Research Degree

As a DPhil student you will undertake your own original research project under the guidance of your supervisor, with whom you will typically meet at least two to three times a term. Your supervisor will help develop and guide your project and, at later stages, provide feedback on chapter drafts. You will work on your own extensively however, and will need a high level of motivation. 

The DPhil in Anthropology aims to train students in the preparation of independent and original research in Anthropology and to guide you in the execution of such research. You will develop your scholarly communication of the results of such research and prepare for academic employment in social and cultural anthropology or related fields, or in a professional environment where sensitivity to cross-cultural variability is required.

You will develop a thorough knowledge and understanding of the fundamental concepts, techniques, principles and theories in social and cultural or cognitive and evolutionary anthropology and apply it in designing and implementing an original and independent plan of research.  You will have the opportunity to use research methods of anthropology, including qualitative and quantitative aspects (which can include statistical methods and, where appropriate, mathematical modelling) and to present the results of your research in a well written, carefully argued thesis.

Students are admitted either as Probationer Research Students (PRS) or as full DPhil students, the latter usually only after the successful completion of a relevant Masters programme. If admitted as a full DPhil student you are, in principle, ready to embark on the programme of anthropological research designed in the course of your Master’s degree and approved by your DPhil supervisor.

During the probationary period, PRS students will develop and begin work on their thesis topic. You will be offered training in relevant research methods, language, computing and other skills, and have the opportunity to attend lectures, seminars and classes in your general topic area. In order to transfer from PRS status to full DPhil status you will need to submit a project proposal and complete a satisfactory oral assessment based on this. In some cases, the supervisor may require the student to complete a further programme of methodological training or other preparatory work considered necessary for the proposed programme of research.

Once the transfer is complete, you may leave Oxford in order to conduct your fieldwork and continue the course by carrying out your own research under the guidance of your supervisor, with whom you will continue to meet or correspond regularly. 

Assessment of progress will be made during these sessions with your supervisor and also in more formal viva voce meetings for the Transfer of Status and for Confirmation of Status (usually at the end of the third year). More information on these two meetings can be found in the Course Handbook.

Further information on the structure can be obtained from the Course Handbook.

Post-fieldwork activities for DPhil students consist mainly of writing up the research as a doctoral thesis, being confirmed as a DPhil student during the writing-up period, and finally submitting the thesis and being examined orally on it.

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