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Pascal Mowla

The Department of Politics and International Relations has an outstanding reputation […] and is home to so many fantastic academics.

What made you decide to study at Oxford?

“Oxford does a lot of work to provide its students with opportunities to further their career ambitions.”

As an aspiring political philosopher, Oxford possesses an allure which few institutions can match. Prior to joining Oxford, I had undertaken degrees in philosophy departments but I always knew that my research interests lied mainly within political and moral philosophy. The Department of Politics and International Relations has an outstanding reputation for producing great research in political philosophy and is home to so many fantastic academics. Knowing that I would have the opportunity to become a part of this community with so many people doing work of great interest to me was very attractive. Additionally, I was aware that I would have opportunities to engage with Oxford’s philosophy department through seminars and lectures which would allow me to continue to engage with work in neighbouring philosophical fields. Finally, I also took some comfort in the fact that Oxford does a lot of work to provide its students with opportunities to further their career ambitions. In an increasingly competitive job market, this is crucially important when searching for work either in or outside of academia.   

How did you find the application process, and do you have any advice for others preparing to apply?

“Make a sincere effort to reach out to potential supervisors to see if they would be interested in working with you and do not hesitate to contact research students.”

As with many institutions, the application process can be rather opaque. My advice to prospective students would be to do your research on the university, department and any potential colleges before applying or accepting an offer. Think about why you want to attend Oxford in particular and what you want to get out of your experience here. If you’re applying for a research degree, make a sincere effort to reach out to potential supervisors to see if they would be interested in working with you and do not hesitate to contact research students within your prospective department in order to learn more about the research environment.

What do you think the benefits of the collegiate system are for postgraduate students?

“The MCR is a hub of social activity to which you can retreat after a long week of studying, research, or tutoring.”

The collegiate system offers students the chance to engage with a much wider academic community and the MCR is a hub of social activity to which you can retreat after a long week of studying, research, or tutoring. Completing a doctoral degree can be quite an isolating experience at times, but Oxford’s collegiate system does well to insulate doctoral students from some of the worst aspects of this experience. Additionally, being a member of a college also affords other opportunities to get involved with societies and intercollegiate sports which may enrich your student experience.

What do you enjoy about being a member of Oriel’s MCR community?

As a relatively new member of Oriel’s MCR, I feel that there is still much to explore. Having said that, Oriel’s MCR community stands out to me as being perhaps one of the friendliest in Oxford. Senior members of the MCR are warm and welcoming, and this sets the tone for a convivial atmosphere in which it is easy to network and make new friends. The MCR itself is a fantastic space with a well equipped but very affordable bar, social events are also well organised and attended throughout the year.

What do you like the most about being an Orielensis?

“There is a great college spirit at Oriel which helps to foster a sense of community and belonging.”

I think that there is a great college spirit at Oriel which helps to foster a sense of community and belonging. In addition to the college’s renowned sporting prowess, there are further opportunities to engage in the political or social life of the college which are equally active and rewarding.