DPhil FAQs

These are the answers to our most frequently asked questions. Please also read the Graduate Admissions and Funding website carefully as it contains more comprehensive information on the selection criteria and application process for the DPhil.

How is the Blavatnik School of Government DPhil programme different from other research degree programmes in Public Policy?

The DPhil in Public Policy is a 36-month research degree that is also rooted in and relevant to current policy challenges. You will have the chance to meet and interact with leading public policy practitioners, and will work in an interdisciplinary environment where issues rather than the nuances of debates within specific academic disciplines take priority in the formation and execution of research questions and strategies. If you are accepted for the DPhil in Public Policy you will be expected to focus your research on practical challenges facing a range of different governments and publicly oriented agencies. As well as developing your academic expertise, you will also learn how to communicate your findings and analysis effectively so as to have real impact on government and public policy development throughout the world.

What level of supervision will I have on the DPhil?

You will have a named supervisor, normally as indicated in the offer letter, who will have overall responsibility for the direction of your work on behalf of the School. You would normally have a second supervisor, who may also be identified in the offer letter, or over the course of the DPhil, once the direction of the research becomes clear. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of much public policy research, supervisors are likely to each come with different disciplinary expertise so as to meet the needs and focus of the research.

Should I contact possible supervisors directly?

The Blavatnik School of Government receives a very large number of applications and enquiries each year. Individual supervisors are very time-pressed and may well be unable to offer specific guidance to candidates on their research topics and fit for the programme. We therefore strongly advise you to direct any correspondence or questions to the Blavatnik School​​​​​​​ Admissions Team who will be able to liaise appropriately with faculty members on your behalf. We also suggest to check the list of our faculty members who are also DPhil supervisors so as to determine if there is likely to be a suitable supervisor for your area of interest. The Blavatnik School​​​​​​​ will appoint a supervisor in the event that your application is successful and you do not need a confirmed supervisor in order to apply.

How do I learn more about the milestones attached to an Oxford DPhil (Transfer of Status, Confirmation of Status, Viva Voce)?

You can find out more about the stages of an Oxford DPhil here on the main University website.

Do I have to live in Oxford during term time?

You will need to be resident in Oxford for at least 6 terms. Time spent abroad as part of a research timetable may count towards the residence requirements however all cases are subject to approval.

Can I change from full-time to part-time?

The DPhil in Public Policy is a full-time programme only. Due to the intensive nature of the course part-time study is not possible.

Where do I find out about funding?

Please review the DPhil funding information which will be updated with funding opportunities. In addition, we strongly recommend you use the University’s Fees and Funding pages to investigate possible funding opportunities. Many colleges also have information on funding and what opportunities are open to their members.

What funds are available for attending conferences and presenting papers?

We have a limited research fund for doctoral students, to which you can apply for help with attendance at conferences and fieldwork expenses. Students are also encouraged to investigate all sources of funding available, these would include your college and external organizations in addition to the Blavatnik School​​​​​​​.

Can I support my studies or continue with paid employment?

If you hold a student visa you would normally be allowed to work for up to 20 hours per week. However, due to the intensive nature of the DPhil programme, you are strongly encouraged to discuss any additional work commitments with your supervisor before undertaking the work, and to make a potential or current employer aware of the restrictions you face as a full-time student.

Are there teaching opportunities whilst I am a research student?

As a Blavatnik School​​​​​​​ research student, you may have opportunities to teach, most commonly as a Teaching Assistant (TA) on a module for the Master of Public Policy (MPP). However, other opportunities may be available across the University.

Can I come and visit the Blavatnik School​​​​​​​ to find out more?

All the information you require about the DPhil in Public Policy is available on our website however it is possible to visit us and speak to the Admissions team about application to the DPhil programme. If you are going to be in Oxford please email the Admissions team (admissions@bsg.ox.ac.uk) to book an appointment. Please note that it is not possible to meet with faculty to discuss your application.

Can I submit professional references?

Yes. If you have been out of University for an extended period one professional reference may be submitted, but please note that any such reference should still comment on your academic suitability for the DPhil in Public Policy programme and that academic references are preferred.

I am bringing my partner/family to Oxford, what facilities are available?

There are facilities available across the University for students with partners and families. Limited accommodation is available from colleges and the University Accommodation Office, and we would encourage you to investigate this once a college place has been confirmed. The University Student Union offers advice to students with families which provides information on childcare and schooling.

Which college can I apply to?

For information on colleges that are accepting DPhil students please visit the Graduate Admissions and Funding pages or our College membership page in the DPhil section.

What is the purpose of a college for a graduate student?

Colleges act as a base for the duration of your time as a graduate student. They provide meals, chapels, social events, sporting clubs, and each has its own library (of varying degrees of size and specialism). Several colleges also provide accommodation for graduate students, either for one year, two years and exceptionally, three years. Some colleges also offer scholarships for applicant students. For further information please check the individual college websites for further details.

If you do not find your answer here visit the main Graduate Admissions comprehensive FAQ pages.