MSc MIGRATION STUDIES
This interdisciplinary nine-month masters introduces students to key concepts, research and analysis in the economics, politics, sociology and anthropology of migration. It enables students to understand the nature of both internal and international migration and its role as an intrinsic part of broader processes of development, social change and globalisation, in order to gain a more theoretical and comprehensive understanding of human mobility.
Offered jointly by the School of Anthropology and the Oxford Department of International Development, the course draws on the intellectual resources of its two parent departments and the three world-leading migration research centres at Oxford (COMPAS, IMI and RSC).
The MSc in Migration Studies prepares students to work in an expanding area of international and policy concern. It also offers students social science training that will facilitate progression to doctoral studies in the University of Oxford and elsewhere.
The degree has four main taught components, in addition to a 15,000 word dissertation:
- International migration in the social sciences
- Migration, globalisation and social transformation
- Thematic and regional options
- Methods in social research
Core lectures and seminars cover:
- Key concepts in the economics, politics, sociology and anthropology of migration, public policy and migration law; different approaches to migration studies; types of human migration and mobility; and the history and development of migration studies.
- Theories of migration; migration and development; migration and socio-cultural change; the role of states, migration policies and legal pluralism; diasporas, transnationalism and creolisation.
- A theoretical, substantive and practical understanding of qualitative and quantitative social science research methods appropriate to the study of migration.
- A fortnightly critical discussion class on keywords: a key to migration debates and social thought.
For further information about the structure of the degree, please click here.
Teaching on the degree is provided by leading scholars in the field, who draw on their own research to illustrate theoretical, ethical, methodological and practical issues. It is problem-focused and aims to give students critical analytical skills.
The degree is taught through a combination of lectures, seminars and tutorials; a critical discussion class and student-led presentations; essays and library work leading to a dissertation. The course admits around 25 students each year and students have individual dissertation supervision.
The MSc in Migration Studies 2015-16 is convened by Associate Professor Dace Dzenovska, and staff teaching on the degree include:
- Professor Bridget Anderson, COMPAS (politics and sociology, labour migration, trafficking, gender)
- Dr Cathryn Costello, RSC/Law (European Union law; constitutional and administrative law; labour/employment law; human rights law, immigration and asylum law)
- Associate Professor Franck Düvell, COMPAS (sociology, irregular migration, migration policies and the European enlargement)
- Professor Michael Keith, COMPAS (sociology and geography, cities, social integration, Europe and China)
- Dr Sarah Spencer, COMPAS (public policy, migration and human rights, UK and Europe)
- Dr Nicholas Van Hear, COMPAS (anthropology and development studies, forced migration, diaspora, conflict, development, South Asia and Africa)
- Dr Carlos Vargas-Silva, COMPAS (economics of migration, remittances, migration and development, Latin America, US)
Teaching Excellence Awards
Evelyn Ersanilli, Departmental Lecturer on the MSc in Migration Studies, was awarded a 2014 Teaching Excellence Award, and was shortlisted for the Student Union Teaching Award. Mette Louise Berg received the award in 2013, and two of our teaching staff received this award in 2012: Nando Sigona and Agnieszka Kubal.
I decided to apply for the MSc in Migration Studies to obtain a theoretical and conceptual understanding of migration. The course attracts students from a variety of academic backgrounds, which makes for very interesting debates. Being an interdisciplinary subject, migration can provide a lens into many other areas of interest, and the course not only gave us the freedom to explore other subjects, but it also equipped us with the necessary skills to do so.
Sebastien Rojon, Graduated 2013
I would recommend the MSc in Migration Studies to anyone seeking to understand what migration actually is. The decision to apply stands out as one of the most important I’ve made and my year in Oxford was tremendously rewarding: the quality of the course was outstanding, and the lecturers’ broad knowledge and enthusiasm spurred my personal interest in further academic research on migration.
Cathrine Eide, Graduated 2013
The MSc in Migration Studies course challenged me to become a more critical thinker and writer by encouraging me to move beyond analysis to really question and resist certain assumptions and biases inherent in literature, policy, methodology, pedagogy, etc. I came away with a renewed sense of confidence in my ability to deconstruct and develop an argument that I believe is relevant regardless of whether you are embarking upon a new career or life as a PhD student.
Cresa Pugh, Graduated 2013
The topic of migration is an infinitely complex one and the MSc in Migration Studies has strived to cover this phenomenon from a variety of theoretical perspectives. I particularly enjoyed critical engagement with key concepts utilized in migration studies, such as illegality, the nation, the state, mobility and development. My experience on the MSc in Migration Studies has been on the whole a very positive one. The course helped me develop both a holistic as well as a nuanced understanding of the many processes embedded in migration.
Suzana Carp, Graduated 2011
The MSc in Migration Studies seeks to prepare students for further social science research, or for a career within the increasing number of organisations – public and private, national and international – concerned with migration issues.
Our graduates have gone on to doctoral degrees, law school, research and consultancy. Many are now employed by organisations such as the European Commission, ILO, IOM, UNICEF, RAND, Red Cross, Red Crescent, think tanks, national governments and leading universities around the world.
The MSc in Migration Studies at Oxford was a whirlwind of information and teaching, with a remarkable group of dedicated and passionate students. It only dawned on me after I left just how much we managed to cover in only 9 months, enabling me to take away a thorough general knowledge on migration patterns, issues and theory as well as detailed insights into the topics that interested me the most. The prestige of the course has opened doors for me in Geneva, Ghana and Amsterdam, and the scope of the course allowed me to take on internships on subjects from regional governance of migration, to migration as a route out of poverty. I have now embarked upon a PhD at VU Amsterdam on the relationship between migrant mortality and border policies in the Mediterranean, giving me a chance to put into practice and build upon the research methods and instruction I received at Oxford.
Tamara Last, Graduated 2012
After my time at Oxford, I have been pursuing a JD (Juris Doctor) at Harvard Law School. At HLS, I have been working at the Immigration and Refugee Clinic, which is designed to guide law students provide pro bono legal services to those with precarious immigration statuses. This winter, I will be traveling to Ramat Gan in
Israel to work at the Clinic for Migrants’ Rights at the College of Law and Business.
The MSc in Migration Studies provided an excellent transition from a purely academic to direct services involvement with immigration law. As an immigrant, I had always been interested in ideas of belonging and citizenship. The taught courses on the MSc helped me ground those ideas in an interdisciplinary platform. I learned about how the states’, the communities’, and the individual’s ideas of belonging played out on economic, political, anthropological, and transnational stages. This interdisciplinary ability to consider how the act of moving across borders affects both individual and systematic actors has helped me serve my clients better. Further, it has helped me recognize the possible areas for improvement in our current immigration law and policy, which gives me inspiration for future work.
The MSc also prepared me for the rigors and structure of a JD program by helping me make habits of critical thinking and writing, planning and organisation, and research. However, the most meaningful thing I gained from my year at Oxford was the lasting personal and professional relationships I forged with coursemates and friends throughout the university.
Sussan Lee, Graduated 2012
A student wishing to read for the MSc in Migration Studies has to be accepted first by the two departments offering the degree (ODID and SAME), and then by a college. You will find a list of those colleges which accept students on the MSc in Migration Studies here (enter ‘Migration Studies (Master of Science)’ from the Programme of Study drop-down list).
At least a good upper second class honours degree in a social science is normally required. Entrance is, however, very competitive and most successful applicants have a first class degree or its equivalent (such as a 3.8 GPA in the USA).
It is also possible for students who have not specialised in a social science to read for the MSc in Migration Studies. Special consideration may be given to those with professional backgrounds in the migration field, such as those who have worked in relevant government departments, international agencies or civil society organisations. You will find more detailed Admissions Criteria here.
Various scholarships are available for the MSc course, including three ESRC migration studies pathway scholarships available through Oxford's ESRC Doctoral Training Centre. For more information see:
In addition to these dedicated Migration Studies scholarships, our students have in the past received funding from the Rhodes Trust, the Clarendon Fund and Weidenfeld.
For further advice and to view information on other funding sources, please visit the University’s main fees and funding pages.
This podcast series gives insight into the MSc in Migration Studies offered at Oxford University. You can listen to a discussion with lecturer Mette Berg and four students: Saskia Blume, Tess Hellgren, Katyana Melic, Gustavo Rangel Guerrero, as well as an introductory panel discussion between course lecturers about 'Why people migrate'.
2015-16 course handbook to be available from late September.
Any enquiries about the MSc in Migration Studies should be addressed to the MSc Course Co-ordinator at: firstname.lastname@example.org