Key milestones for DPhil students | University of Oxford
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Key milestones for DPhil students

You are expected to submit your thesis within three or four years from being admitted as a Probationer Research Student (PRS)

Key timings for DPhil students – Transfer and Confirmation [pdf] (except for MPLS and Medical Sciences Doctoral Training Programmes, and the Biochemistry: OU/TSRI programme in Medical Sciences).

Purpose of Transferring from PRS to DPhil status

The purpose of the transfer process is to ensure that you have a convincing research proposal, that you are making satisfactory progress in its development, and to satisfy the assessors that the work is potentially of DPhil quality. The General Regulations for admission to DPhil status are set out in the Examination Regulations, along with information on Special Regulations for particular subjects. Course handbooks also provide information on the process.

Timing of transfer to DPhil status

You must transfer before the end of your fourth term. The timings for students on the MPLS and Medical Sciences Doctoral Training Programmes and on the Biochemistry: OU/TSRI programme in Medical Sciences are slightly different. Please contact your Programme Director/Administrator for further information.

Application for transfer to DPhil status

To apply for transfer to DPhil status you must submit a completed GSO2 form or for Medical Sciences a GSO2 MSD form, and this will include:

  • (i) a statement from your supervisor that he or she approves the proposed subject for a thesis and considers you well-fitted to undertake advanced research;
  • (ii) a statement of support for the application from your college or hall.

You must also submit:

  • (iii) a statement of the subject of the proposed thesis and details of the manner in which you propose to treat it;
  • (iv) written work – your faculty, department or division will determine the precise manner of this written work.

Students of Archaeology, Economics, International Development, Law, Mathematics, Statistics, Computer Science, Sociology and Social Policy & Intervention should also submit subject specific forms with their GSO2 form.

The Examination Regulations and/or your course handbook also provide information on the process.

Assessment for transfer to DPhil status

Your faculty or department will inform you of the particular criteria that you will have to meet for a successful transfer to DPhil status. Two assessors, neither of whom will be your supervisor, will consider your application and interview you. Your assessors will then submit a reasoned written report to the relevant board in your faculty/department or division and a recommendation as to whether you should be transferred to DPhil status. See Examination Regulations.

Unsuccessful transfer applications

If your first application for transfer to DPhil status is not approved, you are permitted to make one further application and will be granted an extension of time for one term if this is necessary for the purposes of making the application. Assessors may recommend that you should transfer to a lower level of research degree course (MLitt or the MSc by Research), as appropriate.

Appeals (transfer)

If you wish to contest the outcome of the transfer assessment, either on procedural or academic grounds, you should first discuss the matter with your Director of Graduate Studies. Where a concern is not satisfactorily settled by that means, then you, your supervisor, or your college authority may put your appeal directly to the Proctors. The Proctors can only consider whether the procedure for reaching an academic decision were properly followed, and cannot challenge the academic judgment of the assessors. View the University complaints and appeals processes.

Loss of Probationer Research Student status

You will lose your Probationer Research Student (PRS) status if you have not transferred status (DPhil, MLitt or MSc by Research),  before the end of your fourth term (exceptions apply).

This is extended if you have been granted one term’s extension following an unsuccessful transfer application or if you have been granted a deferral of Transfer of Status for one or two terms by the appropriate board. The board concerned may also deprive you of such status, after consultation with your college/hall and supervisor.

You will lose your status as a PRS student if you have not achieved transfer after two applications. If you lose your status as a PRS and have not gained admission to another status, you are no longer registered as a student of the University. See Examination Regulations.

ProgrammeTransfer Deadline
MPLS Doctoral Training Programme6 terms
Medical Sciences Doctoral Training Centre6 terms
Biochemistry OU/TSRI6 terms
All other programmes4 terms

 

Confirmation of DPhil status

The purpose of confirmation is to confirm that you are continuing to work at the appropriate doctoral level and to provide assurance that if the work on the thesis continues to develop satisfactorily, then consideration of submission within the course of three further terms would appear to be reasonable. The General Regulations for confirmation of status are set out in the Examination Regulations, along with information on Special Regulations for particular subjects. Course handbooks also provide information on the process.

Timing of confirmation of status

You must apply for confirmation of status within nine terms of your admission as a PRS. Students in the Medical Sciences Division are advised to undertake confirmation of status in their eighth term. Normally a minimum of three months should elapse between successful confirmation of status and submission of your thesis. The timings for students on the MPLS and Medical Sciences Doctoral Training Programmes and on the Biochemistry: OU/TSRI programme in Medical Sciences are different. Please see below or contact your Programme Director/Administrator for further information.

ProgrammeConfirmation Deadline
MPLS Doctoral Training Programme10 terms
Medical Sciences Doctoral Training Centre10 terms
Biochemistry OU/TSRI15 terms
All other programmes9 terms

 

Deferral of confirmation

You may be permitted by the relevant board in your faculty/department or division to defer your application for confirmation of status for a maximum of three terms. View application forms for deferral of confirmation of status.

Application for confirmation of DPhil status

To apply for confirmation of DPhil status, you must submit a completed GSO14 form or for Medical Sciences a GS014MSD form, and this will include:

  • (i) certification from your supervisor that your progress has been such as to warrant confirmation of status;
  • (ii) a statement of support for the application from your college or hall.

In addition, students in Medical Sciences must provide a full thesis contents list, milestones of any remaining work to be undertaken and dates for the submission of draft chapters to the supervisors to comment on.

Students of Archaeology, International Development, Law, Mathematics, Statistics, Computer Science, Sociology and Social Policy and Intervention should also submit subject specific forms with their GSO14 form.

Assessment for confirmation of DPhil status

Your faculty or department will inform you of the particular criteria that you will have to meet to successfully confirm DPhil status. Two assessors, neither of whom will be your supervisor, will consider your application and interview you. The assessors will make a reasoned written report to the relevant board in your faculty/department or division and a recommendation as to whether your DPhil status should be confirmed.  See Examination Regulations.

Unsuccessful confirmation applications

If your first application for confirmation of status is not approved, you are permitted to make one further application, and will be granted an extension of time for one term if this is necessary for the purposes of making the application. See Examination Regulations.

If the assessors do not consider that your progress warrants confirmation of status they may:

  • (a) recommend resubmission of the application at a later date within the normal timetable (nine terms from admission as a graduate student)
  • (b) exceptionally, recommend an extension of DPhil status by one term in order to allow time for resubmission of the application, or
  • (c) recommend transfer to MLitt or MSc by Research status.

If after two applications, your assessors cannot make any of these recommendations, you will lose your student status and will no longer be registered as a student of the University.

Appeals (confirmation)

If you wish to contest the outcome of the confirmation assessment, either on procedural or academic grounds, you should first discuss the matter with your Director of Graduate Studies. Where a concern is not satisfactorily settled by that means, then you, your supervisor, or your college authority may put your appeal directly to the Proctors. The Proctors can only consider whether the procedure for reaching an academic decision were properly followed, and cannot challenge the academic judgment of the assessors. View the University complaints and appeals processes.

Students moved to MLitt or MSc by Research status at transfer or confirmation

If you moved to MLitt or MSc by Research status at the transfer stage

You must submit within nine terms from the start of your research degree. There is no confirmation process. If you have not paid six terms of fees when you are transferred to MLitt or MSc by Research status you will continue paying fees up to a maximum of six terms. If you have already paid for six terms of fees by the time you have transferred from PRS status, you will no longer be liable for fees. If you applied for transfer to DPhil status in the sixth term, were unsuccessful, applied again for DPhil status in the seventh term, and were transferred to MLitt or MSc by Research status on the second attempt, you must pay for the seventh term as you were still working towards DPhil status during that seventh term. However, University and College continuation charges may be payable. Further information is available via the fee liability page.

If you were admitted to DPhil status, and then moved to the status of MLitt or MSc by Research at the confirmation stage

You must submit within nine terms from the start of your research degree. You will therefore need to apply for an extension of time. You will no longer be liable for University tuition fees, provided you have paid at least six terms of University tuition fees while registered for a DPhil. However, University and College continuation charges may be payable. Further information is available via the fee liability page.