PhD and MPhil in Mathematics

Applications for entry in 2018/19 are now open

The Department of Mathematics at the LSE is renowned for its research excellence within its areas of specialisation, which includes subjects in Mathematics that are applicable to the Social Sciences.Our research staff work in four broad disciplines - find out more about faculty in each area: Discrete Mathematics and AlgorithmsFinancial Mathematics and Control TheoryGame Theory, and Operations Research. Research is carried out over a wide range of specific areas, reflecting the diverse interests of our staff.  A complete list of all our researchers and their research interests can be accessed through our research page.


Opportunities for Research and Programme Structure

Supervision for MPhil/PhD research is available in combinatorics, combinatorial optimisation, computational learning theory, control theory, financial mathematics, game theory, graph theory, integer programming, mechanism design, polyhedral combinatorics, probabilistic analysis, theory of computation and algorithms, and in the applications of mathematics in areas such as inspections, network optimisation, telecommunications, transportation, and economics.

New students will initially be registered for the MPhil, and will be able to upgrade to PhD registration during their second year, depending on satisfactory progress (the MPhil has a maximum registration period of two years full-time). We do not consider applicants for the MPhil programme separately from the MPhil/PhD programme.

Taught Courses

In their first full year, all PhD students in the Department will attend four appropriate taught courses provided by either the London Taught Course Centre for PhD students in the mathematical sciences, or the London Graduate School in Mathematical Finance, depending on the focus of their research. Students may be asked to attend one or more courses from our Masters programmes (MSc Applicable Mathematics, MSc Financial Mathematics or MSc Operations Research & Analytics). In addition, students may substitute one or more of their taught courses for an LSE graduate course run by an associated department, with the approval of their supervisor(s).

Training, Seminars and Support

Training in established research techniques and development of a capacity in the student for original research in their chosen field of specialisation is provided through regular one-to-one meetings with the supervisor, as well as through directed reading. The final aim is to produce a thesis and subsequent publications that contribute to the development and understanding of the chosen area of mathematics. Please read our Programme Regulations for more information.

An important element of the training is participation in the various seminars organised by the Department (namely the Seminar on Combinatorics, Games, and Optimisation, the Joint Risk & Stochastics and Financial Mathematics Seminar and the co-hosted London Mathematical Finance Seminar). In addition, there are a number of seminars which are organised largely by and for research students on mathematical subjects, which they are required to contribute to at regular intervals:

Over the course of the year, the Department organises a number of personal development workshops for PhD students, designed to provide tailored support for specific areas of interest, such as careers, impact, final year processes, etc.

All research students in the Department are provided with some funding each year to encourage and support their research activities, such as conference attendance and purchasing books and technology. Additional research funds are also available, upon application.


Students will have access to the comprehensive facilities of the LSE Library and to the libraries of other colleges of the University of London. They will also benefit from the IT and other facilities available at the School.

Students are provided with their own workspace and Windows PC within the Department of Mathematics’ PhD study room.  This area was recently renovated, and has been modernised to become a professional, purposeful, and relaxed work environment. Students are thus offered a supportive environment within a community of scholars and are well-placed to pursue a career building on their research accomplishments. 

In addition to the space provided in Columbia House, a dedicated Postgraduate Common Room is available to students in 32 Lincoln's Inn Fields.  Students will also find the PhD Academy useful, a dedicated space and services hub for doctoral candidates.


How to apply

The Department of Mathematics welcomes applications to study for MPhil/PhD degrees. Enquiries about research study in the Department can be emailed to, before doing so, please read the information below, which also contains some useful links to additional information.

A formal application is submitted through Graduate Admissions, but prior to this, you should submit an informal application to the Department of Mathematics. More information about informal applications can be found below.

Key Details

Application Code: G1ZM

Duration: 3–4 years, full-time

Course detailshere

Note that we do not normally offer MPhil/PhDs on a part-time basis, and that progression from MPhil to PhD usually takes place between years 1 and 2.

Entry Requirements

The criteria for the offer of a place include:

  • Your academic qualifications: a UK taught master's degree (MSc) with merit/distinction in a relevant area of mathematics or a non-UK equivalent in a relevant area of mathematics. Specific guidance for international graduate students can be found here.
  • Your English language ability must meet the LSE’s minimum requirements for graduate students studying research programmes.
  • The ability of the Department to provide adequate and appropriate supervision, with particular reference to your research proposal. We do not expect you to provide extensive research proposals as part of your application. Your research proposal is useful, however, in giving a flavour of your direction, ambition, and interests.
  • An interview for all short-listed applicants (via telephone, Skype or in person), unless there are exceptional circumstances preventing this.

Application Notes

  • We do not normally offer MPhil/PhDs on a part-time basis; usually, only full-time applicants can be considered.
  • We do not consider applicants for the MPhil programme separately from the MPhil/PhD programme.
  • Applicants are not required to submit GRE or GMAT scores when applying for this degree programme.
  • Formal applications are handled by Graduate Admissions, so any queries relating to your application and its progress should be addressed directly to them. Further general information about the School and its graduate programmes can be found in the Graduate Prospectus and corresponding web pages.

Informal Applications: Financial Mathematics

Before submitting a formal application to Graduate Admissions, prospective students should send an informal application email to the Research Manager to enquire about the possibility of making a formal application. It is essential that you include:

  • Full academic transcripts covering all study to date.
  • An up to date CV.
  • A brief research proposal with (1) a clear indication of the specific questions and direction of your proposed study within Financial Mathematics, (2) a short summary of your motivation to undertake a PhD, detailing what areas of mathematics you find especially engaging and important. An extensive literature review is not required.

The Research Manager will forward all informal applications to the Financial Mathematics PhD admissions team for consideration. Thereafter, the Research Manager will communicate the admissions team’s decision. If a formal application is advised, this should be made to Graduate Admissions following the normal application procedure outlined above.  If a formal application is not encouraged, unfortunately we cannot offer feedback on our decisions.

Do not contact potential supervisors directly, unless instructed to do so by the Research Manager.

Informal Applications: All Other Areas of Mathematics

Before submitting a formal application to Graduate Admissions, we advise prospective students to first find out more about potential supervisors by looking at the list of staff and their interests, which can be found through our research page. You should then email an informal application to members of the Department whose research interests most closely resemble your own to discuss possible research projects, preferably in detail. It is essential that you include:

  • Academic transcripts covering all study to date.
  • An up-to-date CV.
  • A brief research proposal with (1) a clear indication of the specific questions and direction of your proposed study, and (2) a short summary of your motivation to undertake a PhD, detailing what areas of mathematics you find especially engaging and important. An extensive literature review is not required. 

When contacting academic members of staff you should list which other members of the Department you have contacted or intend to contact, and copy in the Research Manager.

Once an appropriate research topic and supervisor have been identified, prospective students will be encouraged to submit a formal application through Graduate Admissions, following the instructions above.

PhD student positions available in Operations Research

Starting in 2018/19, funding for a PhD position is available in the ERC project “Scaling Methods for Discrete and Continuous Optimisation”, led by Dr László Végh. The project focuses on problems and methods on the interface between discrete and continuous optimisation. Please see a brief summary of the project here.  Candidates interested in this position should contact Dr László Végh, , and send him the documents listed above.


The relationship between MPhil/PhD student and supervisor is of key importance for research students. It is also one of the most rewarding aspects of teaching and research for supervisors.  The supervisor will advise on taught courses, reading, sources of documentation and the development of a research design and framework for the thesis.  The supervisor will also read and comment upon draft chapters etc, and recommend such additional seminars, workshops, societies etc. that the student may wish to attend. 

Supervisors are selected during the application process. Students are assigned to:

  1. A principal supervisor with requisite knowledge in the student's chosen field
  2. An appropriate second supervisor.  Where appropriate, a second or joint supervisor may be appointed from another department, institute or programme.


 Frequently Asked Questions

What is your application deadline?

All applicants for MPhil/PhD who wish to be considered for School Studentships for entry in the following acedmic year need to apply by 8 January. The deadline for the second round of School Studentships is 26 April but it is highly recommended that you apply as soon as you are able.

See the Financial Support Office website for more information. 

Does the department provide any special facilities for PhD students?

We offer a fully-equipped PhD office with IT facilities located within the Department.  Further details will be provided on your arrival.

Can I teach an undergraduate class in the Department?

Yes. All mathematics MPhil/PhD students are eligible to apply for teaching.  Further details will be provided on your arrival.  (Those funded by LSE Studentships are required to undertake class teaching for the Department as part of the conditions of the Scholarship, amounting to a 14% value of their stipend).

Will I receive any additional funding to support conference attendance, book purchases, etc.?

Each registered PhD student in the Department is entitled to claim up to £500 per academic year towards their research expenses relating directly to your studies, such as the purchase of books or conference attendance. All claims must be accompanied by full receipts. 

Can I apply to start in the Lent Term (January) or Summer Term (April)?

Under execptional circumstances, starting in January may be permissable.  Starting in the Summer Term is not permitted.

What happens to applications once they reach LSE?

LSE Graduate Admissions Office processes all incoming applications. Applications are sent to the Department as they are processed. In the Department, the numbers and quality of competing applications and the availability of an appropriate supervisor are considered. If your application is shortlisted for consideration, an interview will be arranged with appropriate members of staff.  You will be notified of the outcome as soon as possible after the interview.  However, the whole process may take several months.

Will I be expected to attend an interview?

If you are shortlisted after making your application, you should expect to be interviewed, and to make yourself available for interview by telephone or Skype at a range of times offered by the Department.

I'm already enrolled in a PhD programme at another university and I would like to transfer to your PhD programme. How do I do that?

LSE does not accept transfer of credits. All MPhil/PhD applicants, regardless of previous academic experience, are required to complete a formal application. Previous research will be considered, but all students are initially registered as MPhil students by the School, are upgraded to PhD status according to the Department's standard policy and are required to fulfil the School's minimum registration requirements.

Do I need to submit GRE or GMAT results to be considered for the MPhil/PhD in Mathematics?

GRE or GMAT results are not required for our MPhil/PhD programme.

Can I apply to study part-time?

We do not normally offer MPhil/PhDs on a part-time basis but, on rare occasions, this may be viable.  

We would need to see evidence that an applicant:

    • Would be available to participate in activities that are essential to becoming an independent researcher (e.g. attend seminars, go to conferences, follow taught courses in their first year(s), etc.)
    • Can find mutual times to work with their proposed supervisor
    • Can spend sufficient time on their PhD research