All postgraduate students are assigned a supervisor (or in some cases two co-supervisors). Supervisors will help their students to identify and acquire the knowledge and skills needed to complete their dissertation or thesis, and to further their aims for study or employment, insofar as these build upon the programme of graduate study.
Oxford students have the additional advantage that they are also members of the academic community of their respective colleges. Colleges will usually appoint one of their History fellows or lecturers to provide pastoral oversight and general academic advice to their junior members in History. Graduate students do not need to be at the same college as their expert supervisors; in fact, it often enhances the opportunities for academic contact if the supervisor can provide a link into a different academic community.
All graduates are encouraged to identify and prioritise their own training needs, and to consider how and on what timetable these might best be met. You should aim to discuss your training plan with your supervisors regularly, especially at the start of the academic year (with an emphasis on work to be done or classes to attend during the year) and during Trinity Term (with an emphasis on work to be done over the summer).
Teaching and collaborative academic activity takes place by Classes, Lectures and Seminars.
Classes are small groups that meet on a regular basis to present and discuss assigned work under the guidance of a class convenor; lectures specifically for graduates play some part in introductory teaching and graduate students may also attend undergraduate lectures; finally research seminars are groups of students and academics meeting on a regular basis to hear and discuss research presentations by members of the group or visitors. These allow graduates to develop links with the university’s larger research community.
Graduate students are expected to apply themselves to academic work on a full-time basis throughout the duration of their course, both during university terms and vacations, except during public holidays and when they take time off for personal holidays (perhaps to a total of six weeks during the year). This also applies (pro rata) to part-time doctoral students: they are expected to set aside on average some 20 hours per week for their individual research and regular, at least fortnightly, attendance at relevant Oxford research seminars.
Full-time students are expected to be resident in Oxford during term time. Tutorials, classes and seminars, and formal assessment interviews will normally be scheduled only during full term. During university vacations students are expected to pursue independent study and research. Neither supervisors nor students will necessarily be in Oxford during vacations, but supervision meetings may be arranged if it is mutually convenient.
There are many opportunities for students to benefit from classes or seminars other than those they are required to attend:
- students on most taught courses may on application substitute options offered for other courses for those offered in their own course in discussion with the Graduate Office;
- students may choose to audit course-specific classes (implying regular attendance and completion of all work assigned for class meetings);
- students on taught courses are warmly encouraged to attend research seminars relevant to their fields of research;
- students may also organize their own seminars, to discuss work in progress, or to provide a platform for invited speakers.