The New DPhil in Migration Studies

Carlos Vargas-Silva

The University of Oxford has recently announced the launch of the DPhil in Migration Studies. Based in the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography (SAME) and the Oxford Department of International Development (ODID), this course offers the opportunity to undertake an in-depth project drawing on excellent research departments, centres and scholars.

Why study migration in Oxford?

Oxford is a worldwide centre of excellence on the study of migration in all its forms. The DPhil in Migration Studies provides students with four key benefits:

(1) access to one of the largest interdisciplinary networks of researchers working on migration in the world;
(2) the possibility of involvement in major research projects;
(3) participation in long established teaching programmes on migration;
(4) the possibility of close collaboration with non-academics.

The University of Oxford is home to two leading research centres on migration: COMPAS and the Refugee Studies Centre (RSC). These centres host major research projects on migration issues. For example, I currently lead two research projects, one on intra-EU mobility and the other on refugee integration. Other academics at COMPAS and the RSC lead projects on topics that include urbanisation, refugee protection, and refugee livelihoods, among many others. These centres also run several weekly seminar series on migration (click here for an example this term), which give students access to leading scholars on migration and refugee issues from around the globe. The University also hosts the TORCH Migration and Mobility Network, which organizes regular activities for those interested in migration issues and includes academics beyond the social sciences.

The University of Oxford also offers MSc degrees in Migration Studies and Refugee and Forced Migration Studies making it one of the institutions with the largest academic offering on graduate courses on migration around the world. I have been able to teach students of these two degrees for several years, and have been impressed by the frequent and stimulating student led discussions on the key issues affecting migration in the present.

Oxford academics are also strongly connected to two of the leading journals in the field of migration. Together with several colleagues, I edit the journal Migration Studies. RSC is home to the Journal of Refugee Studies. Students in the DPhil programme will benefit from the editorial experience of the faculty members in order start their academic publishing career.

COMPAS also hosts two influential impact initiatives: the Migration Observatory and the Global Exchange on Migration and Diversity. The Migration Observatory is the leading source of impartial evidence on migration issues in the UK and policymakers and the media frequently cite its publications. The Global Exchange engages with city level policymakers working on integration around Europe and beyond. The DPhil in Migration Studies allows students to interact with these initiatives allowing them to generate research ‘impact’ early in their careers. My personal experiences of collaboration with policymakers are multiple and range from advising the UK Parliament on Brexit and migration issues, to working with IOM in Mogadishu, Somalia.

Finally, Oxford itself is also a fantastic place for graduate study. You will have unique access to other scholars working on very different issues and at different stages in their careers via your college. The city provides a vibrant intellectual environment and it is accessible to all parts of the UK and the world being close to airports in London, Birmingham and other major cities. Oxford’s library, archives and museums are world-renowned and its international reputation means that it is able to attract students and collaborators internationally.

What topics is the programme focusing on?

The DPhil in Migration Studies is interdisciplinary covering a range of social disciplines and research methods. For instance, while I am a quantitative social scientist working mainly on labour market and development issues, my colleagues Biao Xiang, Dace Dzenovska and Ruben Andersson are anthropologists exploring issues that range from post-socialism to security and borders. These are just some of the academics doing research on migration at Oxford. For a list of potential supervisors, please see the staff pages of COMPAS and the RSC, as well as the overall staff pages of SAME and ODID.

What is the application deadline?

Applications from prospective part time and full time students are invited now, with deadlines in November 2018 and January 2019, for entry in October 2019.

Where can I get further details?

All the technical information on what the course includes, entry requirements, application process etc., can be found on the University of Oxford’s Graduate Admissions page.

If you have any questions please contact the course coordinator Emma Newcombe: emma.newcombe@compas.ox.ac.uk