Research Degrees in Mathematical Sciences (Computer Science, Mathematics and Statistics)

  • 1. Admission to the status of Probationer Research Student

    Applicants (other than those from overseas) will be notified individually if they are required to attend for interview before a decision is taken on an application for admission.

  • 2. Admission to the status of Student for the Degree of Master of Science by Research

    A Probationer Research Student may apply for transfer to M.Sc. status at any time within four terms of admission to the status of Probationer Research Student. Assessment for transfer shall be by oral examination. Two persons appointed by the board shall conduct the examination.

  • 3. Admission to the status of Student for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

    • (i) Any person seeking transfer to the status of D.Phil. student must apply to the board, which will approve such application only if two (or, in exceptional cases, three) assessors appointed by the board shall have certified

      • (a) that they have considered the written work submitted by the applicant and are satisfied that it demonstrates a capability of producing research work of the requisite standard and presenting the findings clearly; and

      • (b) that together they have interviewed the candidate and satisfied themselves that the planned programme of research is one that may be profitably undertaken at Oxford and that the candidate has a good knowledge and understanding of the work that is likely to be needed to embark on the programme.

    • (ii) Before making application to the board for transfer to the status of D.Phil. student, the applicant shall, in consultation with his or her supervisor, prepare a body of written work which shall be submitted as evidence of suitability for transfer.

    • (iii) Applications shall be in one of two categories:

    Category A (open to students who have had no previous experience of research work, and normally all candidates in the Department of Computer Science.)

    In this category the written work submitted shall consist of a short dissertation on a topic selected in consultation with the supervisor. The preferred length for the Departments of Computer Science and Statistics being between twenty-five and fifty typed pages (or fifteen to thirty printed pages of TEX, depending on font used. For the Department of Mathematics the preferred length is between 25-50 pages of TeX with a font no smaller than 11pt.

    Students in Category A should apply to transfer from the status of Probationer Research Student to the status of Student for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy between the second and fourth term after admission as a research student. Students with no previous experience of research work are advised to apply in the third term after admission. Cases to defer application for the transfer of status must be made by the candidate’s supervisor to the departmental Director of Graduate Studies by the end of the fourth full-term after admission. Approval will only be granted in exceptional cases. The provisions governing deferral are set out in the General Regulations Governing Research Degrees, §4. A form of application for the assessment together with a form of application for transfer should be sent to the relevant departmental administrator. The applicant should include with the application a brief description of the proposed subject of research for the D.Phil. degree and a brief statement (courses attended, texts and publications studied etc.) setting out the steps taken to ensure that he or she has the knowledge and understanding likely to be necessary to embark on the planned research work. The applicant should also name a date (not later than four weeks before the start of the Full Term following the date of application (applications made in vacation to be counted as if they had been made in the following term)) by which time he or she undertakes to make available two (or in exceptional cases three) copies of the written work supporting the application.

    A student whose first application for transfer to D.Phil. status under Category A is not approved, shall be permitted to make one further application, and shall be granted an extension of time for one term if this is necessary for the purposes of making the application. A candidate failing to secure a Category B transfer to D.Phil. status will be allowed to apply for transfer under Category A.

    Category B (open to applicants who have had previous experience of research work; it is expected that this will include many students who have successfully completed a taught master's course. This category is only available to candidates in the Department of Computer Science in exceptional circumstances with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies.)

    In this category the written work submitted with the application may consist of either

    • (a) a thesis or dissertation produced in connection with another course of research or study; or

    • (b) work that has been accepted for publication in a learned journal or journals; or

    • (c) other work which is in the opinion of the supervisor of comparable standing.

    Students under Category B will make applications immediately after admission to Probationer Research Student status. A form of application for assessment together with a form of application for transfer together with two copies of the written work, should be sent to the relevant departmental administrator. In exceptional cases a third copy may be required. The applicant should include with the application a brief description of the proposed subject of research for the D.Phil. degree and a brief statement (courses attended, texts and publications studied, etc.) setting out the steps taken to ensure that he or she has the knowledge and understanding likely to be necessary to embark on the planned research work.

    • (iv) In both types of application, on receipt of a form of application for assessment the board will appoint two (or in exceptional cases, three) members of the faculty to advise the board on the suitability of the applicant for transfer. Having considered the work submitted they shall arrange to interview the applicant to assess his/her suitability. They shall subsequently report to the board as to whether or not they are satisfied that the conditions described in clause 3(i) above have been met.

    • (v) On receipt of the report from the board's advisers, and after due consideration of any supervisor's reports that are available the board shall determine

      • (a) that the application be approved; or

      • (b) that the application be rejected, but that the student be allowed to apply for transfer to the status of Student for the Degree of M.Sc. by Research; or

      • (c) that the candidate make one further application (under Category A).

  • 4. Transfer from status of Student for the Degree of Master of Science by Research to status of Student for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

    • (i) Any person seeking transfer to the status of a D.Phil. student must apply to the board, which will approve such application only if two (or, in exceptional cases, three) persons appointed by the board shall have certified:

      • (a) that they have considered written work submitted by the applicant and are satisfied that it demonstrates a capability of producing research work of the requisite standard and presenting the findings clearly; and

      • (b) that together they have interviewed the candidate and satisfied themselves that the planned programme of research is one that may be profitably undertaken at Oxford and that he or she has a good knowledge and understanding of the work that is likely to be needed to embark on the programme.

    • (ii) Before making application to the board for transfer to the status of D.Phil. student, the applicant shall in consultation with his/her supervisor prepare a body of written work which shall be submitted as evidence of suitability for transfer.

    • (iii) Application for transfer from M.Sc. status to D.Phil. student status shall consist of a short dissertation on a topic selected in consultation with the supervisor, the preferred length being of between twenty-five and fifty typed pages (or fifteen to thirty printed pages of TEX, depending on fount used), or a part-written thesis.

      Application may be made at any time up to the ninth term after admission. A form of application for assessment together with a form of application for transfer should be sent to the relevant departmental administrator. The applicant should include with the application a brief description of the proposed subject of research for the D.Phil. degree and a brief statement (courses attended, texts and publications studied etc.) setting out the steps taken to ensure that he or she has the mathematical knowledge and understanding likely to be necessary to embark on the planned research work. The applicant should also name a date (not later than four weeks before the start of the Full Term following the date of application (applications made in vacation to be counted as if they had been made in the following term)) by which time he or she undertakes to make available two (or in exceptional cases three) copies of the written work in support of the application.

      A student whose first application for transfer from M.Sc. by Research status to D.Phil. status is not approved, shall be permitted to make one further application, and shall be granted an extension of time for one term if this is necessary for the purposes of making the application.

    • (iv) On receipt of a form of application for assessment the board will appoint two (or in exceptional cases, three) members of the faculty, neither of whom shall normally be the applicant's supervisor, to advise the board on the suitability of the applicant for transfer. Having considered the work submitted they shall arrange to interview the applicant to assess suitability. They shall subsequently report to the board as to whether or not they are satisfied that the conditions described in clause (i) above have been met.

    • (v) On receipt of the report from the board's assessors, and after due consideration of any supervisor's reports that are available the board shall determine that the application be approved; or that the application be rejected.

  • 5. Confirmation of D.Phil. status

    Confirmation of D.Phil. Student status, which will normally take place by the end of the eighth term after that in which the candidate was admitted as a Probationer Research Student, will take the form of an oral examination with two assessors appointed by the board, based on the candidate's own written report of progress.

    The assessors shall recommend to the board either that D.Phil. status be confirmed or that one further application may be made, normally within one term of the original application. An extension of time for one term shall be granted if this is necessary for the purposes of making the application. If D.Phil. status is not confirmed, the second application shall normally be made by the end of the tenth term after that in which the candidate was admitted as a Probationer Research Student. Two assessors appointed by the board shall require evidence of progress such as written work and shall indicate to the student precisely what is required. A second oral examination may be held.

    If, after considering a candidate's second application for confirmation of status, the board concludes that the student's progress does not warrant this, it may approve his or her transfer to the status of Student for the Degree of Master of Science by Research.

  • 6. Thesis

    Where some part of the thesis is not solely the work of the candidate or has been carried out in collaboration with one or more persons, the candidate shall submit a clear statement of the extent of his or her own contribution.

    In Computer Science, the text of a thesis submitted for the Degree of D.Phil. shall not exceed 250 pages of A4, single-spaced in normal size type, but there is no limit in references, diagrams, tables of empirical data or other forms of computer output, etc. Most theses are between 150 and 200 pages, though what is normal depends on the topic. Theses on certain topics in theoretical computer science tend to be shorter; those that rely on the collection and interpretation of empirical data presented as evidence may be closer to the upper limit.

    In Mathematics and in Statistics, the text of theses submitted for the Degree of D.Phil. shall not exceed 200 pages, A4 size, double-spaced in normal-size type, but there is no limit on references, numerical tables, diagrams, computer output, etc. The normal length of a thesis, however, is nearer 100 pages (exclusive of the material defined above).