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MSc Philosophy of the Social Sciences

Widely recognized as the world's leading specialist social science university, the LSE is the ideal institution to both pursue questions about the history, present nature and future of human societies, and to employ philosophy to address the core questions about that very social scientific endeavour itself. Both of these themes are at the core of the MSc Philosophy of the Social Sciences, and are introduced in the video by Professor Richard Bradley.

 

The MSc Philosophy of the Social Sciences is a perfect platform from which to ask the key questions at the heart of contemporary social science. That these questions have great wider importance and relevance can be seen from recent MSc dissertation titles.

Read the titles of recent dissertations ↓

  • Applying Decision Theory to Real World Uncertainty
  • The Status And Promise Of Neuroeconomics As A Scientific Project In Relation To The Lakatos-Feyerabend Debate
  • A Coherent Theory of International Relations
  • What do we mean by mental health, and what should we mean?
  • Marxism and Social Explanation
  • Why Group Dynamics Matter and How Political Theories Have Got Them Wrong 
  • Is the Socially Responsible Investment Market really ethical?
  • A Framework Appproach To The Problem Of Old Evidence In Bayesian Reasoning
  • The Faith In Efficiency, Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Market
  • Does The First Fundamental Theorem Of Welfare Economics prove That The pursuit Of Self-Interest Leads To A Socially Beneficial Outcome?
  • Evaluating Two Models Of Social Action: Pettit’s Virtual-Actual Model Versus Hollis’s Social-Constraint Model
  • A Place For Group Agent Talk In Sociology
  • (Trans)Humanism : A Discourse Of Human Nature, From The Spoken Word To Mood Transmitters
  • How Should Corporations Deal With Employee Turnover Caused By The Attitude Of New Generation (80s And 90s) Against The Background Of The One Child Policy In China?
  • The Ontology Of The State In International Relations Theory
  • With Particular Reference The Research Of Joshua Greene, To What Extent Is It Possible Derive Normative Implications From Empirical Research?
  • Preference Utilitarianism For Inter-­‐Species Ethics: An Analysis Of Singer's Theory
  • The Limits Of Neuroscience In Understanding The Social Dimension Of Mental Illness
  • An Explanatory Pluralistic Perspective On First-Rank Symptoms In Schizophrenia
  • Social Action In A Rational Niche: An Account Of How Niche Construction Theory Can Reconcile Two Opposing Models Of Action
  • The Causal Autonomy Of Social Structures And The Limits Of Methodological Individualism
  • Nancy Cartwright’s Philosophy Of Science: Evidence And Ethnography
  • Sensorimotor Enactivism Versus Representationalism: A Pertinent Duel Or A Possible Reconciliation? A Neurophilosophical Discussion Of Visual Neglect
  • Reacting To Non-Compliance In A Business Context
  • Autonomy, Liberal Legitimacy, And The Child’s Right To An Open Future
  • Dissolving The Explanation Paradox – A Mechanistic Account Of The Explanatory Power Of Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium Models
  • Rationality And Self-Interest In Pettit’s Model Of Virtual Reality
  • Social Scientists Make Value-Judgments When Measuring Poverty
  • “The Science Of Values” And “The Empirical Discovery Of Relativism”: A Davidsonian Investigation Of Boasian Anthropology
  • An Overview And Justification For Restricting Insider Trading
  • In Defense Of Evolutionary Psychology: Five Misunderstandings Related To Evolutionary Theory And Its Application To Humans
  • The Strong Programme And The Human-Centered View
  • The Relevance Of The Condorcet Jury Theorem
  • Why Group Dynamics Matter and How Political Theories Have Got Them Wrong
  • The Methodology of Neuroeconomics
  • Is the Socially Responsible Investment Market really ethical?

Do find out more below, and email us| with your questions about the degree.

In the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method here at the LSE, we approach philosophical issues in the social sciences through examining historical and contemporary issues with the scientific study of society. These include topics such as the following: the scientific status of the social sciences, and whether they might count as properly objective. What accounts for the diversity of methods in the social sciences (and lack of agreement as to which ones ought to be followed)? Do evolutionary explanations of social phenomena provide an accurate account of why societies are the way they are, or are such explanations merely unverifiable just-so stories? What relations exist among rationality, choice, action, and interpretation?

Benefits of the MSc Philosophy of the Social Sciences include the following.

  • The MSc offers a critical examination of conceptual and methodological issues underlying social scientific research.
  • The Department's approach to philosophical study is resolutely interdisciplinary. We believe that philosophical analysis is best seen as continuous with scientific practice. (It this sense, we fall squarely within the "naturalist" tradition in the philosophy of science.)
  • The Department's strength in philosophy of economics and rational choice theory make it a natural place to study for those who wish to examine, and critique, the use of these methods within the social sciences.
  • The Department is one of the major centres for the philosophy of social science in the world.
  • The degree is internationally highly regarded.
  • The Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science, housed at LSE, is one of the international centres of the discipline and attracts a series of eminent visitors. MSc students benefit from the seminars and research activities at the Centre.
  • The Department has close links with other philosophy departments in the University of London. This gives students access to the very rich, general London philosophical environment.
  • The position of the Department within an international centre of excellence in the social sciences means that there is a good deal of collaboration between social scientists and philosophers both in teaching and research.

This degree offers an excellent preparation for students interested in doctoral research in the philosophy of social science or general philosophy of science. It also provides an opportunity for members of the social scientific community to reflect on the foundations and aims of their profession. The MSc in Philosophy of the Social Sciences attracts students from a variety of backgrounds - including philosophy, history, economics, sociology, anthropology, social psychology, geography, political science - as well as those with a developing interest in its subject area they have yet to express in an academic setting.

We recruit students from all across the world to assemble a genuinely international group, which enriches the social and intellectual environment that the programme offers. Past programme graduates have gone on to a wide variety of careers, ranging from Law, studying in various PhD programmes in Philosophy, to working at Google. We have a very good record of students entering excellent PhD programmes.

This is a full-year, four-unit degree. Students take optional courses to the value of 3 units, a compulsory seminar and a dissertation.

  • How to apply. To be considered for a place on the MSc, you must apply via Graduate Admissions.
  • Typical entry requirements. These are listed on the degree's graduate prospectus entry. Follow the links from this index of degrees.
  • Funding your studies. We consider all applications for the funding for which they are eligible. All applications are considered for the LSE Graduate Support Scheme. Typically, the earlier your application is completed, the better your chances of securing funding. You can also contact the LSE Financial Support Office for advice.
  • Degree structure. Current degree regulations are available from this index. We contact offer-holders over the summer with any updates.
  • Course summaries. You can find brief introductions to all Masters-level courses via this index. These courses and summaries are for the current academic year. Future years may differ.
  • Course materials. Most course materials are delivered via Moodle, but are not available to non-students. Nonetheless, you can log in as a guest and see what you can find. Again, future years may differ.
  • Videos. All Department videos are available here.

Alumni from the MSc are invited to join our LinkedIn group|.

Below are testimonials from former MSc Philosophy of the Social Sciences students.

2012-2013

butcher

Kamilla Haworth Buchter

I joined the LSE MSc programme in Philosophy of the Social Sciences because I believed the programme was a unique opportunity to learn how to use philosophical tools to criticise and strengthen economic theory. After graduating I can honestly say that I was right; but I can also add that studying at LSE gave me a lot more than the knowledge of how to combine Philosophy and Economics.

The thing I enjoyed the most about studying at LSE was the social and academic environment I encountered on campus. The students and staffs were all extremely friendly and constructive, and even though I did not know anyone when I moved to London, I never felt alone during my year of study. As a student at LSE you are also invited to participate in research seminars and conferences in the department. This means that you will have the opportunity to listen to some of the latest research in philosophy of the social sciences.

No matter whether you want to pursue a career in academia or not, studying at LSE will not be a waste of time. LSE career centre provides every student with all (s)he needs in order to find a job, and if you want to pursue an academic career, my experience is that the teachers are extremely willing to help and to discuss your ideas and projects.

After graduating from LSE last year, I am now studying for a degree in Economics. I hope to be accepted for a PhD next year.

 
djordjevic

Charles Djordjevic

My time at the LSE was an amazingly stimulating and fruitful period, both academically and personally. Professionally, before the LSE, I had been doing International development work with the US Peace Corps in Azerbaijan. The LSE provided a forum wherein I could develop and crystallize my own thinking about the logic- and limits- of international development and human rights more generally. More to the point, though, it helped to re-frame my interest into a rigorous analytic register that clarified my own assumptions and helped me develop in several related areas of philosophy (including philosophy of language, action theory and philosophy of the social science). When you couple this with the openness of the department- I was able to take a courses in the law department and audit sociology and anthropology courses- the experience was incredible.

Outshining even this, however, was the personal/social aspect of the course. LSE admits people from a diversity of backgrounds and theoretical orientations and this leads to seminars that are both intensely interesting and deeply enjoyable, as well as amazing outside-of-class interactions. Further, the professors were often incredibly amicable and approachable and it was not uncommon to meet with them in informal settings.

 

2009-2010

lill 

Felix Lill

I took the MSc Philosophy of the Social Sciences at LSE in 2009/10 and I must say that I really enjoyed it. My class was full of inspiring fellow students and the relationship with the teachers was very good. Besides reading a lot of the giants' works in philosophy, the course itself is very good to train one's analytical thinking. This has helped me a lot to get forward in my professional life as a journalist.  Today, I am working as London correspondent for various media, notably for Austrian daily newspaper Die Presse, for which I write about economics, media, sports and other topics.

Felix Lill was the winner of the Austrian Sports Journalism Award in 2010 and 2011.

 

2008-2009

ferguson 

Ben Ferguson

After completing my MSc in Philosophy of the Social Sciences, I worked for one year at an educational publishing company before returning to the LSE to pursue a PhD in Philosophy. The work I did during the MSc helped me to isolate the general structure of arguments and improved my attention to detail-both of which were useful skills in publishing.

Many of the questions I am interested in as a PhD student grew out of conversations I had with faculty and my classmates during the MSc. In fact, my PhD research on theories of exploitation is an expansion of my MSc dissertation, which itself was an expansion on an afternoon's conversation about exploitation with a classmate during the MSc! My main research interests now lie at the intersection of Moral Philosophy and Philosophy of Economics and the courses I took in 'Philosophy of Social Science', 'Philosophy of Economics' and 'Philosophy, Morals, and Politics' have prepared me well for PhD study.

Of course, in addition to the academic aspect, my time at the LSE has been enhanced by its location in London, the cosmopolitanism of the student body and the many friends I made.

 
 

Sebastian Koehler

I am currently doing a MPhil in Philosophy at the University of Cambridge, with the intention of staying on for the PhD. In 2007, after finishing my BA in Philosophy at the University of Bielefeld (Germany) I decided to continue my studies with a masters. Since I am strongly interested in issues of the philosophy of the social sciences, rational choice theory and public, the MSc Philosophy of the Social Sciences at the LSE was a natural choice for me.

I can strongly recommend the programme: With its highly flexible syllabus it allowed me to cover my interests with the courses "Philosophy of the Social Sciences", "Philosophy of Economics" and "Philosophy, Morality and Politics", while it would also have allowed to take a stronger focus on either the philosophy of (social) science or the philosophy of public policy direction. With the dissertation it provides a good opportunity for intensive independent research on one topic one is strongly interested in.

Overall, my year at the LSE was a great experience. I have learned much about the areas I am interested in and was capable to develop my analytical skills to a level required for the independent research I am now undertaking at Cambridge. I have also found everyone in the department extremely friendly, helpful and supportive, not only during the MSc, but also afterwards. Furthermore there was a lot of intellectual and personal exchange between the students of the different MScs in philosophy at the LSE and I have won good friends from all programmes.

 

Mark Patterson

I am currently a PhD candidate in the Behavioral Decision Research division of Carnegie Mellon University's Social and Decision Science department; as a practitioner of social science, I can confidently attest to the value of the LSE's MSc. in philosophy of the social sciences.

While my experience at the LSE has contributed to my development as a scholar in a variety of ways, there is one very fundamental advantage enjoyed by students of this program, that I think is similarly responsible (in many ways) for the way in which I now approach my work: Although the statement may be a bit broad, I think scholarship in general is about asking questions: why is our world the way it is?  How might we go about studying it further?  Ought we intervene?  Irrespective of a scholar's field, one must be motivated by these deep questions, whose answers are admittedly quite complex.  Regarding the particular domain of social science, the LSE (I believe) is unique in its ability to give students an appreciation for the vast array of questions which motivate enquiry.  In a basic way, the MSc. program affords its graduates a sort of 'view from above.

While there are many objective measures a prospective student might adopt for discovering the appeal of this course (faculty strength, departmental ratings, placement record, etc.), when I reflect on the impact the LSE had on me, it is the more abstract quality—the change in my approach—for which I am grateful.

 

2007-2008

 

Alkistis Elliott-Graves

The Philosophy of the Social Sciences MSc programme at the LSE was a great opportunity for me. I learned more in one year than in all of my previous years of school and university put together. The faculty are all experts in their fields and the lectures and seminars are very well structured. In addition, I received a tremendous amount of support for PhD applications, in terms of advice and recommendation letters. One of the best things about studying at the LSE is the number of talks and conferences that graduate students can attend. It is a wonderful opportunity to hear talks and discuss interesting topics with experts from all over the world, topics that are at the cutting edge of the current research.

All this academic rigour is combined with a relaxed and laid back attitude. There are many opportunities in the department to socialize with faculty and students, that are excellent ways to get good advice and exchange ideas for dissertations, applications etc. The students at the LSE are a fun crowd who know how to have a good time!

The year I spent at the LSE provided me with everything I needed to go on to a PhD in Philosophy. I am now at the University of Pennsylvania starting a PhD in the Philosophy of Biology, and I would not have been able to achieve this without the preparation and support I received from the LSE.

 

2006-2007

 

Gene Callahan

My year spent at LSE was one of the most rewarding intellectual experiences of my life. Every member of the faculty with whom I dealt was brilliant, engaging, and stimulating, and the course materials were great. Add to that the rich variety of seminars and special lectures always available, as well as the location in the heart of London, and the combination was unbeatable. It laid a great foundation for my further academic success.

 
fumagalli 

Roberto Fumagalli

I am currently a third year PhD student and graduate teaching assistant in Morality and Values at the LSE Philosophy Department. I joined the MSc program in Philosophy of Social Sciences in 2006, shortly after gaining an MSc in Economics at the Bocconi University (Milan). The courses I took at the LSE were intensive and intellectually rewarding, and effectively enabled me to rapidly strengthen my analytical and interpretative skills. During the MSc I became acquainted with peers and faculty members from all over the world, and I matured the aspiration to pursue an academic career in philosophy. My PhD thesis examines the conceptual and methodological foundations of Neuroeconomics, with specific regard to the incorporation of neuro-physiological insights into economic models of decision making. My research interests range from the philosophy of the social sciences to specific issues in ethics (e.g. conceptions of well-being) and metaphysics (e.g. the problem of existence).

 
islam 

Tahiya Umrana Islam

I am currently a Corporate Tax associate with Deloitte's London tax practice. Having read for a B.Sc. in Philosophy and Economics at LSE I chose to continue my studies and undertake an M.Sc. in Philosophy of the Social Sciences. I took courses in Philosophy and Public Policy, Evidence and Scientific Method and Foundations of Probability, and completed a dissertation on recent work in the field of Behavioural Economics and its possible application within modern Egalitarian thought. In completing the degree programme, I developed skills which proved invaluable in preparing me for the application and recruitment processes of the "Big 4" accounting firms. Securing my current position required a great deal of logical and analytical thinking, argumentation and critical reasoning; skills which I have continued to use in the workplace and in sitting for professional exams.

 
 

Eliana M. Santanatoglia

I have accepted a position as a full time Research Fellow at the Fundación Friedrich A. von Hayek in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Fundación Friedrich A. von Hayek is a non-profit organization established with the purpose of encouraging research, development of educational programs and diffusion of the essential principles of the free society, in the fields of philosophy, economics, law, history, ethics and politics. My primary research fields are: Legal Theory, Philosophy of Social Sciences, Evolutionary Theories in Social Sciences, etc. The Msc in Philosophy of the Social Sciences -together with my background in Law, Economics and Political Science- has provided her with a wider and deeper view of the philosophical grounds of social sciences and public policies and a more refined analytical apparatus that has been instrumental to obtain this position. Moreover, my time at LSE gave me the opportunity to enjoy interesting courses, sharing my interests with professors and fellow mates with diverse backgrounds, in a cosmopolitan atmosphere.

 
sandovalcervantes 

Ivan Sandoval-Cervantes

As an anthropologist, the MSc at the LSE proved to be both a serious challenge and a strong contribution to my academic formation. After completing the one-year Master´s programme I found myself able to apply some of the concepts of analytical philosophy. For example, I am currently working for an environmentalist NGO based in the Mexican Caribbean; here I serve as a link between rural communities and the government. This experience has shown me that constructing philosophically valid and sound arguments can contribute a great deal when expressing peasants´ interests to the government in an attempt to find a common ground in which to reconcile conservational public policies and peasants´ productive interests.

In addition to providing me with these analytical tools, the MSc also introduced me to some of the most interesting and contemporary debates in moral philosophy and philosophy of the social sciences, and allowed me to combine my previous academic formation with new perspectives on issues such as the philosophical foundations of anthropology - topic that I discussed on my dissertation. This interesting combination of philosophy and anthropology will be present in the Ph. D. degree in anthropology which I will start in the Fall of 2010.

 

2005-2006

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Joshua Rust

I attended the London School of Economics to supplement my existing graduate work in philosophy prior to my going on to the job market. The education I received surpassed my expectations: in addition to general survey courses, the program offers in-depth instruction in specific topics by leading authorities in the philosophy of science and social science. Students have ample access to the professors through a series of seminars, office hours, colloquia, reading groups, and informal gatherings. In one case a professor transformed a one-semester course into a extended reading group wherein we discussed contemporary issues in modeling and representation over lunch and coffee. Moreover, the program, being a part of the University of London, positions itself as a springboard to the vibrant intellectual life of London as whole.

The London School of Economics offers a robust education in a condensed time frame by some of the best instructors in the discipline.

 

2004-2005

vandijk

Jaap van Dijk

My time at the LSE is a memory of fulfilled academic expectations. Reading an MSc in philosophy of the social sciences was a challenge of the most stimulating kind for me. Each new idea revealed was a novel tool with which to chisel, mould and rearrange a new fascinating universe of thought and logic.

The inhabitants of the Lakatos building were part of a team, unified by the plurality of its members. My class was comprised of as random a group of individuals as you could think of. Amongst others: A corporate CEO, a full-time mother of three, an aspiring, middle-aged writer, a fresh graduate who passed up on an offer by his father to go see the world, but who opted to expand his intellectual horizons at the LSE instead.

I now work for a major investment bank, which, given the chances, are as likely a career outcome as any other promising route after studying at this great school.

 
 

Michiru Nagatsu

I am a PhD candidate at the Department of Sociology and Philosophy, University of Exeter. My dissertation topic is methodology of rational choice theory. I'm working with Prof. Francesco Guala, whom I first met in London while I was doing my MSc at LSE. I am visiting (Sep. 2007- Jan. 2008) the Department of Moral and Social Philosophy, University of Helsinki to be involved in TINT, a research project led by Prof. Uskali Mäki. From Feb. 2008 I am planning to visit the Department of Philosophy, University of Tartu, Estonia to work with Prof. Daniel Cohnitz.

The courses at LSE were very intensive and effective, giving me the basic skill of doing philosophy in English, which was no easy task for a Japanese law student.

Personal website|

 
mondragonreyes 

Rogelio Mondragon Reyes

I came to LSE in 2004-2005 to study a MSc in Philosophy of the Social Sciences. I was very enthusiastic in the beginning. Afterwards, I realized that the program I was studying was ranked number 1 in the Philosophical Gourmet Report! After that, I felt not only enthusiastic, but very lucky and honoured to have the chance to study in such a great university. The program is fantastic because it allows you to have an idea of the many paths the social sciences have walked from the beginning of the twentith century up to today.

I came back to Mexico by the beginning of 2006. I managed to became advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mexico, and at this time, I have a full time job as a teacher of political theory in the University of Mexico City. I want to share with all the students and peers the things I learned up there in London. It was one of my greatest experiences. I made excellent friends and learned a lot about England (and about me). The best of LSE: Library, Bookstore and the Three Tunes with a Guinness chatting with your pals!

I took the MSc Philosophy of the Social Sciences at LSE in 2009/10 and I must say that I really enjoyed it. My class was full of inspiring fellow students and the relationship with the teachers was very good. Besides reading a lot of the giants' works in philosophy, the course itself is very good to train one\'s analytical thinking. This has helped me a lot to get forward in my professional life as a journalist. Today, I am working as London correspondent for various media, notably for Austrian daily newspaper Die Presse, for which I write about economics, media, sports and other topics.

 
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