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Department of Mathematics
Columbia House
London School of Economics
Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE, UK


Email: maths.info@lse.ac.uk|
Tel: +44(0)207 955 7732/7925


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PhD and MPhil in Mathematics

General information for prospective research students

Applications for this programme for 2015-16 are open|.

The LSE Department of Mathematics welcomes applications to study for MPhil/PhD degrees. Informal enquiries about research study in the Department can be e-mailed to PhD@maths.lse.ac.uk|, or addressed to Professor Bernhard von Stengel, Department of Mathematics, LSE, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE. However, before doing so, please read the information given below, which also contains some useful links to additional information. 

The Department is well known for its research excellence within its areas of specialisation, which lie in the applications of Mathematics to the Social Sciences and in Discrete Mathematics. We have 21 research staff working in three broad disciplines: Discrete Mathematics and Algorithms|, Financial Mathematics and Control Theory| and Game Theory|. Research is carried out over a wide range of specific areas, which reflect the diverse interests of our staff.  A complete list of all our researchers and their research interests can be found on the relevant web page for their discipline, accessed via our research page|.

All staff in the Department were entered for the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). The result was encouraging: 45% of the work submitted was deemed to be either internationally excellent or world-leading, with almost all the remainder being internationally recognised. The most recent work produced by members of the Department can be found on our publications page|

To find out more about the Department and its research, please visit our research page. You can also browse the Mathematics Department web pages|, looking in particular at the Department's Annual Report (scheduled to be updated soon).  Information on being a PhD student at LSE can be found on the PhD Portal|.

If you would like to know more about our PhD graduates, please read our PhD Roll of Honour| and PhD Alumni| pages.

Financial support for MPhil/PhD study may be available, particularly from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council| (EPSRC) for EU/UK students, and also from the School (applications for EPSRC and LSE funding should be sent directly to the Mathematics Department). Please see the LSE Financial Support Office| web site for further details.

Opportunities for research and the structure of the programme

Supervision for MPhil/PhD research is available in combinatorics, combinatorial optimisation, theory of computation and algorithms, computational learning theory, financial mathematics, stochastic control, game theory, graph theory, search theory, and in the applications of mathematics in areas such as telecommunications and economics.

New students will be registered for the MPhil initially and will be able to upgrade to PhD registration during their second year, dependent on their satisfactory progress (the MPhil has a maximum registration period of two years full-time).  We do not consider applicants for the MPhil programme separately from the MPhil/PhD programme.

Students will have access to the comprehensive facilities of the LSE Library| and to libraries of other colleges of the University of London. They will also benefit from the School's and the Department's computing and information facilities.

All Mathematics PhD students will attend appropriate taught course/s provided by either the London Taught Course Centre for PhD students in the mathematical sciences| or the London Graduate School in Mathematical Finance| (dependent on the focus of their research) in their first full year. Students may be asked to attend one or more courses from our MSc in Applicable Mathematics| or MSc in Financial Mathematics| degree programmes.  In addition, students may substitute one or more of their taught courses for an LSE graduate course run by an associated department, with the approval of their supervisor. 

Training in established research techniques and development of a capacity in the student for original research in their chosen field of specialisation is provided through regular one-to-one meetings with the supervisor, as well as through directed reading. The final aim is to produce a thesis and subsequent publications that contribute to the development of and understanding of the chosen area of mathematics.  Please read the Department of Mathematics' Programme Regulations| for further information.

An important element of the training is participation in the various seminars organised by the Department. These include the Seminar on Discrete Mathematics and Game Theory|, and the Joint Risk & Stochastics and Financial Mathematics Seminar|. In addition, there are Lunchtime Seminars| and a Financial Mathematics Reading Group|, both of which are organised largely by and for research students on mathematical subjects; students will be expected to attend and required to contribute at regular intervals.

All research students in the Department of Mathematics are provided annually with some additional funding to encourage and support their research activities, such as conference attendance and purchasing books. The PhD study room has recently been subject to an extensive renovation project, modernising the space to produce a professional, purposeful and relaxed environment in which to work. Students are thus offered a supportive environment within a community of scholars and are well-placed to pursue a career building on their research accomplishments.

Application information

Application Code: G1ZM MPhil/PhD in Mathematics; G1EM Visiting Research Student
Duration: MPhil/PhD: 3-4 years full-time (please note, we do not normally offer MPhil/PhDs on a part-time basis; progression from MPhil to PhD usually takes places between years 1 and 2); Visiting Research Student: up to one academic year
Financial Support: see the Financial Support Office|.

Application details

Our minimum entry requirements are either a UK taught master's degree (MSc) with merit/distinction in a relevant area of Mathematics or a non-UK equivalent, again in a relevant area of Mathematics.

Specific guidance for international graduate students can be found here|.

The criteria for any offer of a place include:

  • your academic qualifications
  • your English language ability must meet the LSE’s minimum requirements for graduate students
  • the ability of the Department to provide adequate and appropriate supervision, with particular reference to your research proposal*
  • an interview for all short-listed applicants (via telephone, Skype or in person), unless there are exceptional circumstances which prevent this

*The Department of Mathematics does not expect potential candidates to provide extensive research proposals as part of their application; your research proposal is useful, however, in giving a flavour of your direction, ambition and interests.

Please note:

  • the Department of Mathematics does not normally offer MPhil/PhDs on a part-time basis; usually, only full-time applicants can be considered
  • we do not consider applicants for the MPhil programme separately from the MPhil/PhD programme
  • Applicants are not required to submit GRE/GMAT scores when applying for this degree programme

The on-line application procedure is available via the LSE Graduate Prospectus. Applications are handled by Graduate Admissions|; any queries relating to your application and its progress should be addressed directly to them.  Further general information on the LSE and its Graduate Courses can be viewed in the LSE Graduate Prospectus| and the specific entry on the Department of Mathematics|.

- Important note for potential Financial Mathematics applicants: submitting an informal application

In advance of submitting a formal application to Graduate Admissions, prospective students who are interested in studying an area of Financial Mathematics should first send an informal application email to the Department’s Research Administrator| to enquire about the possibility of making a formal application.  It is essential that the email includes:

  1. full academic transcripts covering all study to date
  2. an up-to-date curriculum vitae (CV)
  3. a brief research proposal with a) a clear indication of the specific questions and direction of your proposed study within Financial Mathematics; b) a short summary of your motivation to undertake a PhD, detailing what areas of mathematics you find especially engaging and important.  An extensive literature review is not required.

The Research Administrator will forward all informal applications to the Financial Mathematics PhD Admissions Team for consideration. Following this, the Research Administrator will communicate the Admissions Team’s decision. If a formal application is advised, this should be made to the Graduate Admissions Office| following the normal application procedure outlined in the section above on 'Application Details'.

Please do not contact potential supervisors directly, unless encouraged to do so by the Research Administrator. 

- Important note for potential applicants in all other areas of mathematics: submitting an informal application

In advance of submitting a formal application to Graduate Admissions, we advise prospective students to first find out more about potential supervisors by looking at the list of staff and their interests, which can be found via our research page|. You should then email an informal application to those members of the Department whose research interests most closely resemble your own to discuss possible research projects, preferably in reasonable detail.  Your informal application should include:

  1. your academic transcripts covering all study to date
  2. your up-to-date curriculum vitae
  3. a brief research proposal with a) a clear indication of the specific questions and direction of your proposed study; b) a short summary of your motivation to undertake a PhD, detailing what areas of mathematics you find especially engaging and important.  An extensive literature review is not required.  

When emailing anyone from the Department, it is advisable to also copy the Research Administrator| into your correspondence. In your emails, please also list which other members of the Department you have contacted / intend to contact.

Once an appropriate research topic and supervisor have been identified, prospective students may be encouraged to apply for the PhD formally to the Graduate Admissions Office| following the normal application procedure outlined in the section above on 'Application Details'.


Supervisors are selected during the application process.  Students are assigned to:

  1. a principal supervisor with requisite knowledge in the student's chosen field
  2. an appropriate second supervisor.  Where appropriate, a second or joint supervisor may be appointed from another department, institute or programme. 

How to apply

For full details see How to apply|. Please also note the section above on 'Application Details|'.

Financial support

Studentship Scheme

LSE offers a PhD Studentship scheme| with full scholarships available to new PhD students. The scholarships cover fees and living expenses of £18,000 each year for four years. They are available for Home UK/EU and Overseas students undertaking full-time research in any LSE discipline, with annual renewal subject to satisfactory academic performance at the School.  Studentships will be awarded on academic merit and research potential.

The Department of Mathematics can nominate a limited number of candidates for the studentships to each of the two funding board rounds available:

  • 12 January 2015
  • 27 April 2015

Award decisions will be made by a Panel representing different academic disciplines within the School. The awards will be made solely on outstanding academic merit and research potential. This relates not only to applicants’ past academic records, but also to an assessment of their chosen topic and to their likely aptitude to complete a PhD in the time allocated.

The studentships include a requirement that scholars contribute to their academic department as part of their research training, in the form of providing teaching or other work in their department.

There is no separate application form for these awards. The selection of students for these awards will be based on the PhD application to the School. There will be three rounds of studentship selection, with a deadline attached to each round.  If you wish to be considered for an award, you must submit a complete application for a place on a PhD programme (including all supporting documentation such as references and transcripts) by the specified deadline. 

For more information on awards and scholarships, see the Financial Support Office's| pages.

There is intense competition for all forms of financial support and MPhil/PhD applicants are urged to begin exploring all possible sources of funding internationally and in their own countries, as early as possible.

Visiting Research Students

Visiting Research Students can find more information here|. Students interested in visiting the Department of Mathematics for up to one academic year should follow the normal application procedure outlined in the section above on 'Application Details|', quoting the application code G1EM.

More information

For further information, consult Graduate Admissions|.