Transfer of Status

All incoming research students begin their careers at Oxford as Probationer Research Students (PRS) and as part of your degree you are required to meet certain milestones in order to progress. You will apply for Transfer of Status (after which your status will be that of DPhil candidate/student) and then Confirmation of Status before finally submitting your thesis for examination.

The purpose of Transfer of Status is to ensure that you have a convincing research proposal, that you are making satisfactory progress in its development, and to satisfy the assessors that the work is potentially of DPhil quality. You will need to speak with your supervisor about the work you want to submit for Transfer; at this stage it need not be a draft chapter of your thesis but must be of a nature to demonstrate your abilities to pursue your thesis topic.


You are expected to complete Transfer of Status before the end of your fourth term (normally Michaelmas Term of your second year).

To apply for Transfer you need to submit the following to the Academic Office:

  • a piece of formal written work related to the field of your proposed thesis (5,000 - 10,000 words); 
  • a satisfactory outline (up to 1000 words) of the proposed subject of the thesis i.e. how you propose to treat your subject, and what materials and sources you plan to use;
  • a completed GSO2 form signed by you, your supervisor(s) and college.

In order to meet your official deadline, you should submit your application by 8th week of the term in which it is due. This is to allow enough time for the assessment to take place (i.e. interview held and the report received and approved) before your deadline.


Your assessors can recommend one of the following outcomes which is then considered and approved by the Director of Graduate Studies:

Transfer to DPhil
Your report should include an assessment of your proposed project, suggestions for improvement (where appropriate) and comments on the suggested timetable.

Reference back for a second attempt (due within one term)
Your assessors should include a detailed description of what is required in your resubmitted piece of work. This can range from better referencing of submitted work or redrafting of your proposal to significant further reading of secondary sources or rethinking the broad outlines of the project.

Transfer to Master of Letters (MLitt)
This is only where the assessors are firmly of the opinion that a student is unlikely to be able to produce work of DPhil standard during their time at Oxford.

Your supervisor will nominate and contact two assessors who are then sent your Transfer application. Your assessors will contact you to arrange an interview which should last 1-2 hours (for which you do not need to wear sub fusc). 

Their report following the interview should cover:

  • an evaluation and description of the written work and the interview
  • evidence of linguistic competence (when relevant)
  • a clear recommendation of whether the student is ready to transfer to DPhil status.