending on factors such as the stage the student has reached in their graduate career and the structure of the course(s) they have studied. Consequently, a lack of publications will not be assessed negatively, but may be of particular assistance where an applicant is relying on experience as part of their qualification.

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

Work experience in a relevant field may be an advantage but is not a requirement.

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 Law Faculty 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 Law Faculty and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff.
  • A supervisor may be found outside the Law Faculty, eg from the Centre for Business Taxation.

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.


The Law Faculty is fortunate to have outstanding library facilities provided by the Bodleian Law Library. As part of the Bodleian, the Law Library shares in all the advantages of being part of the largest university library in the country, including the receipt, under legal deposit legislation, of legal material published in the UK and Ireland. The Law Library has undergone a major refurbishment which has resulted in upgraded facilities for all students.

The Law Library offers the vast majority of its holdings - some 550,000 items - on open shelves across four floors. Selected low-use material is housed in a book storage facility and is retrievable within half a day. The library serves a large community of graduate readers and academics in their research requirements. The strength of the collection lies in the depth of its UK holdings, combined with extensive holdings for European and Commonwealth jurisdictions. The international law collection is exceptional, as are the collections for Roman law, jurisprudence and official papers. Other significant fields include the US and comparative law. To complement the paper collection, the Law Library provides a remarkable range of online legal resources.

The library has 40 reader workstations, which provide access to the internet, legal databases, Microsoft Office applications and Endnote. There is a Graduate Reading Room, a large seminar room, two IT rooms and three small ‘discussion rooms’ for private study or group work. The wireless network extends throughout the library. The law librarians offer a range of classes and one-to-one sessions to support the specific research needs of graduate students.


There are over 1,100 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course and college 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.

A number of Research Council awards are available each year from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), and Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).


Annual fees for entry in 2018-19

Fee status

Annual Course fees

College fees

Total annual fees

(including Islands)

The fees shown above are the annual tuition and college fees for this course for entry in the stated academic year; 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.

Tuition and college 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 tuition and college fees).

For more information about tuition fees, college 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

In the first year, you will attend two five-day residentials in Oxford. In the second year, you will attend one five-day residential in Oxford. Students will be required to pay for accommodation and evening meals during the residential, the likely cost of which is expected to be in the range £280 to £480 per residential.

Living costs

In addition to your tuition and college fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2018-19 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,015 and £1,555 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. If you are studying part-time your living costs may vary depending on your personal circumstances but you must still ensure that you will have sufficient funding to meet these costs for the duration of your course.

How to apply

You do not need to make contact with academic staff before you apply. All course information is available via the Law Faculty website.

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.


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.

Personal statement:
Around 300 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 of tax that interest you and/or you intend to specialise in.

This will be assessed for evidence of your motivation for studying tax at Oxford, your interest in tax and evidence of relevant academic, research or practical experience.

Written work:
One essay of 2,000 words

An essay or other writing sample, written in English, is required. An extract of the requisite length from longer work is also permissible, but in such cases the work should be prefaced by a note which puts the work in context.

If possible, written work should be on a topic relating to tax. If not, written work on other topics may be submitted. It may be academic work or material written in a professional context.

This will be assessed for a 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, academic preferred in most cases

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.

Academic references are preferred but up to two professional references are acceptable and one is required from those offering experience as part of their qualification. Exceptionally, three professional references may be accepted if you can make a compelling case to the effect that academic references are not available.

Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement and motivation.

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