To undertake an extensive piece of original research in just one year can be a particularly challenging option and the Department will not admit students to it unless it can be satisfied that they have the necessary research skills, together with a clear vision of their topic and a good grasp of the appropriate methodology to explore it. The 'by thesis' option is unusual for a research degree in specifying a submission deadline and in not allowing for resubmission should the necessary standard fail to be achieved in the examination. Candidates are therefore encouraged to start their research as early as possible.

Applicants are requested to enclose with their application an outline of their proposed research, setting out their objectives and proposed methodology. Before offering a place for the 'by thesis' option, the Department will need to be satisfied that the proposal is one that can be undertaken satisfactorily by the candidate and that it can provide an appropriate supervisor. In some cases, it may suggest that the candidate consider opting instead for the instructional degree course (MPhil in Land Economy Research) in order to build up broader research skills.

Approval of title

Each student's subject of research is approved provisionally by the Degree Committee when the student is accepted. It can be revised subsequently, but has to be finally approved by the Degree Committee in the Lent Term (normally in February). The Degree Committee will also then appoint examiners and approve the submission date for the thesis, which is normally the end of August.  It is customary to appoint one internal examiner (who will not be the supervisor, and will not normally have had any direct involvement with the research), and one external examiner who is a recognised expert in the field of the research.

Once in the Department, all students on this course play a full part in the graduate programme. They are in any event required to attend and participate in either or both of the quantitative and mixed research methods courses. They are also encouraged to participate in any of the other relevant taught MPhil modules and the Department’s Research Management Programme.

Their vital link, however is with their Supervisor. The Supervisor assumes professional responsibility for guiding the student's research.

Course Teaching and Examination

Word Limit
Examination of the thesis
Oral Examination

The word limit for the MPhil in Land Economy thesis is between 28,000 and 30,000 words. The regulations do not allow for the word limit to be increased or exceeded.

Examiners are required to satisfy themselves that:

  • the thesis is clearly written;
  • it takes account of previously published work on the subject; and
  • it represents a contribution to learning.

A candidate may be required to make minor amendments and corrections to the thesis as a condition for approval for the degree. However, there is no provision for allowing a candidate to submit a revised thesis in the event that the examiners are not satisfied that it has reached the required standard.

The University's regulations require that an oral examination be held in all cases. Its purpose is to ensure that the work is truly that of the candidate, and to pursue and test arguments which the examiners have found to be unclear or of particular interest. The date and venue of the oral examination is chosen by the examiners. Since the thesis need not be submitted until the end of August, the earliest examination date is normally towards the end of September. Candidates must ensure that they will be available at this time to attend the oral examination. They will be informed of the arrangements by the Graduate Secretary.

Every effort is made to ensure that the results of the examination can be notified to candidates by the Board of Graduate Studies early in October.


Information for candidates

Both core and optional MPhil modules are reviewed on an annual basis. This review may lead to either a change to the core and/or optional modules offered on a particular MPhil course. Modules may be rescinded permanently or withdrawn on a temporary basis at any time.

Any information provided on Land Economy modules offered and their content is therefore subject to change and provided as guidance only to assist applicants with their choice of course. Reading lists are also provided for information purposes only and do not constitute a final or definitive list.

Boyce Family Scholarship

The Boyce Family Scholarship covers the fees for one full-time, one-year MPhil student. It is open exclusively to students who are normally resident in North America (including the Caribbean) and South America. Preference will be given to the following:

  • Students from backgrounds underrepresented at postgraduate level in their field of study, in the first instance, to women and students from racially minoritized backgrounds.
  • Who are pursuing an MPhil in Land Economy, or another course in the social sciences with a focus on the built environment, sustainability, and/or conservation.
In brief

Course Information

Course length  -   12 months full-time or 24 months part-time

Course components

This course comprises of a 28,000 - 30,000 word thesis which must:

  • be clearly written;
  • take account of previously published work on the subject; and
  • represent a contribution to learning.

This will be followed by an oral examination (viva)

Who should consider this course?

If you already have sound research skills from a prior degree and/or other relevant experience, and you want to undertake a purely research degree then consider this course.