Academic Visitors

Middle East Studies - Academic Visitors

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Middle East Studies has a programme for visiting academics to spend time in Oxford affiliated to the Middle East Studies unit to pursue an independent study project.

All scholars attached to the unit are expected to contribute to seminars, workshops and conferences and will be able to access many of the research and learning resources of Oxford University.

The principal motivation of the programme is to give visitors the time and space to work and research independently without too many demands on their time for administration or teaching.

MES is not able to provide assistance with any local logistics such as accommodation, schools, and travel bookings. We ask that you do not request these services from our administrative staff, but instead, refer to the guidance which you will receive.

MES is unable to offer any financial support for Academic Visitors.

MES may be able to provide desk space for an additional charge; this will be made clear when and if your application is approved.

You can view our current Academic Visitors' profiles here.

How to Apply

Application Procedure

If you would like to apply to be an academic visitor, please email the following to our Administrator using

  • Your CV
  • A proposal of the research you intend to carry out in Oxford
  • Two academic references
  • The dates you intend to be in Oxford (NB it is best to apply well in advance) 

In order for visitors to be considered, a member of academic staff at MES must agree to act as an academic mentor.  It is therefore essential that prospective visitors establish contact with a member of academic staff.  Our staff profiles may be found on our website.

Once we have received the four items above, your application will be considered by the MES committee. We will endeavour to let you know the outcome of your application within one month, however please bear in mind that we receive many enquiries, and not all academic visitor applications are accepted. For this reason it is best to apply well in advance.

If your application is approved, you will be asked to confirm the following:

  • The exact dates of your visit.
  • If you hold an EU passport. If not, you will need to check if you require a visa.
  • Your home institution and postal address for correspondence.
  • You accept to pay the affiliation fee.

Thereafter, we will issue you with a formal letter of invitation signed by your academic host/sponsor and a letter to support your visa application, if appropriate.

Affiliation Fee and Charges for Office Space

MES charges academic visitors a basic establishment fee of £2000 per calendar year or pro rata.

Desk space at OSGA is in high demand and is not usually available for academic visitors. However, if available, MES visitors may rent a desk for £1500 per year (pro rata).

In addition we estimate that an Academic Visitor would need approximately £1200 per month for modest living expenses.


Accommodation in Oxford isn’t like it is in some other institutions which may have their own hostels for visitors. Finding accommodation for a short stay in Oxford (less than 6 months) can be difficult and the rental markets mean it is rarely cheap. It is essential that you start looking for accommodation as soon as you know that you will be coming to Oxford. Although a relatively small city, there are several different localities within Oxford, each with their own unique character. Middle East Studies is located in North Oxford, between St Giles, Jericho and Summertown. The areas closest to the School at 12 Bevington Rd are the most expensive! Do not discount those areas that are slightly further (e.g. Marston, Headington, Iffley Road, Cowley Road, Abingdon Road, Botley Road)  –prices there can be significantly lower.

Great places to start looking for accommodation are

1. Commonwealth House

2. the North Oxford Overseas Centre

3. information in the Daily Info

4. If you have a prior connection with a member of an Oxford college, college accommodation may sometimes be available.

Oxford is blessed with excellent public transport, and there are many  buses connecting the city to the outlying areas. In addition, Oxford is an excellent city for cycling, and provided that you are happy to cycle on the left-hand side of the road, you can travel quickly from one part of the city to another.


UK immigration law is changing constantly. As soon as your visit is confirmed, we advise you to check with the UK visa application centre in your country. Please read through the information available on the website of the UK Border Agency(UKBA).

You must check all the immigration requirements and restrictions well in advance, and make sure that you know under what status you will enter the UK. The type of visa you need will depend on the duration of your stay in the UK and your nationality.

Plan ahead, and make sure that you have copies of all the relevant paperwork with you on arrival in the UK, including the formal letter of invitation issued by MES.

Applications should be sent in the first instance to:

Programme Administrator


Objectives of the Programme

Areas of Research

Middle East Studies welcomes suitably qualified academics from the Middle East and elsewhere who wish to contribute to the research and activities of our centre. The research focus of MES falls into various broad academic disciplines

  • Anthropology and Culture
  • Development Studies
  • Economics
  • Human Development and Poverty
  • Politics
  • Environment
  • International Relations and Security
  • Political Economy

Your research should fall within one of the broad areas defined above.

Please note that MES does not accept visitors whose research is in linguistics, literature, law or history, as those disciplines are not taught within our unit.  

Please note, the programme is intended to give academic visitors the time, space and access to research materials to work on an independent study project.  Visitors will have the opportunity at their own initiative be able to meet people and participate in a wider research/ learning environment but this will not generally be facilitated by MES. 

Visitor stays should be planned to coincide with a minimum of one or more Oxford terms, in order to take advantage of opportunities to interact with research staff and students and to attend events in MES.  The three University terms are as follows:

  • Michaelmas (Autumn/Fall): October-December
  • Hilary (Spring): January-March
  • Trinity (Summer): April-June

You can check the exact dates by searching for dates of term on the main University website. Between June and September there is very little activity within MES and wider University due to exams. The minimum stay for visitors is one month, and the maximum is one year.

Please note that we receive many more applications than we are able to accept, and it is best to apply at least six month in advance of the date you wish to start in Oxford.

What We Expect of You
We ask all our visitors to agree to the following:

  • To pursue an independent research project.
  • To be aware of the research materials/ libraries/ archives of Oxford University in advance of your visit and to initiate your own efforts to secure access to those relevant for your research
  • To participate in Middle East Studies events and seminars.
  • To be aware of and attend any workshops or conferences as appropriate to your area of research.
  • To provide a short profile about your research activity that may be added to the MES website.

What You can Expect from Us
MES is able to provide the following:

  • A university card, which gives access to the Bodleian Libraries of the University, including online journals.
  • The sponsorship of an academic member of Department, who will meet with you when you arrive and provide (very limited) guidance and feedback on your work.
  • Very occasional advice and introductions to help you attend workshops, conferences and seminars in Oxford.

MES is not able to provide assistance with any local logistics such as accommodation, schools, and travel bookings. We ask that you do not request these services from our administrative staff, but instead refer to the guidance which you will receive.

The Role of the Academic Host/Sponsor
As an academic visitor you are expected to work independently and be responsible for your own research activities whilst in Oxford. Your academic host/sponsor is there for the following:

  • To sign your official letter of invitation and visa letter (if appropriate)
  • To introduce you to MES, relevant academic colleagues, and suggest activities/events in which you may wish to participate.
  • To provide occasional and limited comments on your research work, depending on the time and availability of the host/sponsor themselves.

Academic terms in Oxford are only eight weeks long and extremely intensive! For that reason, your academic host/sponsor is unlikely to be able to meet with you on a regular basis.