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?
You can read more about the English language requirements for graduate study applications in the graduate application guide. This course requires proficiency in English at the University’s higher level. If you already have English language test scores at the required level achieved within two years of the start of the course to which you are applying, please include them in your application. However, you are not required to provide test scores when you submit your application.
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?
Professional references are acceptable, particularly if you have been out of education for some time, but should focus particularly on your intellectual abilities rather than more narrowly on job performance.
Your references will be assessed for; your intellectual ability, your academic achievement. and your motivation and interest in the course and subject area. It is a good idea to send your referees the entry requirements for your course so they can comment on your performance against the requirements.
At what point should I contact my referees?
As early as possible. Before you apply, you will need to contact your referees to ask if they are happy to write a reference (letter of recommendation) for you. You must register three referees as part of your graduate application. However, you need only two references submitted in time for the deadline to be considered ready for assessment, as long as your application is otherwise complete. You can read detailed guidance on references in the Graduate Application Guide.
Where can I find the entry requirements for my course?
Search for your course on the graduate admissions website course information pages. The entry requirements for your course are in the ‘entry requirements’ and ‘how to apply’ sections for each course.
What if my grades don’t meet the entry requirements?
In exceptional circumstances, applicants with a distinguished record of workplace achievement since graduation may be accepted with lower grades at first degree level. However, we are given very little flexibility on the entry requirements by the central university administration, and an applicant will typically need to demonstrate exceptional potential through their supporting documents, extenuating circumstances, or a substantial time gap with an outstanding record of intervening work experience or similar.
Can I submit a co-authored piece of written work in my application?
Co-authored work is acceptable, but it needs to be made clear exactly which parts were written by you. If the work is co-authored and they cannot identify which work is yours vs your co-author(s), the admissions panel may not feel they can accurately assess the work as part of your application. If you are unable to identify which parts were written by you, we would strongly advise you to submit a different piece so that the panel can better assess your abilities (rather than the abilities of your co-author(s)).
Does my written work have to be on a topic related to research at the OII?
You may provide written work on any topic. Choose work that best demonstrates your academic abilities. 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.
It is for these reasons that we recommend that your chosen piece be from your most recent qualification, although written work not related to your last degree is permissible, particularly if you have been out of academia for some time, with a strong preference that this work be analytic/academic in nature.
Can I have feedback on my application before applying?
We are unable to comment on the likelihood of success of individual applications. However, applicants are encouraged to read all the information about our programmes and on the University of Oxford’s Graduate Admissions pages, and then put forward what they consider to be the strongest application possible.
What does a good DPhil application look like? Do you have any examples?
Here is some great advice from OII DPhil alumni Bertram Vidgen on how to write your DPhil application proposal. You can also read OII Professor Vili Lehdonvirta’s advice about picking a research topic for a DPhil application.