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Study FAQs

Study FAQs

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This page has general FAQs about studying at the OII. For course specific questions, visit the individual course pages.

Studying at the OII

Should I apply for the part-time or full-time programme?

The part-time and full-time versions of a degree have the same entry requirements, coursework, and expectations for students. The main difference is in timing. Part-time students generally take half the courses of full-time students in any given year and have double the amount of time to complete the programme.

Students pursuing full-time study should treat it as they would a full-time job, planning to spend at least forty hours each week on study. Additional employment—particularly for those on MSc courses—is discouraged. Within these limits, some of the OII’s existing students have been employed on a short-term basis as Research Assistants on grant-funded projects, but only with the agreement of their supervisors, the Course Convenor and the Director of Graduate Studies. For full information on employment whilst on course, please see the University’s Paid work guidelines.

Part-time students should expect to spend the time equivalent of half a full-time job on their studies. This includes spending at least one day per week in Oxford during term time. Part-time students are otherwise not subject to any limits and the part-time programmes are expressly designed to allow completion of the degree alongside employment, caring, or other external responsibilities.

Please note that only students registered on a full-time course are eligible for visa sponsorship. Therefore, students without the right to remain in the UK will not be able to take the course on a part-time basis at present.

Do you offer any intensive, online or distance-learning courses?

We do not normally offer any of our MSc or DPhil programmes in an intensive, online, or distance-learning modality. Although we do make use of virtual learning environments and various other online components of study, both full and part-time students are required to attend in person during term time due to the collaborative and multi-disciplinary nature of our programmes, and the principles that underpin Oxford education as a collegiate university. We strongly believe that the face-to-face element of the programme is vital in providing a multi-disciplinary peer network for students to engage in ideas, discussion and debate.

We do, however, offer this programme on a part-time basis. The part-time MSc is substantively identical to the full-time degree, but distributes the workload over two years for those who must fit study around work, family, or other outside commitments.

What fees do I have to pay?

Course fees cover your teaching, and other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. They do not cover your accommodation or other living costs. You may have seen separate figures in the past for tuition fees and college fees. We have now combined these into a single figure.

See the University’s guidance on fee status and fee liability for information on Home/Republic of IrelandIslands and Overseas student classification. As well as covering University and College fees, students will also have to support their maintenance costs. As Oxford is a relatively expensive place to live, it is recommended that students consult the University’s guidance on living costs when planning their budget, to cover accommodation, meals and other living expenses.

Where can I find out about scholarships?

Please see the University’s Fees and Funding website for details of all scholarships for which you may be eligible.

I’m an international student!

The University of Oxford has a long tradition of welcoming international students, who currently constitute around 64% of all graduate students. We recommend that you consult the University’s International Office, which provides information to support international applications, such as on immigration and Visas, scholarships and funding, US Graduate Student Loans, English Language requirements, Orientation Programmes, etc. EU students may also wish to consult the University’s page on the implications of the EU referendum.

What provisions are there for students with disabilities?

The University of Oxford is committed to providing equality of opportunity and improving access for all people with disabilities who work and study at the University. The University Disability Office has information about the support offered to help those with a disability maintain their track record of academic success as they pursue their studies. The ground floor of the OII is wheelchair-accessible, providing access to the library, seminar room, student common room and disabled toilet. The OII also has a disability contact and several Harassment Officers who can assist with connecting students with the appropriate support.

What facilities does the OII offer its students?

Our MSc students are provided with working space in the department. We are equipped with advanced video conferencing facilities and high-speed network access. Our library specialises in the social sciences, technology and computing, and our students also have access to the Bodleian Library, the University’s main research library. Students are encouraged to engage fully in the intellectual life of the department, e.g., through participation in workshops, departmental seminars, and research projects.

Applying

Is the 2,000 word limit on the written work a minimum or maximum?

2,000 words is a maximum. Many students who find that their best work exceeds this length choose to submit a 2,000-word extract from that longer piece of work. We recommend that your chosen piece: demonstrates your capacity for independent or original thought; is systematically analytical rather than purely descriptive; addresses a clear question or problem; where relevant, draws on data or literature sources to support its main arguments; and expresses its arguments with clarity and precision.

If I need to submit English Language Test results, when are they due?

Applicants who need to fulfil an English Language requirement will be informed of the deadline upon receiving their offer. Please note that if you have taken a test previously, it must be within 2 years of making your application for the results to remain valid, otherwise you will need to retake the test. Applicants are required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required at the University. Further details on English language requirements.

How many of my references have to be academic? Can I submit references that are not academic?

Of the three required references, at least one should be academic. You are welcome to submit professional references as well, as long as they are able to comment on your academic potential.

What do I do about references if I have been out of academia for a few years?

The OII actively encourages applications from those with valuable experience in the private and public sectors and those who have interrupted their studies for other reasons. We judge every application in a holistic manner on its individual merits and the main role of the admissions process is to assess candidates’ academic potential and intellectual suitability for graduate study. With this in mind, mid-career applicants are encouraged to select or produce written work that demonstrates their ability for independent analytical thought. Non-academic referees are encouraged to comment, in particular, on candidates’ intellectual capacity and analytical skills.

Colleges

Why do I need to choose a college?

Oxford is a collegiate university: students and teaching staff belong both to a department and to a college. Colleges typically provide library and IT facilities, accommodation, welfare support, and sports and social events. Graduate students also benefit from the Middle Common Room (MCR) in their college – both a physical space and an organisation, it provides social events, advice, and a link to the graduate community. Your college will have a Tutor for Graduates or Senior Tutor whose role includes general oversight of all graduate members of the college, although your academic studies will be directed by your department or faculty. Each graduate student has a college adviser, a senior member of the college’s staff who will be able to offer support and advice. Further information is available on choosing a college on the University website, and from college prospectuses.

How do I decide on which college to choose?

We can’t advise applicants on their choice of college, however, all teaching is organised within the department so college choice will not make any significant difference to the way that students are taught or supervised. When making your choice, first check which colleges accept applications from OII students, then check the individual college websites. Factors you should consider when making your choice include location, accommodation quality (and your eligibility for this), library facilities, any financial support the college may be able to offer (e.g. awards, bursaries or scholarships) and the collegiate atmosphere. Note that some colleges accept only graduate students or mature students. If you select a particular college as a preference it does not mean that you will be automatically offered a place there.

If I am accepted on a programme, am I guaranteed a place at a college?

Yes: Once you have received an offer from the department, your application will go forward for consideration by your preferred college, or the Graduate Admissions and Funding team will assign you a college for consideration if you have not selected a college preference. In the event of heavy over-subscription of a particular college, you may be allocated a place at another college. Colleges will contact candidates separately with their offer, subject to satisfaction of any funding conditions. A college decision can take 8-10 weeks following the departmental decision. The University does not guarantee accommodation at a college for its graduate students. However, many colleges do attempt to provide accommodation for graduate students during their first year of study, particularly in the case of international students. If your college is unable to provide any accommodation or the type of accommodation you need, you can contact the University Accommodation Office for further information and assistance.