Research Degrees in the Humanities Division

TRANSFER OF STATUS AND CONFIRMATION OF STATUS

  • 1. Transfer of Status

    Purpose and criteria

    • (i) To assess whether the candidate is capable of carrying out advanced research, and has had suitable preparation in terms of subject-specific research training.

      (ii) To assess whether the subject of the thesis and the manner of its treatment as proposed by the candidate are acceptable and potentially of D.Phil quality.

      (iii) To assess whether the thesis can reasonably be completed in no more than 6 to 9 terms from transfer in the case of full-time students, and of no more than 12 to 18 terms from transfer in the case of part-time students.

  • Applying for transfer of status

    • (i) Students admitted to Probationer Research Student (PRS) status

      Students who have completed a one-year Master’s degree at the University of Oxford or elsewhere, or a two-year M.Phil degree at a university other than the University of Oxford are admitted to Probationer Research Student (PRS) status. Transfer of status from PRS to M.Litt. or D.Phil will normally take place in the third or fourth term (sixth to eighth term for part-time students) as measured from the admission to PRS status.

      (ii) Students admitted to D.Phil status

      Students who have completed a two-year M.Phil degree (or, in the case of Philosophy, B.Phil degree) at the University of Oxford will be admitted either as a Probationer Research Student or as a student with D.Phil status. The decision will be made by the relevant University Admitting Body based on the proposed doctoral research and on previous qualifications, including research undertaken at Master’s level. For students who are admitted to PRS status, transfer of status from PRS to D.Phil must take place in the third or fourth term (between the sixth and eighth term for part-time students), as measured from the admission to PRS status.

      The relevant University Admitting Body may only admit students directly to D.Phil status if the Admitting Body is satisfied that the student meets the three conditions described under ‘purpose of transfer of status’ above. In such cases, the admissions process should follow the same pattern as the transfer of status process, and normally all candidates who are admitted directly to D.Phil status must be interviewed. For students who are admitted directly to D.Phil status, the transfer of status process is waived.

  • Material normally required for applications for transfer of status

    Candidates applying for transfer of status from Probationer Research Student (PRS) to D.Phil should normally submit the following documents:

    • (i) GSO.2 form: Application to transfer status.

      (ii) Two copies of a detailed outline (not exceeding 1,000 words) of the proposed thesis subject and of the manner in which it will be treated, including a provisional list of chapters and their proposed coverage.

      (iii) Two copies of a piece of written work (or equivalent, e.g. a portfolio, score or CD/DVD). The submitted work should be on the topic of the proposed thesis, and if this consists of written work, should be about 10,000 words long (usually a draft chapter of the thesis; if the submitted work is not a draft chapter, then the candidate should provide a written explanation of the written work’s relationship to the thesis).

      (iv) A reference from the supervisor: the supervisor (or supervisors, if there is more than one) must provide a full and detailed assessment of the student and the student’s application for transfer in the ‘Comment’ section of the GSO.2 form. Where there are two supervisors, either each one must submit an assessment report or both must sign a joint assessment.

      (v) Information about subject-specific research or other training completed by the student, e.g. proof of linguistic competence. The faculty should specify any research training/research skills (e.g. linguistic competence, ability to use archives, handling of ancient documents) which students are expected to have acquired by this stage of their doctoral studies.

      • Entries for individual Faculty Boards, below, specify any differences in the submission requirements for transfer of status from those listed above.

  • Assessment

    • (i) Assessors: the faculty must appoint two assessors, neither of whom must be the candidate’s supervisor.

      (ii) Interview: an interview by both assessors, based on the submitted written materials, is compulsory.

      (iii) Report: the assessors must submit a joint written report, making a clear recommendation to the relevant faculty Graduate Studies Committee (or equivalent) of ‘transfer’ or ‘not transfer’, and providing reasons for their recommendation. The report should note any subject-specific research training still required by the student successfully to complete their doctorate.

  • Outcome of assessment

    • (i) The assessors may recommend that the candidate be transferred to D.Phil status.

      (ii) The assessors may judge that the candidate is not (yet) ready to transfer, in which case they may:

      • (a) recommend that the candidate should reapply after undertaking further preparatory work, which should be clearly described in their report, or

        (b) recommend that the candidate should transfer to a lower level of research degree, such as the Master of Letters (M.Litt).

  • Unsuccessful applications

    • (i) A candidate whose first application for transfer to D.Phil status is not approved shall be permitted to make one further application, and will be granted an extension of time for one term (full-time students) or two terms (part-time students) if this is necessary for the purposes of making the application. Normally the assessors should be the same as for the original application.

      (ii) If, after considering a candidate’s second application for transfer of status, the relevant board concludes that the student’s progress does not warrant transfer, the board must consider whether to approve his or her transfer to the status of Student for the Degree of Master of Letters (M.Litt).

  • Reporting The report of the assessors must be considered by the Faculty Graduate Studies Committee (or equivalent), which may delegate authority to the Director of Graduate Studies. Where authority is delegated, the Director of Graduate Studies must report his or her decision to the Faculty Graduate Studies Committee (or equivalent). A copy of the transfer report must also be sent to the student, supervisor and college.

    Appeals Candidates who wish to contest the outcome of the transfer assessment, either on procedural or academic grounds, should first discuss the matter with their Director of Graduate Studies. Where a concern is not satisfactorily settled by that means, the candidate, their supervisor or their college authority may make an appeal directly to the Proctors. In accordance with the University’s complaints and appeals processes, the Proctors can only consider whether the procedures for reaching an academic decision were properly followed, and cannot challenge the academic judgement of the assessors.

    Loss of Probationer Research Student status Candidates will lose their Probationer Research Student status if they have not gained admission to another status (e.g. D.Phil or M.Litt) within six terms of admission as a full-time student, or within twelves terms of admission as a part-time student,to the status of Probationer Research Student, or if the faculty board concerned deprives them of such status (after consultation with the college/hall and supervisor). If a candidate loses his or her status as a Probationer Research Student and has not gained admission to another status, the candidate is no longer registered as a student of the University.

    2. Confirmation of Status

    Purpose and criteria

    The purpose of confirmation is to:

    • (i) assess the progress of the student’s research, and

      (ii) to ensure that the student’s research progress is such that the student may reasonably be expected to submit within six months to one year (one to two years for part-time students).

  • Applying for confirmation of status

    • (i) Candidates who were admitted to Probationer Research Student (PRS) status must apply for confirmation of status not later than the ninth term and normally no earlier than the sixth term (not later than the eighteenth term and normally no earlier than the twelfth term for part-time students), after admission to the status of Probationer Research Student. Candidates who have been admitted directly to the status of Student for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy after taking the MPhil are deemed to have been admitted to the status of Probationer Research Student when they began the MPhil. The normal time for application for confirmation of status, in such cases, is the end of the ninth term (twelfth term for part-time students) after admission to the status of Probationer Research Student.

      (ii) Application for confirmation of status should be made at least three months (i.e. one terms, or the summer vacation) prior to submission of the thesis.

  • Material normally required for applications for confirmation of status

    Candidates applying for confirmation of D.Phil status should normally submit the following documents:

    • (i) GSO.14 form: Application to Confirm D.Phil status.

      (ii) An abstract of the thesis, a list of chapters with a paragraph describing each chapter, a clear statement indicating which chapters have been written, and a detailed timetable for the completion of the remaining chapters.

      (iii) Written work (or equivalent, e.g. a portfolio, score or CD/DVD). The submitted work should be on the topic of the proposed thesis, and if this consists of written work, should be about 10,000 words long (usually a draft chapter of the thesis including all footnotes, bibliography etc.; if the submitted work is not a draft chapter, then the candidate should provide a written explanation of the written work’s relationship to the thesis).

      (iv) A reference from the supervisor: the supervisor (or supervisors, if there is more than one) must provide a confidential assessment of the student and their application (this must be in addition to, or instead of, the ‘Comment’ section of GSO.14). The faculty may specify additional references.

      (v) Confirmation material should normally include copies of the report(s) from the transfer process.

      • Entries for individual Faculty Boards, below, specify any differences in the submission requirements for confirmation of status from those listed above.

  • Assessment

    • (i) Assessors: the faculty must appoint at least one assessor, who must not be the candidate’s supervisor. Ideally two assessors should be appointed.

      (ii) Interview: an interview by at least one assessor who is not the supervisor, based on the submitted written materials, is compulsory.

      (iii) Report: the assessor(s) must submit a written report on both the written and interview components of the application, making a clear recommendation to the relevant Faculty Graduate Studies Committee (or equivalent).

  • Outcome of assessment

    • (i) The assessor(s) may recommend that the candidate’s D.Phil status be confirmed.

      (ii) The assessor(s) may judge that the candidate does not (yet) satisfy the purpose of the confirmation process as described above, and may:

      • (a) recommend resubmission of the application at a later date within the normal timetable;

        (b) recommend that the candidate should transfer to a lower level of research degree, such as the M.Litt.

  • Unsuccessful applications If the candidate’s first application for confirmation of status is not approved, the candidate is permitted to make one further application, normally within one term (full-time students), or two terms (part-time students) of the original application. The candidate will be granted an extension of time for one term (full-time students), or two terms (part-time students), if this is necessary for the purposes of making the application. If, after considering a candidate’s second application for confirmation of status, a board concludes that the student’s progress does not warrant confirmation, the board may approve his or her transfer to the status of Student for the Degree of Master of Letters (M.Litt).

    Deferral of confirmation In exceptional circumstances where unforeseen and unavoidable obstacles have arisen since transfer of status so as to delay a student’s research progress, the student may apply to their faculty board for deferral of confirmation of status up to a maximum of three terms (full-time students) or six terms (part-time students). An application for deferral must consist of:

    • (i) a clear and detailed description of the obstacles;

      (ii) a statement of support from the student’s supervisor;

      (iii) a statement of support from the Director of Graduate Studies.

  • Reporting The report of the assessor(s) must be considered by the Faculty Graduate Studies Committee (or equivalent), which may delegate authority to the Director of Graduate Studies. Where authority is delegated, the Director of Graduate Studies must report their decisions to the Faculty Graduate Studies Committee (or equivalent). A copy of the transfer report must also be sent to the student, supervisor and college.