Image: Eleanor Thomson
Image: Eleanor Thomson

Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) in Geography and the Environment


The Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) in Geography and the Environment is our premier research degree. The DPhil (or PhD as it is known in most other universities) is an advanced research degree awarded on the basis of a thesis and oral examination (assessment of other work is not taken into consideration). The DPhil is of a higher standing than the MSc by Research or the MLitt. Examiners of the DPhil must be satisfied that the thesis represents a significant and substantial piece of research, is conveyed in a lucid and scholarly manner and that the candidate has a good general knowledge of the field of their thesis. The DPhil in Geography and the Environment is offered as either a full time 3-4 year degree, or a part-time 6-8 year degree.

Students intending to read for the DPhil are initially admitted to the status of Probationer Research Student (PRS). During their first year (or second year for the part-time pathway) of work, students must apply for transfer to DPhil status, which requires successful completion of a Qualifying Test. This involves submission of a piece of written work which is examined by two assessors. Students will also be required to undergo a similar examination to confirm their DPhil status during their third year (or by the end of the sixth year for the part-time pathway).

Full-time DPhil students must be resident in Oxford for at least six terms (2 years). It is mandatory for students at the School of Geography and the Environment to spend their first year in Oxford so that they can take full advantage of the research training which is provided. Field work undertaken in the second or third year can be counted towards the residency requirement. Currently the expected contact time for the part-time pathway is thirty days at Oxford per year, the majority of this will take place across the three eight week terms, and will include supervision meetings and core research training.

It is expected that the thesis will be submitted after three or at most four years from admission (or within the sixth/eight year time limit for the part-time pathway). The standard fee liability for students registered for the DPhil is 9 terms (3 years) (or 6 years for the part-time pathway). The University applies a termly Continuation Charge for graduate students who exceed the standard period of University tuition fee liability.

Some DPhil study in the School is supported by various scholarships and grants available through Oxford University and from sources outside of the university such as government scholarships and research council funding. In the period 2019-2021, 40% of DPhil students at SoGE were fully funded, whilst 28% were partially funded. Each year around 20% of DPhil offer holders receive funding from Oxford University. The vast majority of Oxford scholarships are open to new graduate students only. Funding options for on-course students are extremely limited. The School of Geography and the Environment is working hard to expand access to funding for all students but unfortunately we feel we must discourage students who have not secured funding for the whole period of their DPhil from taking up their place.

For more information on scholarships and funding for under-represented groups, please see the University's scholarships and funding for under-represented groups webpage.

Currently available scholarships from SoGE are listed on our graduate fees and funding webpage.

Potential supervisors and topics for DPhil research

Frequently asked questions

Where can I get more information?

If you have any questions about the University's application process you are strongly advised to contact the University of Oxford Graduate Admissions Office, tel: +44 (0)1865 270059, or by e-mail: taking particular care to follow the instructions in the automatic reply, in the first instance.

If you have any further questions that have not been answered by the information provided by the Graduate Admissions Office or our website then please contact the Research Degrees Coordinator at the School of Geography and the Environment.