Progressing from Masters to DPhil
Students working in Selden End of the Old Bodleian Library, Oxford, UK
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Key milestones for DPhil students: readmission and confirmation


If you are following a Master’s course at Oxford, you may be able to apply to be admitted to DPhil status providing:

  • you reach a suitable level of attainment in your Master’s course;
  • the research topic proposed for the DPhil is a development of the research contained in the Master's thesis;
  • appropriate supervision is available.

Readmission is available via Student Self Service. Applications should be made by the relevant application deadline. To be considered for the majority of University funding options, you need to apply by the January application deadline. Your course handbook also provides information on the process.

Confirmation of DPhil status: purpose and timing

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 Special Regulations for particular subjects. Course handbooks also provide information on the process.

You must achieve confirmation of status within:

  • three terms after starting a DPhil from the MPhil or BPhil (unless otherwise specified in Special Regulations).

Normally a minimum of three months should elapse between successful confirmation of status and submission of your thesis.

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 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.

You must also confirm that you have completed the University’s research integrity training.

Students of Archaeology, Law, Mathematics, Computer Science, Statistics, Sociology and Social Policy and Social Work should also submit subject specific forms with their GSO14 and 14A form.

Assessment processes vary by department/faculty. See your course handbook for details.

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 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 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. 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. Further information regarding fees is available via the fee liability page. 

View key milestones for MLitt and MSc by Research students.


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 judgement of the assessors. View the University complaints and appeals processes.

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