Digital Social Science

The Oxford Internet Institute (OII) is a world-leading department dedicated to understanding life online and notable for the unusual breadth of its multi-disciplinary approaches. Now that digital connections are embedded in almost every aspect of everyday life, research on individual, collective and institutional behaviour on the Internet is crucial to understanding the social, economic and political world. Our multidisciplinary faculty and graduate students use a diverse methodological toolkit to understand digital life.

Researchers at the OII have been funded by dozens of organizations including the major UK research councils (ESRC, EPSRC, AHRC), governmental bodies including the NHS, Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development, international bodies including OECD and UNESCO, private companies such as Google, BT, and Cisco, and foundations including Rockefeller, Alfred P. Sloan, Bill & Melinda Gates, and many others. For example, researchers at OII hold three highly competitive 5-year ERC grants on online labour markets (iLabour), on computational propaganda (PoliticalBots), and on Sub-Saharan Africa’s emerging information economies (Geonet).

The OII is also a joint venture/consortium partner in two large UK projects that represent multimillion strategic investments over the coming years: The Alan Turing Institute (ATI) and the PETRAS IoT (Internet of Things) Hub. These will give our students access to cutting edge research and researchers involved in data science and a digitally connected world.

Our teaching directly benefits from all these research collaborations.

Students play an active role in generating the OII’s vibrant research culture, through involvement with research projects and participation in weekly internal research seminars and an impressive programme of lectures and seminars.

Studentships are available in both the 1+3.5 and +3.5 formats. Students without a Masters degree meeting the ESRC 2015 Training Guidelines will start with one of the OII’s field-leading MSc degrees:

Students then can apply to progress to study at doctoral level. Students with an appropriate Masters degree that meets the ESRC’s 2022 Training Guidelines can enter directly onto one of the DPhil programmes (+3.5):


OII students are actively involved in knowledge exchange via industry funding for doctoral scholarships, by collaboration with non-academic partners on dissertation topics, and via internships or exchange programmes.

ESRC-funded students have carried out internships with the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, and alsohave worked with NHS England, whilst others have workedand have done research in collaboration with companies such as Google. The OII encourages students to undertake research that is closely linked to policy and practice, in keeping with the OII’s research portfolio. A co-funded knowledge exchange ESRC studentship with artist-rights organization DACS gives one of our current students access to thousands of working artists in the UK. Another ESRC doctoral student has an official role in the World Economic Forum’s Global Shaper programme.

Students who have completed the DPhil degree have gone on to academic positions at leading universities (Oxford, Leeds, Hong Kong, Ottawa, Edinburgh, Dalhousie, Michigan State, and others) as well as non-academic positions at a variety of firms (Google, Facebook, McKinsey, World Bank, and others).

Pathway leader: Dr Adam Mahdi


University of Oxford

Oxford Internet Institute (OII)
Structure of provision: 1+3.5, +3.5