Research Degrees in Economics, Social Policy and Intervention, Sociology, and International Development

  • 1. Transfer to M.Litt. (or M.Sc. by Research) or D.Phil. status

    Students in these subject areas will normally be expected to transfer out of Probationer Research status in their third or fourth term after admission. Applications should be submitted to the departmental Graduate Studies Committee and will comprise the following:

    • (a) a transfer of status form, obtainable from the relevant Graduate Studies Assistant, signed by the candidate's supervisor and an appropriate college officer. The candidate should indicate clearly on the form the status to which he or she wishes to transfer; and

    • (b) a provisional thesis title and a short outline statement of the proposed research topic, which should include sources and methods to be used; and

    • (c) a piece of written work relevant to the thesis of between 5,000 and 7,000 words.

    The Graduate Studies Committee will appoint two assessors, one of whom will normally be a member of the committee, except in cases where neither of the two most appropriate assessors is a member of the committee, who will read the work, examine the candidate orally, and submit a written report to the committee.

    The committee will then decide whether transfer to the status applied for will be approved. In the case of applications to transfer to D.Phil. status where the committee is not satisfied that the candidate should be allowed to make the transfer it may approve admission to M.Litt. status, (or exceptionally to M.Sc. by Research Status) or approve an extension of time in order to allow the candidate to resubmit at a later date (but before the end of the sixth term after admission to Probationer Research status). The committee may request additional written work or other evidence, or appoint an additional assessor, whenever it is considered necessary.

    Individual Graduate Studies Committees may require additional tests or forms of assessment to be completed. Candidates are advised to consult the Notes of Guidance for Graduate Students issued by each Graduate Studies Committee.

    Any candidate who is admitted to M.Litt. status (or M.Sc. by Research Status) may subsequently apply for transfer to D.Phil. status before the end of the sixth term after admission to Probationer Research status. The committee will expect to see evidence of substantial developments in the progress of the research since the transfer to M.Litt. status (or M.Sc. by Research Status) before this further transfer is approved.

    Additional regulations for the Department of Economics

    Probationer Research Students in Economics are required to take a qualifying examination, unless exempted from all or part of the examination by the appropriate Graduate Studies Committee, on the grounds of an appropriate previous graduate degree or substantial professional experience since graduation. The examination consists of the equivalent of five second year papers in the M.Phil. examination, where one first year M.Phil. paper is the equivalent of two second year papers, taken at the times set for that examination in Trinity Term. A student who does not achieve the required mark on a paper is automatically granted a two term extension to Probationer Research Student status and is allowed to resit that paper once in the following Trinity Term examination, unless a special dispensation is obtained from the Graduate Studies Committee.

    Probationer Research Students are required to achieve a mark of 64 on each of the papers they sit in order to pass the Qualifying Examination. In exceptional circumstances the Graduate Studies Committee may exempt a student from having to pass the examination is he/she receives marks of 50 or above on each paper. All requests for exemption will require the strong support of the supervisor.

    Additional regulations for International Development

    Probationer Research Students in International Development who have been admitted to this status but who have not received appropriate postgraduate training in a relevant aspect of development studies or of research techniques for the social sciences may, with the formal approval of the Director of Graduate Studies, the Course Director of the course concerned, and the Graduate Studies Committee for the Department of International Development, be required to attend and pass successfully any course listed for the M.Phil. in Development Studies or appropriate course from another postgraduate degree at Oxford University.

    This condition shall be conveyed to the student when the offer of a place is made and in such cases transfer to D.Phil. status shall not normally be permitted until this condition has been fulfilled.

  • 2. Confirmation of D.Phil. status

    Students who have been admitted to D.Phil. status must, not later than the ninth term or normally earlier than the sixth term after that in which he or she was initially admitted to the status of a Probationer Research Student or to the status of a student for another higher degree of the University, apply for confirmation of that status. Students would normally be expected to apply for confirmation of D.Phil. status before the end of their ninth term after admission to Probationer Research status.

    Requirements for confirmation of status are:

    • (a) completion of the appropriate form, obtainable from the relevant Graduate Studies Assistant, signed by the supervisor and an appropriate college officer.

    • (b) a comprehensive outline of the treatment of the thesis topic including details of progress made and an indication of the anticipated timetable for submission.

    • (c) two draft chapters intended to form part of the final thesis.

    The application must be submitted to the relevant Graduate Studies Committee, who will appoint assessors as appropriate. A written report on the application will be made to the committee before confirmation of D.Phil. status is approved.

    If the committee does not consider that the candidate's progress warrants confirmation of status it may either (a) recommend resubmission of the application at a later date within the normal timetable (not later than six terms after admission to D.Phil. status) or (b) approve an extension of D.Phil. status in order to allow time for resubmission of the application or (c) approve transfer to M.Litt. status, or (d) reject the application.

    Individual departments may require candidates to complete other tests or assessments before confirmation is approved. Candidates are advised to consult the Notes of Guidance for Graduate Students issued by each Graduate Studies Committee.

    Additional regulations for International Development

    Probationer Research Student entrants must confirm status by the end of the ninth term after arrival in Oxford, and entrants from the M.Phil in Development Studies must do so by the end of their eleventh term after arrival in Oxford. The comprehensive outline should be up to 3,000 words. The main submission should be between 15,000 and 20,000 words of the main thesis, which can be one chapter or parts of two or more chapters. It should be core material based on the writing up of fieldwork or other research.

    Additional regulations for the sub-faculty of Economics

    Those applying for confirmation of D.Phil. status in Economics shall present the preliminary results of their research at a departmental seminar or workshop as part of the confirmation process, under arrangements to be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.

    D.Phil. students coming from the M.Phil. in Economics must confirm status by the end of their eleventh term as a graduate student in Economics at the University of Oxford, inclusive of the time spent on the M.Phil.

  • 3. Theses

    M.Sc. by Research

    Where, exceptionally, transfer has been allowed to M.Sc. by Research status, candidates are required to submit either a thesis or two written papers not exceeding in total 25,000 words in length.

    Theses for the Degree of M.Litt. which exceed 50,000 words, theses or written papers for the M.Sc. by Research which exceed in total 25,000 words, and those for the Degree of D.Phil. which exceed 100,000 words, excluding the bibliography, are liable to be rejected unless candidates have, with the support of their supervisors, secured the leave of the appropriate Academic Studies Committee to exceed this limit. These figures are strictly maxima. It is not the board's intention that they should be construed as norms, and candidates are advised that many successful theses have been significantly shorter.

  • Additional regulations for the Department of Social Policy and Intervention

  • [For students starting before MT 2017: 

  • Social Policy D.Phil. Pathway:

    A D.Phil. thesis may be accepted for examination if it consists of a minimum of four academic papers of publishable quality, framed by an introduction and a conclusion. Only one of the four academic papers may be a co-authored piece of work, with the candidate having contributed at least 70 percent of the work [to be confirmed by the co-author(s)]. Such a body of work shall be deemed acceptable provided it represents a coherent and focused body of research, addressing one overarching research question. Current overall word limits and conditions are detailed in the D.Phil. Notes for Guidance. Candidates wishing to proceed in this manner must be approved at the time of confirmation of D.Phil. status.

  • Social Intervention D.Phil. Pathway:

    A D.Phil. thesis may be accepted for examination if it consists of a minimum of three academic papers of publishable quality. Such a body of work shall be deemed acceptable provided it represents a coherent and focused body of research. It should include an Introduction, a Survey of Literature, and a Conclusion. Current word limits and conditions are detailed in the D.Phil. Notes for Guidance. A D.Phil. Thesis submitted under this rubric may include joint publications. Where joint publications are included, all co-authors must certify in writing to the Director of Graduate Studies that the majority of that work represents the work of the candidate. Candidates wishing to proceed in this manner must obtain permission from their supervisor, from the Director of Graduate Studies, and must be approved at the time of confirmation for D.Phil. status. Evidence must be submitted at the time permission is sought that at least one of the three academic papers has been submitted to an identified journal, if not yet accepted or published. If, after a petition is accepted, a candidate wishes to revert to a standard D.Phil. thesis format, the candidate must lodge a petition with his or her supervisor to be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies, showing good cause for the change.]

  • [For students starting from MT 2017: A DPhil thesis may be accepted for examination if it consists of either a minimum of four academic papers of publishable quality for the DPhil in Social Policy, or a minimum of three academic papers of publishable quality for the DPhil in Social Intervention. In either case the thesis should be framed by an introduction, a literature review, and a conclusion. Such a body of work shall be deemed acceptable provided it represents a coherent and focused body of research, addressing one overarching research question. A thesis submitted under this rubric may include joint publications, but for the DPhil in Social Policy only, at least one paper must be single-authored. Where joint publications are included, all co-authors must certify in writing to the Director of Graduate Studies that at least 70% of that work represents that of the candidate. Current overall word limits and conditions are detailed in the DPhil Notes for Guidance. Candidates wishing to proceed in this manner should with the support of their supervisor obtain approval from the Director of Graduate Studies before applying for Confirmation of DPhil status. If a candidate wishes to revert to a standard DPhil thesis format, with the support of their supervisor, they should obtain approval from the Director of Graduate Studies, showing good cause for the change.Additional regulations for the sub-faculty of Economics]

  • Integrated thesis format

  • A DPhil thesis may be accepted for examination if it consists of a minimum of three papers of publishable quality, framed by an introduction, a literature survey (either written as a stand-alone chapter or divided among the constituent chapters), and a conclusion. Such a body of work shall be deemed acceptable provided it represents a coherent and focused body of work. A minimum of one paper must be authored solely by the candidate. Any co-authored papers must include a statement indicating the candidate’s contribution to the paper. Where the co-author is another student at the University who also intends to include the paper in their thesis, permission to include the paper must be sought from the Director of Graduate Studies prior to applying for appointment of examiners. Current word limits and conditions remain in place.

  • Additional regulations for the Department of Sociology

  • Articles-based or Integrated theses 

  • An articles-based thesis may be accepted for examination if it consists of a minimum of three papers of publishable quality. An integrated thesis may be accepted for examination if it consists of one or more papers combined with one or more conventional chapters. In either case, the thesis should represent a coherent and focused body of work, and should be framed by an introduction, a general survey of the literature, and a conclusion. The thesis may include co-authored papers where the greater part of the work should be directly attributable to the candidate, and their supervisor and co-author(s) so certify. Statements outlining the student’s contribution should be submitted with applications for Transfer and/or Confirmation of Status. The assessors will review the co-authorship statements and confirm whether the greater part of the work is that of the student. Candidates must also submit a statement with their Application for Appointment of Examiners demonstrating that their work represents the majority contribution to any co-authored papers.

  • To submit an articles-based or integrated thesis, the candidate must make a case, supported by their supervisor, when applying for Transfer of Status, and further confirm their intention when applying for Confirmation of Status. The assessors will need to agree the proposed format and recommend approval to the Graduate Studies Committee.

  • The normal overall word limit for a DPhil thesis will apply. Further guidance can be found in the course handbook.