Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) in Theology

Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) in Theology for Ordinands

Oxford is one of the world’s top research universities, and the Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) is its highest award.  Students applying for a doctorate will have already demonstrated academic excellence in theology at the master’s level, and will undertake an intensive period of research on the subject of their choice, directed by their supervisor.  The DPhil equips students with the ability to complete their first major piece of research, to expand their academic horizons, and to learn the tools to be able to enter into an academic post.  The DPhil is particularly relevant for those who have been considered a potential theological educator by the Church.

The DPhil at Wycliffe Hall offers:

  • Student-centred learning, with an emphasis on student initiative and exploration
  • All the intellectual rigour of the University of Oxford, combined with the pastoral and ministerial insights of Wycliffe tutors
  • Sustained personal interaction with and support from tutors
  • An evangelical ethos with the opportunity to participate in formational activities and the life of the worshipping community
  • Learning within an environment in which the integration of spiritual formation and academic learning is paramount
  • The opportunity to be members of the wider Wycliffe community, but also of the Wycliffe Hall Graduate Society, which offers a wide range of additional academic, social, and spiritual support.  For more information on Wycliffe’s graduate provision, please see the Graduate Study webpage on the Wycliffe Hall website

Course Structure

The Course Director for the DPhil at Wycliffe Hall is Dr Matt Kirkpatrick.

The DPhil is awarded upon the successful oral examination (viva voce) of a dissertation, which is usually submitted after three years of academic research.  There is no additional written examination. 

In the course of their research, students are required to submit substantial samples of their work-in-progress in application for ‘Transfer of Status’ (usually after one year’s research) and ‘Confirmation of Status’ (usually after two years’ research).  These ‘Transfer’ and ‘Confirmation’ exercises are designed to give students the benefit of critical comment from experts other than their supervisor and to ensure that their research project meets with final success.

Part-time study for the doctoral degree is an option for students whose circumstances do not permit full-time study, subject to the Faculty’s approval of the suitability of the research project for part-time study. 

For a general overview of the course, please see the DPhil in Theology webpage on the University of Oxford Admissions website. 

Full details on the course structure can be found in the Handbook for Postgraduate Research Students (DPhil, MLitt)

Formational Activities

Wycliffe has one of the largest graduate theological communities in Oxford, and specialises in integrating ministerial formation with the academic studies of its graduate ordinands. Each student is overseen by the Tutor for Graduates, Dr Matthew Kirkpatrick, to discuss their particular needs and to ensure that all graduate ordinands leave Wycliffe academically, spiritually, and pastorally prepared and confident for their future ministry.

Ordinands are expected to participate in the life of the worshipping community through participation in daily chapel services and a weekly fellowship group led by a Wycliffe tutor.   Ordinands participate in weekly placements with a church or other ministry organisation, as well as one 5-week summer placement.  Ordinands also serve in 1-2 church missions.  

Integrated study weeks provide ordinands with a chance for in-depth study of key topics such as baptism, communion, Islam, and ethics.  Preaching classes are taken throughout the course with supervised preaching engagements.

For detailed information on the specific formational programme for the DPhil in Theology for ordinands at Wycliffe Hall, please see the Ministry and Formation Handbook.

Entry Requirements

Students applying to Wycliffe Hall must be at least 21 years old, and have normally completed a bachelor’s degree in theology with a first or top upper second-class honours or equivalent (GPA of 3.7 or above).

For further entry requirements, please see the ‘Entry Requirements’ tab on the DPhil in Theology webpage on the University of Oxford Admissions website.  

Church of England ordinands must have received recommendation for training from the Church of England.


For tuition fees, please see the ‘Funding and Costs’ tab on the DPhil in Theology webpage on the University of Oxford Admissions website.  

Accommodation fees can be found on the Wycliffe Hall Accommodation webpage.

In addition, Wycliffe Hall students pay a termly Common Room fee, the amount of which is decided on a yearly basis but usually approximates £50.00.    

Out-of-pocket expenses incurred for travel related to placements and missions will be reimbursed up to a fixed limit.

Ordinands should consult with their sponsoring body regarding arrangements for payment of fees.

How to Apply

Students must apply both to the University of Oxford and to Wycliffe Hall directly:

  1. All graduate applications are made to the relevant faculty through the University of Oxford online application system.  For detailed information, please see the ‘How to Apply’ tab on the DPhil in Theology webpage on the University of Oxford Admissions website.  
    Once students have been accepted onto their course by the University, their applications are then sent on to Wycliffe. Students must indicate their preference to join Wycliffe Hall on their online application.  For detailed information, please see the University of Oxford Choosing a College webpage.
  2. In addition to the University application form (which covers application onto their academic course) students must also apply to Wycliffe Hall directly as their ministerial training base through our online application system.