The Doctoral degree

Oxford is one of the best places in the world to study Theology and Religion. With exceptional study resources, including outstanding libraries and a host of research centres, Oxford offers its research students every opportunity to produce a major piece of original research for their doctoral thesis.

As a leading research faculty, a wide variety of experienced specialists are available to supervise doctoral research in numerous fields of Theology and Religion.

An Oxford doctorate – known as the DPhil – is a globally-recognised qualification which demonstrates a distinctive level of academic achievement.

Course Content and Assessment:

The DPhil is awarded for a research thesis, usually submitted after 3 years of academic research, and an oral examination (viva voce) on this thesis subject. There is no further written examination.

During the course of the research period, students are required to submit extensive samples of their work-in-progress in order to undergo ‘Transfer of Status’ (usually after 1 year’s research) and ‘Confirmation of Status’ (usually after 2 years’ research). These exercises give students the benefit of critical comment from someone other than their supervisor.

Part-time study for the doctoral degree may be an option for students whose circumstances do not permit full-time study. The Faculty normally assesses the suitability of an applicant’s research project for part-time study before approving this.

Course Requirements:

Students admitted to the DPhil will most often have acquired either the Faculty's MSt or its MPhil degree within their area of research. Students in possession of an equivalent Master's degree from another institution may apply to have this requirement waived. The Faculty considers such waivers on a case-by-case basis, and may recommend applicants to consider an MSt or MPhil degree in their initial application to the University. It is customary for students to incorporate their master’s dissertation into their doctoral thesis.

The research proposal is a crucial component of a DPhil application. It should communicate not so much your personal story as your academic potential. All proposals will be read and carefully evaluated by specialists, and should contain – in about 2 pages – an outline of the research you plan to undertake and what you intend to achieve. Within the proposal, you should discuss:
• the field of Theology to be researched (e.g. Modern Doctrine, Patristics, Philosophy, Christian Ethics, New Testament etc.);
• how you intend to structure and undertake your research;
• the kinds of problems, issues, and debates with which you hope to engage;
• how you see the programme building on your previous study;
• your knowledge of any languages required for your research project (see the appropriate Master’s degree webpages for details, or contact for further guidance);
• what you hope to do with this Oxford qualification.

You may also wish to include a preliminary title for your thesis. While it will be normal for your ideas to change in various ways as you develop your project, you should nevertheless make your best effort to demonstrate the extent of your research question, sources and method in your application at this moment.

Your research proposal will be assessed for:
• the coherence of the proposal and the originality of the project;
• evidence of your motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study;
• your reasons for applying; and
• the feasibility of successful completion of the project in the time available for the programme of study (a maximum of 4 years full-time and 8 years part-time).

Faculty specialists:
Go to the relevant Master’s degree pages for potential supervisors in your chosen field of Theology and Religion.

Relevant Oxford Research Seminars:
Go to the relevant Master’s degree pages for research seminars in your chosen field of Theology and Religion.


contact us »

General enquiries, including enquiries about the Faculty's annual Undergraduate Open Day, should be directed to the Faculty Office.

Address: Theology and Religion Faculty Centre, 34 St Giles,
Oxford OX1 3LD.
Telephone: +44 (0)1865 270790
Fax: +44 (0)1865 270795

Enquiries about graduate admissions should
be directed to the Faculty's Graduate Studies Administrator.

Address: Theology and Religion Faculty Centre, 34 St Giles,
Oxford OX1 3LD.
Telephone: +44 (0)1865 270714
Fax: +44 (0)1865 270795

Enquiries about undergraduate admissions should be directed to the Undergraduate Admissions Office.

Address: Undergraduate Admissions Office, University Offices,
Wellington Square, Oxford OX1 2JD.
Telephone: +44 (0)1865 288000
Fax: +44 (0)1865 280125

Enquiries about Higher Education advice should be directed to Schools Liaison.

Address: Theology and Religion Faculty Centre, 34 St Giles,
Oxford OX1 3LD.
Telephone: +44 (0)1865 282353