General Regulations for the Degree of Master of Letters

§1. Degree of Master of Letters

  • 1. Any person who has been admitted to the status of Student for the Degree of Master of Letters and who has satisfied the conditions prescribed by this decree may supplicate for the Degree of Master of Letters.

  • 2. The Education Committee shall have power to make and vary such regulations as may be necessary for carrying out the duties laid upon it and upon the Registrar by this section.

  • 3. For the purposes of this section the words ‘board’, ‘faculty board’, ‘board of the faculty’, 'divisional board' shall include any body with powers to admit students to read for the Degree of Master of Letters.

  • 4. A Student for the Degree of Master of Letters who is not a graduate of the University may wear the same gown as that worn by Students for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

§2. Status of Student for the Degree of Master of Letters

  • 1. The following may be admitted to the status of Student for the Degree of Master of Letters:

    • (i) a member of the University who, having held the status of Probationer Research Student under the provisions of the appropriate regulation has successfully completed the relevant qualifying test or tests and fulfilled the other requirements for transfer to M.Litt. status prescribed in §3 of this section;

    • (ii) a member of the University who, having held the status of student for another higher degree within the University, has successfully completed the relevant qualifying test or tests and fulfilled the other requirements for transfer to M.Litt. status prescribed in §3 of this section;

    • (iii) a member of the University who has successfully completed the examination for the Degree of Bachelor or Master of Philosophy or Master of Science by Coursework or of Bachelor of Civil Law and who has fulfilled the conditions laid down in §3 of this section for applicants in that category.

  • 2. It shall be the duty of the Registrar to keep a register of those admitted to the status of Student for the Degree of Master of Letters.

  • 3. A board may grant a student suspension from the Register or deprive a student of his or her status; and in such cases it shall at all times follow the procedures determined by the Education Committee by regulation. A board may also reinstate a student to the Register, provided that the number of terms a student has spent with the status of Student for the Degree of Master of Letters shall not have exceeded fifteen in all in the case of a full-time student, or eighteen terms in the case of a part-time student.

§3. Admission of Candidates to the Status of Student for the Degree of Master of Letters

  • 1. Candidates qualified under §2 of this section may apply for admission as a Student for the Degree of Master of Letters to the board concerned through the Registrar. Such applications shall be accompanied by:

    • (i) a statement from the supervisor that he or she approves the proposed subject for a thesis and considers the candidate well qualified to undertake research in that subject;

    • (ii) a statement of support for the application from the candidate's college;

    • (iii) a statement of the subject of the thesis and of the manner in which the candidate proposes to treat it.

  • 2. Candidates qualified under §2, cl. 1 (i) and (ii) of this section shall in addition be required to submit written work, the precise manner and form of which shall be determined by regulation by each board. This shall be considered by two assessors appointed by the board, neither of whom shall normally be the candidate's supervisor, and who shall examine the candidate orally. Upon completion of their examination of the candidate's application, the assessors shall make a recommendation as to whether it should be granted. In each case the assessors shall make a reasoned written report to the board in support of their recommendation.

  • 3. The board shall consider the candidate's application together with the material supplied in accordance with clauses 1 and 2 above. No application shall be granted unless the board is satisfied that the candidate is capable of carrying out research, that the subject of the thesis and the manner of its treatment proposed by the candidate are acceptable, that the subject is one which may profitably be pursued under the superintendence of the board, and that the board or department concerned is satisfied that it has adequate facilities to enable the research to be undertaken.

  • 4. Subject to the approval of the Education Committee, each board may determine by regulation what other test or condition, if any, it requires before admitting a candidate to M.Litt. status. Each board shall be empowered, without further authority, to require from the supervisor any further confidential report on an applicant's suitability to pursue research towards the Degree of Master of Letters.

  • 5. It shall be the duty of the Registrar to submit any application made under these provisions to the board concerned, and to notify the candidate of the outcome as soon as may be.

  • 6. A student qualified under §2, cl. 1 (i) or (ii) of this section whose application for transfer to M.Litt. status is successful shall be reckoned as having been admitted to the status of student for the Degree of Master of Letters with effect from the date of admission to his or her previous status, unless the board determines otherwise.

  • 7. A student qualified under §2, cl. 1 (iii) of this section whose application for admission to M.Litt. status is successful shall be admitted as a Student for the Degree of Master of Letters from the beginning of the term in which admission takes place.

§4. Supervision of Students for the Degree of Master of Letters

  • 1. Every candidate on admission as a Student for the Degree of Master of Letters shall be placed by the board concerned under the supervision of a member of the University or other competent person selected by the board, and the board shall have power for sufficient reason to change the supervisor of any student or to arrange for joint supervision by more than one supervisor, if it deems it necessary.

  • 2. It shall be the duty of a supervisor to direct and superintend the work of the student, to meet the student regularly, and to undertake such duties as shall from time to time be set out in the relevant Policy and Guidance issued by the Education Committee.

  • 3. The supervisor shall submit a report on the progress of the student to the board three times a year, and at any other time when the board so requests or he or she deems it expedient. The supervisor shall communicate the contents of the report to the student on each occasion that a report is made, so that the student is aware of the supervisor's assessment of his or her work during the period in question. In addition, the supervisor shall inform the board at once if he or she is of the opinion that the student is unlikely to reach the standard required for the Degree of Master of Letters.

    The Registrar shall send a copy of each report by the supervisor to the student's college, and to the Director or other nominated person under the faculty board concerned.

  • 4. It shall be the duty of every Student for the Degree of Master of Letters to undertake such guided work as his or her supervisor requests; to attend such meetings with his or her supervisor as the latter reasonably arranges; and to fulfil any other requirements of the General Board set out from time to time in the relevant Policy and Guidance issued by the Education Committee.

§5. Residence and other Requirements for Students for the Degree of Master of Letters

  • 1. Except as provided in clause 3 of this sub-section, a Student for the Degree of Master of Letters who has been admitted for full-time study under the provisions of §3 of this section shall be required to be on the Register for at least six terms, and during this period shall keep statutory residence and pursue his or her course of study at Oxford. Time spent outside Oxford during term as part of an academic programme approved by Council shall count towards residence for the purpose of this clause.

  • 2. The board concerned may dispense a student on application through his or her college and with the support of the supervisor from not more than three terms of such residence and study in Oxford, provided that such dispensation shall be granted only on grounds that it is necessary to the student's work that he or she should be allowed to study at some other place than Oxford.

  • 3. A student who has successfully completed the examination for the Degree of Master or Bachelor of Philosophy or of Master of Studies or of Master of Science by Coursework, or a student under the supervision of the Board of the Faculty of Law admitted under the provisions of §2, cl. 1 (iii) of this section, shall keep statutory residence and pursue his or her course of study at Oxford for not less than three terms after such admission.

  • 4. Any student who, after admission under §3 of this section, has kept statutory residence and studied at Oxford for a period of forty-two days, not necessarily consecutive, but falling within the same academic year, may apply to the board concerned for leave to reckon such period as one term towards the total required under clause 1 of this sub-section. The board shall have power to grant such leave provided that:

    • (i) no day so reckoned which falls within any term shall also be reckoned for the purpose of keeping that term;

    • (ii) no student who has kept the Michaelmas, or the Hilary, or the Trinity Term shall be allowed to reckon in this manner any day that falls within the eight weeks beginning on the first day of Full Term in Michaelmas, or Hilary, or Trinity Term, as the case may be;

    • (iii) no student shall be allowed to reckon in this manner more than one such period in the same academic year;

    • (iv) no student shall be allowed to reckon more than three terms in the same academic year.

  • For the purposes of this clause, the academic year shall begin on the first day of Michaelmas Term and end on the day preceding the first day of Michaelmas Term in the following calendar year.

  • Applications for leave to reckon any period as a term under the provisions of this clause shall be made to the board, through the Registrar, by the student's college.

  • 5. Part-time students holding the status of student for the Degree of Master of Letters shall in each case be required to pursue their course of study for a minimum of twelve terms, subject to the provisions of §3, cl. 6. Part-time students shall not be required to keep statutory residence, but must attend for such instruction as the board or other relevant body shall require, subject to the approval of the Education Committee. No student may apply to the relevant faculty board or other body for the appointment of examiners unless his or her supervisor has certified that the student has fulfilled the requirements for part-time students laid down by the board or other relevant body.

  • 6. For a student who changes from full-time to part-time study or vice-versa, the period of study will be calculated on the basis that each term of full-time study counts as 1 FTE, and each term of part-time study counts as 0.5 FTE, and the student must pursue his or her course of study for a minimum equivalent to six FTE terms.

  • 7. Any student may, with the permission of the board, alter the subject of research approved by the board, provided that the conditions of suitability set out in §2 above continue to be met. In such cases the date of the student's admission for all the purposes of this section shall remain unchanged, unless the board shall determine otherwise.

  • 8. If a full-time Student for the Degree of Master of Letters has held that status for nine terms, or a part-time student for fifteen terms, but has been prevented by exceptional circumstances from completing his or her thesis, the board shall have power to grant an extension of time for a period or periods not exceeding three terms in all for a full-time student, or three terms in all for a part-time student, to be determined by the board. Applications for such extension of time shall be made through the Registrar not later than the term in which the student is due to apply for permission to supplicate, and must be accompanied by statements of support from the student's society and supervisor.

  • 9. A Student for the Degree of Master of Letters shall cease to hold such status if:

    • (i) he or she shall have been refused permission to supplicate for the Degree of Master of Letters;

    • (ii) the board concerned shall in accordance with §2 cl. 3 of this section, and with the provisions set down by regulation by the Education Committee, and after consultation with the student's college and supervisor, have deprived the student of such status;

    • (iii) he or she shall have been transferred under the relevant provisions to another status;

    • (iv) he or she shall have failed to complete his or her thesis within nine terms for a full-time student, or fifteen terms for a part-time student or within such further extension of time as may have been granted by the board concerned.

§6. Examination of Students for the Degree of Master of Letters

  • 1. A Student for the Degree of Master of Letters who has fulfilled the applicable residence and other requirements set out in §5, and whose status has not expired, may apply for the appointment of examiners and for leave to supplicate for the Degree of Master of Letters.

  • 2. Such applications should be made to the board concerned through the Registrar. They shall include:

    • (i) a certificate from the student's college that the application has the approval of that college;

    • (ii) a certificate from the supervisor that the candidate has pursued his or her course of study in Oxford in accordance with the provisions of §5 of this section;

    • (iii) a statement by the candidate of what part, if any, of the thesis has already been accepted, or is being concurrently submitted, for any degree or diploma or certificate or other qualification in this University or elsewhere;

    • (iv) a statement by the candidate that the thesis is his or her own work, except where otherwise indicated.

  • 3. The supervisor shall consult with the candidate concerning possible examiners, and forward to the board the names of suggested examiners with details of any special considerations which the candidate wishes to make known about any potential examiners.

  • 4. The student shall also submit for examination, at such time as the Education Committee shall by regulation require:

    • (i) two printed or typewritten copies of a thesis;

    • (ii) two printed or typewritten copies of an abstract of the thesis, which shall not normally exceed 300 words.

  • 5. On receipt of an application for the appointment of examiners the board concerned shall appoint two examiners, neither of whom shall be the candidate's supervisor, and whose duties shall be:

    • (i) to consider the thesis and the abstract of it submitted by the student under the provisions of the preceding clause, provided that they shall exclude from consideration in making their report any part of the thesis which has already been accepted, or is being concurrently submitted, for any degree or other qualification in this University or elsewhere (except for the Degree of Bachelor of Civil Law of this University) and shall have the power to require the candidate to produce for their inspection the complete thesis so accepted or concurrently submitted;

    • (ii) to examine the student orally, and also, if they think fit, by a written examination, in the subject of the thesis and in other relevant subjects;

    • (iii) to report to the board through the Registrar;

    • (iv) to return to the student the copies of the thesis and of the abstract thereof submitted for examination.

  • The Education Committee shall have power to make regulations concerning the notice to be given of the oral examination and of the time and place at which it may be held. The examination may be attended by any member of the University in academic dress, while non-members may attend only with the consent of the examiners. In the case of theses submitted to the Divisional Boards of Social Sciences, Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences, and Medical Sciences, the Proctors after consultation with the relevant faculty board may decide (either at their own discretion or at the request of the candidate or the supervisor or department) to forbid the attendance of any person or all persons (other than the examiners and the candidate) or to impose any condition on attendance if and to the extent that such action is in their view necessary to protect the interests of the University or the candidate or both, and the examiners shall be informed accordingly and shall include this information in the notice of examination. The student, or his or her college, may within fourteen days of the date of the Proctors' decision appeal in writing to the Chair of the Education Committee (who may nominate another member of the committee, other than one of the Proctors, to adjudicate the appeal).

  • 6. Having completed the examination of a candidate for the first time, the examiners may make recommendation (i) or (ii) below only. Having completed the examination of a candidate who has revised and re-submitted his or her thesis, the examiners may make any one of recommendations (i) to (iii). The recommendations are:

    • (i) that the candidate should be granted leave to supplicate for the Degree of Master of Letters. In this case the examiners must include in their report statements that:

      • 1. the candidate possesses a good general knowledge of the field of learning within which the subject of the thesis falls;

      • 2. that the candidate has shown competence in investigating the chosen topic;

      • 3. that the candidate has made a worthwhile contribution to knowledge or understanding in the field of learning within which the subject of the thesis falls;

      • 4. that the thesis is presented in a lucid and scholarly manner;

      • 5. that it merits of the award of the Degree of Master of Letters.

    • Examiners shall bear in mind that their judgement of the extent of the candidate's contribution to knowledge or understanding of the relevant field of learning shall take into account what may reasonably be expected of a capable and diligent student after two years of full-time study in the case of a full-time student, or twelve terms in the case of a part-time student.

    • If the examiners are satisfied that the candidate's thesis is of sufficient merit for the degree but consider, nevertheless, that before the thesis is deposited the candidate should make minor corrections (which are not sufficiently substantial to justify reference back for re-examination), they must require the candidate to correct the thesis to their satisfaction before they submit their report. If the candidate has not completed these corrections within one calendar month of the date of the oral examination, his or her name shall be removed by the Registrar from the Register of Students for the Degree of Master of Letters, provided that the board may, on good cause shown by the candidate, grant an extension of time of one further calendar month in which the candidate may fulfil this requirement before the removal of his or her name from the Register. No subsequent extension shall be granted, but it shall be open to a candidate who has failed to fulfil this requirement within those one or two months in total, as the case may be, to apply to the board for reinstatement as a Student for the Degree of Master of Letters, with the support of his or her society and supervisor, upon submission to the Registrar of a copy of his or her thesis incorporating the required corrections, and upon payment of such reinstatement fee as may from time to time be prescribed by Council by decree. Permission to supplicate shall not be granted until this fee has been paid;

    • (ii) that the board should refer the thesis back to the student in order that he or she may revise it for re-examination. If the examiners so recommend they shall annex to their report to the board a statement (for transmission to the student) setting out the respects in which the thesis falls below the standard required for the degree. If the board adopts this recommendation the student shall retain the status and obligations of a Student for the Degree of Master of Letters, and may apply again for the appointment of examiners, in accordance with the procedure laid down in this subsection, not later than the third term after that in which the board gave permission so to reapply. If such permission shall have been given by a board during a vacation, it shall be deemed to have been given in the term preceding that vacation. On re-submission of the thesis, students should submit a separate report indicating the specific changes made. The word limit for the accompanying report shall be 1,000 words;

    • (iii) that the board should refuse the candidate's application for leave to supplicate.

  • 7. In each case the examiners must embody in their report, in support of their recommendation, an account of the scope, character, and quality of the candidate's work.

  • 8. On receipt of the examiners' report the board shall reach a decision on whether to accept the examiners' recommendation, provided that no candidate shall be given leave to supplicate unless the examiners have made the statements required in clause 6 (i) above.

  • 9. A candidate who has been granted leave to supplicate by a board shall be required to submit to the Examination Schools a copy of his or her thesis, incorporating any amendments or corrections required by the examiners and approved by the board, with a view to deposit in the Bodleian or other appropriate university library. [For candidates admitted on or after 1 October 2007: candidates are also required to submit an electronic copy of their thesis to the Oxford Research Archive, unless an exception to this requirement has been granted by the Proctors.] [For candidates supplicating on or after 1 July 2013: candidates are also required to submit the library copy to the Examination Schools and where applicable the electronic copy of the thesis to the Oxford Research Archive no later than the end of the fifth day before the date of the degree ceremony booked by the candidate for conferral of their degree.] Permission to supplicate shall in all cases be conditional upon fulfilment of these requirements.

  • 10. In an exceptional case in which a board is unable to accept the examiners' recommendation, or in which the examiners cannot reach an agreed recommendation, the board shall have power to appoint one or two new examiners as it deems necessary, to conduct such further examination of the candidate as the board may require. The board shall make a report on any such case to the Education Committee.

  • 11. The board may exempt a candidate who is being re-examined under the provisions of clause 6 (ii) above from the oral examination, provided that the examiners are able to certify that they are satisfied, without examining the candidate orally, that they can recommend to the board in the terms required by clause 6 (i) above that he or she be given leave to supplicate for the Degree of Master of Letters.

  • 12. It shall be the duty of the Registrar to notify the candidate of the board's decision as soon as may be. The Registrar shall also be responsible for publishing at the end of each academic year the names of those candidates to whom permission to supplicate has been granted during that year, together with a statement of the subject of the thesis written by each.

  • 13. When, on the conclusion of the investigation of a complaint made by a candidate, the Proctors recommend that a candidate be re-examined, the board shall have power to hold a new examination.