Admission to the DPhil in Philosophy

Application Information and Procedure

For detailed information about admission requirements for and applying to the DPhil in Philosophy, please see here:

About the Course

Entry Requirements

Resources

Funding and Costs

Colleges

How to Apply

Frequently Asked Questions about Admissions

The entry requirements for the DPhil in Philosophy state the following:

“As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the equivalent of the following UK qualifications:

  • the BPhil in Philosophy from the University of Oxford with a distinction or near-distinction grade, or an equivalent national or international qualification; and
  • a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in philosophy or a closely-related degree which involved substantial engagement with philosophy. However, entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a first-class degree or the equivalent.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.6 out of 4.0. However, most successful applicants have a GPA of 3.7 or above."

I have an undergraduate degree in Philosophy (or a closely-related degree) and a one-year masters in Philosophy (or a closely-related degree). Am I eligible to apply for the DPhil in Philosophy?

The entry requirements state that the Faculty of Philosophy usually asks for an undergraduate degree in Philosophy (or a closely-related degree), as well as a master’s degree that is equivalent to our two-year masters course, the BPhil in Philosophy. A one-year masters in Philosophy is therefore not strictly equivalent to our BPhil in Philosophy. However, the admissions board may decide to accept a one-year masters as an eligible degree for admission to the DPhil in Philosophy, but this cannot be guaranteed. The Faculty cannot unfortunately give you an assessment as to whether your current degrees make you eligible – as someone’s whole application (including, and especially, the writing sample and references) is reviewed in order to make a decision on admissions to the course and it is therefore impossible to predict the judgement that will be made by the admissions board.

I have an undergraduate degree in Philosophy (or a closely-related degree) and a master’s degree that is not in Philosophy (or a closely related discipline). Am I eligible to apply for the DPhil in Philosophy?

The entry requirements state that the Faculty of Philosophy usually asks for two degrees in Philosophy (or a closely-related degree) for admission to the DPhil in Philosophy. However, the admissions board may decide to consider you for admission to the DPhil in Philosophy, but this cannot be guaranteed. The Faculty cannot unfortunately give you an assessment as to whether your current degrees make you eligible – as someone’s whole application (including, and especially, the writing sample and references) is reviewed in order to make a decision on admissions to the course and it is therefore impossible to predict the judgement that will be made by the admissions board. However, please note that admission to the DPhil in Philosophy is very competitive (we receive approximately 160 applications for 15 places) and the vast majority of DPhil applicants have an undergraduate and graduate degree in philosophy (with some also having publications and relevant work experience), so you may want to take this into account when deciding to apply for the course.

I have an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree but they are not in Philosophy (or a closely-related degree), am I eligible to apply for the DPhil in Philosophy?

The entry requirements state that the Faculty of Philosophy usually asks for two degrees in Philosophy (or a closely-related degree) for admission to the DPhil in Philosophy. However, the admissions board may decide to consider you for admission to the DPhil in Philosophy, but this cannot of course be guaranteed. The Faculty cannot unfortunately give you an assessment as to whether your current degrees make you eligible – as someone’s whole application (including, and especially, the writing sample and references) is reviewed in order to make a decision on admissions to the course and it is therefore impossible to predict the judgement that will be made by the admissions board.

However, please note that admission to the DPhil in Philosophy is very competitive (we receive approximately 160 applications for 15 places) and the vast majority of DPhil applicants have an undergraduate and graduate degree in philosophy (with some also having publications and relevant work experience), so you may want to take this into account when deciding to apply for the course.

If you are serious about studying a masters and/or doctoral degree in Philosophy at the University of Oxford, you could possibly look into studying a philosophy conversion course. A philosophy conversion course (in the UK these are usually called a ’Graduate Diploma in Philosophy’) offers you a way to earn another undergraduate degree (but this time in Philosophy) in one year instead of three years (it is shorter because you already have an undergraduate degree). Oxford University unfortunately does not have such a course but there are many other universities in the UK that do. You can do a web search for “philosophy conversion course UK” or “graduate diploma in Philosophy UK” to find them. There may also be one-year masters courses elsewhere which allow you to enter without an undergraduate degree in philosophy, upon completion of which you may be eligible for our graduate degrees in Philosophy.

The DPhil entry requirements state that the Faculty usually asks for an undergraduate degree with honours in Philosophy or a closely-related degree which involved substantial engagement with philosophy, and the BPhil in Philosophy or an equivalent national or international qualification. It is not possible to provide a list of degrees that would be considered as closely-related to Philosophy as it is not the degree name that is taken into account when considering admissions, but the quantity of philosophy-related modules/topics/content taken as part of the degree. For example, someone with a degree in Politics who has completed considerable work in Political Theory and Political Philosophy may be deemed to be suitable to apply for our course. Similarly, someone with a Law degree who has completed considerable work in Jurisprudence or Philosophy of Law/Legal Philosophy or someone with a degree in Theology who has studied Philosophical Theology topics, may also be deemed to suitable to apply for our course. But this judgement is to be made by the admissions board once it is in receipt of your complete application. It is therefore not possible for the Faculty to give you an assessment as to whether your degree is closely related and would make you eligible to apply for the DPhil in Philosophy as someone’s whole application (including, and especially, the writing sample and references) is reviewed in order to make a decision on admissions to the course and it is therefore impossible to predict the judgement that will be made by the admissions board.

An applicant will not be automatically excluded if they do not meet the minimum degree result(s) or GPA listed in the entry requirements but the Faculty cannot unfortunately give you an assessment as to whether your application would or could result in an offer – as someone’s whole application (including, and especially, the writing sample and references) is reviewed in order to make a decision on admissions to the course and it is therefore impossible to predict the judgement that will be made by the admissions board.

However, please note that admission to the DPhil in Philosophy is very competitive (we receive approximately 160 applications for 15 places) and the vast majority of DPhil applicants have an undergraduate and graduate degree in philosophy (with some also having publications and relevant work experience), so you may want to take this into account when deciding to apply for the course.

You are not required to have any publications but these may be an advantage as admission to the course is very competitive.

Please refer to the International Qualifications page for guidance on which international qualifications are considered equivalent to UK-awarded degrees.

Please click on the following links for information about the funding available for the DPhil in Philosophy:

What is the requirement for the written work/writing sample, to be submitted with my DPhil in Philosophy application?

You should submit an academic essay of 4,000 to 5,000 words on a subject related to your proposed research topic. The essay should be typed or word-processed in English and must be clearly marked with your name and the date of composition.

Is it ok if my written work/writing sample is over/under the word limit?

It is in your interest to follow the exact instructions that are written on the admissions pages. If you submit a writing sample that falls outside of the permitted word-count range, your application will not be automatically discounted. However, we cannot offer you any assurance that it will be accepted. You may decide to truncate / extend your writing sample so that it reaches the word limit.

Does the word count for the written work/writing sample include footnotes and/or the bibliography?

The word count does not need to include the end bibliography or brief footnotes.

Can my writing sample be a selection from a longer piece of work?

Yes, your writing sample may be a part of a larger essay, article or publication, but in this case it is probably wise to use some of the word limit to put the writing sample into context, identifying what is discussed in the rest of the essay, article or publication and how the writing sample fits in with this. 

Is it possible to submit a co-authored piece for my written work/writing sample as part of my application?

Unfortunately, co-authored papers are not permitted to be submitted as your writing sample. You should mention your publications on your CV but your writing sample should be work that is solely written by you.

What is the requirement for the research proposal and personal statement, to be submitted with my application?

Your research proposal should comprise a detailed outline of your proposed research, written in English, covering areas such as the background to the research, methodology, expected results and the contribution to the field of learning. It should be up to 2,000 words. Your personal statement should be written in English and explain your motivation for applying for graduate study at Oxford. It should be up to 500 words. Both documents should be uploaded as one document.

What are the English language requirements?

Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University for all of our graduate courses. Please see the English Language Requirements page for details on the required test scores.

Can I ask for a waiver from the English language requirement?

University policy allows academic departments the discretion to waive the requirement to provide English language scores if an applicant has completed, or is currently completing, a degree-level course that is:

  • full-time
  • at least nine months in duration
  • undertaken at a recognised institution where teaching and assessment throughout the course is undertaken entirely in English; and
  • has been completed within 2 years of the start date of the course to which you are applying.

However, the Faculty of Philosophy usually only approves English language requirement waiver requests if the applicant is undertaking or has undertaken a degree at a recognised educational institution where teaching and assessment is entirely in English and if that institution is situated in a country where English is the first language.

To request a waiver, write a brief statement giving the reasons for your request and upload it to your application.

What if I have transcripts that are not in English?

Any non-English transcripts should be accompanied by a certified translation.

Can I submit references that are non-academic?

Academic references are usually required. However, if you have been out of education for a long time, or if you have substantial relevant working experience, then a maximum of one professional reference may replace an academic reference provided that it speaks to your ability to undertake philosophy studies at graduate level.

Can I include my GRE scores in my application?

The entry requirements for all of our graduate courses in Philosophy state ‘No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.’ which indicates that you are not required to upload your GRE scores for the university to count your application to be complete for consideration. You are not disallowed from submitting extra information, so you may wish to upload your GRE scores if you deem it important or in your interest, but we cannot unfortunately make a judgement as to what kind of impact GREs scores could have for an application.

Please click on the following link to see which colleges accept students for the DPhil in Philosophy:

You are encouraged to check whether there are potential supervisors for your proposed area of research at Oxford and indicate in your application if there are particular faculty members you would like to work with. Please take a look at our Faculty Members page to see if you think there are any Faculty members who could be an appropriate supervisor to guide you on your research. Please note that it can never be guaranteed that your proposed supervisor will be assigned to you, even if you receive prior informal approval from that supervisor.

Unfortunately, the Faculty of Philosophy can only consider you for a place on a course that you have applied for, so your DPhil application cannot be considered for admission to the BPhil in Philosophy (or any other course in the Faculty of Philosophy or the rest of the University). Instead, you may decide to apply for the BPhil in Philosophy at the same time as applying for the DPhil in Philosophy, as a back-up for your DPhil application. If you were to be offered a place on the BPhil in Philosophy, and successfully completed it, you would be eligible to apply for the DPhil in Philosophy. Please note that you will have to pay the application fee twice if you do apply for both courses. 

The Faculty of Philosophy’s admissions process operates a gathered field (in line with University policy). It does not matter when you apply as long as it is before the set deadline. Earlier application does not result in an earlier decision as all applications have to be reviewed and assessed simultaneously, after the deadline has passed, but for administrative purposes (and to avoid IT problems due to system overload) it is ideal if you do not leave it until the very last few days.

The answer to your question can be found on the Central University's Q&A pages.

The Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Oxford only offers one graduate course in part-time mode of study, namely the MSt in Practical Ethics.  All other graduate courses (DPhil in Philosophy, BPhil in Philosophy, MSt in Philosophy of Physics and MSt in Ancient Philosophy) are offered as full-time on-campus courses only.

It should also be noted that all graduate courses have a minimum number of terms of ‘statutory residence requirement’ in Oxford. ‘Residence in Oxford’ means residence within twenty-five miles of Carfax in the city centre (as stated in the university’s examination regulations). A ‘term’s residence’ means forty‑two nights within term (rather than within the shorter period of ‘Full Term' (Weeks 1 to 8 of term – see Oxford University’s Dates of Term). Nevertheless, since all classes and lectures, and most supervisions, take place within Full Term, it is in practice expected that students are resident in Oxford at least throughout Full Term.

The Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Oxford does not offer any graduate (masters or doctoral) courses in Philosophy via distance learning/online. All Philosophy graduate courses (DPhil in Philosophy, BPhil in Philosophy, MSt in Philosophy of Physics and MSt in Ancient Philosophy) are only available as full-time on-campus courses. The only exception is the MSt in Practical Ethics which is currently only available as a part-time on-campus course (any questions about this course should be directed towards the Department of Continuing Education which runs this course in coalition with the Faculty of Philosophy (ethics@conted.ox.ac.uk)).

It should also be noted that all graduate courses have a minimum number of terms of ‘statutory residence requirement’ in Oxford. ‘Residence in Oxford’ means residence within twenty-five miles of Carfax in the city centre (see the examination regulations). A ‘term’s residence’ means forty‑two nights within term (rather than within the shorter period of ‘Full Term’ (Weeks 1 to 8 of term – see Oxford University’s Dates of Term). Nevertheless, since all classes and lectures, and most supervisions, take place within Full Term, it is in practice expected that students are resident in Oxford at least throughout Full Term.

Interviews are not normally held as part of the admissions process for any of the Faculty of Philosophy’s graduate courses.

Yes, it is possible to submit several relatively independent but thematically interrelated papers. The examination regulations require that there be such a thing as ‘the subject of the thesis’, so these papers must collectively represent a coherent and focused body of research into a single subject. But they may also be independent of each other, in the sense that each paper need not presuppose familiarity with the arguments of the other papers. Each paper may therefore resemble a journal article more than a traditional monograph chapter. A thesis consisting of interrelated papers should include an opening integrative chapter, stating how the papers in the thesis relate to each other and to an overall field of learning in which the subject of the thesis falls. It is recommended that the connections between the papers (as well as any conclusions to be highlighted) and re-emphasised in the conclusion, which should be the last chapter.

The Masters of Letters (MLitt) in Philosophy is awarded on the basis of a thesis of maximum 50,000 words for the MLitt. In practice, applicants are admitted for the MLitt only in exceptional cases, and few students submit a thesis for the MLitt. The MLitt is more often an exit award for DPhil students who fail or withdraw from the DPhil degree but meet the requirements for the MLitt.

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