The DPhil entails researching and writing a thesis of between 75,000 and 100,000 words which must make a significant and substantial contribution to the field. Full-time study for the DPhil usually comprises three to four years and part-time six to eight years, inclusive of research methodology training in the first year for full-time students and over years one and two for part-time students. Part-time study requires attendance for a minimum of 30 days of university-based work each year, normally coinciding with the full terms of the academic year, to be arranged with the agreement of the student’s supervisor. To see what subjects current DPhil students are working on, please see here.


Students are not admitted to the DPhil degree directly. Instead, they are first admitted to Probationer Research Student (PRS) status. During the first two terms, all full-time students are required to undertake the methods courses run by the Centre for Criminology (unless they have already completed equivalent training previously) or theLaw Faculty’s Course in Legal Research Method (CLRM) if appropriate to their research. Part-time students must also take this training,  but may do so over a period of two years. At the same time, students begin working on their doctoral theses, and in their third term (or sixth term for part-time students) undertake a Qualifying Test which involves the submission of a draft chapter and an outline of the intended thesis. Providing they pass the Qualifying Test, students are then admitted to full DPhil status.

A further assessment known as Confirmation of Status is conducted in the sixth term after admission (the 12th term for part-time students) which also involves submission of draft chapters of the thesis and an outline of the research topic. This is intended to ensure that the student is making satisfactory progress toward ultimate submission of the thesis. After satisfactory completion of Confirmation of Status, students then submit the completed thesis in the third or fourth year (or between years six and eight for part-time students).

All students are assigned a specialist supervisor, who will meet regularly with the student throughout the course of the DPhil. 

Thinking about doing a part-time DPhil in Criminology? Find out more.



DPhil students in the Centre for Criminology have access to dedicated workspace in the Centre, as well as to the Bodleian Social Science Library and the Bodleian Law Library. They will also be able to participate fully in the intellectual life of the Centre through its programme of staff-student research workshops, reading groups and seminars


Informal enquiries about doctoral studies in the Centre for Criminology are welcome and should be directed to Professor Carolyn Hoyle  Director of Graduate Studies (Research) She can be contacted at:  


Admissions​ & Funding

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

The ESRC is the UK’s largest organisation for funding research on social and economic issues. The University, in collaboration with Brunel University and the Open University, hosts the Grand Union Doctoral Training Partnership - one of fourteen Doctoral Training Partnerships accredited by the ESRC as part of a Doctoral Training Network. 

In order to be considered for a Grand Union DTP ESRC studentship, you must select ‘ESRC Grand Union DTP Studentships in Social Sciences’ in the University of Oxford scholarships section of the University's graduate application form.  You must also complete a Grand Union DTP Application Form and upload it, together with your graduate application form, by the relevant January deadline for your course. 

Information about ESRC studentships at Oxford can be found on the Grand Union DTP website. Please ensure you have read all of the guidance available on the website before completing the Grand Union DTP Application Form. Questions can be directed to the Grand Union DTP Office.


ESRC Grand Union Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) collaborative doctoral studentship Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford with The Death Penalty Project

Drugs, the Death Penalty and Deterrence in Indonesia

The Oxford Centre for Criminology is awarding a collaborative doctoral studentship in partnership with The Death Penalty Project, a leading international legal action charity that provides free legal representation to those facing the death penalty in more than 30 countries around the world; participates in capacity building with criminal justice professionals; and engages in research with the aims of influencing policy and practice. This doctoral research will study the deterrent effects of death sentences and executions on drug offending in Indonesia. While building on US deterrence work, this study will be unique in its focus on drug offences, developing methodological and theoretical scholarship of relevance throughout Asia.

The PhD studentship will be funded by the ESRC Grand Union DTP for three years (or part-time equivalent) from October 2020. The student will be based in the Centre for Criminology at the University of Oxford. They will be supervised by Professor Carolyn Hoyle and Dr Katrin Muller-Johnson from the Centre for Criminology and supported by Parvais Jabbar at The Death Penalty Project, London.  

Information about ESRC studentships at Oxford and eligibility can be found on the Grand Union DTP website. This studentship is open to candidates who meet ESRC residency requirements.  

How to apply

To apply for the studentship, you must submit an application to study for a DPhil in Criminology at the University of Oxford by midday, 6 March, 2020. Details about applying can be found at: Your application should include a research proposal indicating how you would engage critically with the extant literature on deterrence and meet the challenges of data collection and analysis on this sensitive topic in Indonesia if offered the studentship. Your proposal should draw on the description of the research detailed above and speak to your understanding of quantitative research methods and any relevant substantive knowledge about the death penalty or about drug offending in Southeast Asia. (Please note, expertise in the death penalty, drugs or Southeast Asia is not essential and the candidate will be able to take advantage of required methodological training in the first year of their DPhil.)

In addition you must complete a Grand Union DTP Application Form  and upload it, together with your graduate application form. Please ensure you also select 'ESRC Grand Union DTP Studentships in Social Sciences' in the University of Oxford scholarships section of the University's graduate application form.

The admissions process is in two parts: the applicant will be assessed as part of the applicant pool for the Centre for Criminology; the selected candidate will then be assessed as part of the applicant pool for the ESRC Grand Union DTP funding.  The recipient of the scholarship will receive a place at St Cross College.

Queries about the studentship should be addressed to:


DPhil Scholarship for a UK BME Student, in association with Brasenose College

The Centre for Criminology is committed to attracting the very best candidates for research degrees, irrespective of their background or ability to pay. Highly qualified students from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) backgrounds who are ordinarily resident in the UK have been underpresented in our doctoral programme in recent years. To encourage more students from these backgrounds to apply,  we have decided to  offer a graduate scholarship for the D.Phil. in Criminology. More information is available here:

The scholarship is one of several initiatives that the University is undertaking as part of its Race Equality Charter, and is a positive action measure under s.158 of the Equality Act 2010. The scholarship will provide full fees and maintenance support for a maximum of four years and is provided jointly by the Centre for Criminology and Brasenose College. 


Eligibility is restricted to candidates who are members of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups (as defined by the Office for National Statistics[1]), who are ordinarily resident in the UK (and thus liable for ‘home’ fees)[2], and who have completed the Criminology needs-assessment form (see ‘How to apply’ for further details).

Terms and conditions

The scholarship will cover all tuition fees and provide a grant for living expenses at UK Research Council rates (at least £15,009[3]). This will comprise a £10,000 contribution from the Centre for Criminology and a £12,279 contribution from Brasenose College in the first year; contributions from the College will increase in subsequent years to account for inflation. Awards are made for up to four years of study for the DPhil subject to satisfactory academic performance. The successful candidate is guaranteed a place at Brasenose College and is eligible for a research allowance (currently £950 per annum). Careers mentoring will also be available. A comprehensive list of terms and conditions is available here