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 in Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching 10
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

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 Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching 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 Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching 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 Education (Research Design and Methodology) and MSc in Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT).

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 your query to the Admissions Tutor.

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 Application Guide.

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.

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

Your ‘Statement of Purpose’ should be between 1-2 pages in length, written in English and explain your motivation for applying for the course at Oxford, your relevant experience and education, and the specific components of the course that interest you. This will be assessed for:

  • 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
  • What you want to achieve from the programme you are applying for
  • 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?

The written work should be related to the DPhil in Education and should be on separate topics. If you do not have any existing material that fits this requirement, you may wish to critique an article or write a book review based on the course subject.

You may submit written work previously completed for a prior course of study if the topic is relevant, eg an assignment or chapter of a dissertation etc, provided it meets the requirements. If your work is significantly longer than the guide length it should be edited to meet the requirements.

A list of relevant references is required for your written work and should be included in your word count.
This will be assessed for understanding of the subject area, an ability to construct and defend an argument, and proficiency in academic English.

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

If you are applying to the DPhil programme you need to submit a statement of one to two pages and proposal of 2,500 words. Your statement and proposal should be submitted as a single, combined document with a clear subheading for each.

You should submit a convincing personal statement (statement of purpose) explaining your reasons for applying to the programme and highlighting your relevant academic and professional experience.

You should also submit a research proposal written in English. An indicative bibliography is required but you do not need to include this in your word count. 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.

This will be assessed for your potential to carry out doctoral research, the quality and coherence of the proposal and the originality of the project.

It will be normal for your ideas to subsequently change in some ways as you develop your project. You should nevertheless make the best effort you can to demonstrate the extent of your research question, sources and method at this moment.

Your proposal should focus on your proposed research topic, rather than personal achievements, interests and aspirations.

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  18 January 2019
  January deadline  22 March 2019
  March deadline  5 April 2019

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.

What if I have already completed research training as part of a Masters degree?

All PRS students no matter what their previous training are required to undertake the Research Training Seminar course. This is the seminar specifically for PRS students, preparing you for the Oxford DPhil structure, creating a supportive cohort and enabling you to begin professional development for an academic or non-academic career. Other research training courses are: Beginners and Intermediate Quantitative Methods; Perspectives and Debates in Qualitative Research and Philosophy of Educational Research. The exact courses you will be required to take will depend on your previous training and experience, and the decision will be based on the evidence you provide in your application and in discussion with the Director of Doctoral Research on matriculation.

How to apply