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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.


Centre for Criminology DPhil Programme

This programme runs throughout each academic year and is mandatory for all new research students. While students must complete in full both modules during their DPhil, they can choose which term/academic year it would be most useful for them to take each.

Aims of the course:

  1. To help students to think theoretically about criminological research and to engage with the intellectual foundations of criminology in order to assist them in developing their theoretical and conceptual frameworks for their own projects.
  2. To help students with their professional development.
  3. To give students opportunities to present their own work ‘in progress’ and to learn to critique the work of their peers.

Module 1, Intellectual foundations:

Module 2, Professional Development:


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 funding 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.