MSc in African Studies: Frequently Asked Questions about Admissions

When should I apply to African Studies as there are several deadlines listed? Am I more likely to receive an offer if I apply early?

There are three application deadlines for the MSc in African Studies. You are advised to apply for either the November or the January deadline if possible as these often relate to scholarship deadlines too. All successful applicants are allocated a college place and sometimes this can be a lengthy process for later applicants. You will not be penalised in any way should you wish to apply by the March deadline.

Will I be required to take an interview?

No, applications will be considered solely upon the basis of the materials supplied with your application.

What results do I need in my undergraduate degree to come to Oxford?

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or a very strong upper second class undergraduate degree (or equivalent international qualification). For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA we seek is 3.7 out of 4.0.

What is the English language requirement for this course?

African Studies courses are taught and assessed in English. Applicants whose first language is not English will usually need to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.

Is there any funding available to me?

Every year the African Studies Centre offers a number of fully funded scholarships for the MSc in African Studies and full details can be found on the scholarships section of our website. An extensive range of University-wide scholarships are also available which can be found using the Fees and Funding Search tool on the main Oxford University website.

The Fees and Funding pages provide information and advice to prospective students about fees payable for University tuition, to the college, living costs and sources of funding at the University of Oxford.

Can I make an application before I secure funding?

Yes, any offer made is conditional upon applicants being able to give their college proof of their financial ability to support their studies in due course.

If I am unsuccessful in finding funding, can I defer my place for another year?

No, applicants are not able to defer places due to lack of funding and would need to reapply the following year.

Who shall I use as my referees? Does African Studies accept professional references?

The main purpose of your references is to allow your referees to provide an indication of your academic ability, your performance to date on your degree course and your suitability for post-graduate study. There is no need for them to provide detailed information about your course, it’s more a question of their assessment of your skills and ability. Therefore it is usually best to give academic referees where possible. However the guidance on the Oxford University application guide does state that the University will accept professional references that are submitted. The references, whilst important, are part of the application that will be assessed as a whole. You are advised to choose referees who you feel can most accurately comment on your skills, abilities and suitability for this course.

What should I include in my statement of purpose?

In your statement of purpose you should outline your reasons for applying for the course and any relevant academic training, work experience, or travel and/or work in African countries. It is advantageous to mention any previous research experience and to indicate a possible focus for dissertation research. You should state in what way you believe the MSc might contribute to your career development plans.  The statement should be about 500 - 1000 words long, written in English.

What should I submit for my academic writing, does it have to be about Africa?

The writing should be about 2000 words and relate closely to some aspect of African studies, e.g. politics, anthropology, international relations, economics, history or social/cultural studies. You can submit an essay you wrote as part of your undergraduate or postgraduate studies, or published work. Extracts from longer pieces, such as a dissertation, are welcome but should be prefaced by a note which puts them in context. The sample must be written in academic style English, preferably with references. The written work is an important part of the application and acts as an indication that you can write intelligently, fluently and clearly.

What about visa requirements for International Students?

You must obtain a student visa before arrival in the UK. The International Office provides information for International Students on visas, finance, insurance and what to expect during your stay in Oxford.

Why do I need a college place?

Every postgraduate student has to be admitted by both a department of the University and by one of the colleges. In general, prime responsibility for oversight of postgraduate students lies with the relevant University department, which appoints a supervisor for each postgraduate student, and arranges lectures and classes as appropriate. Applicants must first be accepted by the department concerned with their field of study and then their application will be passed to a college.

What purpose do Colleges fulfill for graduate students?

Colleges act as a base for the duration of your time as a graduate student. They provide meals, chapels, social events, sporting clubs, and each has its own library (of varying degrees of size and specialism). Several colleges also provide accommodation for graduate students, either for one year, two years and exceptionally, three years. Some colleges offer scholarships for applicant students. You should check individual college websites for further details.