Oxford Masters


Today I have a special feature with James, a Master's Student at Christ Church College. Many of you have asked me about Post-graduate applications and funding for Oxford, so here's James' experience:

MSt in modern languages – 1 year program, specialising in French literature and the Enlightenment.

To apply, you needed to write a research proposal / personal statement (roughly 800-1200 words from memory), academic transcript from undergraduate university, two sample essays from previous academic studies (2,000 words each) and two academic references.

The sample essays can be partial segments of longer previous work, such as if you want to submit part of your undergraduate dissertation, something I did as my undergrad thesis was linked and supported my masters’ proposal and thesis. The above automatically qualifies you for consideration for about 80% of the OX funding bodies without any extra input. However, for a couple funding options such as Ertegun House you must add an additional personal statement to do with that funding source.

Firstly, for the research proposal, this is not something that the university will force you to stick to in the slightest once you begin your studies, so as long as you write a coherent, interesting and enthusiastic piece it doesn’t really matter whether it is precisely what you want to study or not for your thesis – you won’t be tied to a proposal you write a year ahead of actually penning a thesis, but will be encouraged to develop your thesis idea through the year.

The proposal also allows you to spend a moment explaining your background and motivations for the masters which is important. Nevertheless, I would say that it is predominately an academic exercise so should principally be made up of the academic basis for a potential thesis, regardless of whether you stick to it, as they are looking for someone who will crack on with some of their own work.

The system will also ask whether you have a favoured supervisor at this point. This is a useful opportunity to show you’ve done some research into your area and pick someone you want to work under (I knew the professor specialising in my field from All souls so put her down and have worked with her throughout my masters). I would even contact them before applying to see whether they can offer any more specific advice along the lines of your specific subject, or are open to supervising masters students. In applying to a particular supervisor, it might also be wise to consider applying to their college.

Top Tips

  • Research your course thoroughly.

  • Take time planning your proposal.

  • Check out the graduate admissions page: http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/graduate

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