MRes/PhD Anthropology

  • Graduate research
  • Department of Anthropology
  • Application code L6ZB
  • Starting 2019
  • UK/EU full-time: Open
  • Overseas full-time: Open
  • Location: London

This programme offers you the chance to undertake a substantial piece of work that is worthy of publication and which makes an original contribution to the field of anthropology. You will begin on the MRes, and will need to meet certain requirements to progress to the PhD.

LSE has one of the most famous anthropology departments in the world. The research interests of our staff span all the major theoretical spheres of modern social anthropology. We carry out ethnographic research in diverse settings such as bureaucracies, corporations, NGOs, rural and urban communities and religious and social movements. Our expertise covers all the regions of the world including China, South Asia, South East Asia, the U.S.A, Europe, Latin America and post-socialist states. Our Department is well known for the rigour of its ethnography in settings such as these, and also for the pivotal contributions it makes to foundational topics in the social sciences such as politics, economics, religion and kinship.

The MRes/PhD programme is central to the life of the Department, and we support students with their field research and professional development. By joining this programme you will be actively involved in innovative research, which is rooted in our Department’s anthropological traditions of: long-term ethnographic fieldwork; a commitment to broad comparative inquiries into human sociality; and a critical engagement with social theory.

The programme is built around long-term participant observation fieldwork in locations throughout the world. You will normally undertake fieldwork for around 18 months. After fieldwork, you begin work on your thesis dissertation.

Programme details

Key facts

MRes /PhD Anthropology
Start date 30 September 2019
Application deadline 26 April 2019. However please note the funding deadline
Duration Five years (1+4) full-time
Availability UK/EU: Open from October
Overseas: Open from October
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 Normally, merit in a taught master’s in social anthropology from a UK university
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


The first year focuses on fieldwork preparation and training in research methodologies. You will take courses and seminars based in the Department of Anthropology. Depending on your qualifications and background, you will also be asked to take additional coursework in social anthropology by attending lecture courses in, for example, economics, kinship or religion.

You will also audit (attend but not participate in assessment) one or two of the Department’s main lecture courses, to the value of one unit.

Throughout the pre-fieldwork year, your main task is to prepare – in close consultation with your two supervisors – a formal research proposal (with a 10,000-word limit). This is formally assessed by the Department. You will normally be upgraded from MRes to PhD registration if your proposal is approved, and if you have achieved the required marks in your coursework. You are then allowed to proceed to fieldwork. 

Qualitative Methods for Anthropologists
Provides you with insights into the process by which anthropological knowledge is produced, and trains you in the collection and analysis of qualitative data. 

Evidence and Arguments in Anthropology and Other Social Sciences
Considers research practices across a range of social and natural sciences in order to explore methodological issues which are specifically relevant to ethnography. 

Supervised Reading Course and Fieldwork Preparation
Gives you a detailed knowledge of the regional ethnographic literature relevant to your proposed research project, as well as providing you with a firm grounding in the theoretical literature relevant to your research objectives. 

Research Proposal
Preparation of a formal Research Proposal of 8,000-10,000 words for submission to the Department on or before the deadline in June/August. 

Seminar on Anthropological Research


After meeting the progression requirements, you will be upgraded to PhD registration and will commence the fieldwork phase of the programme. Most students carry out fieldwork for approximately 18 months, however the timing and duration of the fieldwork and post-fieldwork stages may vary to some extent between students. During fieldwork – depending on the practicalities of communication – you are expected to maintain close contact with your supervisor about the progress of your work.

After fieldwork, doctoral candidates begin writing their PhD dissertations under the close guidance of their supervisors. During this period of your studies, you will also attend seminars on: thesis-writing; professional development and our departmental seminar in which external speakers present their latest research. Most students complete their dissertations between one and two years after their fieldwork has ended.

First and second year of the PhD (typically 18 months)


Second to fourth year of the PhD (typically 18 to 24 months)

Advanced Professional Development in Anthropology
Examines key theoretical concepts and approaches in anthropology at an advanced level that may be relevant to post-fieldwork doctoral candidates. Enhances your professional development by providing you with advanced training in writing and presentation skills and skills relevant to your career progression.

Thesis Writing Seminar
This non-assessed course involves you presenting draft dissertation chapters amongst your cohort.

Seminar on Anthropological Research

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 two supervisors who are specialists in your chosen research field, though not necessarily in your topic.

Progression and assessment

You will need to meet certain criteria to progress to PhD registration, such as achieving certain grades in your coursework, and earning a minimum mark on your research proposal, which includes a viva oral examination.

Your progress will also be reviewed at the end of each year of your PhD study, and will be based on written reports. The mandatory third year progress review for students in anthropology is held in the third term (or, exceptionally, in the fourth term) after your return from fieldwork; this entails a viva with both supervisors and one external examiner.

Your final award will be determined by the completion of an original research thesis and a viva oral examination.

More about progression requirements.


Students who successfully complete the programme often embark on an academic career. 

Students who graduated within the last ten years have gone on to a range of occupations such as:

Amit Desai (PhD 2007) – Research Fellow, Nursing & Midwifery Research Department, King’s College London
Fraser McNeill (PhD 2007) – Senior Lecturer of Anthropology at the University of Pretoria, South Africa
Andrew Sanchez (PhD 2009) – Lecturer in Anthropology, University of Cambridge
Elizabeth Hull (PhD 2009) – Lecturer in Anthropology, SOAS Food Studies Centre and the Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research in Agriculture and Health
Judith Bovensiepen (PhD 2010) – Senior Lecturer, School of Anthropology & Conservation, University of Kent
Victoria Boydell (PhD 2010) – Rights and Accountability Advisor, Reproductive Sociology Research Group, University of Cambridge
Katie Dow (PhD 2010) – Senior Research Associate, Reproductive Sociology Research Group, University of Cambridge
Maxim Bolt (PhD 2011) – Reader in Anthropology and Africa at the Department of African Studies and Anthropology, University of Birmingham
Indira Arumugam (PhD 2011) – Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore
Elizabeth Frantz (PhD 2011) – Senior Program Officer, Open Society Foundations
Tom Boylston (PhD 2012) – Lecturer in Anthropology, University of Edinburgh
Kimberly Chong (PhD 2012) – Lecturer in Anthropology, University of Sussex
Dina Makram-Ebeid (PhD 2013) –  Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Psychology and Egyptology, The American University in Cairo
Giulia Liberatore (PhD 2013) – Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, COMPAS, School of Anthropology, University of Oxford
Ruben Andersson (PhD 2013) - Associate Professor of Migration and Development, International Migration Institute, Oxford Department of International Development, University of Oxford
Jovan Scott Lewis (PhD 2014) – Assistant Professor, University of California UC Berkeley
Amy Penfield (PhD 2015) – Lecturer in Social Anthropology, University of Manchester
Méadhbh Mclvor (PhD 2016) – Teaching Fellow in Social Anthropology, UCL
Agustin Diz (PhD 2017) – LSE Fellow in Anthropology, LSE

Further information on graduate destinations for this programme 

Support for your career

Many leading organisations in the field 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

Fraser McNeill

MRes/PhD Anthropology
London, UK 


The PhD programme in Anthropology at LSE is without doubt one of the best in the country. LSE combines first class research facilities with access to the best libraries on the planet! Also, being in London not only gives a great atmosphere, but places us at the centre of an academic community of seminars and conferences.

In Anthropology, we have a pre fieldwork year which gets us well prepared for fieldwork. I conducted almost two years' research in an African village (in Venda, South Africa) and during the writing up period I got a chance to do some teaching and present at the prestigious departmental seminars. Following my PhD I hope to get a post-doctoral fellowship and publish my thesis as a book, with a view to lecturing and continuing my career as an anthropologist – either in this country or abroad.

Denis Regnier

MRes/PhD Anthropology
Seneffe, Belgium 


Studying for a PhD in anthropology at LSE is a unique experience in itself but I particularly enjoy doing research in cognitive anthropology, an exciting field to which several staff members of the department are actively contributing. I chose this programme because of the reputation of academic excellence of the department and its expertise in the anthropology of Madagascar and in cognitive anthropology.

Returning to university after almost 10 years of work experience as a high school teacher, I have found at LSE a wonderful academic environment to pursue my doctoral research project. It gave me the opportunity to become deeply involved in academic life. I like the international atmosphere, the concentration of high class researchers in a wide range of social sciences and the friendliness of the staff, be it administrative or academic. After my PhD my wish is to work in academia and thus carry on with both teaching and researching.

Itay Noy

MRes/PhD Anthropology
Tel Aviv, Israel


The PhD community is very social and I enjoy the mix of students, from different countries and walks of life. It is an intellectually stimulating environment with lots of interesting speakers coming to our seminars. My thesis supervisors are also great, they are always encouraging and giving me lots of useful feedback on my work.

Assessing your application

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

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
- 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 deadline for this programme is 26 April 2019. 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 MRes/PhD Anthropology

Normally, merit in a taught master’s in social anthropology from a UK university.

In exceptional circumstances the Department will consider students with a BA/BSc in Social Anthropology (at least a 2:1) from a UK University.

For students currently registered on the Department's MSc Anthropology and Development, MSc Anthropology and Development Management, MSc Religion in the Contemporary World, or MSc China in Comparative Perspective programmes, specific additional conditions apply.

If you do not hold a degree from a UK university you will not normally qualify for direct admission to the MRes/PhD and should first complete a one-year MSc programme taught in our Department (MSc Social Anthropology; MSc Social Anthropology (Learning and Cognition); MSc Social Anthropology (Religion in the Contemporary World); MSc Anthropology and Development; MSc Anthropology and Development Management; or MSc China in Comparative Perspective), or the LSE Law Department’s MSc Law, Anthropology and Society before applying to the MRes/PhD. Exceptions may be made to this rule. Please contact the doctoral programme director if you have questions about your eligibility.

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 each year of 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 MRes/PhD Anthropology

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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