Prospective applicants should ordinarily have a high Upper Second Class or a First Class Honours degree from a UK university, or its international equivalent. The degree should be in Political Science or International Relations, or in a closely related discipline (e.g. Economics, History, Philosophy, Sociology, Law, etc). However, each application will be assessed upon its own merits and the Department is by no means averse to receiving applications from candidates with unconventional backgrounds. We would expect a GPA of 3.7 or above from students who have studied at a university that uses the US grading system. Applicants who intend to apply for direct entry to the DPhil will need a Master's qualification in addition to an undergraduate degree.
Please consult the Notes of Guidance for Applicants for Graduate Study for further information.
The University requires candidates to apply online and their referees to submit online references. Paper applications are only acceptable in exceptional cases where it is not possible for you to apply online. You should consult the Application Guide for full details.
To access the online application system, which is hosted by Embark on behalf of the University, please visit www.graduate.ox.ac.uk/applyonline
For guidance on paper applications please consult the following pages http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/postgraduate_courses/apply/paper_guidance.html
Applications must be submitted before the application deadline, Friday 4 January 2013. All of the completed applications for a particular course that have been submitted by a particular date are gathered together and are then considered alongside and in comparison to each other. There are several possible application deadlines within the University, and individual departments choose those ones that are most appropriate for their courses. The deadline for all of the graduate programmes of study offered by the Department can be found in the Course Guide. It is not possible to consider applications outside of this application deadline.
The application codes for the Department's degree programmes are as follows:
A fluent command of written and spoken English is essential for every course that the Department offers. All applicants who do not speak English as a native language are asked to submit a satisfactory IELTS or TOEFL test certificate at the higher level. If you do not do so, your application will still be considered but you should be aware that any offer of admission may be made conditional upon the submission of a satisfactory test certificate. If you think that your command of English is good enough to warrant exemption from this requirement, then you should make your case in a separate statement and include it with your application materials. The minimum requirements are as follows:
Please note that a certificate that is more than two years old is not acceptable.
You are not required to submit a GRE test score with your application materials for any of the courses offered by the Department of Politics and International Relations.
All graduate students at Oxford University are members of a department and also of a college.You can state a college preference on your application form or, if you have no particular preference, you can let us assign you a college.
Please use the College search tool to explore the colleges that will accept application for your chosen programme.
Stating a college preference or letting us assign you a college will not affect how the department assesses your application and ultimately whether or not we decide to make you an offer. If you do receive an offer from the department then you will also receive an offer from a college or hall, although this might not be the college you stated as your preference if you indicated one.
All Oxford’s colleges and halls offer an extra dimension to student life at Oxford, and you can be sure that the college or hall that does make you an offer will extend a very warm welcome to you. The teaching for your course will be provided by the Department, so your choice of college will not affect the delivery of your course. In the first instance, you should consider whether you would like to be a member of a college that accepts undergraduates as well as graduate students, or of one that admits graduate students only. There are five graduate colleges: Linacre, Nuffield, St Antony's, St Cross and Wolfson. It is worth noting that Harris Manchester College is for mature students only, and that All Souls College does not admit graduate students. Other factors that you might like to consider are the location of the colleges, their library facilities and the atmosphere and ethos of each individual college. The largest bodies of Politics and International Relations students are based at (in order of size) St Antony's, Nuffield and Balliol. Nuffield has a particular specialism in the Social Sciences, and the emphasis at St Antony's is upon area studies expertise. However, there are groups of Politics and International Relations students at each college that admits from our programmes.
All of the programmes that the Department offers commence at the start of Michaelmas Term, i.e. at the beginning of October. It is not possible to begin one of our degree programmes at any other point in the year.
The Department does not ordinarily interview applicants. Your candidature will be considered solely upon the basis of the materials that you supply with your application.
We have tried to provide as much information as possible on the Department website and in the ebrochure. If you have any questions that are not dealt with here, then please do not hesitate to call or to contact us electronically (see contact details below).
It is possible to apply for more than one of the degree programmes that the Department offers. However, you will need to submit a separate set of application materials for each programme that you apply for.
Your eligibility for funding will depend upon your own circumstances and upon the terms by which individual funding bodies award their scholarships. You can find an introductory guide to funding here. UK and EU students are usually eligible to apply to one of the two main research councils, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) or the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). There are a variety of funding schemes for overseas students, about which more information can be found at the Student Funding and International Office.
You can find detailed information about university tuition fees here. The college fee for Graduate students studying in 2013/14 is £2,659. University fees and college fees are fixed for each year, and are likely to increase between one year and the next. In addition to your tuition and college fees you must ensure that you have adequate funds to cover your living expenses whilst you study at Oxford. For more information on living costs please see here
You may take on a part-time job in order to help with the costs of studying, but you would need to ensure that it does not interfere with the work for your course. European and overseas students must get the permission of their supervisor and may work no more than twenty hours per week during term. They may work fulltime during vacations. There are no restrictions upon UK students, though obviously their earnings will be taxed if they work beyond a certain threshold. Colleges offer a number of small jobs that can be combined with study, such as library jobs and occasional portering duties, and the Department operates a Tutorial Register, so that suitably-qualified graduates who have undertaken the necessary training can tutor undergraduate students.
The Department offers a limited amount of financial assistance for research visits and expenses. Additional funds for attending conferences may also be available from colleges, especially if you are presenting a paper. Students who hold a studentship from a research council may also be able to claim back some of the costs of these activities.
Supervision is arranged by the Department. In the case of MSc or DPhil students, we will appoint a supervisor at the time that an offer of admission is made. Supervision for MPhil students, however, is usually arranged after we have met with you and discussed your research interests during the induction week. We are unable to discuss research proposals or supervision prior to an offer of admission being made. We aim to make the admissions as impartial and as fair as possible, and we are not able to offer feedback to some candidates when the same privilege cannot be extended to all.
We aim to get around 14 students on each of the Politics MPhil courses, and around 30 on the IR MPhil. Each year we seek to admit 30 or 40 students to our research degrees.
The MSc is a one-year research preparation Master's that is intended for students who intend to proceed directly to doctoral research. It is not a stand-alone degree. Students take the MPhil for a variety of reasons, most commonly to deepen their substantive knowledge of the discipline over a two-year period of study, or to prepare themselves for a doctorate. It is a stand-alone degree. The MPhil allows a greater range of taught courses to be taken (see optional courses) and the thesis should be 30,000 words in length rather than 15,000 words that is required on the MSc.
Applicants who are admitted to the MSc are expected to proceed to the doctorate. However, the transfer to DPhil status is by no means guaranteed. You will need to complete the MSc successfully and to provide evidence to the Graduate Studies Committee that you are suitably prepared for doctoral study.
On average, taught courses require essays and projects to be submitted on a weekly basis, together with preparation for examinations, and the undertaking of original research. The courses have minimum requirements of reading and presentation and successful students will read outside of their recommended reading material. Study at Oxford should definitely be seen as a full time endeavour, and all students find the workload intensive (and rewarding).
Yes, the DPhil is the same degree as that which is called a PhD at other institutions.
It is normally expected that a two-year MPhil will lead to a two-year DPhil, although this will vary with the relationship between the MPhil thesis research and the DPhil research. A very small number of students have completed a DPhil within a year of completing the MPhil, but generally most have taken three years.
Successful applicants are admitted for the course to which they applied. Acceptance upon one course does not necessarily indicate suitability for another. In general, we are reluctant to move students between courses once they have been admitted, unless there is a strong reason for such a request being made.
The department has a number of mature students, and there are no age restrictions on any of its courses. Harris Manchester College admits mature students only.
If your research requires field research overseas, you will be encouraged to do this. Funds may be available from your College, your research grant, or in some cases, the Department.
You don't have to bring our own computer to Oxford, the Department does have computer facilities. Further resources are available in most Colleges and at the University's computing services department. However, many students do bring their own computers, and as graduate accommodation in many Colleges increasingly provides 24 hour internet access, you may well find bringing your own computer very helpful. For more information and advice for new students about IT within the University see the Welcome to IT pages.
The Department has a rigorous procedure for assessing applications, and once accepted, you should certainly have the aptitude required. However, the investment of time and energy is rewarded with a high level of fulfilment and an excellent graduate experience at Oxford and in the Department.
Masters: The Graduate Studies Committee will allocate you a supervisor based upon your research interests and the availability of staff for supervision. Feel free to express a preference, but the Department cannot guarantee that academic staff will be able to accept new students according to demand.
Graduate students are taught by Department subject specialists based throughout the University. The "About the Department" section of this website has a list of our current staff (note, some staff may have elected to not allow their profiles visible outside the University).
The tutorial system is the traditional method of teaching in Oxford and is like no other. Tutorials comprise one to one (or one to two/three) exploration of student's work. You will be expected to present defend and discuss work it with a subject specialist, and are encouraged to develop your ideas and articulate them clearly. Teaching may also be in lectures, classes and seminars. Seminars and classes differ from tutorials in the degree of interaction and class size. Most students are taught in all forms during their study at Oxford.
Unlike many other universities, teaching at Oxford occurs in several different places. Although you read for your subject at a College, it is quite unlikely that you will be taught there. Lectures are given in the Examination Schools, and they are open to all members of the University. Seminars and classes may be provided in the Department of Politics and International Relations or in the College of the course provider. Tutorials will be held the College office of the person giving the tutorial. This is one of the reasons a bike is handy to have in Oxford.
You may well be aware of field experts here at Oxford. However, if you want to find out more, first refer to the Department academic staff list, and from there, you will be able to read the home pages of individual staff members, including publications, research interests
A significant proportion of doctoral students go on to pursue teaching careers in academia, but students also pursue a wide variety of careers outside academia - certainly too many to list here. Oxford affords all students excellent opportunities to meet senior people from the world of politics, international relations and business, and the careers service also provides students with excellent access to information and resources.
Oxford is a large University organised by independent Colleges and most students services (such as pastoral care, catering, accommodation and social activities) are provided in College. However Oxford also provides University offices for student representation and supplies (the Oxford University Student Union), computer services (such as computer training, trouble shooting and printing), career services and accommodation. No student should ever be without ample advice and help if they need it.
All students need to be in residence for two years of their course, though if it is essential for doctoral students to be overseas as part of their research this will be supported.
Students come to Oxford from all backgrounds, countries and cultures. In term time Oxford is truly cosmopolitan, especially in the graduate community, and the Department of Politics and International Relations is no different. If you get involved you'll feel part of things immediately, and students are encouraged to take part in all that Oxford has to offer, specifically department meetings and graduate research seminars organised by students and staff in the department.
Colleges act as a base for the duration of your time as a graduate student. They provide meals, chapels, social events, sporting clubs, and each has its own library (of varying degrees of size and specialism). Several colleges also provide accommodation for graduate students, either for one year, two years and exceptionally, three years. Some colleges offer scholarships for applicant students. You should check their individual college websites for further details.
Yes. Oxford has a wide range of accommodation, offered by Colleges, the University itself, and by a large number of letting agencies and private leases. Contact the University's accommodation office for more information, or check out your college choices.
Oxford's library services are outstanding. The Bodleian library receives all works published in the UK and these can be referenced in its many reading rooms. The Department library contains a comprehensive range of basic collections for reading lists. College libraries are very helpful and the strongest in the field of politics are Nuffield College, St. Antony's and All Souls. Within Oxford there are also specialist institutes and centres such as the International Development Centre, the Oriental Institute, the Centre for Chinese Studies and St Antony's College. You will need to be prepared to traverse Oxford to find all the resources you need, though books can be ordered electronically and most journals can be accessed online.
The Department for Politics and International Students is fully adapted for disabled students. However, many of Oxford's buildings are centuries old, and some students may find some routes lengthy. Please contact us for further details, or alternatively contact your chosen Colleges and the Oxford University Student Union for further advice.