Admission to the MSt in Philosophy of Physics

Application Information and Procedure

For detailed information about admission requirements for and applying to the MSt in Philosophy of Physics, 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 MSt in Philosophy of Physics state the following:

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

  • a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in physics (or a closely-related science discipline) or philosophy.

However, entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a first-class degree or the equivalent.

Applicants should normally have prior knowledge to (UK) undergraduate level of quantum mechanics, relativity theory, electrodynamics, statistical mechanics and analytic mechanics. They should also have the mathematical background required to study these topics.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0. However, most successful applicants have a GPA of 3.7 or above."

Please note that the MSt in Philosophy of Physics is a course that is intended to convert physics graduates (or graduates of other related disciplines) into philosophy students. The entry requirements state that applicants should normally have prior knowledge to (UK) undergraduate level of quantum mechanics, relativity theory, electrodynamics, statistical mechanics and analytic mechanics. They should also have the mathematical background required to study these topics. These are important elements of the entry requirements that you should be considering.

However, the admissions board may decide to consider you for admission to the MSt in Philosophy of Physics, but this cannot be guaranteed. The Faculty cannot unfortunately give you an assessment as to whether your current degree(s) make(s) 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.

If you have studied Philosophy at degree level, you could also apply for the BPhil in Philosophy at the same time as applying for the MSt in Philosophy of Physics (please see the course page for the BPhil entry requirements to see if you are eligible). If you are interested in the Philosophy of Physics you may wish to study the specific Philosophy of Physics pathway for this subject in the BPhil in Philosophy. This is not a separate course, but a way of maximising the study of this topic within the existing BPhil structure. A student on the Philosophy of Physics track would study philosophy of physics/science and other philosophy topics during the first four terms, and go on to write a 30,000-word thesis on philosophy of physics or philosophy of science in the final two terms.

The MSt in Philosophy of Physics entry requirements state that the Faculty usually asks for an undergraduate degree with honours in physics (or a closely-related science discipline) or philosophy. It is not possible to provide a list of degrees that would be considered as closely related to physics as it is not the degree name that is taken into account when considering admissions, but the quantity of relevant modules/topics/content taken as part of the degree. In this regard it is important that the second part of the entry requirements is taken into account: “Applicants should normally have prior knowledge to (UK) undergraduate level of quantum mechanics, relativity theory, electrodynamics, statistical mechanics and analytic mechanics. They should also have the mathematical background required to study these topics.” It is not possible for the Faculty to give you an assessment as to whether your degree is sufficiently closely related to make you eligible to apply for the MSt in Philosophy of Physics 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.

Please do note that admissions to our graduate courses is very competitive, so you may want to take this into account when deciding to apply if you hold a degree that falls short of the advertised minimum entry requirements.

Applicants are not at all required or expected to have any publications in applying for this course.

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 funding available for the MSt in Philosophy of Physics:

What is the requirement for the written work/writing sample, to be submitted with my MSt in Philosophy of Physics 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 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 MSt in Philosophy of Physics:

You are not expected to make contact with an academic member of staff before you apply. The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Faculty of Philosophy, and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff.

Students who achieve a distinction on the MSt in Philosophy of Physics are eligible for progression to the DPhil in Philosophy, provided that the Philosophy Graduate Studies Committee is satisfied that their proposed thesis topic and outline indicate that they can be adequately supervised by members of the Philosophy Faculty. Students who pass the MSt in Philosophy of Physics without a distinction may be admitted to the DPhil at the Committee’s discretion.

The Faculty of Philosophy’s admissions process operates a gathered field. 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 – 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.

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