Information For Potential DPhil Students


Our research is conceptually driven. This means it is focused on particular questions rather then specific organisms (taxonomically driven). The main areas of research that I am willing to supervise DPhil’s on are social evolution and adaptation, both theory and empirical. The best way to see what I am currently interested in is to look at recent papers on my publication page. Also, I often have an option up on FindAPhd, and put things on Twitter. Co-supervision of DPhils is common.

This is an old and rarely updated webpage.

The DPhil is Oxford's equivalent of a Ph.D. Graduate admissions to the Department of Zoology, Oxford, as described here.

Sources of Funding

Broadly speaking, there are two sources of funding for DPhils at Oxford.

1. The main route is that you apply to a Doctoral Training Centre / Programme (DTC / DTP) - they fund for 4 years. The first year is usually general training and two lab placements (one with me and one with another person in Zoology or even a different department). Then you do the final three years in one lab, although could be a collaboration between labs/departments. The main deadline is usually in January. Some DTPs, e..g. Interdisciplinary Bioscience Training DTP, have another deadline in November. If there are two deadlines, there can be an advantage to applying to the earlier one, as more places are usually given then.

Zoology gets students from Interdisciplinary Bioscience Training DTP (BBSRC funded), Environmental Research DTP (NERC funded), Systems Biology DTC, and Life Sciences Interface DTC.
Different DTCs are better for different projects - e.g. more theoretical or more empirical.

2. The other route (direct) is that our department has a small number of studentships each year. There is only a small number of these and competition is very extreme, with them being given to the top students (including non-EU). If you get one of these, you are assigned to a specific supervisor(s) from the start. The deadline for  these is usually in January. As detailed on specific webpages, especially

Of course, people can also come with their own sources of funding.

What to do

Email with me, to discuss where our interests overlap, and hence possible projects.

Our department website provides background information, and the application procedure.

As part of the application, the student is expected to write a brief proposal explaining why they are interested in the project and on how they would like to tackle it. We don't expect candidate to necessarily know a lot about the field, we look for their ability to articulate scientific arguments independently.

If you would like to look at some of the PhD theses produced by previous students, then click here.


Older PhD students play a key role in helping younger students (photo shows Sarah Reece a few hours after her viva, 2003).