DPhil in Information, Communication and the Social Sciences

The DPhil in Information, Communication and the Social Sciences (doctoral) programme provides an opportunity for highly qualified students to undertake cutting edge Internet-related research. We are looking for academically excellent candidates who display the potential and enthusiasm necessary to perform research that will make a difference -- to ask important questions and to adopt innovative methodologies and approaches for exploring those questions. Many OII doctoral students are pursuing research that will shape the development of digital networked spaces and those whose lives are affected by it.

Over the course of the three to four year programme, doctoral students are expected to produce an important and original piece of scholarship that will make a significant contribution to this new and exciting field. On completion, it is expected that our students will have the qualities and transferable skills necessary to excel in teaching, research, policymaking, or business in their chosen fields.

Why study at the OII?

The OII is a dynamic and innovative centre for Internet-related research and teaching, located in a world-leading traditional research university. Our faculty work at the cutting-edge of their fields, and this innovative research is fully reflected in their teaching and supervision. Our doctoral students address research questions from across the spectrum of disciplines, drawing both on the multidisciplinary faculty and on the complementary strengths of their cohort of peers as they build on literature from different disciplines to answer research questions. This allows doctoral students to dig deeply into disciplinary questions in, for instance, politics or sociology, while also being able to place these questions into a broader picture of how the Internet can be theorized and researched.

In addition to the formal requirements of the DPhil thesis, all OII doctoral students receive regular training in the key graduate skills necessary to support their research and future employment. These range from classes on specific tools or skills such as programming in Python or using content analysis software, to more generic training such as presentation skills, academic writing and peer review. We also provide opportunities for DPhil students to gain teaching experience through mentored assistantship roles in some of the MSc courses.

Employers recognize the value of a degree from the University of Oxford, and our doctoral students regularly go on to secure excellent positions in academia, industry, government, and NGOs. Recent alumni who have pursued academic careers have taken up positions at universities such as the University of Hong Kong, Imperial College at London University, University of Leicester, and Durham University, whilst others have chosen non-academic roles and found success in organizations including Cisco, McKinsey and Google.

The department's busy calendar of seminars and events brings the most important people in the Internet world to the OII, allowing students to engage with the 'bleeding edge' of scholarship and debates around the Internet. Students also take full advantage of the unparalleled resources available at the University including world-ranking research facilities and libraries, and a busy student scene. With over 200 student societies across the University, whatever your interests or level (whether sporting, music, politics, journalism, etc.) there will probably be a group of students with similar interests. If there isn't, just start your own… Additionally, all incoming students are expected to attend the OII Student Induction Programme – a two-day introduction to the department, which includes an overview of both the MSc and DPhil degrees, an IT induction and a number of events where incoming students have an opportunity to meet members of faculty and current students.

In short, if you're interested in rigorous Internet-related study and research, and want to join a challenging but friendly intellectual community, then the OII is the place for you! If you are looking for a general introduction to what it's like to study here, then a good place to start will be the Virtual Open Day.

If you still have questions about the programme and how to apply, please contact: teaching@oii.ox.ac.uk

  •  Wolf Richter Wolf Richter

    DPhil student (graduated 2010)

    When looking for a place to bring my research backgrounds in Computer Sciences and Intellectual property law together, I found the OII to be the obvious choice. Only a few places offer the openness required for truly multidisciplinary research. The OII brings together the resources I need to explore the borderline between law, technology and society without forcing me into the boundaries of a particular academic discipline. At the OII I have found a vibrant community with a broad scope of backgrounds and experiences, making it a truly distinctive and exciting environment to be in. I particularly appreciate the OII's global network of close links with other leading research centers and projects, which provides me with access to amazing case studies and challenging academic discourse.

  •  Marcelo Thompson Marcelo Thompson

    DPhil student (graduated 2013)

    Whilst working with FLOSS and digital certification in the Brazilian government, I felt deeply challenged by some hard theoretical puzzles that Internet-related technologies pose to law and policy. I then decided it was time to give my academic self another breath. After spending an intellectually enriching year doing a Master in Law and Technology at the University of Ottawa, in Canada, I perceived that I would greatly benefit from working out my knowledge in other related social sciences, so as to grasp the whole societal implications of technology. I was also interested in a place that, besides gathering top-notch researchers to investigate the new, could also question it with a thorough philosophical understanding of the past. Multidisciplinarity, a bustling research environment, and (slightly bizarre?) philosophical tradition have brought me to the OII, and the University of Oxford.