Frequently Asked Questions: Applying to the DPhil in Migration Studies

Published 10 November 2022 / By Carlos Vargas-Silva

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Are you interested in joining our Migration Studies DPhil cohort starting in 2023? Here, our Course Director answers common questions about applying and what the course is like.

Make sure to apply by 6 January 2023 at 12 noon GMT. 

Our first Migrations Studies DPhil cohort began their studies in 2018 and several of them will be finishing their degrees this academic year. We now have four cohorts, totalling 24 students. Our students’ research covers a wide range of topics, from the integration of refugees in countries of destination around the world to the implications of migration for countries of origin. They have communicated their research in videos, blogs, and journal articles. 

Each year I receive plenty of questions from those interested in applying to the programme, below I’ve answered some of the most common questions. If you have any more questions please check the guidance at the University pages or contact:

Best of luck with your applications! 

Carlos Vargas-Silva, Course Director 

Which Oxford University department is the DPhil in Migration based at? 

The DPhil in Migration Studies is a joint doctoral programme between the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography (SAME) and the Oxford Department of International Development (ODID). Students can be supervised by faculty staff from either of these departments.  

The Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) plays a key role in the degree as it provides an opportunity for students to get involved in research projects about migration. ODID also hosts the Refugee Studies Centre (RSC) which provides further opportunity for students to get involved in research projects and academic discussions on refugees. 

How is the DPhil in Migration Studies different from the DPhil in Anthropology and DPhil in International Development? 

The DPhil in Migration Studies is an interdisciplinary degree, which allows candidates to explore issues related to citizenship, education, ethnicity, identity, labour markets, security and urbanism, and many others, under the umbrella of migration. Students are also trained and exposed to discussion about migration beyond the topics of their dissertation.  

Why study migration at Oxford? 

In Oxford, you will have access to one of the largest interdisciplinary networks of researchers working on migration in the world. See the Migration Oxford website for more details. You will have the opportunity to get involved in major research projects from exploring refugee economies in Africa to emptying villages in Eastern Europe. You can also participate in long-established teaching programmes on migration and refugees. Finally, you will have ample opportunity to create close collaborations with non-academics and learn about new ways to disseminate your research, such as the Migration Podcast. 

What is the first year as a student in the DPhil in Migration Studies like? 

The first year is busy and full of opportunity.  

You will attend:

  •  A discussion seminar on migration
  • The COMPAS Work-in-Progress Series (WIPS), where you’ll hear about others’ ongoing research and also present your own
  • A research and fieldwork class with a broader range of DPhil students (beyond migration)
  • And lectures for two methods modules.

All these activities are designed to help you finish your PRS transfer paper, which in essence is your PhD proposal. Throughout the year you will receive strong support from your supervisor and by the end of the first year, you would defend that proposal in an interview with two faculty members.

The following years in the DPhil programme are unique to each student, depending on the methods and location of their research, but in general, it involves doing the main component of your research and writing up your findings. 

Do I need a supervisor before applying?  

You do not need to have a supervision arrangement agreed before applying, but it does help your chances of getting accepted into the programme.  

How do I find a supervisor? 

Research available supervisors at SAME and ODID with the title of Associate Professor or Professor. Contact potential supervisors and send them a copy of your CV, as well as an early draft of your research proposal. Make sure that you explain how your research fits with their research agendas. 

You can approach supervisors in SAME or ODID who are not directly related to COMPAS or RSC. In some cases faculty members can have a strong overlap with your own research topic (e.g. a common regional interest), even if they are not experts on migration. 

Those of you with interest in policy aspects can also approach researchers working in that area. For instance, Madeleine Sumption, the Director of the Migration Observatory is an expert on labour migration policies and the economic and social impacts of migration policies. 

How do I get funding? 

When applying to Oxford you are automatically considered for a number of funding opportunities, which includes departmental and Clarendon scholarships. For other scholarships you need to apply. Make sure to check the DTP Migration Pathway, which has funded the DPhils of many of our students. In addition, check the University website which provides more information on funding opportunities. 

What is the deadline for applications? 

12:00 midday UK time on Friday 6 January 2023.  

Find information on current DPhil students 

Learn more about the course and how to apply 

Students raise their hands to ask questions