Frequently Asked Questions

Can I do a Masters degree in condensed matter physics at Oxford?

Not normally. Only in very exceptional cases, we might invite a student to do a Master by Research. You would need to contact the supervisor you are interested in first, and should there be a mutual interest they might encourage you to apply for an MSc (by Res).
We do not offer a graduate taught masters course.

Can I apply for the DPhil programme as a BSc Physics student?

If you have obtained a 4 year degree with the relevant research experience you can apply.
If you have obtained a 3 year degree applications will only be considered in very exceptional cases and only for a Master by Research. Please note that in that case you should obtain the support of one of our supervisors prior to submitting an application.

Can I apply for the DPhil programme if my background is different, for example Masters in Chemistry?

You do not need to have a Physics degree in order to enter the DPhil in Condensed Matter Physics programme. However, it is required that you obtain the support of a supervisor within Condensed Matter Physics in terms of your suitability for a certain project.

Can I apply to more than one Physics Sub-Department or associated graduate programme?

Please check here under the 'Basics' header if you would like to submit multiple applications.

Multiple applications for sub-departments of the Department of Physics
If your application is related to more than one of the Physics sub-departments, there is no need to complete a separate application for each. Please instead select one DPhil course and then add any additional Physics DPhils for which you would like to be considered to your application form, stating the academic's name (where relevant) and sub-department either in the 'Proposed Supervisor Field' or at the top of the Research Proposal. Your application will then be assessed for each of the DPhils you have indicated.

Multiple applications re Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) and related courses
In applying for the DPhil in CMP programme, you may submit further applications for up to two of the following associated programmes without paying an additional application fee.
Related Programmes:

DPhil New and Sustainable Photovoltaics (EPSRC CDT)
DPhil Systems Approaches in Biomedical Sciences (EPSRC & MRC CDT)
DPhil Systems Biology (EPSRC DTC)
DPhil Synthetic Biology (EPSRC & BBSRC CDT)

What is a DPhil? What does PRS mean?

In Oxford, a PhD is given the name "DPhil" (it stands for Doctor of Philosophy). PRS stands for "probationary research student". A student will spend the first year as a PRS before applying for full DPhil status (see the next question).

What happens in the first year of a DPhil?

Our graduate students are admitted as probationary research students (PRS) and continuation, leading to submission of a DPhil thesis, is dependent on attending all parts of the graduate course. This includes attending lectures and seminars, carrying out original research and writing a research report. Examination of the report is by viva at the end of the first year and this is used to assess suitability for transfer to DPhil student status. Satisfactory completion of the first year graduate course is also a factor. Topics covered in the graduate course include group theory, experimental techniques and data analysis techniques. Many opportunities exist to attend training courses outside the Sub-Department.

How long does the DPhil course last?

The normal period is three to four years.

Are there taught courses in the DPhil programme?

The DPhil programme is a research degree and you normally start working on your main research project as soon as you arrive. But in parallel with that, you will be expected to attend a taught course in condensed matter physics in the first year, comprising of lectures and discussion classes at a graduate study level. Depending on your level of condensed matter physics knowledge, we may also require you to attend condensed matter physics lectures in the final-year (masters-level) undergraduate course at Oxford.

Do I need to list all of my qualifications/programmes on the application form?

No, it is sufficient if you provide the details of your highest qualification/programme.
However, you need to submit transcripts of all of your relevant qualifications/programmes with your application.

What documentation do I need to provide with my application?

You need to include the transcripts of previous higher education.
In case you have completed a Bachelor degree and are currently studying for a Master degree, you should state the expected result of the Master degree on the application form and include the official transcript of your Bachelor degree (where applicable with official translation into English either by the relevant issuing institution or a professional translator and certified as such on the translation). You will also need to provide a research proposal of statement of purpose, your CV or résumé and three academic references.
For further details please see here (please select the section "How to Apply").
If you are a non-native English speaker please check the University's English language requirements here.

How many references do I need to provide?

You should contact THREE referees and ask them to submit their respective reference latest by the end of the deadline.

What research title should I enter on the application form in section C1(iii)?

We do not expect a specific research proposal and title. We suggest you enter "Condensed Matter Physics", optionally followed by specification of a general project type, appropriate for the research groups you would consider joining.

What should I write in the research proposal section of the application form?

According to our entry requirements, we are looking for people who are able to study condensed matter physics at a high academic level, and who can provide evidence of interest in condensed matter physics and motivation to study it. You should certainly describe any research project that you have been involved in (e.g. an undergraduate condensed matter physics research project) or give any other evidence of your motivation and commitment to studying condensed matter physics. You should also thoroughly review the information on our web pages, and if you have a specific interest in any area you should describe why. It may help to contact potential supervisors if you are interested in a specific project, but we do not expect you to know precisely in which project area you would like to work. If you are interested in a particular area, you need be no more specific than the general area.

Do I need to submit any additional written material?

No, we do not require any additional work.

How do I choose which college I will be a member of?

On the application form you will have the opportunity to express a preference for an Oxford college, although you can leave this open if you have no clear preference.

Are there any differences between the deadlines for the submission of applications?

There are no differences. You can submit your application by any of these deadlines.
However, if you are an applicant from overseas and/or you are also seeking funding we recommend that you apply before the second (i.e. late January) deadline as most University studentships and scholarships are considered immediately after this deadline.
The different deadlines have been set from an administrative perspective to structure the submission and assessment of applications.
N.B. If you apply by an earlier deadline you will receive notification of the outcome of your application earlier. Notifications are usually sent out 8 to 10 weeks after the respective deadline.

When will the outcome of my application be known?

The outcome of your application will be communicated to you generally before the next deadline if your application has been successful, and as soon as the funding position is known. The question of college admission will then follow automatically. (Note: you may waive your choice of college in order to expedite linked funding where appropriate.)
Due to the volume of applications received, it is not possible to contact unsuccessful applicants individually.

My undergraduate degree has been obtained in the US, will I be at the right level for starting a research degree?

We have a number of current graduate students who studied at US universities. We look carefully at each individual application and try to assess whether you are suitably qualified to start a research degree. You should apply following our standard procedures, giving as much information as you can, and we will assess your application on its individual merits.

My first language is not English, but I have studied at an English-speaking university. Do I need to provide proof of proficiency in English?

We require you to provide recent proof of competence in spoken and written English, as given in the entry requirements. This is likely to be required by your Oxford college as well as the Physics Department. We can waive this requirement only under very exceptional circumstances; please contact us if you feel you have good reason for not being able to provide the required certification.

What is the Clarendon bursaries award?

For overseas students there is also the possibility of a Clarendon Bursary which provides bursaries up to the full cost of a studentship. With this award in mind, overseas applicants should apply by the second (i.e. January) deadline.
Clarendon bursaries will be considered by the Department and the MPLS Divisional Panel after the second University deadline with offers following shortly after. Please click here for further information.

What entry requirements are used in admitting candidates to graduate study?

Please see our entry requirements.

Do you conduct personal interviews?

We normally invite suitable candidates to visit us in Oxford if they are UK or EU based. If you are from overseas, we usually would conduct an interview by Skype.
Interviews will generally be held within 5-6 weeks of the passed deadline. Please click here to find the upcoming interview dates.

Where can I find more information about applying to Oxford?

Where can I find more information on funding for International Postgraduate Students?

Where can I find more information on the likely cost of studying in Oxford?