Home > Department of Social Policy > Study > Research degree programmes
How to contact us
All enquiries should be addressed to the Programme Administrator in the first instance.

Research Degree Programmes Administrator:
Sarah Helias: s.helias@lse.ac.uk|

Doctoral Programme Director:
Professor Anne West: a.west@lse.ac.uk|

Research students


Research degree programmes

The Department of Social Policy

The Social Policy Department is one of the largest in the UK, with an international reputation for excellence. Its work earned it the top ranking of all UK institutions submitting research to the social policy unit of assessment in the Research Assessment Exercise 2008|. It is able to offer supervision in a very wide range of specialist areas, and, with its various research centres and over 80 current research students, provides a vibrant and exciting research community. 

Areas of specialisation
within the Department are:

-  Analysis of poverty and social exclusion
-  Area deprivation
-  Civil society and non governmental organisations
-  Crime and criminal justice
-  Education policy
-  Ethnicity and social policy
-  European and comparative social policy
-  Family change and its consequences
-  Gender and social policy
-  Global social policy
-  Health economics
-  Health policy in the UK, Europe and internationally
-  Multidimensional inequality and the future evolution of welfare states
-  Social policy in developing countries
-  Social rights in global (including European) contexts
-  Social security, pensions and welfare reform

Research programmes

MPhil/PhD Social Policy
MPhil/PhD Demography/Population Studies


All students register initially for the MPhil programme which is a substantial and valid qualification in its own right. During their first year, MPhil students meet their supervisor(s) to refine their individual research topic and question. The research degree is intended to provide a training in research methods so students attend courses to improve their knowledge and research skills. They attend the Research Students Seminar course (SA550) led by the Doctoral Programme Directors, are normally required to attend seminars provided by the Department of Methodology| on research methods, and are also encouraged to attend other graduate seminars relevant to the subject of their research.

At the end of the first year, students undertake a major review of their research. On passing, students are upgraded to PhD status.This is a significant step and the Department needs to be sure, before students transfer to a PhD, that they have a feasible research topic, research question(s) and methods. Students prepare a 10,000 word document which forms the basis for a discussion with a panel consisting of two senior members of the Department. If successful, students are transferred to the PhD programme, and at this point their registration is backdated to the date of their initial registration.

In subsequent years, students continue their research under the guidance of their supervisors and are encouraged to present their work from time to time, by giving seminar presentations and conference papers. Each year students are asked to write a report on their progress for their supervisors and  the Department. Continued registration depends on satisfactory progress.

The thesis for the PhD degree will not exceed 100,000 words. The programme normally lasts for three or four years of full-time study or equivalent part-time study. A three-plus paper format is acceptable for topics that fall within economics, demography or cognate disciplines.

Visiting Research Student programme


The Visiting Research Student programme is for those who do not wish to proceed to a higher degree, but want to pursue their own research with a supervisor who can support them in this research. Visiting research students can also be research and doctoral students registered at overseas universities wishing to undertake some aspect of their research in the UK.

Please refer to the Visiting Research Students| web page for further information.

Entry requirements


The Department welcomes applications from students who have, or expect to obtain, a good Master's degree, together with an upper second or first class honours degree from a UK university or its equivalent abroad. Applicants will normally need Master's degree marks equivalent to an LSE high merit grade, with an overall average of 65% in their MSc (or equivalent) and 65% in their dissertation (or equivalent); any conditional offer for a place on the MPhil/PhD programme will be subject to obtaining such marks.

Part-time registration is available to students who need to spread their studies over a longer period because of outside commitments, and can provide documentary evidence of their need.


Please refer to the Graduate Prospectus| for full information on programmes, courses and entry requirements. For information on fees please refer to the Table of fees|. Please note that fees are paid each year (academic session) for which you are registered, and normally rise each year. They do not stay the same as the year in which you started.

If potential applicants are interested in establishing whether the Department currently has staff working in the proposed area of research, they will find details of the research interests of staff within the LSE Experts Directory| or on the Department's Who's Who| webpages.

Prospective candidates for the MPhil/PhD in Social Policy are not expected to contact potential supervisors in advance of their application.  Identifying supervisors is part of the selection process.  Due to the high volume of enquiries, potential supervisors are unlikely to be able to provide feedback on enquiries and outline proposals. Applicants should submit formal applications with research proposals that fully cover the elements required. See Applications section below.

Potential applicants for the MPhil/PhD in Demography/Population Studies, should contact the supervisor they are interested in working with including a CV and a brief description of research interests or research proposal. If research interests are a suitable match to those of population cluster members, the potential applicant will then be asked to submit an application. For a list of possible supervisors please refer to Population at LSE|.


For MPhil/PhD and Visiting Research Student programmes


Applications should include a written proposal of up to 4,000 words which gives details of the particular issue/problem to be addressed; relevant literature and previous research in the field; the theoretical/conceptual framework to be adopted; the proposed research question(s); and the planned research methods to answer the research question(s).  This will enable the Department to make an informed decision about the proposal and, equally important, to establish if there are appropriate supervisors for the planned research. Two supervisors are normally identified at this stage.

You will also be required to provide a sample of written work, a personal statement and two academic references with your application. Full information on how to apply is provided at: Completing your application|

The Department normally interviews shortlisted applicants before any offer of a place is made.

Applications are normally only considered for a Michaelmas Term start, i.e. to start at the beginning of the academic year in September/October.


ESRC Studentships (1+3 and +3) for UK and EU students

1 + 3 scheme

The 1+3 scheme provides funding for a one year research training Masters linked to a three year PhD and is designed for students who have not already completed an ESRC-recognised programme of research training.

LSE has been awarded ESRC Doctoral Training Centre status and offers a total of 36 studentships a year spread across disciplines.  The following programmes are eligible for funding within the Department of Social Policy:

-    MSc in Social Policy (Research)|
-    MSc Social Research Methods (Population)|

Transfer from the one-year MSc programme to the three-year MPhil/PhD programme is dependent on obtaining high marks in the Masters degree.

+ 3 scheme

The + 3 scheme provides three years funding for the MPhil/PhD programme for students who have already achieved an ESRC recognised 'research training' MSc or have undertaken equivalent research training.

Applications for the ESRC 1+3 programme:

If you wish to be considered for a 1+3 programme, you must include an outline research proposal with your application for the relevant MSc.  The research proposal should normally be up to 4,000 words. See also Applications above.

1+3 candidates for the MPhil/PhD Social Policy programme should apply for the MSc in Social Policy (Research)|

1+3 candidates for the MPhil/PhD Demography/Population Studies programme should apply for the MSc Social Research Methods (Population)|

Applications for the ESRC +3 programme:

If you wish to be considered for the +3 funding, you should submit an application for the programme as above with information on your ESRC recognised 'research training' MSc. If you do not have the ESRC recognised research training, you will need to include information on the training that you have already undertaken with a statement making the case of its equivalence in particular with regard to research methods training.

Applicants wishing to be considered for ESRC funding should ensure they have submitted a complete application for admission, including transcripts and references, by 12 January 2015

Please refer to LSE's Financial Support Office ESRC Funding| web page for guidance.

Other funding :

LSE's Financial Support Office| administers a variety of studentships and award schemes for which different deadlines apply:

 -  LSE Studentships|
Titmuss Meinhardt Scholarships|

Contact details

All enquiries should be addressed to the Programme Administrator.

Research Degree Programmes Administrator:
Sarah Helias: s.helias@lse.ac.uk |

Doctoral Programme Director:
Professor Anne West: a.west@lse.ac.uk|