Programmes

MSc Philosophy of the Social Sciences

  • Graduate taught
  • Department of Philosophy, Logic & Scientific Method
  • Application code V7U1
  • Starting 2018

Anthropology, economics, geography, political science, sociology – you already know what the social sciences are. But how do they work? What makes them special?

There are clear senses in which they differ from some of the natural sciences, such as their extremely diverse set of methods and analytic techniques, but does this make the social sciences any less scientific or objective?

With LSE widely recognised as the world’s leading specialist social science university, the MSc Philosophy of the Social Sciences is the ideal degree with which to pursue questions about human societies, and to apply philosophical reasoning to understanding the nature of the social sciences themselves.

This programme offers a critical examination of the conceptual and methodological issues underlying social scientific research. The Department's strength in philosophy of economics and rational choice theory makes it the ideal environment in which to study, examine and critique the use of these methods within the social sciences. 

Programme details

Key facts

MSc Philosophy of the Social Sciences
Start date 27 September 2018
Application deadline None – rolling admissions. However please note the funding deadlines
Duration 12 months full-time, 24 months part-time
Applications 2016 66
Intake 2016 19
Availability UK/EU: Open 
Overseas: Open 
Tuition fee UK/EU: £13,536
Overseas: £20,904
Financial support Graduate Support Scheme (deadline 26 April 2018), Imre Lakatos Memorial Scholarship
Minimum entry requirement 2:1 degree or equivalent in any discipline. You should also demonstrate a considered interest in the area covered by the MSc
GRE/GMAT requirement None
English language requirements Higher (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

You choose philosophy options from across the Department. In addition, you will take part in the non-assessed dissertation seminar. This will prepare you to complete your dissertation of 10,000 words, which will be on a topic in the philosophy of the social sciences (within the 'analytic' tradition, broadly construed).

Courses to the value of three units from a range of options.

Dissertation Seminar
This non-assessed course will prepare you to write your dissertation. 

Dissertation
An independent research project on an approved topic of your choice, of 10,000 words.

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.

Teaching and assessment

Contact hours and independent study

You will typically have, for each examined course, 20 hours of lectures and 30 hours of seminars (with a guarantee that no seminar will have more than 15 students). Hours vary according to courses and you can view indicative details in the Calendar within the Teaching section of each course guide. In addition, there will be 30 hours of teaching on the dissertation research and writing seminar. Additional contact time concerning one-on-one dissertation and class teaching support is available during office hours and by appointment at your request. You will be assigned an academic adviser within the Department who will be available to discuss your personal and academic concerns.

You are also expected to complete independent study outside of class time. This varies depending on the programme, but requires you to manage the majority of your study time yourself, by engaging in activities such as reading, note-taking, thinking and research.

Teaching methods

LSE is internationally recognised for its teaching and research and therefore employs a rich variety of teaching staff with a range of experience and status. Courses may be taught by individual members of faculty, such as lecturers, senior lecturers, readers, associate professors and professors. Many departments now also employ guest teachers and visiting members of staff, LSE teaching fellows and graduate teaching assistants who are usually doctoral research students and in the majority of cases, teach on undergraduate courses only. You can view indicative details for the teacher responsible for each course in the relevant course guide.

Assessment

All taught courses are required to include formative coursework which is unassessed. It is designed to help prepare you for summative assessment which counts towards the course mark and to the degree award. LSE uses a range of formative assessment, such as essays, problem sets, case studies, reports, quizzes, mock exams and many others. Summative assessment may be conducted during the course or by final examination at the end of the course. An indication of the formative coursework and summative assessment for each course can be found in the relevant course guide.

Extra-curricular activities and learning

Our students typically form a tight social group. The Department facilitates this by hosting a number of social occasions through the year. In addition, London has a wide range of opportunities for socialising, with a great many additional philosophical activities offered by the Institute of Philosophy and the University of London, enabling enterprising students to make contact with people from other universities. 

Academic support

There are many opportunities to extend your learning outside the classroom and complement your academic studies at LSE. LSE LIFE is the School’s centre for academic, personal and professional development. Some of the services on offer include: guidance and hands-on practice of the key skills you will need to do well at LSE: effective reading, academic writing and critical thinking; workshops related to how to adapt to new or difficult situations, including development of skills for leadership, study/work/life balance and preparing for the world of work; and advice and practice on working in study groups and on cross-cultural communication and teamwork.

LSE is committed to enabling all students to achieve their full potential and the School’s Disability and Wellbeing Service provides a free, confidential service to all LSE students and is a first point of contact for all disabled students.

Preliminary reading

J Baggini and P S. Fosl The philosopher's toolkit: a compendium of philosophical concepts and methods (Wiley Blackwell, 2010)

H Kincaid The Oxford handbook of philosophy of social science (Oxford, 2012)

M Martin and L C McIntyre Reading in the philosophy of social science (Cambridge, 1994) 

D Steel and F Guala The philosophy of social science reader (Routledge, 2010)

Careers

Past programme graduates have gone on to a wide variety of careers, ranging from law, forming their own start-up, working in the City and working at Google. We have a very good record of students entering excellent PhD programmes.

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.

Student stories

Kamilla Buchter

Denmark
MSc Philosophy of the Social Sciences

Kamilla_Butcher_170x230

I joined the LSE MSc Philosophy of the Social Sciences because I believe the programme is a unique opportunity to learn how to use philosophical tools to criticise and strengthen economic theory. Studying at LSE gave me a lot more than the knowledge of how to combine philosophy and economics.

As a student at LSE you are also invited to participate in research seminars and conferences in the Department. You will have the opportunity to listen to some of the latest research in philosophy of the social sciences. The thing I enjoyed the most about studying at LSE was the social and academic environment I encountered on campus. The students and staff were all extremely friendly and helpful, and even though I didn't  know anyone when I moved to London, I never felt lonely during my year of study. 

Assessing your application

We welcome applications from all suitably qualified prospective students and want to recruit students with the very best academic merit, potential and motivation, irrespective of their background.

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 predicted and achieved grades)
- personal statement
- two academic references
- CV

See further information on supporting documents

You may also have to provide evidence of your English proficiency, although you do not need to provide this at the time of your application to LSE. See our English language requirements.

When to apply

Applications for this programme are considered on a rolling basis, meaning the programme will close once it becomes full. There is no fixed deadline by which you need to apply, 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 MSc Philosophy of the Social Sciences

Upper second class honours (2:1) degree or equivalent in any discipline. You should also demonstrate a considered interest in the area covered by the MSc.

If your first language is not English, you must submit a writing sample of five-ten typewritten pages.

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

See international entry requirements

Fees and funding

Every graduate 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 MSc Philosophy of the Social Sciences

UK/EU students: £13,536
Overseas students: £20,904

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

Fee reduction

Students who completed undergraduate study at LSE and are beginning taught graduate study at the School are eligible for a fee reduction of around 10 per cent of the fee.

Please refer to the Fees Office website for further information.

Scholarships 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, EU and overseas.

This programme is eligible for needs-based awards from LSE, including the Graduate Support SchemeMaster's Awards, and Anniversary Scholarships

This programme is also eligible for the Imre Lakatos Memorial Scholarship.

Selection for any funding opportunity is based on receipt of an application for a place – including all ancillary documents, before the funding deadline. 

Funding deadline for needs-based awards from LSE: 26 April 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

Government tuition fee loans and external funding

A postgraduate loan is available from the UK government for eligible students studying for a first master’s programme, to help with fees and living costs. Some other governments and organisations also offer tuition fee loan schemes.

Find out more about tuition fee loans
Find out more about external funding opportunities

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