The Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) in Sustainable Urban Development is a part-time programme that provides outstanding students an opportunity to pursue in-depth and rigorous research about the pressing challenges of urban sustainability and the processes of environmental, economic, and social development in urban environments around the world.
Students admitted to the programme are usually motivated to undertake detailed research in preparation for an academic career and other research-intensive occupations; to have a substantial impact on future policy-making processes; or to pursue and/or advance their professional career at organizations and institutions operating in the field of sustainable urban development. The course provides the student with support and an intellectual environment by leading scholars in the field to pursue independent research.
The DPhil programme welcomes applications from those with a Master’s in a related subject, as well as applications from those already awarded the MSc in Sustainable Urban Development from this University.
Supervision is available from a range of specialists across the University of Oxford.
The DPhil in Sustainable Urban Development is a research doctorate, which culminates in a substantive academic thesis of around 100,000 words. As such, successful applicants will have a very strong academic record, as well as showing great aptitude through their academic proposal, and a display of future potential. Although we are keen to attract individuals for whom there is a strong overlap between academic and career interests, DPhil candidates will be examined solely on the intellectual quality of the final thesis and performance in a viva voce. Intellectual drive, ambition and vision are therefore crucial attributes.
There is an expectation that candidates will read widely and in depth throughout their time on the programme, and show the ability to think about and critique current theoretical thinking in their chosen area of study. It is hoped that the final thesis might substantially advance theoretical thinking (in addition to broadening the empirical base) within a number of interdisciplinary areas.
This DPhil programme is taken over a minimum of four years (12 terms) and a maximum of eight years (24 terms). Students are required to attend a minimum of 30 days of university-based work each year for the duration of the studies, to be arranged with the agreement of the supervisor. As part of the minimum 30 days per year requirement, students are expected to take part in three termly Doctoral Weeks (see below).
Students admitted to this degree conduct their own research under the guidance of a University supervisor, who will advise on all aspects of training, development and academic progress. Students must be prepared to work independently a good deal, and will need considerable personal motivation. Students are required to have a good general knowledge of the field within which research falls and of the methods appropriate to the study of this field. Throughout the period of study, students are part of a thriving international graduate community of peers engaged with sustainable urban development, including students in our MSc in Sustainable Urban Development.
Students are admitted initially as a Probationary Research Student (PRS), in line with University regulations on doctorates. During the probationary period, students develop and begin work on the thesis topic. They will develop research skills through a range of training and skills development offered during the termly Doctoral Week, as well as via the Department’s Graduate School and other units across the University.
The termly Doctoral Week brings together students from all cohorts on the programme to discuss relevant topics in sustainable urban development, as well as to develop research skills and engage it additional research training and development.
Students must apply for a Transfer of Status from PRS to DPhil status between the 6th and the 8th terms after admission (each academic year at Oxford has three terms). This involves the submission of a piece of written work that is examined by two assessors (neither of whom will be supervisors). This process is to ensure that the student’s work is of potential DPhil quality and that the methodology of the research is appropriate and feasible. Upon successful completion of the Transfer of Status, students usually undertake a period of fieldwork over one to two years.
Students will also be required to apply for a Confirmation of Status as DPhil sometime between the 12th and 18th terms after admission. This will also involve the submission of a piece of written work that is assessed by two assessors (neither of whom are supervisors). The Confirmation assessment is different to the Transfer assessment as the assessors will be focusing on how the research is progressing, the quality of the draft thesis chapters, and on the plan for completion. The assessors will be looking to ensure that the student is making the appropriate amount of progress in the development of the thesis, so that thesis submission will be achieved within the time limit.
Award of the DPhil is dependent upon completion of a 100,000-word doctoral thesis within an area of Sustainable Urban Development to the satisfaction of two examiners (neither of whom are supervisors) and defending that thesis in a more formal viva voce with the two examiners.
Applications for 2021-22 entry are now open.
Application deadlines are midday (UK time):
Applications may remain open after the final deadline if places are still available.
Visit the DPhil in Sustainable Urban Development page on the University of Oxford website for more details!
Fees & funding
Start dates & study options
The information you submit to this university will only be used by them to deal with your enquiry. For more information on how we use your data, please read our privacy statement