Oxford Postgraduate Character Development Programme (OPCDP)
TWCF Number
Project Duration
October 1 / 2014
- September 30 / 2017
Core Funding Area
Character Virtue Development
Amount Awarded
Grant DOI*

* A Grant DOI (digital object identifier) is a unique, open, global, persistent and machine-actionable identifier for a grant.

Lionel Tarassenko
Institution The Oxford Pastorate

This project aims to address a deficit in virtue ethics and moral formation of university students. We will focus on giving postgraduate students at The University of Oxford opportunities for character development, which will equip them for the positions of power and influence for which postgraduate study prepares them. We hope to achieve this aim through practical opportunities for character virtue development and a cluster of research investigations. 

The project will offer a focused programme of practical action. Good character has always been closely associated with balance, the harmonious interplay of a range of complementary virtues; so we will offer postgraduates the chance to develop a balanced and harmonious character. As they progress through the programme, they will develop their understanding of which virtues constitute good character, which virtues are most important for those destined for leadership, and which virtues they most need to develop for themselves. At every stage, they will be offered tools, support, and opportunity to develop these virtues.

We will focus our activity and research on four key virtues: sense of vocation, the virtue of believing I have an orienting purpose that transcends mere personal success or flourishing; attitude of service, the virtue of being appropriately other-focused, rather than merely self-focused, in my goals and actions; thanksgiving, the virtue of recognizing that I am not solely responsible for all that I have received and all the good that I have enjoyed; humility, the virtue of seeing myself as I truly am and, therefore, of being able to appreciate value in others, being open to new ideas, and willing to revise my own positions.

The project will offer a focused programme of research. As the postgraduate community represents a new, uncharted context for character development, it is essential that practical action is closely integrated with a programme of research. The contribution of our tightly focused research project to the wider character-research discourse would arise out of: our unique focus on postgraduates; our access to exceptional co-investigators and mentors with a wealth of practical experience in postgraduate character development that this project will draw out and make explicit; the way our research is embedded in a practical character development programme.

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