Applying for doctoral study in the humanities at Oxford with an interdisciplinary proposal?
If you are currently studying or have completed one of the Humanities Division’s Interdisciplinary Master’s degrees, or a similar course at another institution, you may be wondering how best to apply your research interests to the application process for DPhil study at Oxford. Students from Interdisciplinary Master’s degrees progress to a wide range of doctoral programmes in humanities and social science subjects, at Oxford and at other institutions in the UK and overseas.
The key to a successful application is demonstrating that you have conceived a valuable research project, providing supporting evidence to show that you are well-prepared to undertake it, and showing awareness of the support you will need (supervision, resources, skills training) to complete it successfully. You can see the list of available DPhil courses in the humanities, and their entry requirements, here: https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/graduate/courses/humanities
Remember that at doctoral level, the topic of your research thesis and the expertise of your supervisor/s are more important than the title of your course or the name of your home faculty. As a humanities DPhil student at Oxford you will have access to a wide range of research seminars, colloquia, networks and events that will foster the growth of your research identity and help position your project in relation to the latest developments in relevant academic disciplines.
You will be encouraged to combine personal and professional growth through participation in Oxford’s innovative Humanities Researcher Development and Training Programme. You will also benefit from the stimulating and supportive environment for interdisciplinary humanities research fostered by The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH).
Oxford’s Humanities faculties are experienced in assessing innovative proposals for doctoral projects and in allocating appropriate supervisors to proposals that sit within specialist academic disciplines, or those which stretch or break conventional disciplinary boundaries. You are encouraged to review faculty profiles to find out if there are staff working in your area, and you may also wish to contact relevant faculties with an outline of your proposed project asking them to indicate whether they can offer supervision.
It is common for DPhil students to be allocated two supervisors (‘co-supervision’) for projects that require the expertise of more than one academic, for example due to a particular linguistic or regional specialism, or a distinctive methodological approach. Co-supervisors may be based in student’s home faculty, another humanities faculty, or elsewhere in the University. Decisions on co-supervision arrangements will be made during the admissions process as part of evaluating the viability of the proposed project. You may wish to indicate the need for a particular specialism, or a preference for specific supervisor/s in your research proposal, but there is no need to contact faculty members in advance and it is important to remember that admission is not guaranteed even if a potential supervisor supports your project in principle.
Interdisciplinary doctoral research areas
Academic staff in Humanities faculties offer supervision for doctoral projects in several subject areas that build on the Division’s strengths at Master’s level:
Celtic Studies, which is focused on the study of Celtic languages and their associated literatures, and also covers related fields in history and archaeology.
Comparative literature and critical translation studies, which provides critical, theoretical and research expertise in the intersecting fields of comparative and world literature and translation studies, as well as an introduction to transmedial and multidisciplinary approaches to the study of literature and culture.
Digital humanities and digital scholarship, which applies digital technologies and methods to the study of the humanities, drawing on the strengths of the Digital Humanities @ Oxford initiative.
Medieval studies, including interdisciplinary approaches to the Middle Ages that link together multiple humanities disciplines and draws on the resources available at institutions such as the Ashmolean Museum and the Bodleian Library
Women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, encompassing interdisciplinary perspectives and the complex interaction of diverse markers of identity, categorisation and self-understanding, and intersectional critical engagement in which theory and practice have cross-fertilised.