Frequently Asked Questions

Undergraduate Questions

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Graduate Questions

You may have a number of questions regarding your application to study history at Oxford. Please check through the list below to see if your query is covered before emailing the History Faculty Graduate Office:

  • Research programmes: the Doctor of Philosophy (D.Phil.) requires typically a minimum of three and a maximum of four years of research, analysis, and writing-up of your findings, and a Master of Letters (M.Litt.) typically a minimum of two and a maximum of three years of research, analysis, and writing-up of your findings
  • Master's degree programmes differ in length between nine and 21 months
  • All our programmes are designed to prepare you for a research degree: length and cost may well be the main criteria for your choice
  • An M.Phil. will provide a broader grounding in your subject area and places more emphasis on the research element, requiring a more substantial dissertation 
  • If you do a M.St./M.Sc. first, you need to keep in mind that, if you want to apply for a DPhil (or PhD elsewhere), you will have to apply for  this within a few months of starting your master's programme. This means that you need to have a clear idea of your D.Phil. topic at that point and feel ready to write a good research proposal. See doctoral research proposal 
  • An M.Phil. may also be a suitable degree for those who do not intend to carry on towards a doctorate, but would like some broader exposure to the subject area and wish to complete a significant piece of individual research 
  • You need to decide which faculty or department would be best suited to your topic, and for which your previous training and experience are likely to qualify 
  • This might mean that you need to rethink your focus somewhat, thereby pulling it in one direction or the other
  • Consider whether your topic can (and should) contain enough of the History element and whether this focus is reflected in your proposal/statement of purpose
  • A second supervisor for advice on any non-historical element of your topic can often be found 

The Basics

  • We now only have one main deadline in late January. See the deadlines page 
  • Each course page also has the deadline information in the right hand menu
  • All our History postgraduate programmes start in October; there are no possibilities for an exception in the case of master’s programmes; for research programmes the Faculty may, in exceptional circumstances, accommodate a January or even April start
  • Yes, you can apply for more than one programme, but you will have to pay the application fee for each application 
  • No. All your applications will be assessed separately by the relevant departments
  • You are free to consult a specialist in your field for advice on your project, if you think that would be helpful, but you should keep in mind that it is the Faculty who will decide about supervision arrangements (taking due account of workload and commitments of its academics) rather than applicants or prospective supervisors 
  • If you have a particular supervisor in mind, who would be best suited to advise you with your topic, you can suggest his/her name on your application form
  • You will be informed of who your supervisor is expected to be in your offer letter 

How does it all work?

  • Application submission in late January
  • Assessment process February-March
  • Notification of result (not accepted, conditional offer, re-evaluation or unconditional offer) early April 
  • Offer of a college place may be expected in May to July – though please be aware that there may be delays because capacity in the preferred college may have run out and applications may have to be circulated further in order to identify spare capacities within the collegiate University  
  • Fulfilment of academic (if conditional offer) and financial (college) conditions, i.e., provide proof that you have met the academic and linguistic conditions for your offer, and that you have the funds to come to Oxford before 31st July (Faculty and colleges may allow reasonable extensions to this deadline if there is good reason to do so) 
  • Confirmed Offer letter and Student Contract sent, and contract to be returned May-September 
  • Visa application if necessary July-September (for visa sponsorship requirements see the university website)

Documents

  • We normally require three academic references
  • In the case of mature students two academic references and one professional reference are acceptable 
  • Your application will only be released for assessment if at least two of your references were received by the relevant application deadline 
  • Please ask your referees to check their Junk Folders after you submitted the reference section
  • We require a transcript that shows the individual marks for all your subjects
  • If you already have a final transcript of your previous degree, you can submit a copy/pdf of it with your application, but if you are made an offer we will need the original (hard copy) of your transcript for our records before we can confirm our offer 
  • If you are currently enrolled in a degree programme and therefore do not have a final transcript yet, you should submit an interim transcript showing individual marks for all your subjects. In this case the offer of a place at Oxford will be conditional, asking you to achieve a certain level of performance in your examination results and to provide us with a final transcript when it is produced at the end of the academic year 
  • An official transcript is the original document showing all your marks to-date, in hard copy, usually bearing a stamp and a signature.
  • It is NOT an online printout, photocopy (even colour) or your degree certificate
  • For the purpose of uploading a transcript with your application you need the scan of an original official transcript
  • Please consult the University's Application Guide about their requirements and definitions
  • The University gives definitions for both 
  • We prefer calling them both research proposals, as for both master’s and doctoral degree programmes we require a certain focus on the research element of your proposed work
  • For further information on what we require please consult our website for History-specific admissions requirements 
  • No, but it needs to focus more on the research element of your chosen topic. See  doctoral research proposal 
  • If you are not a native English speaker, we will require you to provide us with a language certificate. For required scores see the University’s information on language skills (History applicants need to achieve test results at the higher level) 
  • However, if you are not a native English speaker, but have completed more than twelve months of a degree programme at an English speaking university, you can ask for a language test waiver 
  • In this case, please also ask your referees to comment explicitly on your English language skills in their references 
  • Please note that we might still ask you to take an English language test, should we for any reason have doubts about your English language competence, or if your current academic institution is not recognised as an English language teaching environment for visa requirements by the UK Border Agency
  • If you need more time to improve your English and want to take your English test after submitting your application, you can do this 
  • Ideally we would like to have it before Christmas for November applications and mid-February for January applications (but the test result can also be considered as an academic condition to be fulfilled by 31st July) 
  • If your score is not far off, you can still try to improve your English language skills during the assessment process.
  • Please state in your application that you are intending to re-take your English language test later to try to improve the score.
  • You can then send the new language test certificate to the Graduate Office, Faculty of History, Old High School for Boys, George Street, Oxford OX1 2RL, and it will be added to your application documents
  • Your written work serves the purpose of showing your writing and research skills, and in the ideal case such work would relate to History, but we would expect that in combination with your research proposal writing samples from other subject areas would also give our assessors a clear idea of your abilities
  • You can submit a chapter or two of a longer work, such as a previous thesis or dissertation
  • In this case you might like to add an introductory page stating that the submitted work is part of a bigger piece of writing 
  • If you submit one longer piece of writing then you should upload a short message to this effect instead of the second piece of writing which will enable you to indicate on the checklist at the end of the application form that you submitted the two pieces of written work which the system needs in order to validate your application 
  • Yes, please send them to Graduate Admissions, University Offices, Wellington Square, Oxford, OX1 2JD. Please put your application number on the documents so that they can be safely matched 
  • Please also consult the University Guidance for Applicants 
  • You can also submit additional documentation after having submitted the application, but please note that any documents that are a compulsory element of your application need to be submitted by the deadline.
  • We do not usually return transcripts, as we need to keep them to prove that we have had the evidence for a student’s admission to the programme, should we ever be audited 
  • We can sometimes make exceptions if a transcript is irreplaceable for a special reason

Previous degrees and qualifications

  • We expect our applicants to obtain average marks which place them at least into the top third of an Upper Second Class honours degree, or a GPA of 3.70/4.00,  but applicants should keep in mind that their past academic record is not the only element of our assessment.
  • Please note that we do look at individual marks on your transcript for a good reason. Should your overall GPA be lower than our requirements state, but your individual marks for History are outstandingly high, we would still consider your application
  • Please consider that we get a huge number of applications, but can only offer a limited number of places. These are usually taken up by students with outstanding marks, and only a handful of those can be offered funding
  • We require a minimum GPA of 3.70 out of 4.0. If your University calculates the GPA differently, you would have to work out a similar percentage
  • Typically, in English universities this would equate to completing a B.A. or B.Sc. degree programme with an average mark above 67 
  • We do not normally expect a GRE certificate but if you have one it would be a useful additional indicator of your academic ability
  • We usually expect applicants to have previous experience with History, if they do not have a History degree (single honours or major subject) 
  • However, degrees such as Theology, for example, can be closely related to History (depending on the topic) and therefore a continuation onto a History programme could make sense 
  • We assess all applications, whether the applicant has a previous History degree or not, but you need to keep in mind that your competitors will in most cases have a very strong History background with often very high marks,

Topic

  • If you think your topic is out of the ordinary, and/or requires a specialist supervisor who might not usually be available at all Universities, please email us a brief topic outline (3-4 sentences) to graduate.admissions(at)history.ox.ac.uk, so that we can check whether appropriate supervision is available

Choice of college

  • If you are applying for a college award (see Funding Search) you are usually expected to nominate that particular college as your preference 
  • You also have the option of indicating that you have no particular college preference which will mean that your applications, once the Faculty has made you an offer, will be directed to one of the colleges that still has places available 
  • Please consider that bigger colleges get more applications, but do not necessarily offer proportionally more places to History students. Having to assess a large amount of applications may result in a delay of the decision-making process 
  • No. This does not apply to graduate students. Students find it often advantageous to be in a different college from their supervisor because in addition to their supervisor they will also have a college advisor who may be providing additional support and guidance

  • The primary source for funding information is the University’s Funding Search which is a useful tool for finding the right award to apply for 
  • The History Faculty’s departmental awards and competitions are outlined in the funding section
  • See the University's fee calculator
  • There are University fees as well as college fees
  • The cost of college accommodation depends on the college and the accommodation you are provided with, and thus cannot be calculated beforehand
  • Usually a college would offer a place and an award to a student during the college placement process 
  • Where an award is offered at a later stage the awarding college will ask for a student to be released from the original college if the particular award fits the student’s profile and/or topic; college awards can only be held at the awarding college  
  • The major scholarships such as AHRC and Clarendon funds do not require a separate application: your admissions application will also serve as funding application; this also applies to the History Faculty’s departmental and college-linked awards  
  • Some of the named scholarships on the application form and virtually all college-based scholarship will require some additional material (please check the scholarships section on the University website) 
  • AHRC, ESRC and Clarendon applications are initially assessed by the Faculty who then submits a list of nominees for review by the relevant Divisional panels 
  • Once nominations have been agreed successful candidates will be informed in late March / early April of the outcome and in due course be asked for any additional information which may be required for the documentation which has to be submitted to the relevant funding body 
  • While the University aims to keep applicants informed about funding decisions it is not always possible to inform everyone individually that their funding application has been unsuccessful; the huge numbers of applicants for Clarendon and AHRC funding, for instance, make this task fairly unmanageable (in those cases the University places a summary announcement on the relevant webpage indicating that all successful candidates have been contacted, and that those who have not been contacted need to assume that their application was unsuccessful)
  • You need to apply for outside scholarships you have found yourself and where there is a formal application procedure
  • All internal funding (Faculty and college-linked awards) is done through the Faculty. No separate application is necessary
  • In parallel to AHRC, ESRC, and Clarendon funding eligible candidates will also have been considered for the Faculty’s departmental and college-linked awards, and additional awards may only become available if one or more of the nominees for such awards for unforeseen reasons have to withdraw from their Oxford award 
  • In consequence, we need to advise you that you need to investigate your alternative financial options if you have not been offered an internal award by early April 
  • If you realise that you are unable to finance your studies at Oxford, please email us and your college to tell us that you are withdrawing from your place
  • The sooner you inform us of that decision, the sooner another applicant on the waiting-list is able to take up a place and start planning their own finances

FULL-TIME STUDENTS:

  • The University’s residence policy requires registered graduates to live within a 25 miles radius from Oxford City Centre (Carfax Tower) during term time 
  • Under exceptional circumstances (such as an established family home of mature students) the University authorities may grant a dispensation from this residence requirement 

PART-TIME STUDENTS:

  • We do not offer online or distance-learning programmes, but the 'DPhil in History' and the 'MSt in British and European History from 1500 to the present' are now available as part-time courses. If studying part-time, you will be fully integrated into the research culture of the University and expected to attend the University on a regular basis for supervision, study, skills training and participation in some of the many research seminars. This will translate in most cases roughly to attending Oxford two days a week during full term. For those working alongside their studies, the Faculty appreciates that you will have non-standard attendance and work patterns.

FULL-TIME STUDENTS:

  • Our full-time programmes do envisage full-time commitment to their study
  • Sometimes students may have access to part-time or casual work alongside their course work, but we strongly advise our graduates that they should not commit themselves to more than six hours per week on average 

PART-TIME STUDENTS:

  • Please see FAQ above for attendance patterns
  • If you are on a part-time course and in employment, you must provide a letter from your employer stating you may take time off if necessary to attend the University as required for the duration of the course

  • We are not able to offer individual feedback on your application; though we expect that our published criteria will give you and your referees some useful indication how you could improve any future application 
  • If we cannot offer you a place because there is no capacity of supervision that year, or a suitable supervisor is not available, we will tell you in your decision letter
  • No, a new application will be assessed without recourse to the previous year’s decision 
  • Consider that you cannot do much about the references others write for you, nor about your previous results
  • The two elements you can improve on yourself is the written work and the statement of purpose/research proposal. Re-writing written work is a huge undertaking, and it is likely that your written work is the product of a supervised and well-planned degree. Invest time and effort in your proposal: make sure it is detailed and yet concise; make sure you show very clearly what you would like to focus on; give it a title; consult our website and look at the topics of our current (research) students to get an idea of the way titles are formulated; narrow down your topic and focus on a particular point that may have not been looked at from that angle before

  • Once you have been made an offer you will be asked to initially accept it
  • This is not a binding acceptance, but gives us an indication as to whether you have the intention of coming to Oxford, should you be able to fulfil the academic (if any) and financial conditions
  • Please let us know as soon as possible by email should you change your mind at any point, or accept the offer of another University. In the latter case, it would be helpful if you told us where you decide to go instead, and if you are offered funding there
  • If you have a conditional offer you should get in touch with us and let us know when we can expect the required documents, if you cannot send them in by the given deadline (usually 31st July) 

For master's programmes or diplomas with late results we try our best to facilitate the continuation of your studies without a year's break. However, in some cases this may not be possible. 
If you are not able to get us a final transcript/confirmed marks before registering for the Oxford course, we will have to ask for three things: 

  1. By that date we would want an interim transcript with marks up to that point, showing any marks that were not in the transcript submitted with the application. These marks could be released to us unofficially by your University, if they are not released to you at that point. But you would need to make sure your University office is happy to do this.
  2. We want confirmation that you submitted your dissertation when this has happened (assuming the dissertation is the element delaying things).
  3. We want confirmation from your supervisor that s/he has seen a final draft of your dissertation, commenting on the progress and quality of the work, and giving us an indication as to the likely outcome of the dissertation. You need to make sure that your supervisor is happy to release this information to us confidentially, even though the assessment process will not have started at that point. If your supervisor is not willing to give us such a specific indication before marking has commenced, we will have to wait for confirmation of your final mark, which in your case may be too late for starting the course in October.

If we are happy with your interim marks and the indication from your supervisor is positive and detailed enough, we may be able to waive your academic conditions so that you don't waste a year. But since all this would only happen once you submitted your dissertation, which is likely going to be just before our course starts, it requires nerves of steel from you, as it'll be extremely short notice for you to be informed where you will be spending the next academic year. If you don't think you can cope with such a situation, it would be better to take a year out inbetween.

If your course is by dissertation-only and there are no other examined elements forthcoming in the current year, we will have to wait for the final mark of your dissertation. This could be unofficially released to us by your University before it is available officially, but again, you need to check that they would be willing to do this. 
Should you need a visa, this whole process may complicate matters quite a bit more, and in some cases make them impossible, depending a bit on where you are planning to spend your summer. If you already have a UK visa and stay here you can still register for your course at Oxford on your current visa, but you would need to show evidence that you have started your visa application for the Oxford course.

  • You will next hear from a college offering you a place. Please note that this could take some time if your preferred college has no capacity for additional students. We guarantee a college place for everyone who has been made an offer by the Faculty 
  • You will have to work towards satisfying the academic (if any) and college conditions for your offer. The college will give you a separate deadline for the fulfilment of financial conditions (often the end of August) 
  • Once all conditions are fulfilled you will be sent a confirmed offer letter by us, and a contract which you will have to sign and return in the post 
  • If you need a visa: after your contract is registered as having been received, we can submit our sponsorship information for your Certificate of Acceptance for Study (CAS) number which you need for yoru visa application. Please consider that it will take at least 1 week for the contract to reach us (depending on where you live) and at least 2 weeks to get your visa (please see also ‘Visa’ section below)
  • Rejecting your college place automatically means withdrawing from your place at Oxford 
  • However, if another college awards you a scholarship, or partial award in excess of £ 2,000 then you will be expected to migrate to the college which is offering the award
  • If after submitting your application you received an email from Central Graduate Admissions stating that your application was complete, you should have had a letter from us by mid-April the latest
  • Please do not contact us before mid-April, as we will be very busy processing all application decisions
  • This means that your application will be looked at again together with the March applications
  • You should receive a result in early May
  • Unfortunately being on a waiting-list means that you will have to wait for someone else to withdraw from their place
  • Our waiting list is not ranked because we need to match the suitability of any occuring vacancy with a candidate’s Programme of Study and academic interests 
  • If you don’t hear from us about a change in the status of your application, you might come to a point at which you have to decide to accept an offer from another University if you still have had no decision from us by the time other deadlines need to be kept 
  • There is very occasionally a chance that a place becomes unexpectedly available in August but it would be realistic to assume that if you have not been upgraded from waiting-list to offer by the end of June that there is no realistic chance for a late entry to Oxford 
  • Please inform yourself about the University’s general policy on deferrals  
  • You cannot defer your place for financial reasons 
  • We usually do not defer places for master’s programmes 
  • If you think you have a good (academic) reason for deferring your place, you must first fulfil all conditions (academic and financial)
  • Once this has been done, please e-mail a letter addressed to the Director of Graduate Studies to graduate.admissions(at)history.ox.ac.uk, explaining why you would like to defer your place 
  • If your preferred college is unable to offer you a place, we will have to find you a place at a college which has still capacity for your programme and subject area 
  • This can sometimes be a time-consuming process but if the Faculty has made you an offer we will eventually also secure a college place 
  • Please note, though, that if your college place offer is made very late, you might not be able to get college accommodation
  • Please email us and the college which has offered you a place 
  • No. Whatever reason you decide not to accept your place for, a withdrawal will not be held against you should you wish to apply again. But you need to be aware that when you re-apply there is no automatic guarantee that you will be offered a place again, as you will be up against a new cohort of competitors

  • Once you have fulfilled all conditions (academic and financial) you are emailed a card form by us, usually within 2 weeks
  • If you have fulfilled all your conditions, but still have not received your card form, please get in touch with us, so we can look into your case.
  • No. The card office needs your original signature and a passport-size photo
  • Once your card form has been returned and your University card is produced, you will get an email inviting you to register for Student Self Service and your Oxford email address
  • You can email us to check for you
  • The address to return the form to is in the Complletion of Conditions letter.
  • Do NOT return your card form to the Faculty

  • You will need a Certificate of Acceptance for Study (CAS) number. We issue a CAS request for you and send you the details and number electronically
  • If you change email address (when leaving another University), please make sure we have one that reaches you
  • For general questions on UK immigation policy please contact student.immigration(at)admin.ox.ac.uk - for information about the progress of your CAS request, and any necessary update to the information we hold, please contact the Faculty at visas(at)history.ox.ac.uk 
  • We can set up a draft of your CAS request once you have been sent a contract
  • If your offer was unconditional, we can submit the CAS as soon as you have been sent the contract
  • If your offer was conditional and we will have to wait for your contract to be returned to the University and registered as having been received
  • Please consider that it will take at least 1 week for the contract to reach us (depending on where you live) and at least 2 weeks to get your visa

  • You need to be here one week in advance of the formal start of Michaelmas Term, for the induction week events (usually starting on the first Monday in October) 
  • International students are encouraged to join us earlier for an orientation event by the Student Information Office (usually on the last Thursday in September) 
  • If you have applied for a Medieval degree and/or need to enrol in the pre-term Latin course, you need to arrive in time for this pre-term course in mid-September
  • Contact your supervisor
  • Register on Student Self-Service  
  • Fill in your self-assessment form (we send this out by email during the summer) and don’t forget to actually email it back 
  • Make sure your Junk Filter is set to allowing emails to come through from ‘@history.ox.ac.uk’ addresses 
  • You will need to make sure you have registered for your Oxford email addresses and get into the habit of checking them
  • You should expect to find a Welcome Pack from us at your college, informing you of the start-of-year induction events 
  • If you haven’t heard from us about language tuition by the end of 0th week, please get in touch with us 

We hope you found what you were looking for. If not, please email us at graduate.admissions@history.ox.ac.uk and we will be happy to help.

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