The School has always been at the forefront of methodological development in the social sciences. With the exception of the departments of Statistics and Philosophy, where methodology is for some the main activity, this methodological expertise has generally been contained within specific substantive areas of research rather than being identifiable and accessible from outside these areas. In the case of statistics and philosophy, the expertise has also tended to be inaccessible to potential users from outside, because of its technical focus. Consequently the teaching and dissemination of methodological expertise has been available to students, and in many cases staff, primarily within their own departments.
The Department of Methodology is a national centre of excellence in methodology and the teaching of methodology. The Department was set up to coordinate and provide a focus for methodological activities at the School, in particular in the areas of graduate student (and, potentially, staff) training and of methodological research. The Department is an interdisciplinary group and its primary role is to facilitate collaboration between departments and to provide courses where appropriate. The Department is central to the LSE's Doctoral Training Centre.
The School-wide MSc Social Research Methods, drawing on teaching from nine departments, and accepting students specialising in many of the disciplines offered by the School, is the flagship of the Department's teaching efforts. The MPhil/PhD Social Research Methods attracts students who identify a substantive area of research and also demonstrate a particular methodological interest, aiming at a methodological development, for example in collecting innovative new data, new analytic techniques, method comparison, evaluation or validation, method critique, applying existing methodology in new contexts, or cost-benefit analysis of methodologies.
Through these two programmes, and the Department's provision of courses for research students from all parts of the School, the aim is to make the School the pre-eminent centre for methodological training in the social sciences.
The Department is also home to a number of funded research projects and faculty who publish in top journals from across the social sciences.