MPhil/PhD International Relations

  • Graduate research
  • Department of International Relations
  • Application code M1ZR
  • Starting 2019
  • UK/EU full-time: Closed
  • Overseas full-time: Closed
  • Location: London

This programme offers you the chance be part of one of the world's leading departments in the study of international relations while you undertake a substantial piece of work that is worthy of publication and which makes an original contribution to international relations scholarship. You will begin on the MPhil and be upgraded to PhD status after passing a research panel no later than at the end of your second year.

The Department is organised around four Research Clusters: Statecraft and Security; International Political Economy; Institutions, Law, and Ethics; and International Theory. You will belong to at least one of these clusters during your studies and attend its weekly events. You will also have the chance to participate in the editing of a student-run journal Millennium: Journal of International Studies, which has a major role in the discipline.

The Department has particular strengths in international relations theory, security studies, international political economy, and European studies. As well as Europe, its area specialists cover Russia, Central, Northeast and Southeast Asia, the USA, South America, the Middle East and Africa. Other areas of research strength include foreign policy analysis, nationalism, religion, historical sociology, international environmental politics and strategic and war studies. Many individuals contribute to more than one of these subjects, and there is interdisciplinary work with colleagues in the Departments of Government and International History, as well as through the many research centres at the School.

Programme details

Key facts

MPhil/PhD International Relations
Start date 30 September 2019
Application deadline 7 January 2019
Duration Three to four years (minimum two) full-time
Tuition fee UK/EU: £4,366 (for the first year) - provisional
Overseas: £18,624 (for the first year)
Financial support LSE PhD Studentships (deadline 7 January 2019)
ESRC funding (deadline 7 January 2019)
Minimum entry requirement High merit (65+) in Master’s degree in a relevant subject with high merit (65+) in the dissertation element or equivalent
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 progressing with your research, you will take courses in methods and research design. You may take courses in addition to those listed and should discuss this with your supervisor.

(* denotes half unit course)

First year

Training courses

Compulsory (not examined)

Methods in International Relations Research
Familiarises students with the principal approaches to contemporary research in the main branches of International Relations and to help students identify the appropriate methodology for their project. 

Second year

Training courses

Compulsory (not examined)
International Relations Research Design Seminar (second-year workshops)

First - fourth year

Optional (examined/not examined)
The subject workshops offered by the International Relations Department comprise international relations theory; security and statecraft; international institutions, law and ethics; international political economy; Asia-Pacific; and the Middle East.

Relevant courses provided by the Methodology Institute and agreed with your supervisor, including:

Fundamentals of Social Science Research Design
Introduces the broad range of design options and to foster an appreciation of these alternatives for particular research objectives.

Qualitative Research Methods
Prepares students to design, carry out, report, read and evaluate qualitative research projects. 

Introduction to Quantitative Analysis*
The course is intended for students with no previous experience of quantitative methods or statistics. It covers the foundations of descriptive statistics and statistical estimation and inference. 

Applied Regression Analysis*
Deepens the understanding of the generalized linear model and its application to social science data. 

Multivariate Analysis and Measurement
Introduces 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. 

Special Topics in Quantitative Analysis: Quantitative Text Analysis*
The course surveys methods for systematically extracting quantitative information from text for social scientific purposes, starting with classical content analysis and dictionary-based methods, to classification methods, and state-of-the-art scaling methods and topic models for estimating quantities from text using statistical techniques

Methodology Institute Seminar

Advanced Qualitative Analysis Workshops
Provides hands-on, in-depth and advanced training for specific methodologies of qualitative data collection, analytic techniques and research design issues. 

Computer Packages for Qualitative Analysis
Provides research students with an appreciation of various computer packages through introduction and hands-on training in the use of these tools.

Transferable skills courses

Workshop in Information Literacy
Finding, managing and organising published research and data (Year One)

At the end of your second year, 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


You will be assigned a lead supervisor (and an adviser) who is a specialist in your chosen research field, though not necessarily in your topic. Lead supervisors guide you through your studies. During your first year you will attend and contribute to departmental research seminars, workshops and research training courses. These are designed to strengthen your methodological skills, language skills or background knowledge of specific topics related to your research. 

Progression and assessment

The time taken to complete any research degree depends on your progress and individual needs and you must remain registered with the School until your thesis has been submitted.

You will be registered for the MPhil in the first instance. An assessment of your work, which usually occurs between 12 and 18 months from your start date, will allow us to appraise your aptitude for original research at doctoral level. If you have progressed satisfactorily you will be retroactively upgraded to full PhD status. The total duration of study is a maximum of four years full-time.

By the end of your first year you will be required to present a detailed research proposal. The proposal, which should illustrate your command of the theoretical and empirical literature related to your topic, will be a clear statement of the theoretical and methodological approach you will take. It will include a draft outline and work plan, which should identify any periods of fieldwork necessary to your research. This should demonstrate the coherence and feasibility of the proposed research and thesis.

Early in the Summer Term first- and second-year research students will have their progress reviewed by a Research Panel. Panels may also be held at the end of the third of registration at the request of a supervisor or student.

Supervisors will not attend Research Panels but will provide reports on progress. Panel members may attend your presentations at the Research Design Seminar. You are expected for the first Panel to submit an outline of your proposed research and one draft chapter. If you are deemed not to have made satisfactory progress you will either be refused permission to re-register or will be required by the Research Panel to produce written work over the summer as a condition for re-registration in the autumn. In the event of conditions to re-registration being set, a further Research Panel may be reconvened in the September prior to re-registration.

For the second Panel, which will decide on the question of upgrading from MPhil to PhD, you will be expected to submit two additional draft chapters. The two chapters should be substantially new work, but may include revised material from year one. If you have not made sufficient progress to be converted from MPhil to PhD registration by the end of your second year, you will normally have re-registration made conditional on further progress (details to be decided by the Panel) or may, exceptionally, not be authorised to re-register.

Preliminary reading

Karen Kelsky The Professor Is In: The Essential Guide to Turning your PhD into a Job (Three Rivers Press, 2015)

Paul J. Silvia How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing (American Psychological Association, 2007)


Students who successfully complete the programme often embark on an academic career. Recent doctoral graduates have also gone into careers in consultancy, education and teaching, NGOs and charities, international organisations and to roles within the public sector and government.

Graduate destinations for this programme

Hear from some recent graduates

Heidi Ning Kang Wang-Kaeding
Assistant Professor in Asian Politics, Department of Political Science, Trinity College Dublin

Mark Kersten
Research Fellow, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto; Director of Research, Wayamo Foundation

Elisabetta Brighi
Lecturer in International Relations, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Westminster

Hear more from our recent graduates

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

Uzzi Ohana

Mexico City, Mexico


I like the fact that, because of the structure of the programme, I do not feel overwhelmed, a situation that allows me to further my research and, at the same time, attend interesting seminars, lectures and conferences. 

I chose LSE not only because of its academic standards and international reputation, but also because of the great opportunity it represented to be supervised by one of the most important scholars in IR in the world, who also happens to be one of the authors of the core theory I'm relying on in my research. The expertise of my supervisor, as well as of the rest of the IR academic staff, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Above all, I reckon myself fortunate to be at LSE because I just feel I am at 'the' place, where things happen and where knowledge is created on a daily basis.

Joe Hoover

JoeHoover.170 x 230jpg

I chose my subject based on my research interest and the LSE based on the faculty, as my preferred supervisor was in the international relations department. Also, the LSE offered more financial support than other universities where I was accepted.

My time at the LSE has been very helpful thus far, in part this reflects the quality of the education I received, but it also reflects the quality of the people with whom I formed professional relationships. Also, the reputation of the LSE has been an advantage in the job market.

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. 

Please note: Prospective candidates are not expected to contact potential supervisors in advance of their application. Due to the high volume of enquiries, potential supervisors are unlikely to be able to provide feedback on enquiries and outline proposals. Individual academic members of staff are not able to make commitments to supervise prospective students outside of the formal application process.

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)
- academic statement of purpose
- 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.

When to apply

The application and funding deadline for this programme is 7 January 2019. See the fees and funding section for more details.

Minimum entry requirements for MPhil/PhD International Relations

The minimum entry requirement for this programme is a high merit (65+) in a master’s degree in a subject relevant to the proposed research with high merit (65+) in the dissertation element, or equivalent.

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 2019/20 for MPhil/PhD International Relations

UK/EU students: £4,366 for the first year (provisional)
Overseas students: £18,624 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.

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, and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funding. Selection for the PhD Studentships and ESRC funding is based on receipt of an application for a place – including all ancillary documents, before the funding deadline.  

Funding deadline for LSE PhD Studentships and ESRC funding: 7 January 2019. 

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. 

External funding 

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

Further information

Fees and funding opportunities

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