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Applying and preparing to follow a Master of Science (MSc) at Oxford!

By Priyanka R. Biljani

Step-by-step guide to a Master of Science (MSc) Application

1. Application submission

- Most Masters programs have 2-3 rounds of application reviews and deadlines. Departments make offers on a rolling basis and as such, it is advised that you submit your application to the University as early as possible. In highly competitive courses, it is also possible that the admissions team may place you on a waiting list. Hence the earlier you submit, the sooner you would hear back and accordingly be able to make plans regarding potentially accepting the offer or applying to other programs.

2. Ensure you meet the minimum requirements

- Due to the competitive nature of admissions, most departments do not seem to give much leeway with regard to entry requirements. Hence, meeting the minimum degree-level qualifications and General Test scores as per the course requirements is usually a prerequisite to having your application reviewed. Be sure to check the relevant course page regarding admissions criteria as well as for further information pertaining to application assessments and procedures.

3. Have a defined angle

- Personally, my academic background did not strongly align with what my course entailed. I initially perceived this to be a disadvantage, but later realised that I did indeed have a genuine interest in broadening my exposure from labour to working at the intersection of education and labour which was offered in one of the MSc pathways within my Department. Thus, it is crucial that you are not only familiar with the general course aims but also the specific ‘papers’ and ‘pathways’ offered. After doing so, truly evaluate if what you intend to take away from the Masters can be achieved through your chosen program’s offerings.

4. The interview process (varies according to department and course)

- While postgraduate interviews are not always a requirement as it is for undergraduate courses, some courses include this as a mandatory component of the assessment process. This post does not apply to all departments, so be sure to check your chosen course’s application page. For CIE, the application process consisted of a 30-minute interview with two course directors. It predominantly focused on research and academic interests as well as questions regarding my application (CV + statement + writing samples). The interviewers are looking for individuals who can bring something unique to the course and cohort in order to make it an academically rewarding experience for everyone enrolled. Hence, be sure to hammer down on what your ‘angle’ is. This is your chance to play on your strengths and showcase what makes you stand out as a strong candidate. This could be related to your prior academic engagements, work experiences and/or personal projects you wish to share.

5. Research your department and its members!

- If you receive an invitation to interview, they might provide details of who your interviewers will be. Look them up! Find out what they are doing within the department and what their research predominantly focuses on as one of them could be your future research supervisor.

6. Colleges

- At Oxford, colleges are not just the equivalent of your living grounds whilst reading for your course, but engagement grounds to further explore your interests, learn from students across other disciplines and meet individuals who share similar interests. It is advisable to do some research on which specific colleges are affiliated with your Department and what each one can offer you. Personally, I chose St. Antony’s college because it is home to Oxford’s Middle East Centre and hosts seminars and conferences that are Gulf-specific which strongly aligns with my research interests. My experiences within college have complemented my academic journey quite well thus far.

Have an end goal in sight!

- Oxford is a great place to explore and develop yourself within academic realms and while your interests may evolve during your time here, ensure you possess a somewhat defined trajectory of where you want to go and how this course will assist you in realising that goal. This will not only help you during the application process but also, if offered a place, serve as a reminder and guide to make your experience at Oxford a truly rewarding one.

Best of luck!


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