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

 

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Tel: +44(0)207 955 7732/7925

 

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PhD and MPhil in Mathematics

General Information for Prospective Research Students

The Department of Mathematics at the LSE is renowned for its research excellence within its areas of specialisation, which includes subjects in Mathematics that are applicable to the Social Sciences. 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, reflecting the diverse interests of our staff.  A complete list of all our researchers and their research interests can be accessed through our research| page.

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

You can learn about the Department in the various sections of this website, including information about current| and previous| PhD students, and what some of our PhD graduates are doing now|.

Applications for entry in 2015/16 are now open|.

Opportunities for Research and Programme Structure

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 initially be registered for the MPhil, and will be able to upgrade to PhD registration during their second year, depending on 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.

Taught Courses

In their first full year, all PhD students in the Department will attend appropriate taught courses provided by either the London Taught Course Centre for PhD students in the Mathematical Sciences|, or the London Graduate School in Mathematical Finance|, depending on the focus of their research. Students may be asked to attend one or more courses from our MSc Applicable Mathematics| or MSc 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(s).

Training, Seminars and Support

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 and understanding of the chosen area of mathematics. Please read ourProgramme Regulations| for more 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 and Stochastics and Financial Mathematics Seminar|. In addition, there are Lunchtime Seminars|, a Discrete Mathematics Reading Group| and a Financial Mathematics Reading Group|, all of which are organised largely by and for research students on mathematical subjects. Students will be expected to attend these seminar series and required to contribute at regular intervals.

All research students in the Department are provided with some funding each year to encourage and support their research activities, such as conference attendance and purchasing books. Additional research funds are also available, upon application.

Facilities

Students will have access to the comprehensive facilities of the LSE Library| and to the libraries of other colleges of the University of London. They will also benefit from the IT and other facilities available at the School.

Students are provided with their own workspace and Windows PC. Within the Department of Mathematics’ PhD study room.  This area was recently renovated, and has been modernised to become a professional, purposeful, and relaxed work environment. 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. 

In addition to the space provided in Columbia House, a dedicated Postgraduate Common Room is available to students in 32 Lincoln's Inn Fields.

How to Apply

The Department of Mathematics welcomes applications to study for MPhil/PhD degrees. Enquiries about research study in the Department can be emailed 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 below, which also contains some useful links to additional information.

A formal application is submitted through Graduate Admissions|, but prior to this, you should submit an informal application to the Department of Mathematics. More information about informal applications can be found below. 

Key Details

Application Code: G1ZM

Duration: 3–4 years, full-time

Note that we do not normally offer MPhil/PhDs on a part-time basis, and that progression from MPhil to PhD usually takes place between years 1 and 2.

Entry Requirements

The criteria for the offer of a place include:

  • Your academic qualifications: a UK taught master's degree (MSc) with merit/distinction in a relevant area of mathematics or a non-UK equivalent in a relevant area of mathematics. Specific guidance for international graduate students can be found here.
  • 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. We do not expect you to provide extensive research proposals as part of your application. Your research proposal is useful, however, in giving a flavour of your direction, ambition, and interests.
  • An interview for all short-listed applicants (via telephone, Skype or in person), unless there are exceptional circumstances preventing this.

Application Notes

  • We do 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 or GMAT scores when applying for this degree programme.
  • Formal applications are handled by Graduate Admissions, so any queries relating to your application and its progress should be addressed directly to them. Further general information about the School and its graduate programmes can be found in the Graduate Prospectus and corresponding web pages.

Informal Applications: Financial Mathematics

Before submitting a formal application to Graduate Admissions, prospective students should send an informal application email to the Research Administrator| to enquire about the possibility of making a formal application. It is essential that you include:

  • Full academic transcripts covering all study to date.
  • An up to date CV.
  • A brief research proposal with (1) a clear indication of the specific questions and direction of your proposed study within Financial Mathematics, (2) 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. Thereafter, the Research Administrator will communicate the admissions team’s decision. If a formal application is advised, this should be made to Graduate Admissions following the normal application procedure outlined above.

Do not contact potential supervisors directly, unless instructed to do so by the Research Administrator.

Informal Applications: All Other Areas of Mathematics

Before 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 through our research| page. You should then email an informal application to members of the Department whose research interests most closely resemble your own to discuss possible research projects, preferably in detail. It is essential that you include:

  • Academic transcripts covering all study to date.
  • An up-to-date CV.
  • A brief research proposal with (1) a clear indication of the specific questions and direction of your proposed study, and (2) 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 contacting academic members of staff you should list which other members of the Department you have contacted or intend to contact, and copy in the Research Administrator|.

Once an appropriate research topic and supervisor have been identified, prospective students will be encouraged to submit a formal application through Graduate Admissions, following the intructions above.

Supervision

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.

Financial Support

Financial support for MPhil/PhD study may be available, particularly from the School and from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)|. Applications for both should be sent directly to the Department of Mathematics.

For more information all on awards and scholarships, consult the Financial Support Office|.

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.

LSE PhD Studentship Scheme

The 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 at the School. The awards will be made solely on academic merit and research potential. This relates not only to an applicant’s past academic record, 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.

There is no separate application form for these awards. Selection 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.

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