This interdisciplinary, nine-month master’s degree integrates the study of migration and mobility with broader processes of development and social transformation world-wide.
Taught by world-class researchers, the course introduces you to key migration and mobility-related concepts, methods, and theories across the social sciences, and prepares you for careers in research or practical fields.
The course provides a broad, conceptual understanding of human mobility and the role of international and domestic migration in shaping social, economic, and political processes from the family to the globe. Strongly focused on migration and mobility across world regions, students gain insight into migration’s close connection to global systems of trade, labour, politics, and power.
Through the year, students review major debates and literatures on contemporary migration within the academy and public spheres. Esteemed and cutting edge scholars offer training in critical analysis and inquiry, enabling students to contribute novel perspectives to the study of human movement.
Through the terms, students consider the dilemmas facing policy-makers at both national and international level and the real and potential roles of empirical study and knowledge in shaping political and popular deliberations. As an interdisciplinary course, teaching situates central themes from its component fields within cross-cutting, thematic debates.
Applicants interested in progressing onto migration-related doctoral study are eligible to apply for an ESRC 1+3 Studentship which can provide four years of full funding. These studentships, previously only available for UK and EU students, are now also available to non-EU students. Visit the Fees and Funding page for more information.
Introduction to the MSc in Migration Studies
Teaching & learning
The course is driven by four core faculty members and researchers from across Oxford’s internationally renowned Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) and ODID. The degree’s pedagogy is varied and designed to prepare students for scholarly and policy pursuits. Teaching is offered through a combination of lecture courses, classes, tutorials, seminars, student-led presentations, essays, and library work. The MSc course is intensive, with mandatory readings drawn from the academic and policy fields. Students are expected to come to class meetings ready to discuss and debate these texts and their relevance to historical and contemporary debates. Class sizes vary (they are generally between 5 and 26) with all teaching led by experienced researchers who will facilitate active participation, provide constructive feedback, and foster peer-to-peer engagement.
The Course Director for 2023-24 is Professor Loren Landau
The degree has received four University Awards for its innovative and effective teaching (two in 2012, one in 2013, and one in 2014), and two shortlisted nominations for the Student Union Teaching Award (2014, 2018).
In the first and second terms students register for the following core courses:
- Migration and the Economy
- Governance of Migration
- Anthropology of Migration
- Migration and Development
- Methods of Social Research
In the second term, students are enrolled in two options. These are selected during the first term from an ever evolving list. The final term is dedicated to writing an original research report (the dissertation) of between 10,000 and 15,000 words.
Migration and the Economy
At the end of this course, students will be able to answer two key questions: (1) is migration good for the economies of sending and receiving societies? (2) How local economies affect the prospect of migration? Students will be introduced to the tools used by neoclassical economists to answer these questions. This will allow students with no background on the topic to understand and, eventually, challenge current policy debates on migration, most of which rely strongly on this perspective. The topics include competition and complementarity of migrants in labour markets, the delusion of Brain Drain arguments, and the mix role remittances, among others. In the process of learning about the benefits and weaknesses of a neoclassical economics approach to migration, students develop skills in relating these perspectives to concrete policy scenarios and outcomes.
Governance of Migration
This course explores the intersections of human mobility and the governance of people, places, and political processes. The goal is to foster critical dialogue between theoretical and conceptual schema and emerging empirical dynamics. It does this through two broad themes. The first explores theories of power, sovereignty, and space drawing on themes from political science, human geography, sociology and anthropology. The second considers sites where rapid mobility helps generate or transform the exercise of authority and regulation at multiple scales. The course draws empirical examples from across the world with an emphasis on world regions that may otherwise be unfamiliar to students or where contemporary political debates over human mobility provide a strong heuristic into broader processes of socio-political transformation. The case material is intended to foster comparative perspectives with the aim of challenging and contributing to the theorization of mobility, space and power.
Anthropology of Migration
This course aims to: (1) provide students with a sound understanding of how mobility and migration are studied anthropologically; and (2), delve into some of the key migration-related themes studied by contemporary anthropology. It moves across scales, from considering the historical, economic, and political conditions within which mobility and migration emerge as socially and culturally embedded practices to examining how mobility and migration come to be constituted as problems to be governed, are experienced subjectively and mobilised politically. The distinctive feature of anthropology is that it ties together micro-level analysis of experiences and practices of individuals and communities with macro-level analysis of economic and political formations.
Migration and Development
This course serves to integrate the disciplinary insights introduced elsewhere as it thematically explores connections between human movement and ‘development’. Centred on the much-debated ‘migration-development nexus’, it uses this intersection to reconsider the meaning of modernity, progress, and global order. In so doing, it highlights imperial legacies, contemporary forms of inequality within and across societies, and the contentious politics of development.
Methods of Social Research
This two-part series familiarises students with common qualitative and quantitative research methods in the study of human movement. It introduces students to the tools needed to be a critical consumer and producer of social scientific data. Throughout the course, students will work concretely to develop their own research proposals and reflect on the position of researchers within global systems of knowledge generation and mobilisation.
Please note that the option courses available change from year to year. Below is a list of options that were available in 2022-23:
- Ethics and Mobility: China-Africa as a Case Study
- Migration and Policy
- Migration, Time, and Temporality
- New Technologies and People on the Move
- Transnationalism and Diasporas
The MSc in Migration Studies seeks to prepare students for further social science research, or for a career within the increasing number of organisations – public and private, national and international – concerned with migration issues.
Graduates of the MSc have gone on to doctoral degrees, law school, research and consultancy. Many are now employed by organisations such as the European Commission, ILO, IOM, UNICEF, RAND, Red Cross, Red Crescent, think tanks, national governments, and leading universities.
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 MSc in Migration Studies should be addressed to the Graduate Student Administrator, email@example.com.
The MSc Migration Studies is partnered with the Said Business School's 1+1 MBA programme. More information can be found on the University's course page for the Oxford 1+1 MBA and also the Said Business School's page.