DPhil in Archaeology

Course details

Oxford is a research-intensive university, and in recent years the subject of Archaeology at Oxford has been ranked as No.1 or No.2 in the world by the QS World Rankings.

Archaeology has for more than half a century formed one of the leading subjects within the Department for Continuing Education, serving a diverse study community in age, background and professional experience. It has proved a rewarding and accessible area of study that has enabled students to become directly involved in research, and has opened up career opportunities in universities, museums, heritage management and commercial excavation.

At undergraduate level the Department offers a part-time Certificate, a Diploma and Advanced Diploma, and at postgraduate level a taught MSc course in Applied Landscape Archaeology, and a part-time DPhil by Research.

The part-time DPhil programme draws on knowledge and skills acquired over many years of providing specialist classes in archaeology and profits from close links with the many different archaeologists elsewhere in the University. It caters for students specialising mainly in landscape and professional archaeology topics, largely concentrated on Britain and Europe. Occasionally, other topics are accepted but admission in these cases is strictly dependent on the availability of appropriate supervision elsewhere in the university. Please note that candidates, even those with an academically strong background, may not be admitted if appropriate supervision is not available for your proposed research topic.

The award is an Oxford DPhil which is the same qualification as the full-time version but done at approximately twice the timescale; the part-time programme is overseen by the University’s Continuing Education Board, and admission is online through the University Graduate Admissions Office (see red button 'Apply' to the right of this text box).

All candidates for graduate programmes must also apply for a college place (which is done in the same application) - see 'College affiliation' below. 

The part-time DPhil is assessed by a 80,000 word thesis, and was first offered in Archaeology in 2003. Students normally study for six years (twice the full-time length). It is assessed in the same way as a full-time DPhil, involving stages of transfer from probationary status to full DPhil status, confirmation of eligibility to submit your thesis, and culminates in a viva-voce (oral)  examination after submission, with one external and one internal examiner.

The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Department for Continuing Education and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. A supervisor may be found outside the Department for Continuing Education from another department/school or college within the university.

Supervision is arranged to suit the DPhil topic. The department’s small group of academic archaeologists supervise and assess on the programme, along with research associates of the department and academic colleagues from the School of Archaeology, Faculty of Classics, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, and centres elsewhere within the University. We enjoy a close relationhsip with the School of Archaeology, there are many seminar series which are open to part-time students and some shared training arrangements with full-time DPhils.

In the first instance, please consult the DPhil Programme Director on your proposed topic or chosen study area (see below). David Griffiths is Programme Director during 2023-24, but will be on research leave 2024-25 so will not be taking on any new supervisees on a personal basis for entry that year.

Approved topics of research for the part-time DPhil normally relate to the Department's recognised strengths in landscape, British and professional archaeology. Occasionally other topic areas are approved, subject to an excellent application and supervision being available elsewhere within the university. All admissions and approvals of research topics are subject to the availability of appropriate supervision.

For the DPhil it is recommended that ideas for topics are discussed in advance with the Programme Director, Professor David Griffiths (see link to right). Email contact is preferred initially - after which a phonecall or informal meeting can be arranged if needed.

For admission to full-time DPhil programmes in Archaeology, Classical Archaeology and Archaeological Science, please contact the School of Archaeology.

Quick links

Who should apply?

Successful applicants will have a proven track record in archaeological study, normally to masters level, and normally with first-class or distinction (or equivalent) as the known or predicted level of pass. It is highly likely that you will have a research topic, theme, or area already in mind, which fits with your prior experience and which is potentially suitable for the scope of an 80,000 word thesis. If in doubt about your own eligibility, it is advisable to consult the Programme Director before applying.

College affiliation

All students studying for a degree (including MSc and DPhil) must be a member of a college. There is single application process to the DPhil programme within which you can specify a college choice. Your choice of college is up to you, and does not affect the academic viability of your application to the D.Phil itself.  A number of Oxford colleges accept applications from part-time postgraduates, whereas others do not: please consult the graduate prospectus or enquire with individual colleges. (Even if you are accepted onto the degree, please note that you are not guaranteed a place at your first choice of college).

The Department for Continuing Education has a longstanding link with Kellogg College. The majority of part-time D.Phil students in Archaeology to date have chosen to apply to Kellogg, and many of the tutors and supervisors on this programme are associated with the college. Kellogg has unique expertise in attending to the intellectual, social, and welfare needs of part-time, mature, graduate students. If a college choice is not specified on your application, it will normally be sent to Kellogg if places are still available there.

Libraries and computing facilities

Registered students receive an Oxford University card, valid for one year at a time, which acts as a library card for the Departmental Library at Rewley House and provides access to the unrivalled facilities of the Bodleian Libraries which include the central Bodleian, major research libraries such as the Sackler Library, Taylorian Institution Library, Bodleian Social Science Library, and faculty libraries such as English and History. Students also have access to a wide range of electronic resources including electronic journals, many of which can be accessed from home. Students on the course are entitled to use the Library at Rewley House for reference and private study and to borrow books. The loan period is normally two weeks and up to eight books may be borrowed. Students will also be encouraged to use their nearest University library. More information about the Continuing Education Library can be found at the Bodleian website

The University card also provides access to facilities at Oxford University Computing Service (OUCS), 13 Banbury Road, Oxford. Computing facilities are available to students in the Students'Computing Facility in Rewley House and at Ewert House.

Provision for students with disabilities

The Department’s aim is to treat all students equally and we welcome applications from students with disabilities. Individual student needs are taken into account as far as possible, providing necessary adaptations and assistance within the resources available. For example, if practical work such as excavation or surveying would present difficulties, other types of work can be arranged. If you disclose your disability on your application form (which will be confidential) we will aim to make reasonable adjustment to ensure all academically capable students are able to participate.

If you have a learning difficulty, e.g. dyslexia, there are ways in which the Department can support you in your study. Please discuss with us how we may be able to help you before you start your course. We can refer you to an educational psychologist for assessment, if needed, and aim to have any assistance identified available for you from the beginning of your studies. Financial assistance may be available for the cost of the assessment.

For matters relating to disability or learning difficulty, please contact the Access Officer on 01865 280355 or via email at student.support@conted.ox.ac.uk

You can also obtain information from:

Disability Advisory Service
3 Worcester Street, Oxford, OX1 2BX
Telephone: 01865 280459

Entry requirements

The entry requirments are listed on the Oxford University Graduate Admissions website.


Please visit the DPhil in Archaeology page on the University of Oxford Graduate Admissions website for details of course fees and costs.

How to apply

For entry requirements, selection criteria and how to apply please visit the course page on the Graduate Admissions website.

If you have any questions about the progress of your application, please contact the OUDCE Award Programme Administrator email: pgr@conted.ox.ac.uk or the Graduate Admissions Office (tel: 01865 270059; email:graduate.admissions@admin.ox.ac.uk).