Statement of Research Interests/Research Proposal
You should submit a research statement of about two pages describing the general area of research in which you are interested. You should summarise the research in this area that you are aware of, referring to existing papers where appropriate. You could also describe a research problem and your initial ideas on research work towards solving this or open problems. You should include your relevant skills and experience, your reasons for applying to Oxford, and list some of the principal reasons why you consider yourself a strong applicant.
It is helpful, but not essential, to identify a likely supervisor. You should look at the web pages of potential supervisors working in your area of interest and even read some of their publications. You should make it clear why the potential supervisor's work interests you and why they would be the best supervisor for you.
If you already have a research proposal in mind then we welcome this instead of the above statement.
You should be aware that the statement of research interests will not commit you to carry out the exact research work you have described and we would expect your interests to evolve and change over the course of study.
Contacting a Supervisor
You can contact potential supervisors directly but remember they are very busy and may not reply immediately. You should be brief and include some information about your background, your research interests and any relevant experience. You might like to introduce yourself by explaining why their work interests you enough to motivate you to apply to study with them for the next 3 or 4 years and you may have read some of their publications. Alternatively you may prefer to send your email to the Graduate Studies Administrator who can send to potential supervisors on your behalf.