For postgraduates

A wide range of taught Masters degrees are offered across the Social Sciences Division which are suitable for those wanting to further a specialist interest (e.g. for career development purposes) or for students seeking research training in preparation for doctoral study. Professional training and executive education courses are also offered by a number of departments.



Postgraduate taught courses include Master of Science (MSc) and Master of Studies (MSt) programmes, two-year Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degrees and a range of Postgraduate Diplomas (PG Dip). MSc and MSt degrees are 9-12 months long and whilst the structure and requirements vary by course, they typically include taught components, research methods training and production of a dissertation or thesis of approximately 10,000-15,000 words.  Teaching will often comprise a range of core and/or optional modules, taught by means of lectures and seminars. Assessment is normally by a combination of written examinations and course assignments.

Information about taught postgraduate courses, application deadlines and how to apply can be found on the University’s Graduate Admissions webpages.  


The Doctor of Philosophy qualification (known in Oxford as the DPhil and elsewhere as PhD) is an advanced research degree representing a significant and substantial piece of independent research. Examination is by submission of a thesis and an oral examination (viva).

Students who undertake doctoral study are normally admitted as Probationer Research Students (PRS), and are then taken through two formal progress assessments to ensure that their work is developing satisfactorily. The Division has a Code of Practice on Supervision, which sets out the expectations placed on the primary supervisor, their appointment and their responsibilities. It also offers recommended meeting frequencies and procedures for changing supervision arrangements. There is a separate checklist of topics to cover in initial meetings (Annexe A), and a set of research student responsibilities (Annexe B). The University has a wealth of additional structures and resources in place to ensure that students are well supported throughout their studies. It is expected that the thesis will be submitted after three, or at most four, years from the date of admission.

Requirements for admission and progression vary a little by discipline and in most cases students are required to undertake, or have undertaken, a masters programme as preparation for doctoral study. Information about admissions criteria, how to apply and application deadlines can be found on the University’s Graduate Admissions webpages. 

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