Preparing to submit your application: final checklist

This time of year marks the run-up to the MPP and DPhil application deadline, which falls on Friday 8 January 2021 at midday (GMT). The week before the deadline is an extremely busy time for the admissions teams both at the Blavatnik School and at the University of Oxford, so we strongly encourage you to submit your application and send any queries before the University closes for the winter break on Friday 18 December. To help you prepare to submit your application in good time, we’ve put together the below checklist, which is valid for both the MPP and DPhil (unless stated otherwise).

Front entrance to the Blavatnik School of Government. Image credit: Hufton+Crow.

But first, we recognise that this is a year like no other to be applying to the MPP and DPhil, and we wanted to share some content that you may find useful when thinking about how things might look next year.

We’re also delighted that our funding success has continued despite the pandemic, with this year’s class receiving the highest ever number of scholarships. While nobody can yet say for certain what things will look like this time next year (although there are many reasons for optimism with the news of various vaccine successes), the School will be prepared for any eventuality.

Admissions checklist for MPP and DPhil applicants

Curriculum Vitae (CV)

Full academic transcripts

  • Undergraduate degree must be included.
  • Postgraduate degree (if applicable) must be submitted in addition to the above.
  • If your final GPA and/or conferral degree date is not given on your transcript, the accompanying certificate must be included.
  • Where your transcript has not been issued in English, you must include the original documents in a foreign language and official English translations.
  • Interim transcripts for all incomplete degrees are essential.

Personal statement (MPP applicants only)

  • 800 words maximum.
  • Outlines your relevant academic and professional experience.
  • States your motivations for applying to the MPP (for some guidance on personal statement see this blog on what makes a good personal statement).

Statement of purpose and research proposal (DPhil applicants only)

  • Maximum 1,000 words for your Statement of Purpose.
  • Maximum 2,500 words for your Research Proposal.
  • Submit both pieces together as one document.

Written work

  • May be an excerpt from a longer piece – though it needs to be able to be read as a standalone piece.
  • May be a piece which has been previously assessed or published.
  • Must be a piece which is entirely your own work (not co-authored).
  • Referencing should be used where appropriate.
  • Two pieces for MPP applicants:
    • Policy brief or policy analysis essay: maximum 1,500 words.
    • Short essay relating to public service: maximum 400 words.
  • Two pieces for DPhil applicants: 2,000 words (maximum) per piece. Does not need to relate closely to the proposed area of study, but should permit the Admissions Committee to assess your analytic ability.


  • Three references must be submitted.
  • References must be submitted from an institutional email address or on institutional letterhead.
  • Professional referees must be able to comment on your academic and analytical ability as well as your general suitability for the course.
  • All three references must be received by the application deadline of 8 January 2021.
  • For MPP applicants:
    • At least one academic reference.
    • If you have completed, or are currently undertaking, master’s-level study, you must supply us with an academic reference from this degree (either instead of, or in addition to, an undergraduate academic reference).
  • For DPhil applicants:
    • Academic references strongly preferred.
    • At least one reference should be from your current or most recent academic institution.

English test (where applicable)

  • Include a copy of your test report form.
  • Tests taken prior to 27 September 2019 are invalid.
  • Full information on the requirements can be found on the ‘Qualifications, languages and funding’ section of the University’s Application Guide.

GRE/GMAT/LSAT (optional)

  • If you have taken a standardised test, you can add your scores to your application.
  • Include a copy of your test report form as a supporting document.

Finally, some questions to help you ensure you’ve covered everything:

  • Will you require an English test? How long will it take to book, take, and receive results from a test in your region?
  • Do you wish to upload scores and a report form for a GRE, GMAT or LSAT test you have taken?
  • Have you thought about how you will fund your studies if you are offered a place? See the School’s fees and funding webpages (for the MPP and the DPhil) for information on the major sources of funding.
  • Have you contacted your nominated referees to ensure they are willing and able to provide your reference by midday on 8 January? Are they aware they must provide this on institutional/organisational letterhead?
  • Is your listed contact email address one which you check regularly?
  • Will you require a Tier 4 student visa to study in the UK? Is your passport valid for the duration of the programme? If you are a European national, please read the most up-to-date Oxford University guidance.
  • Do you have a college preference, or would you prefer to make an open application?
  • If you are in employment, are you able to secure leave for the duration of the programme?

For a summary of the application requirements, please view the Graduate Admissions MPP pages and DPhil pages, and the Blavatnik School website. If you cannot find the answer to your question online, please email the admissions team.

Once you’ve submitted your application, why not take a look at some of our student profiles for an insight into student life, and follow us on Twitter/like our Facebook page to stay up-to-date with our latest research, events and activities.

We wish you the best of luck, and are looking forward to reading all of your applications!

Natalie Ham is a Communications and Marketing Assistant at the Blavatnik School of Government. This article was written in collaboration with the Blavatnik School’s Admissions team.

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