The MRes/PhD programme has been a key element in the life of the Department for many years. We place the highest priority on the field research of our postgraduate students and on their professional development. Our programme has a strongly international character, with students from a range of cultural and academic backgrounds. 

For a full list of current PhD students, along with the titles of past dissertations in the Department, see Current Research Students.

Admissions requirements

We are especially interested in receiving applications for research in topic areas which reflect the interests and expertise of our members of staff. 

For a list of our departmental research interests, see Departmental staff.

For specific guidance on completing your research statement for the PhD application, please click here (pdf).

Please note that in order to be considered for direct admission to the MRes/PhD programme you must have completed a degree in Social Anthropology, normally from a British university. You must have either a BA/BSc degree with a mark of 2:1 or higher (or the equivalent) or an MA or MSc with a mark of Merit or Distinction (or equivalent).  

Students who do not hold a degree from a British university do not normally qualify for direct admission to the MRes/PhD and they will be advised to take one of the one-year MSc programmes taught in our department (MSc Social Anthropology; MSc Social Anthropology (Learning and Cognition); MSc Social Anthropology (Religion in the Contemporary World); MSc Anthropology and Development; MSc Anthropology and Development Management; or MSc China in Comparative Perspective), or the LSE Law Department’s MSc Law, Anthropology and Society before applying to the MRes/PhD. Note that there are specific additional conditions for PhD admission for those who complete these programmes: details can be found here.  

When considering this requirement, you should bear in mind that, unlike comparable overseas doctoral programmes in anthropology, ours does not start with a significant coursework component, but instead focuses from the start on research preparation. Taking an MSc programme before you begin this preparation for fieldwork at the MRes level will:

• help ensure that you have a reasonably solid grounding in the basic principles of social anthropology before your fieldwork; and

• give you time, while in residence in our Department, to clarify your ideas about the research you intend to carry out.

Note that if you will be supported by a scholarship which can be held only for a research degree and not for a taught MSc degree, you should write directly to the Department's Doctoral Programme Director to discuss the matter in relation to your individual circumstances.  

During a taught MSc, students may apply for admission to the MRes/PhD programme in the following year. Completion of the MSc (with at least an overall mark of Merit) is required before any offer of admission to MRes/PhD can be confirmed.  Please note: acceptance on an MSc course does not automatically entitle a student to progression to the MRes/PhD; a new application must be made.

Each year we receive queries from overseas students with considerable experience of anthropology who wish to be admitted directly onto the MRes/PhD programme. Please note, however, that UK PhD programmes are normally very different in structure from those in the US and elsewhere - and in most cases they are significantly shorter in duration.

Funding opportunities and application deadlines

Funding for this programme is available through the LSE PhD Studentships Scheme and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Studentship Scheme.

In addition, one special ESRC funded PhD Studentship will be available for applicants working on the general theme of inequality and poverty in India who seek to address the case of marginalised people such as Adivasis and Dalits. Please see details on the Programme of Research for Inequality and Poverty

Although applications are considered on a rolling basis, please be aware that some
funding deadlines are very early. For this reason, we strongly recommend that your application has been submitted (and is complete, including all references and transcripts) by 9 January 2017. 

For full details of all funding opportunities, please visit the LSE's Financial Support Office (FSO) webpages.

Pre-fieldwork training and fieldwork

The first year of our MResl/PhD programme focuses on research preparation and methodological training.  (As noted above, Home/EU students holding ESRC 1+3 awards may be registered as MSc Social Anthropology (Research) students during this year.)

Students take courses and seminars based in the Department of Anthropology. Depending on their qualifications and background, they are also be asked to take additional general coursework in social anthropology by attending a lecture course in, for example, Kinship or Religion.

Throughout the pre-fieldwork year, the main work of students will be to prepare - in close consultation with their supervisors - a formal research proposal (of 10,000 words).  These are formally examined by the Department. Students are normally upgraded from MRes to PhD registration if their proposals have been approved, and if they have achieved the required marks on their methodology coursework. 

They are then allowed to proceed to fieldwork. Students registered for the MSc (Research) will be upgraded in the same way.

During fieldwork - depending on the practicalities of communication - students are expected to maintain close contact with their supervisors about the progress of their work.  Most of our students carry out fieldwork of approximately 18 months duration.


After fieldwork, doctoral candidates begin writing their PhD dissertations under the close supervision of members of staff.  During this period of their studies, they attend weekly thesis-writing seminars, and fortnightly seminars on recent developments in anthropology as well as departmental seminars on anthropological theory. Most students are able to complete their dissertations one or two years after their fieldwork has ended.

Please click for the home page of the online Graduate Prospectus, which contains further information and details on application to the programme. Follow this link for the prospectus page about the MRes/PhD Anthropology.