MPhil in Global and Area Studies

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MPhil in Global and Area Studies

OSGA has now introduced a unique and exciting multi-disciplinary, cross-regional MPhil in Global and Area Studies.

The two-year programme draws on the multidisciplinary and multi-region strengths of the six of the School’s seven regional centres (currently the African Studies Centre only has limited participation), to deliver a unique and innovative programme, which addresses contemporary global challenges through the penetrating lens of Comparative Area Studies. 

As the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, the call for a programme like the MPhil in Global and Area Studies has never been louder and OSGA is one of the very few places equipped to deliver.

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Each student will have one formal supervisor from the beginning of the programme and progress with the thesis will be overseen by the Programme’s teaching committee who will help to facilitate additional consultations where appropriate.

Seminars and Workshops

Throughout the course, students are expected to attend seminars from the rich offering available through OSGA and through St Antony’s College (with whom we work closely).

OSGA is also leading on the development of a European Area Studies Network which we anticipate will provide increasing opportunities for cross-institution engagement for our MPhil GAS students. Partners within this Network are drawn from Paris, Berlin, Bonn, Leiden, Warsaw, Prague, St Petersburg and Moscow.

Programme Management and Enquiries

The GAS Programme Director is Dr Chigusa Yamaura and the programme is supported by the GAS Administrator Jillian Fardon. 


If you have questions about the content of the programme please contact Dr Yamaura. For administrative queries please contact Jillian Fardon.

Programme Structure

The programme comprises a mix of: core area studies training; comparative area studies courses; research methods training; the chance to take specialist area studies options relating to a particular region; a flexible period of ‘area studies immersion’ supported by a small grant; and – running through its core – an extended research thesis (of 30,000 words) addressing a transnational, or comparative area studies, or theoretical area studies topic.  

Summary of Programme:

 Year of Study

Element of programme


Year One

One core Area Studies conceptual course

Competing Approaches in Area Studies


One Comparative Area Studies (CAS) course

Choice from a range of option courses


Research Methods

Qualitative Methods for Area Studies plus ONE of:

Quantitative Methods or Historical Methods and Approaches



Research proposal (4,000 words)


Area Studies courses

Up to three Area Studies courses from a wide choice of options.

Year Two

One core Area Studies conceptual course

Global and Area Studies Seminar


Area Studies courses

Up to three Area Studies courses from a wide choice of options


Area Studies Immersion

Study abroad, fieldwork, language course, internship or other.



30,000 word thesis


As a guide to what to expect, you can learn more from the current student handbook.



The centrepiece of the programme is of course the 30,000-word research thesis, which represents an advanced piece of independent (but supervised) postgraduate research incorporating a Global or Comparative Area Studies approach and/or addressing key cross-region challenges from an Area Studies perspective.

Possible topics of interest include but are not limited to: Global and Regional Health, Migration, Human Rights, the Environment, Democracy and Authoritarianism, International Relations, Political Economy, Social and Economic Inequality. The School has rich multidisciplinary expertise covering China, South Asia, Japan, Latin America, Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the Middle East (where we share courses with the Oriental Institute) and Africa.

Each student will have one formal supervisor from the beginning of the programme and progress with the thesis will be overseen by the Programme’s teaching committee who will help to facilitate additional consultations where appropriate.


During the second year, you will undertake a period of Area Studies immersion. Immersion options include but are not necessarily limited to: a period of overseas or domestic fieldwork research for your thesis; or for the development of language skills; auditing relevant substantive courses delivered at a partner university or approved alternative; an internship period at a relevant organisation (in the UK or abroad). The immersion period is intended to be flexible and inclusive and should facilitate intensive progress with the research thesis as well as the professional development of the student. Each student will receive a grant to help cover the additional costs relating to the immersion period.


Students of the GAS MPhil programme will progress to a variety of different careers, including in government and diplomacy, business and political analytics, consultancy, banking and finance, NGOs, teaching and further research. With regard to the latter, OSGA’s DPhil in Area Studies, introduced in 2017, provides exciting opportunities for continuing inter-disciplinary doctoral research across one or more of the regions in which OSGA specialises.

GAS Students

The MPhil in Global and Area Studies is assessed using a range of formative and summative assessments. Whilst many OSGA option courses are assessed through three hour written examinations, other elements of the course involve a range of different assessment modalities, including essay, take-home exam and project work.

There are no formal language requirements for the programme beyond the English language requirements which apply to all of OSGA’s programmes. There are some research topics that will require language skills and it is anticipated that students should have those language skills at the point of application. Language isn’t provided within the frame of the programme but there are opportunities for taking language classes through the Oxford University Language Centre and for using the immersion period to further develop language skills, as required.

Recognised Students

Students registered for a PhD at another university conducting postgraduate research in Global and Area Studies (with interests in more than one ‘region’ or with interests in the concepts and theories of Area Studies) who want to do research in Oxford without registering for a degree can apply for Recognised Student status. 

It is possible to apply to be a Recognised Student for a minimum of 1 term and up to a maximum of 3 terms (or 1 academic year). There is no formal course of study with this status and Recognised Students are responsible for finding their own accommodation in Oxford. Recognised Students may use University libraries and other online resources provided by the University. They can also attend lectures and seminars and can enrol on particular courses, with the permission of the department. Admission is at the discretion of the Global and Area Studies (GAS) Admissions Board, which is responsible for appointing the student’s formal Academic Advisor. 

If admitted by GAS, you will be allocated an Academic Advisor, who will give general advice about the research topic, but not systematic instruction, as you are expected to be in receipt of supervision from your home university. Your Advisor may also be able to help you make connections in Oxford and/or identify useful courses to attend. Recognised Students can only expect one feedback on written work related to their thesis from their advisor, since the amount of support available from an advisor will vary according to their availability. Recognised students enrolled on courses will of course receive the same formative and summative assessment (including feedback) as Oxford’s degree students do.

Note, while Recognised Students do not have a formal affiliation with an Oxford College, OSGA is closely associated with St Antony’s College and we will offer you one High Table Dinner per academic term as part of your Recognised Student experience.

GAS charges a fee of £2000 per term for Recognised Students and please note also that Oxford currently charges a £50 application fee. 

In order to start the application process, you should contact the GAS Administrator Jillian Fardon and send the following documents:

1. Original transcripts from the degrees you have previously obtained

2. A 500–1000 word statement of your research proposal

3. Two reference letters from senior members of faculty at your current university

4. A letter of application, including the dates you would like to be associated with GAS and with details of any funding that you have secured (source and amount). The letter should explain how you envisage your stay in Oxford contributing to your doctoral study and what resources you aim to consult.

5. Evidence of English language competency (if you intend to apply for a Tier 4 visa; please see specific requirements below)

6. A current C.V.

You should ensure that the start of your stay corresponds with the start date of any particular academic term.

If GAS is able to support your application, and has an Academic Advisor available to provide appropriate supervision during your proposed visit, you will then be asked to complete a formal application (this is the one that costs £50). Full details on this process can be found in the Graduate admissions pages.. 

It is not possible to be admitted as a Recognised Student if you have already been matriculated as a member of the University of Oxford.

Please note that it is your responsibility to check how long it will take to obtain a Visa in your country and to plan the submission of your application accordingly.

Academic Visitors
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This is a guide for academics who are thinking of applying to become an Academic Visitor at GAS (Global and Area Studies).

As an Academic Visitor of GAS you will be entitled to:

  • an Oxford University email address for the visiting period
  • limited access to the University computing facilities
  • use of the Bodleian Libraries
  • attend OSGA seminars and workshops

You can view our current Academic Visitors' profiles here.


It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that compliance with UK immigration and visa requirements are met.  Please ensure that you have checked your status with the guidelines on the Home Office UK Border Agency’s website

Oxford University Newcomers' Club

The University of Oxford Newcomers' Club is an organisation, run by volunteers, whose aim is to help the newly-arrived wives, husbands or partners of visiting scholars, of graduate students and of newly appointed academic and administrative members of the University to settle in and to give them the opportunity to meet people in Oxford.


How to apply to become an Academic Visitor of the GAS

Please send:

  • a letter of application giving the dates you wish to come of Oxford
  • a detailed curriculum vitae
  • a research proposal

The above information should be addressed to the Director of the Programme,
Dr Chigusa Yamaura, c/o

There is a fee payable of £300 per academic term


The University has three terms, called Michaelmas (October-December), Hilary (January-March) and Trinity (April-June).  Each term lasts eight weeks.