DPhil in Migration Studies

The DPhil in Migration Studies offers the unrivalled opportunity to undertake an in-depth interdisciplinary project focused on a specific and important contemporary challenge facing the world by drawing on world-class research departments, centres and scholars.

ODID, together with the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography (SAME), offers a DPhil in Migration Studies (full time and part time).

As a DPhil student you will undertake your own original research project under the guidance of your supervisor, with whom you will typically meet two to three times a term. The supervisor will help develop and guide your project and, at later stages, provide feedback on chapter drafts. However, you will work to a significant extent on your own, and you will need a high level of motivation and self-discipline.

Introduction to the DPhil in Migration Studies

Academics from SAME and ODID can offer supervision in a wide range of subjects, including: linking newly emergent economies in China and India to new flows of people, the multiple dimensions of mass mobility at the heart of Europe’s ‘migration crisis’, or the interface of new urban science and the dynamics of migrant settlement.

You will also benefit from long-established research and teaching programmes on migration, each with a particular focus on collaborating with non-academics and generating research ‘impact’. The DPhil programme offers the opportunity to link research training to research practice at the two research centres: the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) and the Refugee Studies Centre.


You will be admitted initially as a Probationer Research Student (PRS), with full-time students transferring to full DPhil status by the end of their first year and part-time students transferring by the end of their second year.

During the probationary period, you will develop and begin work on your thesis topic. You will be offered training in relevant research methods, language, computing and other skills, and have the opportunity to attend lectures, seminars and classes in your general topic area. Full-time students are expected to be resident in Oxford for the PRS period subject to arrangements made as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Information on residency and temporary changes can be found on the University’s website: https://www.ox.ac.uk/students/life/residency.

In terms of research methods training you are likely to have already completed appropriate research training at Master’s degree level, either within Oxford or (when recognised by appropriate research councils) another University. There is a joint ‘Quantitative Research Methods for Migration Studies’ course for Masters students on the MScs in Migration Studies and Refugee and Forced Migration Studies and separate ones in qualitative methods. Graduates who have followed this route will therefore have completed the necessary training. Students new to Oxford will be expected to attend and pass this course unless they can demonstrate equivalent research training or experience, assessed and approved.

The increasing importance of the issue of migration on the global stage means that there are multiple paths to future employment both within the academy – where migration is growing in importance, with the establishment of numerous migration-related programmes at universities around the world – but also with significant opportunities in national governments, multilateral organisations such as the EU, UN and World Bank, NGOs, businesses and the legal sector, to name but a few.

As part of the 'training needs analysis' you will have an opportunity to consider transferrable and professional skills and experience that you would like to obtain during your DPhil.

Oxford graduates in similar programmes have gone on to occupy key posts in leading institutions of international governance and professional opportunities, including: UNCHR, Norwegian Refugee Council, European Council on Refugees and Exiles, IOM, ILO, and the European Commission.

Work space

Doctoral Students will be accommodated principally at COMPAS, but there is also possible access to space in the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography (SAME) and the Oxford Department of International Development (ODID) subject to availability. Social meetings, seminars, and clear office hours for methods support, will bring you together with other students and staff working in different parts of the university.

Networks and links

As a doctoral student you will become part of a vibrant research community. The Oxford Network on Migration and Mobility will provide a focus of activity, linking across research centres and departments. You will also be able join the Migration Studies Society, and there will be opportunities to take on leadership roles.

SAME and ODID have student representation on Graduate Joint Consultative Committee (GJCC) that meets every term and broader participation in other student representative structures.

Programmes of research seminars are available from both departments, some specifically for research students and others featuring talks by invited speakers, often from outside the university.

You will also have access to training opportunities provided by the Social Sciences Divisional Office, which offers advanced research and career development training.


You can make use of the Social Sciences Library, the largest freestanding social science library in the UK with considerable print and digital strengths. This is complemented by the world-class resources of the Bodleian Library and the satellite libraries, such as the Tylor Library, the main subject library for anthropology, and the Pitt Rivers Museum's Balfour Library. You will be able to access key online journals and as alumni of the University can sign up for lifetime access.


Azim Khan Ronnie / COMPAS Photography Competition

Please refer to the course webpage on the University's Graduate Admissions pages for full information on selection criteria, application deadlines and English language requirements.

Enquiries about the course should be addressed to the DPhil in Migration Studies Coordinator, emma.newcombe@compas.ox.ac.uk.