Transfer of Status

Transfer of status is a formal requirement of the University for doctoral students. The purpose of which is to determine whether you have reached the appropriate level for doctoral work. The primary considerations are the feasibility of your project and whether you have the skills needed to complete it. The key questions to answer will be:

  • Have you have identified a suitable research question?
  • Is the scope of your project appropriate to a programme of three to four years study?
  • Have you identified a suitable body of sources?
  • Have you considered the research methodology?
  • Have you acquired all the skills necessary to complete the project, or is there a clear strategy for equipping you with any additional skills in the next few months?
  • Can you write a scholarly piece at a level appropriate to a doctoral thesis?

That is quite a tall order at the end of the second term of doctoral work, but rest assured that things are not set in stone at Transfer. The scope of the thesis will be refined in the course of the research; the methodology may be adapted in the face of practical considerations and/or further reading; the body of sources is likely to be reviewed once you hit the archives, or begin interviews. The important thing is that you should show evidence of having thought about the issues, and of having a feasible research strategy.

Another very valuable element of the exercise is the opportunity it provides for getting feedback on your proposal from two other academics besides your supervisor(s). They may be able to give you guidance on sources, or help you think about the structuring of your thesis. It is also worth remembering that the formal elements of the interview process are a good preparation for the viva at the end of your doctorate (though you are not required to wear sub fusc!).

Your application for transfer of status is due Week 8 of your second term on the DPhil. If you choose to defer your transfer application, please be aware that this does not affect the deadline for your confirmation of status application or your maximum submission date - they will stay the same. 

The requirements

Along with the GSO.2 Applications for Transfer of Status form, you must submit:

(i)            a brief statement, of between 500 and 1,000 words, of the subject of the thesis and the manner in which the candidate proposes to treat it; an outline of the time table for background reading, archival or field work, and writing-up;     

(ii)           a piece of written work, between 3,000-5,000 words long, being either:
               (a) a section of the proposed thesis, or
               (b) an essay on a relevant topic, or
               (c) an augmented version of the statement required under (1) above;    

(iii)          a confidential report from the supervisor, which should be emailed by the supervisor directly to the History Graduate Office. This is optional, and may be done in lieu of filling in the supervisor section of the GSO.2 (though your supervisor must sign the GSO.2 form).

Please note that if you adopt alternative (c) above you must also submit the statement required under (i). While as precise a definition of the subject should be given as is possible at this stage of your work, you are not bound to follow the statement precisely, but may reformulate your plan in the light of further study. If reformulation goes so far as to require substantial alteration of the title of the thesis as approved, however, you should seek permission of the Faculty Board to alter it, by submitting form GSO.6 and any necessary explanation to the History Graduate Office. However, minor changes to your title can be indicated on the GSO.2 without a separate form.

You are also reminded of the requirement that you should give a presentation on the subject of your research at a research seminar.

Please check the Handbook for more information on what the written work should contain. 

What Assessors are asked to look for

  • Does the student have a viable doctoral project, in value and scope?
  • Does the written work meet the standards one would expect of a doctoral candidate in style, clarity of expression, structure, and referencing?
  • Is the timetable for completion realistic?
  • Recommendations on scope of work, sources, and coverage.