Students Desk

PhD Social Research Methods

This programme offers the chance to undertake a substantial piece of work that is worthy of publication and which makes an original contribution to the field of methodology or which applies advanced methodology to an applied research problem. You will begin on the MPhil, and will need to meet certain requirements to be upgraded to PhD status.

Information for prospective students

You will benefit from the knowledge and expertise of staff whose disciplinary backgrounds include political science, statistics, sociology, social psychology, anthropology and criminology. There are a variety of advanced-level courses, seminars and workshops in research design, quantitative analysis and qualitative methods available for you to attend. 

The Department of Methodology at LSE supports both standalone qualitative and quantitative research, as well as interesting ways of combining them. We encourage applications from candidates who demonstrate an interest in a substantive area of research and particular methodological approach, aiming at a methodological development. This could involve collecting innovative new data, new analytic techniques, method comparison, evaluation or validation, method critique, applying existing methodology in new contexts, or cost-benefit analysis of methodologies.

The Department of Methodology welcomes applications from prospective students for the PhD in Social Research Methods, both full-time and part-time.

Please see the Calendar for an outline of the programme structure.

For ideas on current and recent research topics, please see individual current student profiles.

Application procedures

Applications are handled by the LSE Graduate Admissions Office. Official information about the application procedures can be found here.

We welcome applications for research programmes that complement the academic interests of members of staff at the School, and we recommend that you investigate staff research interests before applying.

See the LSE Experts Directory for more information

We carefully consider each application on an individual basis, taking into account all the information presented on your application form, including your:

- academic achievement (including existing and pending qualifications)
- personal statement
- references
- CV
- research proposal
- sample of written work.

See further information on supporting documents

Minimum entry requirements for MPhil/PhD Social Research Methods

Applicants to the doctoral programme in the Department of Methodology (Mphil/PhD in Social Research Methods) should possess, as a minimum, a high level pass in an appropriate Master’s degree, together with at least an upper second class honours degree or equivalent in an appropriate subject from a UK university or its equivalent elsewhere. Graduates from the Department’s own Master's degree must normally have achieved an average mark of 65% or better overall (pass mark, 50%), plus preferably higher in their Dissertation, to be eligible for admission to the doctoral programme.

Competition for places at the School is high. This means that even if you meet our minimum entry requirement, this does not guarantee you an offer of admission.

See international entry requirements

When to apply

Deadlines for submitting an application are tied in with deadlines for consideration for LSE research scholarships and Research Council studentships. In order to be considered for these scholarships, an applicant aiming to start in the autumn has to submit their completed application by 10th January 2020 for the first round of scholarship decisions and by 27th April 2020 for the second round. Early applications are more likely to be considered for funding. The deadline for the second round, on 26th April 2020, is also the last day when completed applications for MPhil/PhD in the Department of Methodology may be submitted, even for applicants who do not require funding from these scholarships.

Research proposal requirements

The Department of Methodology requires you to submit a proposal summarising and justifying your proposed research, to be attached to your formal application. This will provide the selectors with an idea of the topics of interest, and help in matching candidates to potential supervisors.

The research proposal should include the following questions:

  • Why is the topic interesting? What is the central research question? Is there a theoretical and empirical 'gap' that your research will seek to fill? Is there a theoretical or empirical contradiction that your research will seek to resolve? How will your research take our understanding forward in your chosen field? What core theories and concepts will you draw on?
  • What are the relevant literature(s) and field(s) the work will contribute to? What are the main theories in the area? What are the critical empirical phenomena in the area? Specify the key references relevant to the proposed research.
  • How will you address the empirical aspects of the research? What empirical (qualitative and/or quantitative) information do you propose to collect, how, from where, and why? What methodology of analysis is appropriate and why? If the research question requires a combination of different methodologies, how will they be related? Do you foresee any practical difficulties in pursuing the research (e.g., finding suitable participants or data sources)? If so, how might they be overcome?

Writing sample

MPhil/PhD students are also required to submit with their application a sample of academic writing in English.

Interview

All candidates who are shortlisted as candidates for admission to the MPhil/PhD programme will be interviewed by their potential supervisors and/or the Doctoral Programme Director. Interviews can be conducted in person or on the telephone or via Skype/other video conferencing facilities. The department will contact the candidates to arrange the interview.