DPhil Journey


This theme covers all training and resources to help you move from where you are now, to the next stage on your journey. Our expert contributors prepare you to navigate and get the most from these transitional phases.


As a DPhil student, the institutional milestones on your journey are the Transfer of Status (or ‘Qualifying Test’), Confirmation of Status, and Viva – see below for more details. As you approach the end of your DPhil, you may be considering staying in academia, in which case our regular panel discussion From DPhil to Post-Doc? explores some of the standard post-doc models, and existing postdocs discuss their experiences of this move.










A DPhil is a significant commitment of time and focus, and it’s important to reflect carefully on whether it’s the right choice for you. The head of the Careers Service has written a helpful article to start you thinking about this: https://www.ft.com/content/5c2b49bc-91b4-11e9-8ff4-699df1c62544 
The national Researcher Development organisation ‘Vitae’ has produced useful guidance for thinking with: https://www.vitae.ac.uk/doing-research/are-you-thinking-of-doing-a-phd 
The Division and the Careers Service offer an annual workshop ‘Is a PhD right for me’ <link to course page> for those wanting to think things through further in a face-to-face setting.

a. Graduate Student Reporting
It’s important to complete the termly Graduate Student Reporting when you receive a request by email to do so; it’s much more than a tick-box exercise, it’s your opportunity to take stock, note successes and document any concerns. Your submission goes to your supervisor, and then after to the Director of Graduate (or Doctoral) Studies, and forms part of your student record for your DPhil. 

  b. Training Needs Analysis
The Training Needs Analysis is an annual self-audit of your development as a researcher, which you complete during Michaelmas Term. You access it through the GSR login, and find it in a separate internal section. Again, it’s much more than a tick box exercise: it’s been designed to support your career development from the very start of your DPhil programme, to help you reflect on your holistic development and make plans for the coming year.

There are three significant assessment milestones during your DPhil: Transfer of Status or Qualifying Test (often unnecessary for students transferring from an Oxford MPhil), Confirmation of Status and the final Viva.
a. Transfer of Status 

b. Confirmation of Status

c. Viva

During your time in Oxford, you may wish to broaden your experience beyond your current research project, as part of your professional development and career planning. The careers Service has a useful resource on this ‘Making Your DPhil Count’ <insert hyperlink>. 
a.    Teaching 

Figures for UK universities indicate that 3.5 years after doctoral graduation, 44% of social scientists will be in primarily teaching roles in universities < https://www.vitae.ac.uk/doing-research/are-you-thinking-of-doing-a-phd/w.... For opportunities and signposting around teaching, please click here <link to teaching page>.
b. Internships and Placements
An internship or placement can be enriching and inspiring, giving you new skills, contacts and perspectives. The Division has a Placements Officer who runs regular clinics (see Researcher Development term-card), and is currently developing a range of resources to support researchers wishing to explore their options in this area (coming HT 2020). The Careers Services runs an internship and micro-internship schemes < https://www.careers.ox.ac.uk/about-the-internship-office/>, a Researcher Consultancy < https://www.careers.ox.ac.uk/the-researcher-strategy-consultancy/>, and a micro-placements service for Research Staff < https://www.careers.ox.ac.uk/micro-placements-research-staff/>.
 The national organisation Vitae, which supports the career development of researchers has produced a useful guide to placements (you will need to create a free Vitae account using your oxford email address before you can access it) <https://www.vitae.ac.uk/vitae-publications/guides-briefings-and-informat...
c. Entrepreneurship    
Student and alumni entrepreneurship is supported by the Oxford Foundry <https://www.oxfordfoundry.ox.ac.uk/>, and spin-outs through Oxford University Innovation (OUI) <https://innovation.ox.ac.uk/>.

Being a part-time student brings with it particular challenges of managing family and / or work commitments. The number of part time students in the Division is steadily increasing, and we need your help to identify how we can best support you. We’ll be having forming a discussion group and having two pilot hangouts this term to start this conversation, check the term card for details and signup at the following link <E&A set dates for hangouts and A create Eventbrite page for each one> 

The university regulations require students to submit within 12 terms of registration; in exceptional circumstances, extensions of time may be granted up to a maximum of six terms. This is intended to be used only in extremis, and should not be regarded as suggesting that a total of 18 months are available to all students. Any application for an extension will be considered on its merits and approval is not to be assumed.
Please note: if you are a funded student, you should seek advice from your funding administrator, as the funding body’s rules on extensions may differ, and require a separate application.

Suspending your studies
Suspending your studies stops the clock on your registration, and can be applied for if there are exceptional grounds. You are not an enrolled student for the period of suspension, and if you are in the UK on a Tier-4 Visa suspension will affect your visa status, please seek advice from your Graduate Studies Administrator or college office. 
When you return from suspension, you are warmly welcome to the termly meet-up hosted by the Divisional Office, to help you start reconnecting with Oxford again and getting back into the swing of work. Details are here <insert link>.

At a Glance...

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The purpose of the transfer process is to ensure that you have a convincing research proposal, that you are making satisfactory progress in its development, and to satisfy the assessors that the work is potentially of DPhil quality. The General Regulations for admission to DPhil status are set out in the Examination Regulations, along with information on Special Regulations for particular subjects. Course handbooks also provide information on the process.

The purpose of confirmation is to confirm that you are continuing to work at the appropriate doctoral level and to provide assurance that if the work on the thesis continues to develop satisfactorily, then consideration of submission within the course of three further terms would appear to be reasonable. The General Regulations for confirmation of status are set out in the Examination Regulations, along with information on Special Regulations for particular subjectsCourse handbooks also provide information on the process.

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