Introduction to DPIR Graduate Research Degrees
DPIR is the proud home of leading thinkers in the study of government and politics, international relations, and political theory and philosophy.
If you want to complete doctoral research in politics at Oxford, you can choose from two DPhil (PhD) courses: either Politics or International Relations. As an Oxford DPhil student you will be a member of a distinguished academic community renowned for its cutting-edge research and intensive and individualised teaching and supervision. It is a community from which you will draw support and guidance, but which will also learn from your contribution to its work.
How DPhil degrees work
Both the Politics DPhil and International Relations DPhil are intended for three or four years of full-time doctoral study, or six to eight years of part-time study. You can read more about key milestones for DPhil students on the University's website.
Candidates for the DPhil are normally admitted with Probationer Research Student (PRS) status.
In your first year (or two years, if you are a part-time DPhil student), you will complete work for your supervisor, as well as a range of coursework. You may also be required to attend departmental research seminars, at which DPhil students often present their own research.
You will develop your research proposal and skills, and produce a draft section or sections of the thesis, in order to apply for the Transfer of Status that will end your probationary period as a research student.
DPIR's Graduate Studies Committees require satisfactory completion of this training programme as a condition of students' change of status from PRS to DPhil.
Once you have been admitted to full DPhil status, you must achieve confirmation of that status by the end of your ninth term as a full-time doctoral student, or by the end of your 18th term as a part-time student.
You will be assigned an Academic Supervisor who will advise and guide you as you progress through the different stages of your doctoral research. The department also appoints a departmental assessor who takes the lead on the two internal assessments that doctoral students have to pass prior to the final submission of the thesis. Your college will also assign you an adviser upon whose general pastoral advice and support you will be able to call.
In the early phases of your research, your supervisor will work with you to identify the particular research training needs that you will have which could be provided by the Department.
DPhil students whose chosen methods are quantitative will be supported with the appropriate statistical training; for those who need to do primary research in foreign languages, appropriate training will be given wherever possible; and special courses are run for those requiring training in the use of archives or in the deployment of qualitative methods
Successful completion of an Oxford DPhil requires an intense and sustained level of personal motivation and focus within a world-class research and teaching environment.
As a doctoral student of the Department, you will have access to outstanding library and computing resources within the Social Sciences Division, elsewhere in the University and, in most cases, in your college.
Doctoral theses will normally require substantial original research, often involving archives, fieldwork, interviewing or other forms of data generation and collection.
Once you have completed your thesis, you will be examined orally in a Viva.
Accordingly, the standards set for award of the degree are appropriately high. The University’s regulations require that a candidate meet two criteria for the DPhil to be awarded: first, that in her or his thesis, it should be clear that the candidate possesses a good general knowledge of the particular field of learning within which the subject of the thesis falls; and second, that she or he has in the thesis made a significant and substantial contribution in the particular field of learning within which the thesis falls.
The Social Sciences Division runs network events to enable DPhil students to meet their colleagues not only within Politics and IR but with other social science disciplines. For doctoral students nearing completion of their thesis, the Division also runs career development events and training.
The department also offers website profiles to DPhil students, which can be tagged and flagged for potential recruiters as 'Job market candidates'. In 2021 the Department set up termly 'DPIR Alumni Career Conversations'; virtual panel discussions and Q&As with alumni who have gone on to various careers of interest around the world. You can read more about DPIR alumni careers in our 'Life after DPIR' alumni interview series.