MPhil/PhD Philosophy of the Social Sciences

  • Graduate research
  • Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
  • Application code V5ZS
  • Starting 2018
  • UK/EU full-time: Closed
  • Overseas full-time: Closed
  • Location: London

The Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method is a world-leading centre for research in three broad areas of philosophy: rational choice theory and formal epistemology; philosophy of science; and moral and political philosophy.

We accept MPhil/PhD students wishing to work in any field of research in which the Department has special expertise, including philosophy of the natural sciences (especially physics and biology); distributive justice and normative ethics; philosophy and public policy; philosophy of the social sciences (especially economics); decision theory, evolutionary and game theory; and formal epistemology.

We are committed to research that makes a difference not only to philosophy and the philosophies of the various sciences, but also to the practice of the sciences themselves – from economics and political science to physics, biology and medicine – as well as to the wider world. The Department’s teaching is research-led: courses cover cutting-edge material and are taught by some of the field’s leading scholars.

On this programme you will work towards producing a substantial piece of work that makes an original contribution to the subject and is of a sufficient standard to give rise to publications in professional academic journals.

You will benefit from the Department’s close association with the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science, which hosts leading visiting scholars and supports a range of research projects, seminars and lecture series, and the Forum for European Philosophy, which runs a full and varied programme of philosophy and interdisciplinary events. You will also have the opportunity to attend and take part in the Department’s regular seminar and lecture series, including the Choice Group on decision theory and social choice, and the Sigma Club on the philosophy and foundations of modern physics.

As a Philosophy of the Social Sciences MPhil/PhD student you will be given the chance to teach the undergraduate discussion classes that are run in parallel with lectures. An essential part of becoming a good philosopher is learning how to teach, share and discuss ideas with those interested in philosophy at all levels, and the discussion classes you lead at LSE will provide ample opportunity.

The MPhil/PhD in Philosophy of the Social Sciences is intended only for those with a special interest in pursuing coursework in social sciences methodology, including quantitative, regression and multivariate analysis, during their first and second years. Those with an interest in philosophy of the social sciences that does not extend to such coursework should apply only for the MPhil/PhD in Philosophy.

Programme details

Key facts

MPhil/PhD Philosophy of the Social Sciences
Start date 27 September 2018
Application deadline 26 April 2018. However please note the funding deadline
Duration 3 to 4 years (minimum 2) full-time
Availability UK/EU: Closed 
Overseas: Closed
Tuition fee UK/EU: £4,299 (for the first year) - provisional
Overseas £17,904 (for the first year)
Financial support LSE PhD Studentships (deadline 8 January 2018)
Minimum entry requirement Taught master’s degree in philosophy with a distinction overall and in the dissertation component
GRE/GMAT requirement None
English language requirements Research (see 'assessing your application')
Location  Houghton Street, London

For more information about tuition fees and entry requirements, see the fees and funding and assessing your application sections.

Programme structure and courses

In addition to making progress on your PhD project, you are expected to take the listed training and transferable skills courses. You may take courses in addition to those listed and should discuss this with your supervisor. All programmes of study should be agreed with your supervisor at the start of the year.

Year One

The first “coursework” year prepares students for research in philosophy and the completion of a central thesis chapter. At the end of this first year the progress of students is reviewed, to establish that they are on track to upgrade from MPhil to PhD status. In consultation with their academic supervisors, PhD students also settle on a definite research topic by the end of the first year.

(* denotes half unit)

Training courses

Compulsory (examined/not examined)
Introduction to Quantitative Analysis
Covers the foundations of descriptive statistics and statistical estimation and inference. At the end of the course students should be able to carry out univariate and bi-variate data analysis and have an appreciation of multiple linear regression. 

Applied Regression Analysis
Focuses on  deepening the understanding of the generalized linear model and its application to social science data. The main topics covered are linear regression modelling and binary, multinomial and ordinal logistic regression. 

Qualitative Research Methods
Prepares students to design, carry out, report, read and evaluate qualitative research projects. Students learn how to collect data using methods including interviewing, focus groups, participant observation, and documentary and historical work. 

Set Theory and Further Logic (if you have previous logic training)
Examines ‘working’ set theory as a tool for use in formal reasoning, and also some ‘conceptual’ set theory of philosophical interest in its treatment of infinite sets, cardinals and ordinals.
Reasoning and Logic (if you have not already completed an undergraduate course in formal logic)
The course aims to give a precise formulation of correct deductive reasoning – of what it means for a sentence to follow from a set of other sentences taken as premises – and to investigate on this basis other important logical notions such as that of consistency.

Evidence and Policy*
Good policy decisions - whether concerning climate, conservation, international development, poverty, education, medicine, health, or whatever - require a rationally-based view of whether the proposed policy will (or is likely to) bring about the intended outcome. These are the central issues addressed in this course.  It might seem initially that only experts, only scientists involved in the field, can tell what counts as good evidence. But this is not true. You can learn how to be ‘evidence-savvy’, how to ask the right questions about evidence, without needing to know the detailed science involved.

One thesis chapter (approximately 10,000 words)

A Research plan for your thesis (approximately 3,000 words)

You must also attend a Research Seminar in the Department

Year Two

Years 2–4 is the time when PhD students dive deep into the research and writing of their thesis. While writing the thesis students attend the Department’s Popper Seminar, but also any of the wealth of regular research seminars that may be relevant to their research.

Students in their 2nd year aim to write two or three further chapters beyond the chapter they completed in their first year.

As well as this, Philosophy of the Social Sciences MPhil/PhD students must take, and be examined in, an additional two courses in their 2nd year.

Training courses

Compulsory (examined)
Multivariate Analysis and Measurement
Examines the application of modern multivariate methods used in the social sciences, with particular focus on latent variable models for continuous observed variables, and their application to questions of measurement in the social sciences. 

Fundamentals of Social Science Research Design
Examines the theoretical and practical foundations of empirical social science research.

Years Three and Four

In the 3rd year students produce a draft of the entire thesis, while writing papers, submitting to conferences, and getting to know the dynamic field of philosophy and their place in it. In the 4th year, students polish their material and prepare to go on the job market.

Completion of your thesis

At the end of your second year (full-time), you will need to satisfy certain requirements and if you meet these, will be retroactively upgraded to PhD status.

You can find the most up-to-date list of optional courses in the Programme Regulations section of the current School Calendar. 

You must note however that while care has been taken to ensure that this information is up to date and correct, a change of circumstances since publication may cause the School to change, suspend or withdraw a course or programme of study, or change the fees that apply to it. The School will always notify the affected parties as early as practicably possible and propose any viable and relevant alternative options. Note that that the School will neither be liable for information that after publication becomes inaccurate or irrelevant, nor for changing, suspending or withdrawing a course or programme of study due to events outside of its control, which includes but is not limited to a lack of demand for a course or programme of study, industrial action, fire, flood or other environmental or physical damage to premises. 

You must also note that places are limited on some courses and/or subject to specific entry requirements. The School cannot therefore guarantee you a place. Please note that changes to programmes and courses can sometimes occur after you have accepted your offer of a place. These changes are normally made in light of developments in the discipline or path-breaking research, or on the basis of student feedback. Changes can take the form of altered course content, teaching formats or assessment modes. Any such changes are intended to enhance the student learning experience. You should visit the School’s Calendar, or contact the relevant academic department, for information on the availability and/or content of courses and programmes of study. Certain substantive changes will be listed on the updated graduate course and programme information page.

Supervision, progression and assessment


PhD students in the Department work with two supervisors from the academic faculty, to ensure a wide range of advice. The choice of secondary supervisor can be quite flexible (and occasionally includes academics from outside the Department). The primary supervisor is a senior member of staff. Both primary and secondary supervisory arrangements can change in the course of the degree as your thesis develops. 

Progression and assessment

Successful completion of work required for each year is a necessary condition for re-registration in the following year; and for upgrading from MPhil to PhD status. During the first year you must write a first chapter of the thesis as well as an outline (research plan) of the rest of the thesis. The chapter should be around 40 pages; the research plan around ten pages. This upgrading will normally take place after the successful completion of Year One requirements in Case A, and after the successful completion of Year Two requirements in Case B. In both cases, once you are registered for the PhD that registration will be backdated to the start of your MPhil/PhD studies.


Students who successfully complete the programme often embark on an academic career. Recent doctoral graduates have also gone into careers in consulting, teaching and business. 

The Department maintains a placement record of its former PhD students.

Further information on graduate destinations for this programme

Support for your career

Many leading organisations give careers presentations at the School during the year, and LSE Careers has a wide range of resources available to assist students in their job search. Find out more about the support available to students through LSE Careers


Assessing your application

We welcome applications for research programmes that complement the academic interests of members of staff at the School, and we recommend that you investigate staff research interests before applying.

See the LSE Experts Directory for more information

We carefully consider each application on an individual basis, taking into account all the information presented on your application form, including your:

- academic achievement (including existing and pending qualifications)
- personal statement
- references
- CV
- outline research proposal
- sample of written work.

See further information on supporting documents

You may also have to provide evidence of your English proficiency. You do not need to provide this at the time of your application to LSE, but we recommend that you do. See our English language requirements for further information.

When to apply

The application deadline for this programme is 26 April 2018. However to be considered for any LSE funding opportunity, you must have submitted your application and all supporting documents by the funding deadline. See the fees and funding section for more details.

Minimum entry requirements for MPhil/PhD Philosophy of the Social Sciences

The minimum entry requirement for this programme is a taught master’s degree (or equivalent) in philosophy (or a sufficient relevant discipline). We normally accept only those who achieve the equivalent of a distinction overall and in the dissertation component of their master's degree.

Competition for places at the School is high. This means that even if you meet our minimum entry requirement, this does not guarantee you an offer of admission. 

See international entry requirements

Fees and funding

Every research student is charged a fee for their programme. The fee covers registration and examination fees payable to the School, lectures, classes and individual supervision, lectures given at other colleges under intercollegiate arrangements and, under current arrangements, membership of the Students' Union. It does not cover living costs or travel or fieldwork.

Tuition fees 2018/19 for MPhil/PhD Philosophy of the Social Sciences

UK/EU students: £4,299 (for the first year) - provisional
Overseas students: £17,904 (for the first year)

The fee is likely to rise over subsequent years of the programme. The School charges UK/EU research students in line with the level of fee that the Research Councils recommend. The fees for overseas students are likely to rise in line with the assumed percentage increase in pay costs (ie, 4 per cent per annum).

Fee status

The amount of tuition fees you will need to pay, and any financial support you are eligible for, will depend on whether you are classified as a home (UK/EU) or overseas student, otherwise known as your fee status. LSE assesses your fee status based on guidelines provided by the Department of Education.

Further information

Fees and funding opportunities

Scholarships, studentships and other funding

The School recognises that the cost of living in London may be higher than in your home town or country, and we provide over £11.5 million in scholarships each year to graduate students from the UK, the EU and outside the EU.

This programme is eligible for LSE PhD Studentships. Selection for the PhD Studentships is based on receipt of an application for a place – including all ancillary documents, before the funding deadline.

Funding deadline for LSE PhD Studentships: 8 January 2018. 

In addition to our needs-based awards, LSE also makes available scholarships for students from specific regions of the world and awards for students studying specific subject areas. 

Check the latest information about scholarship opportunities

External funding 

There may be other funding opportunities available through other organisations or governments and we recommend you investigate these options as well.

Find out more about external funding opportunities.

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