MPhil/PhD in Social Research Methods

Programme code: RPMI

Department: Methodology

In addition to progressing with their research, students are expected to take the listed training and transferable skills courses. Students may take courses in addition to those listed, and should discuss this with their supervisor.

Guidelines for interpreting programme regulations

Year 1
Training courses
Optional (students should agree with their supervisor whether the courses taken will also be examined)

A selection of:
MY400 Fundamentals of Social Science Research Design (H)
MY521 Qualitative Research Methods (H)
MY551M or MY551L  Introduction to Quantitative Analysis (H)
MY552M or MY552L Applied Regression Analysis (H)
MY555 Multivariate Analysis and Measurement (H)
MY556 Survey Methodology (H) 
MY557 Causal Inference for Observational and Experimental Studies (H)
MY570 Computer Programming (H)
MY572 Data Structures, Databases and Data Sharing (H) (not available 2017/18)
MY573 Managing and Visualising Data (H)

A typical selection would be to take MY400, MY521, MY552 and MY555 in the first year, but students may be excused from some or all of them if they have previously taken graduate-level courses covering the same material. Students who use quantitative methods in their research, are also encouraged to take MY559 in their first or second year. The courses they take may also include ones from other institutes or departments at LSE, dependent on their needs.

Transferable skills courses
Compulsory (not examined)
MY599 Department of Methodology Seminar

Year 2
Transferable skills courses
Compulsory (not examined)
MY599 Department of Methodology Seminar

Year 3
Transferable skills courses
Compulsory (not examined)
MY599 Department of Methodology Seminar

Year 4
Transferable skills courses
Compulsory (not examined)
MY599 Department of Methodology 

Progression and upgrade requirements
In the Summer Term of their first year, candidates will produce a 10,000 word 'first year review' that outlines the aims and methods of their thesis: this means summarising the key literature(s), motivating their specific research questions, and highlighting the planned contributions of their work. A first year review document typically includes a general introduction, a comprehensive literature review (covering relevant empirical and theoretical work), a motivation of the research questions and hypotheses, and an indication of the literature(s) that the candidate is seeking to contribute to (i.e. the gaps in knowledge that will be addressed). Candidates will also give an oral presentation of their proposal at the Department of Methodology PhD day.

Written and oral work will be assessed by two academics (not on the supervisory team), normally members of Department of Methodology staff. This work has to reach an acceptable standard to enable them to progress to the second year. It is particularly important that the first year review clearly states the objectives of the doctoral research ands indicate how the empirical work will be carried out. If the panel deems the first year review to be not suitably clear, they can choose not to accept the submitted document and give the candidate up to a month to clarify. This decision will be taken maximum one week after the Department of Methodology PhD Day. Examples of unclear work might include (but not be limited to):

  • A first year review that does not state clear research questions;
  • A first year review that does not adequately review the specific literatures that the empirical work is contributing to;
  • A first year review that does not give enough methodological detail, showing how the design will produce data that allows the candidate to address the theoretical issues at stake in a systematic and rigorous way.

After the first year candidates will spend more time on independent study under the guidance of their supervisor(s). This will involve the collection, organization and analysis of data, and writing up the results. During their second year of registration, they will typically submit three (minimum) draft chapters of their thesis plus a short introduction and a detailed plan for its completion. The three draft chapters will typically include a detailed literature review, specification of research problem(s) and two empirical chapters. If candidates are pursuing a paper-based thesis, their upgrading documents will typically include a short introduction, a literature review and at least two empirical papers. Whether a traditional or paper-based thesis, the material will be evaluated by an upgrading committee (two academics, not necessarily of the MI or even the LSE) who will recommend transferral to PhD registration if their work is judged to be of sufficient quality and quantity.

Throughout the MPhil/PhD and PhD, candidates will attend the Institute's research seminar and other specialist workshops and seminars related to their interests. The student must present at every Department of Methodology PhD day.