Research degree

MPhil/PhD International History



Studying history at the LSE is a great place to be an historian because London is so full of fantastic resources and historical work.

The Department of International History at LSE is one of the UK's leading centres of historical research.

PhD Programme Video PhD Programme Video
Watch Professor Matthew Jones on the opportunities and benefits of doing a PhD in International History at LSE.

Why study with us?

With its emphasis on the international and transnational context of historical developments, the Department of International History at LSE provides a supportive, but challenging environment for those individuals interested in undertaking a research project leading to a PhD in international history. The department currently has about 20 faculty engaged in innovative research who are ideally placed to supervise research students on a wide range of subjects. The Department of International History at LSE can offer a comprehensive range of special areas for research, ranging from the early 16th century to the late 20th century.

Proposals on all aspects of historical research from c.1600 onward are welcome, although more details on the department's particular areas of expertise are available on the people section or by looking at the publications listed on staff publications. Each year we receive a large number of applications from prospective PhD students from all over the world. The department currently has around 35 graduate research students in the department, from virtually every corner of the world, which provides a vibrant and friendly community at the heart of the PhD process. Our graduates teach in some of the best university departments in Britain and overseas, or work in the media, civil service or private and voluntary organisations. More details on the research degree programme and the department's research seminars can be found in the links at the side of this page.

Please note that we do not offer an online PhD degree.

London and LSE has much to offer anyone studying for a higher degree in history. The LSE International History Department is one of the leading history departments in the UK, and the main European centre for the study of international history. Working as part of the world's premier institution for social science research, the staff and students in the Department come from many different countries and continents, and contribute to the unique cosmopolitan experience of studying at LSE.

In London you will find important archives and libraries for international history, such as the Public Record Office, the British Library, and the libraries of the specialised schools of the University of London, such as the Institute of Historical Research, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the School of Slavonic and East European Studies. The LSE Library is one of the leading collections of materials for social science research, with substantial holdings in most of the key European languages.

MPhil/PhD degree

All research students admitted to the International History Department are initially registered for the MPhil degree in their first year. After eight months of study, students who want to be registered for a PhD have to submit the materials required for the upgrade. Most of the work the students undertake with their supervisors during the first year of study is geared toward passing the upgrade exercise.

Students registered for the MPhil/PhD in International History are required in their first year to attend the Department's research training programme HY501 – International History MPhil/PhD Research Training Workshop. The purpose of this workshop is to familiarise new MPhil/PhD students with the practical research and writing skills necessary for the preparation of a first-rate PhD thesis in history, and to discuss some general methodological and theoretical issues in international history as a research field. Students are also advised to attend relevant seminars organised within the School or in other colleges of the University of London.

As said above, in order to be upgraded from MPhil registration to PhD, you must prepare a dossier for submission (three hard copies) in the Summer Term of your first year of study, if you are a full-time student starting in the Michaelmas term. The review process is designed to determine whether the student will be able to meet the requirements of a PhD, and whether the chosen topic will be suitable for a doctoral dissertation. The Department uses the Code of Practice as a determinant of the general responsibilities of research students and their supervisors. All students should make an effort to familiarise themselves with its contents.

After the first year, the Department requires students to report formally on their progress at least twice a year. If their progress is deemed unsatisfactory by the Doctoral Programme Director or supervisor their position will be assessed and you will not be allowed to continue in the programme.

The Department expects that research students will submit their theses within four years and the reviews of student progress are geared to achieving that goal.

Supervision and thesis

If your application is accepted by the School, you will be assigned an academic supervisor within the Department. The teacher who will be assisting you is responsible for providing advice on selecting a topic, on the use of historical sources, on the writing process, and on how to successfully complete a thesis in history. Your supervisor is your first port of call on academic matters throughout your time in the Department, although he or she may advice you to consult other members of staff or members of other departments within the School for specific queries. The Research Student Advisor in the Department, who heads the research student programme, may also be consulted by all research students on questions relating to their programme.

For a list of potential academic supervisors please see the people's section.

The doctoral thesis is the core of the training at the PhD level. For most students, the thesis is the first major piece of writing you have put together, and it takes much preparation to complete successfully. You need to learn, first of all, about the ways historians interpret the past, and about how to find your own voice within the profession. You also need practical knowledge about how to prepare and organise for such a substantive undertaking as writing a thesis in history is. You have to learn about how archives work, and about how to carry out research in them. And, perhaps most important of all, you have to learn how to construct and argue for the key hypotheses of your work based on your original research, so that the thesis becomes an important addition to academic knowledge in the field.

The Department has developed a well-functioning framework in order to guide you through to the completion of your thesis within three to four years of your arrival here. While the supervisor will be your main guide throughout the process, there are a number of seminars available in the Department, at LSE, and in the University of London Institute for Historical Research that will be relevant to your work, from sessions on how to write a thesis to seminars that discuss overall historiographical developments in specific areas of international history. The PhD programme at LSE includes a international history workshop (compulsory for 1st year students), which helps prepare you for the research and writing process and introduces key methodological and historiographical topics. We also strongly encourage you to make use of the many opportunities that exist within the school and in London to receive further specialist training and to discuss your work and your interests with renowned experts in the field.

Funding and grants

Each year LSE offers over £11.5 million in scholarships to its graduate students. There are also funding opportunities from external organisations, research councils and governments around the world.

Read more about LSE's scholarships and studentships.

Registered PhD students in their final writing up stages can apply for financial support from LSE.

Read more about the in-course financial support for final stage PhD students scheme.

LSE's Postgraduate Travel Fund assists research students who are presenting at conferences related to their degree.

Read more about the Postgraduate Travel Fund.

LSE PhD students can apply for funding to undertake research for two to three months at one of our institutional partners.

Read more about the Partnership PhD Mobility Bursaries.

Further information

For more details, please consult the relevant sections of the LSE Calendar for research students and for the MPhil/PhD in International History.