Below you will find information about the structure of graduate courses offered by the Faculty of Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics and how they are assessed. Further information about our postgraduate degree courses, including how to apply, is available on the University’s Graduate admissions pages.
The Faculty offers two types of postgraduate study: taught Master’s courses (MSt in Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics or MPhil in Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics) and a research degree (DPhil).
The MSt in Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics is a nine-month taught course offering a range of options for those seeking a graduate qualification in language studies and wishing to specialise in general linguistics (including phonetics but not applied linguistics), in historical and comparative linguistics, or in the linguistics of a specific language. Students are admitted to the MSt in Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics via one of two strands: the Advanced Study strand or the Research Preparation strand. The balance of taught and self-directed learning varies between strands and options.
Advanced Study strand
The Advanced Study strand is designed for applicants who have previously studied linguistics at an introductory level and are keen to familiarise themselves further with the discipline, but who have not studied linguistics to a more advanced level during their undergraduate degree.
During their first term and into their second term, students will follow a Foundation Course in Linguistic Theory. This is a course of lectures and practical classes with extensive sets of compulsory exercises covering the main areas of linguistics and providing an overview of the field.
Assessment takes place in the final term of your course. One of these assessments will be a compulsory general linguistics exam. The two other assessments, which will be exams and/or submissions will be for the options that you have chosen. Information on available option papers is available on the University’s Graduate admissions website.
Destinations of MSt (Advanced Study) graduates
Destinations for MSt students in the Advanced Study strand may include publishing, secondary and further education, finance, and IT.
The Advanced Study strand is not intended to lead on to doctoral study at Oxford, though it is possible to apply to be considered for readmission as a Probationer Research Student, and it may be a suitable foundation for further postgraduate study at other institutions. Applicants who are hoping to pursue doctoral study following completion of a master’s degree are advised to consider applying for the MPhil in Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics or the Research Preparation strand of the MSt instead.
Research Preparation strand
The Research Preparation strand is designed for applicants who have studied linguistics as undergraduates to a more advanced level and who thus already have a solid background in all core areas of general linguistics; they will typically have a degree in which linguistics forms at least 50% of the teaching and assessment, or who can otherwise demonstrate that they have studied linguistics to an equivalent level. In order to be admitted to this programme, applicants will already have to have identified, by means of a detailed research proposal, a topic on which they will want to write a master’s thesis.
Students will be working on their master’s thesis from their first term. They will attend the Faculty’s training in research methods and in addition, they may attend some more advanced classes that are of relevance to their thesis work.
Assessment takes place in the final term of your course. One of these assessments will be a compulsory thesis of no more than 15,000 words in length. The two other assessments, which will be exams and/or submissions, will be for the options that you have chosen. Information on available option papers is available on the University’s Graduate admissions website.
Destinations of MSt (Research Preparation) graduates
Some MSt students in the Research Preparation strand may proceed to doctoral work at Oxford, while others may continue academic study at other institutions. Alternative career destinations may include publishing, secondary and further education, finance, and IT.
The MPhil in Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics is a taught course offering a range of options for graduates seeking a higher academic qualification in language studies and wishing to specialise in general linguistics (including phonetics but not applied linguistics), in historical and comparative linguistics, or in the linguistics of a specific language.
In addition to a compulsory paper in linguistic theory, you will specialise in general linguistics (B), Indo-European historical and comparative philology and linguistics (C) or in the linguistics of one or two selected languages (D). Information on available option papers is available on the University’s Graduate admissions website.
Alongside attending tutorials, lectures and seminars, you’ll be expected to spend around 40% of your time on self-directed learning. This will increase to 60% as the course progresses.
The compulsory paper in linguistic theory will be examined at the end of the third term of study. Three other assessments (corresponding to the options you have chosen) will take place at the end of the second year. Assessment will involve exams and/or submissions depending on which options you choose. MPhil students also write a thesis of no more than 25,000 words in length, which is submitted in the final term of the second year.
Destinations of MPhil graduates
Some MPhil graduates proceed to doctoral work at Oxford; others continue academic study at other institutions. Other career destinations include publishing, secondary and further education, finance, and IT.
The DPhil is an advanced research degree for qualified students who are ready to begin thesis work in the field of general linguistics (including phonetics but not applied linguistics), in historical and comparative philology and linguistics, or in the linguistics of a specific language. The DPhil is awarded on the basis of a thesis and an oral examination. The emphasis in the DPhil is on self-directed learning, with guidance from the supervisor and other faculty. The candidate is expected to submit your thesis three, or at most four, years from the date of admission (six, or at most eight, years for part-time students). You are encouraged to attend and to contribute to the wide range of research seminars, conferences and workshops organized by the faculty. You will also have access to specialist training courses offered by the Bodleian Library, Language Centre and IT services.
A research degree requires satisfactory completion of a Master’s programme. Successful applicants for the DPhil degree who have completed an MPhil under the Faculty of Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics may be admitted directly into the DPhil programme; they are required to spend one additional year in residence in Oxford. A successful applicant without an Oxford MPhil is admitted as a Probationary Research Student (PRS). PRSs are expected to attend Research Methods sessions and any lectures and practical training modules relevant for their research. A PRS normally transfers to full DPhil status by the end of the first year of study.
A part-time DPhil student will be required to attend classes, seminars, supervision meetings and other obligations in Oxford for a minimum of 40 days each year. There will be some flexibility in the dates and pattern of attendance, which will be determined by mutual agreement with your supervisor. Typically, attendance will be required during term-time on at least two days in at least two terms, determined by mutual agreement with your supervisor. A part-time student will have the opportunity to tailor their part-time study in liaison with their supervisor and agree their pattern of attendance.
You will be supported by a supervisor or supervisors who will help you develop a programme of research and writing. You will also benefit from the advice and support of other members of the Faculty and can draw on the expertise of scholars and colleagues throughout the Faculty and University. Supervision meetings vary in frequency, from once weekly to once a month in term time, depending on the student’s needs. In the summer vacation, meetings will be less frequent.
Linguistics at Oxford is an interdisciplinary subject, with most areas of general linguistics as well as Indo-European, Romance and Slavic historical and comparative linguistics being represented by one or several members of staff. Information about staff members’ research interests is available via the Faculty webpage. It is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff.
DPhil students write a thesis of no more than 100,000 words in length. Your thesis will be based on extensive original research and engagement with current scholarship. You will need to defend your thesis orally (viva voce) in front of two examiners, one of whom will be external to the University. You are expected to submit your thesis three, or at most four, years from the date of admission (six, or at most eight, years for part-time students).Further information on assessment is available on the University’s Graduate admissions website.
Destinations of DPhil graduates
DPhil graduates follow career paths that include academia and higher education, research services, research and development, secondary and further education, industry and the civil service.
Recognised Student status is a special status for visiting postgraduate research students. Recognised Student status can be held from one to three terms.
You must be registered with another university, and can then be admitted by a University faculty or department at Oxford to undertake research under the guidance of an Oxford academic.
If admitted, you will be allocated an Academic Advisor, who will give general advice about the research topic, but not systematic instruction, such as reading and commenting on written work, as you are expected to be sufficiently well advanced in your studies to undertake research largely unsupervised. The Advisor would normally expect to see you only two or three times each term, and would discuss the work as a colleague rather than as a teacher.
More information is available at https://www.ox.ac.uk/students/new/recognised
The Graduate Handbook provides basic guidance for graduate students of linguistics, philology and phonetics at Oxford.It explains the procedures with which students may become involved and indicates the scope of the work required for the various degrees. It also provides more detailed guidance on the subject areas in linguistics, phonetics and philology which are currently available as options on the Master’s course, and on how the course is structured and taught. It is available on the graduate web pages along with other information about our graduate programmes.