MRes/PhD

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 an MA or MSc in social anthropology at a British university with a mark of Merit or Distinction.
  • If you have gained at least an upper second class honours degree in social anthropology from a British university, you should contact the Anthropology Department directly, as we may be able to apply for a special exemption to the standard entry requirements.

Students who do not qualify for direct admission to the MRes/PhD will normally be advised to take one of the one-year MSc programmes taught in our department before applying to the MRes/PhD: MSc Social Anthropology, MSc Anthropology and Development, MSc Anthropology and Development Management, MSc Law, Anthropology and Society, MSc China in Comparative Perspective and MSc Religion in the Contemporary World.

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 Graduate Selectors to discuss the problem in relation to your individual circumstances.

During the MSc, students may apply for admission to the MRes/PhD programme in the following year. Satisfactory completion of the MSc (with an overall mark of Merit or Distinction) is normally required before an offer of admission to MRes/PhD can be confirmed. Note that there are specific additional conditions for PhD admission for those who complete these programmes: details can be found here|

Students from the UK/EU holding ESRC 1+3 awards will normally be registered on the MSc Social Anthropology (Research) if they are offered a place. Nevertheless, all applicants wishing to study for the PhD should apply, in the first instance, for the MRes/PhD programme.

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.

Unlike comparable US doctoral programmes in anthropology, ours does not start with a significant coursework component (typically known in the US as the "qualifying year"), 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.

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 12 January 2015. 

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.

Post-fieldwork

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|.

If you have questions beyond those addressed in the Graduate Prospectus, please check the Department's FAQ| page before contacting the Department.

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