Frequently Asked Questions

The following information should answer many of the questions you may have about your course of study at ODID.

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If you would like more information about studying here, please email admissions@qeh.ox.ac.uk.

Who will be the Course Director for my course?

The course directors for 2016/17 are:

What are the induction arrangements?

There is a compulsory departmental induction for each course at the beginning of 0th Week in Michaelmas Term (2-6 October 2017) which all students attend. During the induction meetings you will learn about the course content, including information on available option courses where relevant, timetables, examinations and facilities. You will also receive information on the general rules of the department and Oxford University and how to use the University libraries and computer systems. You will also receive a Course Handbook containing the information you will need during your period of study.

The induction may also include a social event when you will have the opportunity to meet your classmates and other students within the department and also to meet members of staff.

You will also receive a college induction during this week.

In addition, students of the MSc in Economics for Development attend a pre-sessional maths course in the week before 0th Week.

Will I receive any suggestions for reading material before the start of term?

A list of suggested general readings will be sent to all those who have fulfilled all conditions set on their offer. This, together with other information, will be sent by email from the Course Coordinator for each programme.

When will I know the name of my supervisor?

Information about supervision arrangements for masters students will be given during the induction sessions.

How long will my course last?

All students are registered from October in the year in which they begin their course until the end of their final examinations, including viva voce (or oral) examinations (these are not held for all of the courses) and the publication of results. The University of Oxford has three terms, each eight weeks long (Full Term) during which students must be in residence in Oxford. These terms are called Michaelmas Term (October to December), Hilary Term (January to March), and Trinity Term (April to June). Students must be in residence in Oxford during Full Term and are expected to be here in the week prior to the start of Full Term (0th Week) in order to take part in any required activities. Some courses also require their students to be in Oxford for 9th Week in some terms.

Most, but not all, written examinations will take place during Trinity Term. Students will need to make sure that they do not leave Oxford until the Examiners for their course have approved and released the final marks. Further information can be obtained from the course co-ordinator for each course:

  • MPhil in Development Studies: Dr Rachel Miller
  • MSc in Economics for Development: Nora Novak
  • MSc in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies: Andrea Smith
  • MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy: Nora Novak
  • MSc in Migration Studies: Andrea Smith

The long vacation is the period after Trinity Term ends and before the new academic year begins in October. During this period, students who have completed the first year of the MPhil in Development Studies will undertake field research for their dissertation.

How will my course be taught?

Each course will require students to undertake core courses and option courses for which they will receive lectures and reading lists. These are held throughout Michaelmas and Hilary Terms with some classes also taking place in Trinity Term. It is a fundamental component of the Oxford educational system that students engage in individual reading and study in order to broaden and deepen their knowledge of their chosen field. Students will be expected to show initiative and effort in exploring literature and ideas. Students will submit various pieces of written work throughout the period of their course.

Research skills training will be provided which will cover social surveys, data analysis and statistical analysis and this will be compulsory for all master’s courses. There will also be an opportunity for students to broaden their knowledge via the great number of lectures in other courses and public seminars offered both by this department and by other departments and colleges within the University. Students are encouraged to attend wherever possible.

Will there be any one-to-one or small group teaching on my course?

There is limited one-to-one teaching, such as meetings or tutorial sessions conducted between a student and their supervisor where advice can be given on reading, literature and guidance on dissertation research or essay writing. There is some teaching in very small groups of two, three or four for some of the options courses. Students also often arrange small group meetings or reading groups among themselves. Small group classes of around ten students are also held for some courses, where students may have the opportunity to make oral presentations, followed by general discussion.

What feedback will I receive on my work?

All courses provide written and oral feedback on various types of work completed by the students during the year. More information on feedback specific to each course is provided in the individual Course Handbooks on the course pages.

What workspace will be provided? What IT support/library facilities will be available?

Students have the use of computers connected to printers and scanners situated in various areas in the department. In addition, MSc in Economics for Development students are able to use equipment in the Economics Department and the MSc in Migration Studies students are able to use equipment in the Anthropology Department. There are also areas within the department which have wireless access. Laptops should be checked by the IT Officer in order to ensure they are compatible with the computer system within the department. The Oxford University IT Services have some facilities and also run courses on various programmes and can offer help and guidance: http://www.it.ox.ac.uk/.

Oxford University has an extensive library system. The Development Studies collections are housed in the Bodleian Social Science Library (SSL) at Manor Road, the Social Science building, five minutes’ walk from Mansfield Road. All library holdings are searchable through the online catalogue SOLO http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk. Many course readings are also available through the SSL e-readings link via Weblearn. The Library has access to a comprehensive collection of electronic journal titles via OU e-journals and databases through OxLIP+ (Oxford Libraries Information Platform). As members of the University, students can also use the main University library, the Bodleian, and other libraries within the Bodleian Libraries system such as Law, Radcliffe Science and Anthropology.

Students will be provided with a library induction session at the beginning of Michaelmas Term, and a search skills session for online resources at the start of Hilary Term in preparation for dissertation writing. The Libguide for International Development also provides useful links for subject-specific resources (http://ox.libguides.com/development). Sarah Rhodes, Subject Consultant for International Development, is based in the SSL and available for individual research appointments on request (sarah.rhodes@bodleian.ox.ac.uk ). Social Sciences data management queries can be addressed to John Southall (john.southall@bodleian.ox.ac.uk ). The SSL website can be found at www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/ssl.

Will I be able to take part in any research seminars or groups?

The department hosts a number of major research groups which hold seminars and workshops and host visitors' programmes, as well as contributing to graduate teaching. There are also a number of centres elsewhere in the University working on various aspects of development studies, often in conjunction with our staff. Departmental seminars are held during term time and students are encouraged to attend as many seminars and lectures as possible.

What are the arrangements for accommodation and meals; what social facilities are there?

Many colleges are able to provide accommodation for students or will direct the student to the University’s Accommodation Office for help with securing accommodation. The college also provides meals throughout the year, but provision will vary from college to college, especially during vacations. In addition there are usually self-catering facilities available in graduate accommodation.

The department's common room (main hall) for students and staff is located on the ground floor at Mansfield Road. The room is usually available during working hours for relaxation and there is a selection of newspapers to read.

The department has a small kitchen supplying mainly organic snacks and light lunches from 12.00 to 1.30 pm, Monday to Friday, in term time. A Fair Trade coffee machine is also available in the common room and near the research students' study space. The main seating area for consumers is in the area adjoining the kitchen, but people are welcome to use the common room and courtyard.

The Social Sciences Building, Manor Road, also has a catering facility and a common room which is available to research students during the building's opening hours. The University Club is also available for meals and is a short walk from the department.

Students reading for postgraduate degrees are members of the Middle Common Room or equivalent in their college, which is the main social centre. The MCR provides a common room and usually organises a programme of social events throughout the year. The college will usually also provide a bar, some computing facilities and a library, and may often have dedicated funds for research (conference and field research grants). The MCR also represents the interests of its members to the college through an elected Committee or through elected representatives to College Committees. Again, details will vary from college to college. Graduates are also welcome to participate in all other social and sporting activities of their college, further details of which can be found on individual college websites.

How will I raise any concerns I may have?

Students may, in the first instance, discuss their concerns with their supervisor who is drawn from the department’s academic staff. The supervisor can assist with various aspects of academic life at Oxford. Practical concerns related to the courses may be directed to the Course Director and administrative concerns can be directed to the Course Coordinator or Graduate Student Administrator. The final ports of call are the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) and the Head of Department. Students may also approach their Advisors at their College as well as the Senior Tutor or Tutor for Graduates.

The Oxford University Student Union also has considerable expertise in the area of academic welfare and offers several publications and services that are of use to students. These include the provision of study skills sessions with an expert in this area. Information can be found on their website at: http://www.ousu.org/.

During the induction week, the students from each course are asked to nominate one or more student representative. These representatives will be asked to attend various meetings, including the Divisional PGT Forum, at which they can put forward points from their fellow students and also pass back any points of interest which are discussed in the meetings.

Students from each course have the opportunity to provide comprehensive feedback both during the course and at the end. The exact method of providing this feedback varies from course to course. Concerns raised during these meetings are reported back to course Teaching Committees and the department’s Graduate Studies Committee. In addition, students have the opportunity to provide anonymous, written feedback on course questionnaires every term.

For me, Oxford University and, importantly, the Department of International Development are places where I was encouraged to explore the unknown, to discover myself and even finally to redefine my own values.

Ayokunu Adedokun, MPhil in Development Studies 2010-12