How to contact us
Geography & Environment
Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE

PhD enquiries
Sam Colegate||
+44 (0)20 7955 6089

Department Manager
Elaine Gascoyne||

Fax: +44 (0)20 7955 7412

PhD Programme in Human Geography


Our PhD programme is flexible; much emphasis is placed upon a combination of research training courses and personal direction by a supervisor. Doctoral students are required (primarily in the first year of registration) to attend training courses in methodology and theory offered both within the Department and in the LSE Methodology Institute, and to present work to other graduates in the Department. Supervisors may also recommend attendance at other lectures or training courses as appropriate. Acceptance to study for a PhD assumes a degree of research basic training and knowledge of the sub-discipline of Human Geography. For those applicants who do not have a an MSc in research training or in a subject htat is very closely related to their research topic, we offer an introductory MSc programme 'MSc Human Geography Research'. It is recommended that students first take this degree and then progress to the Doctoral research.

Students and topics

Choosing a topic can be difficult, but careful thought and planning at the proposal stage can save time and effort later on. The Department is host to a variety of students researching on apparently very disparate topics. However, we do require a good fit between the research interests of the student and the supervisor, so it is worthwhile checking the details of staff members and guidance on the preferred research topics. You may also wish to view the topics of current students. In general, we favour applications that fit within our four research clusters:

  • Economic Geography and Regional Science
  • Environmental Policy and Governance
  • Cities
  • Development

For more details about preferred research topics and potential supervisors, click here|.

Students' background

We make a distinction between students who come to us with an MSc in research training or in a subject that is very closely related to their research topic (+3 students), and those that do not have such a background (1+3 students). 1+3 students will be admitted to the MSc Human Geography Research with a view to progressing onto a research degree after successfully completing that MSc with an overall 65% or above Merit grade plus a mark of at least 70 (Distinction) in the dissertation component (GY499) and having established a viable research proposal. +3 students will be admitted directly onto the research degree programme. Where they have done a research training MSc, they will be exempt from most of our research training programme; holders of other relevant MSc degrees will take those elements of our research training programme that are considered necessary by their supervisor and the Graduate Director.

Applying for a place on a PhD programme

A central element in any application is the proposal for the PhD to be studied. If you do intend making an application it is suggested that you produce a 2-4 page research proposal that clearly identifies: the research question; its relationship to other work in the field; the proposed method and the likely availability of information to be required; and an indicative timetable. The department will then be able to provide you with the appropriate feedback to indicate how your proposal may fit into the Department, and whether it has the appropriate supervisory resources.

The proposal is important for three reasons. First, it allows us to assess if we have appropriate staff for supervision of the topic. Second, it allows you to systematically think through the central idea of your planned research. Third, it allows the Department to judge whether the topic is viable itself. We have found that prior thought and planning at the proposal stage is vital for the speedy and successful completion of a PhD thesis. We normally expect completion at, or very close to, 36 months of full time equivalent registration.

In addition to submitting the proposal, subject to the criteria above, you will need to have obtained an overall 65% or higher final grade on your previous Masters degree and at least a distinction in your dissertation for the same degree. If you have international qualifications and are unsure about the equivalence of your qualifications, please contact the LSE Graduate Admissions team.

PhD training programme aims and objectives

  • To provide a common grounding for a human geography research scholar embarking upon PhD study. 
  • To develop awareness of the geographical tradition and its development, as well as the methodologies associated with human geography and its cognate social sciences. 
  • To appreciate the relationship between the student's own topic and the broader issues in contemporary human geography. 
  • To develop competencies in areas directly related to the student's thesis topic. 
  • To provide a supportive and relevant graduate community. 
  • To develop self-awareness of the additional training needs for further study.

Requirements and exemptions

These are varied due to the wide range of needs of postgraduates. Basically they are divided into two parts: a core set of skills and knowledge, and a specialist set of skills and knowledge. The latter responds to the various needs of the three main subject foci of PhD's; environmental, economic and social geography.
Students who can be certified to have covered appropriate material at a Master's level can be exempted from specific elements of training. Exemptions to be notified to the Graduate Tutor, otherwise the assumption is that all courses will be attended.

Students must register for all of the appropriate courses, and a copy of the courses registered for must be approved by the Graduate tutor by October 20th. Supervisors may make representations to substitute one course for another as appropriate. This must be approved by the Director of Graduate Programmes.

The research training programme

The training has four components:

  1. Research methods cores
  2. Specialism
  3. Individual research and personal supervision
  4. Continuing review and monitoring

Graduate support

Research is well supported at both School and Departmental level. LSE's Library| has outstanding facilities, and the School has maintained its contribution to the Library at very high levels. The School has good quality computer facilities, supplemented at Departmental level with networked PC machines for postgraduates. Support of a less tangible but important kind is provided by close interaction with LSE's research centres and Institutes and the outstanding range of visiting speakers and seminars available.


A major problem for all PhD students is finding funding to support their studies. Students should consult their national and regional government bodies for funding, as well as sources such as the British Council and, if applicants are EU citizens, the ESRC. The LSE Financial Support Office has further information.

Some resources are available from the School; however there are very few scholarships available. The Department has some resources for topping up studentships and for a small amount of conference funding; however, these funds are usually allocated to continuing students.

You will find details about funding, fees and language requirements in the LSE Graduate Prospectus, which can be viewed interactively through this web site or obtained by writing to the following address:

Graduate Admission
London School of Economics and Political Science
Houghton Street
Tel: +44 (0)20 7955 7160
Fax: +44 (0)20 7831 1684
Alternatively you can apply online