Research Degrees in Geography

1. Governance

The DPhil in Geography and the Environment shall be under the supervision of the Graduate Studies Committee of the School of Geography and the Environment.

2. Attendance requirements

The DPhil programme shall be offered on a full-time and part-time basis. Full-time students are required to meet the residence requirements set out in §6 of the General Regulations for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Part-time students are required to meet the following attendance requirements for their period of part-time study: attendance for a minimum of 30 days of university-based work each year, normally coinciding with the full terms of the academic year, to be arranged with the agreement of their supervisor, for the period that their names remain on the Register of Graduate Students unless individually dispensed by the Graduate Studies Committee. During a student's probationary period the attendance arrangements must take account of relevant induction and training events scheduled by the department.

3. Transfer to DPhil, MLitt or MSc by Research status

Students will normally be expected to achieve Transfer of Status in their third term after admission (or sixth term after admission for part-time students).

Students applying for Transfer of Status should:

  • (a) submit a report title and abstract (or no more than 300 words/one side of A4) to the Research Degrees Coordinator by Friday of eighth week of the first term (second term for part-time students);

  • (b) make a Transfer of Status presentation of fifteen minutes (plus ten minutes of questions) in noughth week of their second term (fifth term for part time students);

  • (c) submit a completed Transfer of Status application form and two copies (and one electronic copy) of a research proposal of no more than 7,500 words, including a thesis title, outline of research plans, a preliminary review of the literature, a preliminary review of methodology, progress to date, a timetable for completion, fieldwork design (if applicable), and bibliography to the Research Degrees Coordinator by Friday of eighth week of their second term (fifth term for part-time students).

The Graduate Studies Committee will appoint two assessors who will read the work, interview the student and submit a recommendation to the Committee in a written report. The Committee will decide whether to approve Transfer of Status.

A student whose first application for Transfer of Status is not approved (including where the outcome is a recommendation to transfer to the MLitt or MSc by Research) is permitted to make one further application and will be granted an extension of one term (or up to two terms for part-time students) to Probationer Research Student status if necessary. If after a second attempt, the Graduate Studies Committee can neither approve transfer to the DPhil or to the MLitt or to the MSc by Research, the student will be removed from the Register of Graduate Students.

4. Confirmation of DPhil status

Students who were initially admitted to the status of a Probationer Research Student must achieve Confirmation of Status not later than their ninth term or normally earlier than their sixth term (or not later than the eighteenth term or normally earlier than the twelfth term for part-time students). Students admitted directly to DPhil status having completed a full-time MPhil in the School of Geography and the Environment must achieve Confirmation of Status by the end of their third term (sixth term for part-time students) as a graduate student, exclusive of the time spent on the Register of Students while undertaking the full-time MPhil.
Applications for Confirmation of Status should be submitted to the Research Degrees Coordinator by eighth week of the student’s ninth term (eighteenth term for part-time students) and will comprise the following:

  • (a) a completed Confirmation of Status application form;

In addition, two copies and an electronic copy of:

  • (b) a report describing in approximately 3,000 words the aims and methods of the project, an outline of the proposed thesis including the topics to be covered in individual chapters, and a timetable for completion;

  • (c) two substantive chapters of no more than 10,000 words each, or two papers for students submitting an article-based thesis.

The Graduate Studies Committee will appoint two assessors who will read the work, interview the student and submit a recommendation to the Committee in a written report. The Committee will decide whether to approve Confirmation of Status.

A student whose first application for Confirmation of Status is not approved is permitted to make one further application, normally within one term (two terms for part-time students) of the original application, and will granted an extension of one term (up to two terms for part-time students) if necessary. If after the second attempt the Committee can neither approve the application nor approve transfer to the MLitt or the MSc by Research, the student will be removed from the Register of Graduate Students.

5. Theses

The thesis must not exceed 100,000 words for the DPhil, 50,000 words for the MLitt, or 40,000 words for the MSc by Research, the limit to include notes, glossary, appendices etc, but not tables, figures, and bibliography, unless for exceptional reason and on the recommendation of the student’s supervisor the Graduate Studies Committee otherwise determines.

Students are required to include a complete set of all maps, diagrams, and other illustrations, bound into the copy of the thesis deposited in the Bodleian.

Article-based thesis

A DPhil thesis may be accepted for examination if comprised of a minimum of three academic papers submitted for publication in peer review journals. The papers do not have to be accepted or published. The papers must be accompanied by a framing document which will normally be 15,000 to 20,000 words and which comprises an Introduction, Literature Review and Conclusion. Current word limits and conditions remain in place.

A DPhil thesis submitted under this rubric may include joint publications. In such cases, a clear statement should be provided by the student to the examiners to confirm the student’s substantive contribution to each of the publications. This statement must be supported with a contributors’ agreement for each publication or letters from co-authors.

Students wishing to proceed in this manner should indicate their intention in their Transfer of Status report and must formally apply to the Graduate Studies Committee with the support of their supervisor when submitting their application for Confirmation of Status. If after permission has been granted, a student wishes to revert to a standard DPhil thesis format, the student must submit an application to the Director of Graduate Studies, with a supporting statement from his/her supervisor showing good cause for the change.

Further details are provided in the Graduate Studies Handbook.