Postgraduate admission FAQs (research)

Here are some frequently asked questions about admission to study as a graduate student in the Law Faculty.

Before referring to these questions, you may wish to view the Law graduate courses page on the University website. This has links to pages for each programme which provide information about admission requirements, fees, resources, and how to apply (including application closing dates).

Am I eligible to apply for one of Oxford's postgraduate law programmes?

For law programmes, everyone with an undergraduate law degree, or equivalent, is eligible to apply; and for Criminology programmes, eligibility extends to cover those with degrees in relevant subjects as well as those with law degrees (typically this means social sciences degrees but on occasion applicants with humanities degrees have been accepted). However, entry is highly competitive. Most people ask this question meaning 'am I likely to get in?' The answer is that if you meet the standards listed in response to the next question, you will be in the running for a place. Unfortunately, that is the only advice we can give you on your prospects of admission. The only way to test the ground is to make an application.

What information is relied upon to make admissions decisions?

Academic transcripts, confidential academic recommendations, submitted examples of academic work, and a research proposal. Information about your non-academic interests or professional experience is disregarded except to the extent that it reveals something relevant to future academic achievement.

What should I include in my research proposal?

If you are applying for admission to the DPhil or MPhil you should provide a research proposal of approximately two pages, giving an outline of how you intend to structure and undertake your research, and where possible, a preliminary title for the thesis. Where relevant you may also wish to include details of your proposed methodology. It is not necessary to include a detailed bibliography.

Are there any special requirements for applicants whose first language isn't English?

We require an IELTS score of 7.5, with individual scores of at least 7 in each component, or a TOEFL internet-based score of 110 with minimum component scores as follows: Listening 22; reading 24; speaking 25; writing 24. If you have your results already, you should submit them with your application. University English language requirements...

What if I am offered a place, conditional upon attaining the required IELTS score, but then narrowly miss attaining the score?

You will have to re-take the test. We adhere very stringently to this requirement and do not grant admission to students with scores below the required level. If you are not able to attain the required score by the end of August, then you will be deemed to have failed the conditions set.

Can I take a pre-sessional English course to compensate for an IELTS socre that is below the required level?

Whilst the University’s language centre does offer pre-sessional courses, these cannot be used as substitutes for the required IELTS or TOEFL test results.

Who makes the admissions decisions?

In the first instance the decision is made by the  Associate Dean for Graduate Studies - Research and a admissions committee. However admission depends on the relevant subject group determining that the proposal is academically feasible and that a supervisor is available. If the decision on behalf of the Faculty goes in your favour, a second phase begins in which your application is considered by the college of your choice. At college level a decision will normally be made by the law tutors in consultation with the college's Tutor for Graduates. You may not secure a place at your first choice college, but an offer from the Faculty means that you will have a college place.

Why are the colleges involved?

Oxford is a federal University and every degree candidate must be a member of a college. The colleges are academic institutions, not merely places of residence. Graduate students do not usually receive teaching through their colleges, but will still rely on the college for academic support, advice, and resources, and will be subject to its academic jurisdiction (e.g. in approving examination entries and applications for deferral).

Do I need to fill in separate forms to apply for a college place?

No, your application will be viewed directly by colleges once you have been offered a place by the Faculty. Not all colleges admit students for all programmes, so you should check that they all consider applications for the programme you are applying for.

• More on choosing a college ...

What happens to my application if it isn't accepted by my first choice college?

If the application is considered and turned down by your first choice college, it will then be made available for all colleges to view online.  Please note that it is quite usual for applicants to be turned down by their first college; particular colleges often find themselves with many more applications than they have places available so have to pass some applicants on to other colleges. If this happens to you, there is no need to panic - we will find you a college place, even if that involves consideration by a number of colleges.

Can I turn down the offer of a college place and have my application considered by other colleges?

The only circumstance in which you can turn down a college place is if you have been awarded a scholarship by another college, or exceptionally, if you have a disability which the college which has accepted you may not be able to provide for but which another college can. If you do not accept the college place offered or if you fail to meet the conditions set by the deadlines imposed by your college and department, you will be deemed as having forfeited your place at Oxford.

Is there any process by which I can defer the offer of a place if I am unable to or do not want to start the course next October?

Our general policy is that deferrals are not permitted. Very occasionally, and in exceptional circumstances (which usually means the student has been prevented from starting the course by some sort of medical or domestic emergency) we will permit a deferral, but in such cases it is still necessary to meet all the conditions for the year in which you would have started (including financial conditions). Your deferral will need to be approved by both the Faculty and your college; if it is not approved and you decide to re-apply for the following year, you will need to provide all new application materials and there is no guarantee you will be accepted again.

Do I need to fill in separate application forms for accommodation?

The application form for entry as a graduate student allows you to indicate whether you want to be considered for college accommodation. This will start the ball rolling. However once you have been accepted by a college, you will usually need to complete further paperwork supplied by the college. There is also some University accommodation for graduate students, including those with families, for which separate application must be made.

• University accommodation office website...

Do I need to fill in separate application forms for scholarships administered by Oxford University or by the Faculty?

The application form for entry as a graduate student allows you to indicate that you want to be considered for certain University funds and for Faculty funds, though for certain scholarships, we are in the process of introducing a new form allowing applicants to specify particular areas of interest (there will be further information made available on the scholarships webpage about this). For all other sources of funding, including College scholarships, you will normally have to make separate enquiries and applications.

Check our Graduate Scholarships page for possible funding sources

When can I expect to hear if I've been offered a place?

The admissions process is complex and can take some time. We have many applications to read and compare.  You can expect to hear from the Faculty by 5pm on 22 March 2019.  College decisions may take around six to eight weeks more.

Whom should I contact about progress with my application?

The process is centrally managed by the University's Graduate Admissions Office. If you need to make contact after application (e.g. if you have further information to add) it is best to use email. But please be patient. Do not contact the GAO for routine updates on progress as this will usually just slow progress down. You will be contacted as soon as there is any concrete news. Neither the GAO nor the Faculty's Associate Dean for Graduate Studies -Research can enter into correspondence about decisions made by colleges. Enquiries should be directed to the college concerned.

Try Any Questions?  which provides information for prospective and current Oxford students, as well as general information about the University.

Or refer to the postgraduate handbook for Research courses

Or contact the Law Faculty Office by email using Please do not telephone, as your email enquiry can be more easily routed to the appropriate Faculty Officer.

Further information about the programmes themselves can be found at  Life as a research student FAQs.



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