Research Degrees in Theology and Religion

  • [From MT 2015: 1. Admission as a Probationer Research Student

    Candidates may apply for admission as Probationer Research Student, or directly to DPhil status, on a full-time or part-time basis. In assessing applications from candidates seeking to undertake a research degree through part-time study, the Graduate Studies Committees of the Board of the Faculty of Theology & Religion shall have regard to evidence that the candidate can meet the following attendance requirements for their period of part-time study: attendance for a minimum of thirty 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 of the Board of the Faculty of Theology & Religion. During a candidate's probationary period the attendance arrangements must take account of relevant induction and training events scheduled by the Faculty.

    [For students starting before MT 2016: 2. Transfer to M.Litt. or D. Phil. student status

     Applications for admission/transfer to M.Litt. or D.Phil. status shall be accompanied by:

    • (i) two copies of a  description of the proposed research topic, comprising a provisional title; a statement in no more than 500 words of the topic, its focal question(s), how it will be treated, and a provisional list of chapters; and a brief bibliography;

      (ii) a copy of a piece of original written work of about 5000 words on the topic of the proposed thesis (usually a draft chapter), paying proper scholarly attention to primary sources, secondary discussions etc. and demonstrating scholarly competence in the organisation of the arguments. ]

    [For students starting from MT 2016: 2. Transfer to M.Litt. or D. Phil. status

  • All students admitted to Probationer Research Student (PRS) status will be required to submit an application to transfer to M.Litt. or D.Phil. status to the Humanities Divisional Graduate Office no later than Monday of Week 0 in the candidate’s first Trinity Term (or Monday of Week 0 in the candidate’s second Trinity Term in the case of part-time students). In exceptional cases the Faculty’s Graduate Studies Committee may permit the candidate to postpone submission; candidates seeking such postponement must apply to the Director of Graduate Studies for deferral of transfer of status well in advance, and no later than Monday of Week 5 of Hilary Term. ]

  • [For students starting before MT 2016 3. Confirmation of D.Phil. status

  • Applications for confirmation of D.Phil. status shall be accompanied by:

    • (i) a draft chapter or part of a draft chapter amounting to no more than 10,000 words, including footnotes and bibliography, professionally presented. Should candidates wish to submit part of a draft chapter, they should also provide a summary account of the context.

      (ii) Two abstracts, one of about 300 words and one of 1,500-2,500 words. The abstracts must contain: the argument of the thesis; a statement of its significance and originality; a list of chapters and a summary of what each chapter contributes to the argument; and a summary of what has been completed to date and a timetable for the completion of the whole. ]

    [For students starting from MT 2016: 3. Confirmation of D.Phil. status

    Application for confirmation of D.Phil. status, with endorsements by the candidate’s college and supervisor, shall normally be presented to the Humanities Divisional Graduate Office by Monday of Week 0 in the seventh term after admission to the D.Phil. programme (or in the candidate’s fourteenth term after transfer to full D.Phil. status in the case of part-time students) but must be presented no later than Monday of fifth weekWeek 5 in the eighth term (or in the candidate’s sixteenth term in the case of part-time students). In exceptional cases the Faculty’s Graduate Studies Committee may permit the candidate to postpone submission by one term; candidates seeking such postponement should apply to the Committee through the Director of Graduate Studies well in advance. ]

  • 4. Theses

    Theses submitted for the Degree of M.Litt. should not exceed 50,000 words, or 100,000 for the D.Phil., excluding only the bibliography in both cases. The faculty board is prepared to consider an application for a relaxation of this limit in special circumstances.

    All candidates must submit an abstract of the thesis, of between 1,000 and 1,500 words for an M.Litt., and between 1,500 and 2,500 for a D.Phil., prepared by the candidate. This is in addition to the requirement to submit an abstract of not more than 300 words in length required by the Education Committee's regulations. One copy of each abstract prepared at the time of the examination should be bound into each of the examiners’ copies of the thesis. Copies of both abstracts shall be bound into the copy of the thesis which shall be deposited in the Bodleian Library. In addition one loose copy of the 300 word abstract, printed on a single page, must be submitted together with the Library copy.]

  • [Until MT 2015: 1.Admission to the status of Probationer Research Student

  • Applicants may be admitted to M.Litt. or D.Phil. student status either (1) from M.St. status; (2) from M.Phil. status; (3) from Probationer Research Student Status. The Board expects most applicants seeking to pursue doctoral research in the Faculty to seek M.St. Student status first.

  • 2.Admission to M.Litt. or D.Phil. Student status from M.St. or M.Phil. student status

    • (i) Applicants holding M.St. or M.Phil. Student status shall apply for admission to M.Litt. or D.Phil. status in the year of their M.St. or M.Phil. examination at the times announced for graduate admissions applications.

    • (ii) In either case the application shall include a description in about 500 words of the research which it is intended to undertake, supported by the proposed supervisor.

    • (iii) The Board may indicate a provisional readiness to admit to M.Litt. or D.Phil. Student status, which will then be subject to a report from the Examiners of the M.St. or M.Phil.

  • 3.Admission by the route of Probationer Research Student

    • (i) Admission to the status of Probationer Research Student will normally be granted only to applicants who have already completed a Master’s level graduate degree, including a dissertation or thesis, in a theological subject.

    • (ii) Application for admission as a Probationer Research Student, which shall be made at the times and in the manner announced for graduate admissions applications, will normally be accompanied by an interview with a member of the Graduate Studies Committee, though the Board may dispense from this.

    • (iii) A Probationer Research Student is normally expected to apply for transfer within three terms (or six terms in the case of part–time students). A Probationer Research Student who has not successfully transferred by the end of the six terms for which such status may be held in total (twelve terms in the case of part–time students) shall lapse from the register of Graduate Students.

    • (iv) The application for transfer must include two typewritten copies of a description in about 500 words of the research which it is intended to undertake and two typewritten copies of a piece of original written work of about 5,000 words relevant to the subject of the proposed research.

    • (v) There shall be an oral examination with a competent person appointed by the Board as assessor, which may treat of the description of the proposed research, the submitted piece of work and any other aspect of the applicant’s progress towards research. The candidate’s supervisor may attend this examination. If the candidate fails to satisfy the assessor, the Board may appoint a date by which a further oral examination must be held, with such conditions as it sees fit, and grant extension of Probationer Research Student status up to that date, subject to the overall limit in 1(iii) above.

  • 4.Admission directly to M.Litt. or D.Phil. Student status by former M.St. or M.Phil. students

    • (i) The Board may admit directly to M.Litt. or D.Phil. Student status applicants who within the past five years have received permission from the Board of the Faculty of Theology and Religion to supplicate for the degrees of M.St. or M.Phil.

    • (ii) Application for admission, which shall be made at the times and in the manner announced for graduate admissions applications, will normally require an interview with a member of the Graduate Studies Committee, though the Board may dispense from this.

    • (iii) The application shall be accompanied by the dissertation or thesis which formed part of the Master’s degree.

  • 5.Special Provisions for part-time students

    In assessing applications from candidates seeking to undertake a research degree through part-time study, the Graduate Studies Committee of the Board of the Faculty of Theology and Religion shall have regard to evidence that:

    • (i) the candidate is suitable to undertake research at doctoral level;

    • (ii) the candidate's personal and professional circumstances are such that it is both practicable for him or her to fulfil the requirements of the course, and necessary for him or her to study on a part-time basis;

    • (iii) if appropriate, the candidate has the written support of their present employer for their proposed course of study and its obligations;

    • (iv) the candidate's proposed topic of research is suitable for part-time study;

    • (v) the candidate can meet the attendance requirements relating to part-time study.

  • 6.Attendance requirements (for part-time students)

    Part-time students are required to attend for a minimum of thirty days of university-based work each 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 on the Board of the Faculty of Theology and Religion.

  • 7. Confirmation of D.Phil. status

    Applications should be accompanied by one short abstract of approximately 300 words and one long abstract of 1,500–2,000 words, a draft chapter, and an outline of the thesis, indicating what has been completed to date and a timetable for completion. The written work shall be read by two assessors appointed by the Graduate Studies Committee. Neither of the assessors shall normally be the candidate’s supervisor. The assessors shall examine the candidate orally.

  • 8.Preparation of theses for the Degrees of M.Litt. and D.Phil.

    • (i) Theses submitted for the Degree of M.Litt. should not exceed 50,000 words, or 100,000 for the D.Phil., excluding only the bibliography in both cases. The faculty board is prepared to consider an application for a relaxation of this limit in special circumstances.

    • (ii) All candidates must submit an abstract of the thesis, of between 1,000 and 1,500 words for an M.Litt., and between 1,500 and 2,500 for a D.Phil., prepared by the candidate. This is in addition to the requirement to submit an abstract of not more than 300 words in length required by the Education Committee's regulations. One copy of each abstract prepared at the time of the examination should be bound into each of the examiners’ copies of the thesis. Copies of both abstracts shall be bound into the copy of the thesis which shall be deposited in the Bodleian Library. In addition one loose copy of the 300 word abstract, printed on a single page, must be submitted together with the Library copy.]