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The graduate research experience

Supervision and training

As a graduate student you will be assigned an academic supervisor, who is responsible for your academic well-being and progress. In addition to academic supervision, you will also have a college pastoral advisor.

You would expect to meet with your supervisor at least four times a term. In the early stages, your supervisor will assist you in settling into the pace of academic study, helping you identify your training needs in order to fulfil your research and will facilitate appropriate networking across the Collegiate University. As your research progresses, your supervisor will advise you on research design, comment on chapter drafts and provide guidance on any fieldwork.

In the final stages, your supervisor will comment on your final drafts as you progress to submission of your thesis and help you prepare for any viva examination. Your supervisor may also provide career guidance as you plan your future beyond your period of study.

How does supervision work at Oxford?


As a graduate student you may undertake a period of overseas fieldwork for your MPhil or DPhil research.

Fieldwork may involve:

  • Elite interviews with policy-makers and political elites or interviews in the field
  • Desk research using archival or library resources
  • Surveys to produce larger data sets for quantitative analysis
  • Ethnographic fieldwork conducted over a period of time by living in a community/country or working in an institution

In the last few years students from the Department have spent time undertaking research in Angola, Argentina, Belarus, Burundi, China, Colombia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, India, Kenya, Russia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, Tanzania, Uganda, Europe and North America.

Some funding for fieldwork is available through a number of Departmental and College schemes to which students can apply. Your supervisor will help you plan your fieldwork and training is provided through research design workshops and sessions on specific techniques such as elite interviewing and panel data.

Students' talk about their fieldwork experiences