PhD Programme

Doctoral Research at the Department of Economic History

As one of the largest Economic History departments in the world we offer unusually broad teaching and research expertise to our doctoral students. We are expanding our research programme and invite applications from those wishing to carry out research within the wide spectrum of economic history.

Our faculty's own research interests range from the medieval period to the current century, from Latin America to China via Africa and Europe, from questions about social well-being to ones on technology and finance, and from the history of economic ideas to the measurement of past human development and explanations for global trade patterns. Usually, entrants to our graduate research programme have completed a Master's degree in economic history, but we accept applications from those with a background in a related subject, for example, in history or one of the social sciences.  Students are also accepted for the so-called 1+3 programme, a 1 year MSc followed by a 3-year research programme. 

The major academic goal of a research student in the department is, of course, the researching and writing of a thesis, but members of our doctoral programme achieve much more than this. During the programme, we expect participation in departmental workshops and other seminars held within the University of London and, later, at conferences and seminars at other universities.

All students are expected to gain a broad knowledge of the subject from graduate level course-work in the first year which complements the deeper knowledge gained from intense thesis research. In addition, many of our research students take the opportunity to gain valuable teaching experience on undergraduate courses. Graduates of the programme have gone into a wide variety of careers, including university teaching and research posts, as wll as jobs at international economic agencies such as the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.

Current thesis topics in the department

These currently include: economic and structural change in Ghana and Zimbabwe in the 20th Century; the development of dissenting economics; the experience of the gold standard in Austro-Hungary and Italy; cloth dyers in London, 1600-1750; climate in Spanish development before the modern period; industrial clustering in Japan's computer industry; Islamic taxation in Pakistan; railway construction in 19th Century United States; Comparative economic policy in Spain and Argentina; comparative economic development in Argentina and Australia; development of pharmaceutical industry in 20th century Japan; Japanese laser industry; human capital and development in Europe.  

Admission requirements

Students are normally required to have passed a first degree at at least upper second class level or equivalent, and to have taken and passed at an adequate level a Masters degree in a relevant area of history or social science

Methodological training

First year research students  are required to take EH520 Approaches to Economic History, and are strongly advised to attend the induction programme provided by the Methodology Institute.  Students are also required to take EH401 and EH402, the core modules for MSc Economic History (Research) unless they have already taken this MSc.  Supervisors may require students in their first or subsequent  years of study to take other relevant methodological courses (including quantitative methods) provided by the Methodology Institute or the Institute of Historical Research, or other skills training courses as required for their thesis topic. 

Courses and seminars

All research students are required to attend and participate in the weekly EH590 Thesis Workshop in Economic History|. Supervisors may require the attendance of students at other relevant research seminars at LSE or elsewhere within the University of London. Students considered to lack appropriate knowledge of substantive areas of economic history may be required to take and pass one or more relevant MSc courses as a condition of acceptance.

Targets for progress

Year 1 - At the end of the Lent Term of the first year, students are required to present their work to the EH590 Thesis Workshop in Economic History. At the start of the Summer Term students are required to submit at least one draft thesis chapter and a 3-5 page thesis outline to the department's Graduate Review Committee. The Committee will interview all students and re-registration for a second year will be conditional on the work presented being of a satisfactory standard.  Students taking one or more MSc Exams may, with the support of their supervisor, be permitted to defer the submission of work until late in the Summer Term. 

Year 2 - By the Summer Term of the second year the Graduate Review Committee will normally expect to see about half the thesis in draft.  The Committee will interview all students, and if the work is of an acceptable standard, students will be upgraded from MPhil to PhD.  Students who are away on fieldwork throughout their second year may apply to defer the upgrade decision until the end of the third year. 

Targets for completion: The department takes the view that students who have already taken a relevant Masters degree should be able to complete a PhD thesis within three years of full-time study, and that no thesis should extend beyond four years of full-time study.

Part-time students

The department requires students to register fulltime in their first year of MPhil/PhD study, but permits part-time registration from the second or subsequent years.  Students who transfer to part-time registration are expected to submit work to the Graduate Review Committee towards the end of their third year for a decision about upgrading from MPhil to PhD.

PhD Student Handbook