Application Guide

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Application Guide

  • Application basics

  • Supporting documents

  • References

  • Filling in the form

  • Checklist

This guide relates to applications being made under the new form launched on 29 October 2014. Please refer to the Application Guide for the old application form for applications using the previous form.


  • Application form

  • Deadlines

  • English language requirements

Before you apply, it is essential that you read this Application Guide and the supplementary course-specific information on your individual course page, including the selection criteria (entry requirements), to ensure that you provide the correct information and supporting materials.

This guide applies to all candidates seeking admission to a graduate course at Oxford, including current Oxford students. It applies to all graduate courses with the exception of the courses listed below, for which admissions information can be found on the relevant course website:

  • Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)

  • Saïd Business School courses

  • Software Engineering courses

  • Clinical medical degrees (eg BM, BCh)

  • Doctoral programme in clinical psychology (DClinPsychol)

  • Foreign Service Programme (FSP)

Important note on published information

This is a guide to entry in 2015-16 and should not be used to apply for admission in subsequent years. Information on 2016-17 admissions will be available from September 2015.  

The online version of this Application Guide and the Graduate Prospectus 2015-16 are definitive. These resources contain the most current and comprehensive information regarding the admissions process and requirements and may be subject to change. Applicants should therefore consider the version currently available online as the definitive source of information at any given time.

Department and college websites may repeat some of the information regarding the admissions process for graduate courses. However, please note that in case of any discrepancies this Application Guide and the Graduate Admissions webpages are binding. If you have a query about information presented on a department or college website, please contact Graduate Admissions and Funding.

How to apply

You can access the application form at

The University requires you to apply online. Paper applications are only acceptable in exceptional circumstances where it is not possible for you to apply online. If you do have an exceptional need to use a paper form, please contact Graduate Admissions and Funding.

A range of assistive measures are in place to support applications from students with disabilities - for example, a paper application will be accepted where necessitated by an applicant's disability. Further information on this support is available for applicants with disabilities.

Current Oxford graduates applying for readmission to a research course

Continuing Oxford graduate students use a tailored version of the standard online application form. After selecting your course, you should select 'Readmission' on the Application Type screen. 

For further information on the readmission process and your eligibility to use this process, see our guidance for continuing Oxford graduates.

When to apply

The standard University-wide application deadlines for entry in October 2015 are as follows:




Friday 21 November 2014 (12 noon/midday UK time)

Only in use by selected courses


Friday 9 January 2015 (12 noon/midday UK time) or Friday 23 January 2015 (12 noon/midday UK time)

All courses one or other of these deadlines

These are also the deadlines for most Oxford scholarships


Friday 13 March 2015 (12 noon/midday UK time)

Only in use by selected courses


Saturday 14 March 2015 to Monday 31 August 2015 

Some courses will remain open beyond 13 March where places remain available and/or later studentships may become available

Up-to-date information on whether each course is open for admission is available via our individual course pages

Courses will close at 12 noon (midday) UK time on the deadline day

Each course may use one or more of the standard University-wide application deadlines. You may apply to any deadline in use for your course, although we strongly recommend that you use the earliest deadline available - if you are intending to apply for a visa, you should aim to apply before the relevant January deadline.

The January deadlines are the deadlines for the majority of scholarships offered by the University and its departments and colleges. You must apply by the relevant January deadline both for University-wide scholarships where all eligible applicants are automatically considered, such as UK Research Council funding, and for the scholarships listed in the application form. 

Consideration for most Oxford scholarships is automatic but please note that there are some which require that you specifically apply for them. They may use different deadlines and you should check the deadlines for any funding you intend to apply for carefully. Individual departments may have other internal deadlines for specific sources of funding or other processes. You will find information about funding opportunities, including deadlines and application details, through our Fees, funding and scholarship search.

You should aim to pay the application fee and submit your complete application and all required supporting documents, including references, well before the relevant deadline. For January deadlines, you should approach your institution and organise your references in September and aim to apply before the end of December, using our application checklist.

The earlier you apply, the more time there is for us to help you if you have any queries about the process or any technical issues with the form, uploading your documents or paying the application fee. 

If you apply in the week leading up to the deadline or on the day of the deadline it is very likely that there will not be time for Graduate Admissions and Funding or the department to answer any queries or address any issues you may have in time for you to successfully submit your application by the deadline. This is especially true in the January deadlines - as the deadlines for many Oxford scholarships, these are extremely popular. If your course uses a November deadline we strongly encourage you to apply then, to allow more time for your application to be processed and assessed if you wish to be considered for funding.

In addition, if you leave your application until the last minute, there may not be time for any issues with missing or incorrect data to be communicated and/or resolved. If your application is not complete at the deadline then it may not be considered at all or it may be postponed to a later deadline if there is one available for the course, which may mean that you are no longer considered for University-wide scholarships. It is your responsibility to submit a complete application, and to ensure that your referees submit their references, by the deadline.

Application deadlines are strictly enforced. Your application and all supporting materials, including references, must be received by 12 noon UK time on the deadline date.

Information on the University's decision-making timescales and the application process after your application is submitted is available in our section on After you apply.

English language requirements

English is the language of instruction for all courses offered at Oxford and it is mandatory that all theses or examination papers are written in English, except in a small minority of cases where University regulations permit otherwise. 

The University has approved both a standard and a higher level of required ability in English. For all taught courses the higher level is mandatory. For research courses, the appropriate level is indicated on the individual course page.

If your first language is not English, or if your first language is English but you are not a national of the UK, Ireland or a majority English-speaking country recognised by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), you must supply suitable evidence that you have reached the relevant higher or standard level. 

You do not need to submit an English language test result before submitting your application. Any offer of a place will be conditional on your supplying your English language test results at the required level.

Majority English-speaking countries recognised by UKVI

The University only accepts certain standardised test results: IELTS, TOEFL iBT, the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) and the Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE). All of these tests are accepted for both admissions and visa purposes.

The University of Oxford is continuing to accept TOEFL iBT tests for admissions and visa purposes for students starting degree-level courses in 2015.

Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course.

The score requirements in each test are as follows:


Standard level

Higher level 



Minimum 6.5 per component 


Minimum 7.0 per component 

TOEFL iBT (Internet- based)*


Minimum component scores:**

  • Listening: 22

  • Reading: 24

  • Speaking: 25

  • Writing: 24


Minimum component scores:**

  • Listening: 22

  • Reading: 24

  • Speaking: 25

  • Writing: 24

Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English


Minimum 176 per component

CPE taken before Jan 2015:

Grade C


Minimum 185 per component

CPE taken before Jan 2015:

Grade C

Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English 


Minimum 176 per component

CAE taken before Jan 2015:

Grade B


Minimum 185 per component

CAE taken before Jan 2015:

Grade A

* The TOEFL code for the University of Oxford is 0490

** UKVI may accept lower minimum scores for visa purposes, but please note that the University still requires you to meet these minimum scores

If your first language is English and you have always been a resident and citizen of the UK, or another majority English-speaking country as defined by the UKVI, you do not need to supply test results or request a waiver. Current Oxford graduate students applying for readmission do not need to supply new English language results. 

Language test waiver

At the discretion of the University, the requirement to provide English language test scores may be waived in cases where you have successfully completed or are currently completing a degree-level course that is:

  • full-time

  • at least nine months long

  • undertaken at a recognised institution where the medium of instruction and assessment throughout the course is entirely in English.

If you are still completing your course and you are offered a place, you will usually be asked to provide evidence that you have successfully completed your course as a condition of your offer. It is expected that you will complete your course and show evidence of this is in good time, usually by 31 August, though some departments may set an earlier deadline. If you are due to complete your application after the date set by the department you will usually be expected to submit a certificate of an English language test meeting the University's usual requirements for applicants whose first language is not English. 

To apply for a waiver of the English language test requirements, you will need to write a brief statement outlining the reasons why you should be exempted and upload it to your online application. Your waiver request will be considered by the department at the same time as your application is assessed and, if successful, you will not be required to supply English language test results as a condition of any offer made.


  • Statement of purpose/research proposal

  • Official transcripts

Please note that all applications require supporting documents to be submitted along with the completed application form by the application deadline.

It is your responsibility to ensure that all materials, including references, are submitted in time. Late and/or incomplete applications will not normally be assessed. Since the process of obtaining references and official transcripts involves the time and co-operation of other individuals and organisations, you should be aware of the requirements and make arrangements to obtain the necessary documents as early as possible.

In addition to the submission of a completed application form and the application fee, the following documents are compulsory for all applications:

  • three academic references (letters of recommendation)

  • official transcript(s) of previous university-level degrees

  • CV/résumé

  • statement of purpose and/or research proposal

You may also be required to supply one or more of the following materials with your application, depending on the requirements of the course:

  • academic written work

  • portfolio (e.g. of artwork, performance recordings)

  • GRE results

  • mathematics admissions exercise

To check which additional supporting materials are required for a specific course, please see the individual course pages. The selection criteria (entry requirements) on course pages may include more detailed information on the department's requirements that you should also address.

All supporting materials must be:

  • in English (unless stated otherwise)

Documents you have written yourself, such as a statement of purpose, research proposal or written work, must be written in English unless otherwise permitted by the department. An English translation by a third party from your own work is not acceptable unless explicitly permitted by the department. These documents must be entirely your own work except where clearly indicated and as part of the admissions process they may be checked using plagiarism detection software. Further information on this requirement is available in our guidance on plagiarism.

Official transcripts which are not issued in English should be translated by either a professional translator, the relevant issuing body of the original document, or an authorised notary. The translation should be certified by the translator and submitted along with a copy of the official document in the original language. 

  • easily identifiable

Please clearly indicate your name as well as the type of document, eg research proposal, on the document if this is not already clearly stated.

  • clear and legible

Scanned and digital copies must be accessible and clearly legible; please ensure that scanned files are rotated correctly.

  • submitted at the same time as your application form

Wherever possible, you should upload an electronic/scanned version of your document(s) to your online application.

If you share an official transcript with Graduate Admissions and Funding, please use the correct email address ( and do this at the same time as you submit your application. Ensure that you select the maximum allowable time period for the document to be made available to us.

You can upload electronic or scanned copies of your documents directly to the application form. It is not usually necessary to upload a document to every page; please do not upload documents which are not required for your particular course. 

There is a size limit of 10MB for each document upload, so please ensure that documents meet this requirement and are fully legible. If you are unable to produce a legible scan of 10MB or less, please submit your document to us by the deadline date using the online query system.

If you are offered a place you will be asked to supply original transcripts and test certificates. Please do not send original documents unless specifically requested. Documents sent to Graduate Admissions and Funding will not be returned.

Please do not send or upload degree certificates or other documents which are not required to support your application.

Reusing documents in your readmission form

If you are a current Oxford graduate student using the readmission form, you must still supply all required documents. It is recommended that you upload these documents with your readmission form wherever possible, although you may also reuse certain documents from your successful application to your current course as permitted by the department to which you are applying.

You must always submit a new research proposal and a new reference from your current course supervisor or director. Course-specific information on which other documents can be reused is available via individual course pages.

Statement of purpose and research proposal

All applicants must provide a statement regarding their proposed research/study at Oxford. The statement must be entirely your own original work except where clearly indicated, with supporting quotations from any work authored by others clearly indicated and fully referenced, as per our guidance on plagiarism. Your statement may be checked using plagiarism detection software.

Please note that your statement does not count towards any written work that you may have to submit for the purposes of your application.

There are no restrictions on font size or line spacing although the document should be clearly legible.

If you are applying for a taught course (or for certain combined taught/research courses) you will usually be required to submit a statement, often around one page in length, explaining your motivation for applying for graduate study at Oxford in which you may wish to consider the following:

  • What relevant academic, research or practical experience do you have?

  • Why are you applying for this particular course?

  • Which areas of study within the subject especially interest you?

If your department chooses to provide specific guidance on the length and/or content of this statement on the course page then you should follow this in preference to the general advice above. Departments may refer to this statement in their own guidance and/or selection criteria (entry requirements) as a 'statement of purpose', 'personal statement', statement of study plans' or other similar terminology appropriate to its content.

If you are applying for a research course you will usually be required to submit a statement detailing your research plans, often referred to as a 'research proposal'. This is usually around two pages in length, unless the department states otherwise, though the length and level of detail required varies considerably between different subject areas and you should check the relevant course page for course-specific requirements.

For example, if you are applying for research in the humanities or social sciences, you will usually need to submit a well-developed proposal and bibliography giving an outline of how you intend to structure and undertake your research and, where possible, a preliminary title for the thesis. In other subjects you may only need to indicate which existing research groups you would like to join - if you are applying to a departmental studentship which does not indicate the need for an extended proposal in its advertisement, you will only need to indicate this fact in your statement and no further detail will be required.

Some courses may ask you to supply both a research proposal and a statement of purpose. In these circumstances, you should upload both statements to your application as a single document with each section clearly indicated via appropriate headings. 


Your CV should usually be one or two pages in length, comprising a summary of your recent achievements. It should provide details of your qualifications, any publications and any other experience relevant to your application.

Official transcript

You should submit a detailed record of your higher education up to the present, including courses taken and grades achieved. This should be produced for you as an official document by the institution where you studied and then visibly and indelibly certified by this issuing institution, often by signature and/or stamp. Documents which are not appropriately certified will not be accepted as a transcript.

You should upload either (i) a scan of your official paper transcript or, where available, (ii) an official, visibly certified electronic transcript to your online application. Unofficial and/or self-certified transcripts, including printouts or screenshots from student self-service websites are not acceptable.

If your institution offers an official, secure electronic transcript sharing service, such as Digitary, you will need to register Graduate Admissions and Funding at Oxford as an authorised recipient with the email address Your transcript should be shared with our office for the maximum possible timeframe permitted by your system, in a manner which allows us to retrieve and verify the full document by the deadline you are applying to.

If you have not yet completed your current degree, you should provide an official interim transcript detailing grades achieved to date.

Your institution may require several months to produce an official transcript so you should check your institution's policies and procedures well in advance of Oxford's application deadline. 

Please note that a degree certificate is not considered a transcript for the purpose of applying to Oxford as it is does not comprised detailed information on your grades.

If your official transcript is not in English, you must submit both (i) the original official document issued by your institution and (ii) a translation into English certified by a professional translator, the issuing body of the original transcript or an authorised notary.

If you are offered a place you will be asked to send the original document(s) of any scanned or electronic transcripts you have uploaded.

Current and former students are not exempted from submitting a valid official transcript - for assistance, see the guidance for current Oxford students on how to obtain an academic transcript.

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