Oriental Studies DPhil

L0032393 Oriental Calligraphy Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images

The Faculty of Oriental Studies offers a Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) research degree and is able to offer supervision over the full range of regions in which its academics have expertise.

The DPhil in Oriental Studies is the faculty’s main research degree. Supervision can be offered in the full-range of areas in which the faculty has expertise, namely Chinese studies, Egyptology and the ancient Near East, Eastern Christianity, Hebrew and Jewish studies, the Islamic world, Japanese studies, Korean studies and South and Inner Asia. All topics fall under the general degree title of DPhil in Oriental Studies.

You will be assigned a supervisor(s) who has overall responsibility for the direction of your work on behalf of the faculty. Typically, you should expect to have meetings with your supervisor at least twice a term during the period of your study, often more frequently during the earlier stages of the research programme. Through independent research, and with the guidance of your supervisor, you will be required to complete a thesis of 80,000 to 100,000 words. 

The DPhil normally takes between three and four years to complete. You will begin your programme as a Probationary Research Student (PRS), applying to transfer to full DPhil status by the start of your second year. A further assessment, to confirm status, will take place during the third year. The transfer of status and confirmation of status assessments are processes handled by academics other than the supervisor, and are an opportunity to receive substantive feedback on your work by experts other than your supervisor(s).

You will have the opportunity to attend faculty seminars, lectures and colloquia, as well as a variety of skills training sessions offered by the faculty, as appropriate to different stages of the graduate career. All research students are offered an opportunity to attend the tutorial teaching day at the faculty in Hilary term. Those completing the training are then placed on the Graduate Teaching Register and are able to provide teaching for undergraduates if the opportunity arises.


You are strongly encouraged to contact a prospective supervisor, who should be a member of the teaching staff of the Oriental Institute, before you apply to discuss the viability of your proposed research and whether supervision can be offered for your project.

The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Faculty of Oriental Studies and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Faculty of Oriental Studies. In such circumstances, a second internal supervisor may be appointed to provide guidance on policy and procedures of the Faculty of Oriental Studies.

Entry Requirements

Degree-level qualifications

As a minimum, applicants should normally hold or be predicted to achieve the equivalent of the following UK qualifications:

  • a master's degree with a good result (an average mark of 67% or above) in a subject closely related to the topic of your research; and
  • a first-class or an upper second class undergraduate degree with honours in any subject, though ideally relevant to the topic of your research.

If your degree is not from the UK, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.7 out of 4.0.

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

  • It is expected that applicants for the DPhil will have significant competence in one or more relevant Oriental languages. You should discuss the linguistic competence that you will need for your proposed topic of research with your prospective supervisor.

Graduate Destinations

Graduates in Oriental studies have found employment in many diverse fields including business, the civil service, finance, law, government, industry, and journalism and the media.

Many graduates have also undertaken further research into subjects linked with Oriental studies and have pursued successful careers in the academic world, education, libraries, literature and museums.

Further Information

For further information please refer to the DPhil Oriental Studies Handbook.