Frequently Asked Questions for those who wish to apply for a Higher Degree in the Department of Education.

Click on the question to see the answer

What qualifications do I need to apply?

For more specific details of our admission criteria please visit the individual course pages.

How many students do you recruit to each programme?

Programme Number of places available
(May be subject to change)
DPhil in Education 22
MSc in Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition 21
MSc Education (Research Design and Methodology) 10
MSc Education (Child Development and Education) 12
MSc Education (Comparative and International Education) 14
MSc Education (Learning and Technology) 12
MSc Education (Higher Education) 12
MSc in Teaching English Language in University Settings 10

Can I study online or through distance learning?

It is not possible to study at a distance or on-line on our MSc or DPhil programmes.  However, our MSc in Teaching English Language in University Settings is a distance learning course specifically for experienced teachers of English language.  Please see the specific course page for more information.

What are the backgrounds of students recruited to your programmes?

The Department recruits students from a wide range of backgrounds, professional, age and stage, cultural and national. Most students come from overseas, with China and USA currently being strongly represented countries.  Our MSc TELUS students are experienced teachers from all over the world.  Slightly over one third of our Masters students come direct from an undergraduate degree, mostly obtained in a social science subject or in English language and literature. Many of our students, however, bring some professional experience in educational, NGO, policy or other settings which they have gained after their Bachelor degree before embarking on the Masters degree.

On the DPhil programme almost all applicants have a relevant Masters before applying, and many applicants have additional experience in a professional context. It is essential that DPhil applicants have a grounding in the field of education before they embark on the DPhil, and for this reason a number of DPhil students undertake a Masters degree within the department before progressing to the DPhil itself.

Can I study part time?

A part-time study is possible on the MSc in Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition, MSc in Education (Research Design and Methodology) and MSc TELUS programmes. All are undertaken over the course of two years.

Full details about the content of these programmes may be found at:

Although doctoral research training programmes across the University tend to be structured around the needs of full-time students, we are able to offer a part-time DPhil option for students who reside and are employed locally.  For more information about studying for a part-time DPhil with us, please see the specific page.

How much will it cost to study and live in Oxford?

To find out how much it will cost to undertake your studies at the University, please visit the Fees and Living Costs webpage for details.

Can I apply for more than one course?

We would strongly encourage you to focus your application on the course for which you have the most interest and experience.

Can I apply for your courses if I am in the process of achieving my qualification to gain entry onto the programme?

Yes, you may apply for any of our courses whilst studying for another degree. If you are successful in achieving a place on one of our programmes, we would make a conditional offer which would include the condition of you achieving your qualification. You are required to submit an interim transcript at application. However, your final outcome would need to be available prior to you commencing the course at Oxford.

Can someone check my research proposal before I submit an application?

If you wish to check whether your proposed area of research might fit into the interests of current members of staff or the department’s research centres you should contact the Higher Degrees Office and we will direct it to the Admissions Tutor.  Please do not email individual members of staff directly.

English is not my first language; which higher level language qualification is acceptable? And what score do you require?

If you do not have English as your first language, we would like you to have achieved the higher level competence in English Language proficiency i.e. IELTS 7.5 overall with at least 7.0 in each component, or TOEFL 110 (Internet-based).

We do not accept tests which are more than 2 years old. We encourage applicants to apply with a successful IELTS test. If evidence that you successfully meet the English language condition cannot be provided with your application, the language requirement will be set as a condition if an offer is made.

Further information can be found by visiting the Guidance for International Students page.

Can I apply for a waiver of proof of proficiency in English?

For information on applying for a waiver of the English test requirement please visit the Application Guide webpage.

Should I declare a college preference in my application?

For guidance about colleges and making an open application, please visit the relevant page.

How do I apply?

For information about applying to our courses please see the specific course pages:

For a more detailed explanation of the process, please click here for the application guide.

Your website shows 3 application deadlines. Which one applies to the programme I am applying to?

The University has 3 application deadlines for all programmes. All 3 application deadlines are used but early application is advised as a number of courses may become full before the later deadlines.  Applicants who wish to be considered for a Clarendon Scholarship or an ESRC studentship MUST apply by the January deadline.

Please note that the DPhil in Education programme has only 1 application deadline – January.

Not all of my qualifications will fit on the application form, what shall I do?

If you require more space on the application form, please contact Graduate Admissions for advice.

What should I do if there is not enough space on the application form?

Please contact Graduate Admissions for advice.

I have been outside of an academic setting for some time now; who shall I have to act as my referees?

We strongly recommend that you have at least one reference from your most recent academic tutor. If you are currently in employment, you would be expected to provide a reference from your employer as well as an academic referee who is able to comment on academic capability/suitability for Higher Degree study.

What references are acceptable?

The University of Oxford application guide says…..

‘You should nominate referees who can provide an informed view of your academic ability and suitability for your chosen programme of study. The University will accept professional references, if these are relevant to the programme of study, but please note that personal references, such as those from family and friends, are not acceptable.’

It is compulsory that we receive a reference from your current/most recent academic supervisor.

For further information, please refer to the Application Guide.

What do I need to include in my ‘Personal Statement’ (‘Statement of Purpose’)?

Your ‘Statement of Purpose’ should be between 1-2 pages in length and include the following:

  • The reasons why you are applying to this particular programme of study
  • The areas of study in the subject which interest you
  • Relevant academic, research, or practical experience that you have
  • What you want to achieve from the programme you are applying for
  • A brief statement of your future aspirations i.e. where you will take what you have learnt from the programme
  • A brief statement of the research project that you hope to undertake (if you have ideas about this)

What do I need to include for the samples of written work?

You are required to submit two samples of written work. Each sample should be in English and no more than 2,000 words in length. The written work should be related to the programme to which you are applying and should be on two separate topics.

You may submit a piece of written work that you have previously completed for a prior course of study if the topic is relevant i.e. an assignment or chapter of a dissertation etc, provided it meets our requirements. If the piece of work is significantly longer than 2,000 words you will need to edit it to meet our requirements.

If you do not have any existing material that fits this requirement, we would suggest that you may like to critique an article or write a book review based on the course subject.

A list of relevant references is required for your 2 samples of written work and should be included in your word count.

I am applying for a DPhil. What do I need to include in the research proposal?

If you are applying to  the DPhil programme you need to write a research proposal in English of up to 2500 words in length. It should demonstrate that you have defined an area or topic of research interest, are familiar with the relevant literature, and have a a specific focus, issue or set of questions you wish to explore.

Your proposal should include an indicative title and a short introduction/synopsis, a discussion of the most relevant scholarly literature, and a research question or hypothesis. This issue or question should emerge from your review of the literature. Please also provide a rationale for the importance of this research topic.

Your proposal should also indicate your proposed methodological approach. This will depend on the kind of research you envisage. If empirical research is planned, then please discuss the likely ‘data’ to be collected.  At this stage these ideas are exploratory, and likely to develop and change once you are accepted.

How is my supervisor decided?

Your supervisor will be decided by the department following your successful offer of a place on the course on the basis of staff research interests and staff workload and availability.

Am I required to attend for interview?

Yes. If you live in the UK you will normally be invited to an in-person interview here at the Department. If you live in another country we will arrange an interview by telephone or by Skype. You will be given advance notice of your interview date and time and we require confirmation of attendance. We are sorry that we cannot currently reimburse you for any travel expenses.

What will the interview be like?

We are keen to find out more about you and your interests, and how these might tie in with the research specialisms of academic staff within the department.

For DPhil applicants, we will ask you to talk in detail about your research proposal, its design, your methodological choices and potential challenges you might face. For MSc applicants, we will ask you about your knowledge of the course, your reasons for wanting to study in this area, and initial ideas for their dissertation research.

Applicants may be asked to explain how their areas of interest link to those of the departments’ research groups, centres and academic staff.

When will the outcome of my application be known?

Applications will be considered by the admissions panel within the Department and decisions will be made in accordance with the following deadlines:

Application deadline Decision deadline
  November deadline  13 January 2017
  January deadline  17 March 2017
  March deadline  28 April 2017

You will be informed of our decision by email to ensure that you receive the outcome as soon as possible.

In the event that we are not able to offer you a place, we regret that it is not possible to provide you with feedback on your application.

Can I defer entry to a course?

The University will only consider requests for deferral of entry due to exceptional unforeseen circumstances, and only after all conditions set for the offer (both academic and financial) have been met.

How to apply