Your supervisor is your main guide through this learning process. You and your supervisor share responsibility for transforming your efforts into a successful thesis. If you are to have a productive relationship with your supervisor, at your first meeting you must work out together a detailed plan both for the first year and for the completion of your thesis. Although this plan may, by agreement, be changed later on, it is essential for the supervision process that you keep your supervisor regularly informed of your progress. It is also very important that you follow your supervisor’s advice on key aspects of the thesis. Your supervisor will have much experience both in research and writing, and it is by following her/his advice that you will be able to complete successfully and on time. You will be required to keep an electronic Supervision Logbook, in which you will record all substantive items discussed at meetings with your supervisor. This record will require the approval of your supervisor. At the end of the year a copy of the electronic Logbook will be submitted to the Doctoral Programme Director and retained in the Department’s archives.
For a list of potential academic supervisors please see the Who's Who section.
The doctoral thesis is the core of the training at the PhD level. For most students, the thesis is the first major piece of writing you have put together, and it takes much preparation to complete successfully. You need to learn, first of all, about the ways historians interpret the past, and about how to find your own voice within the profession. You also need practical knowledge about how to prepare and organise for such a substantive undertaking as writing a thesis in history. You have to learn about how archives work, and about how to carry out research in them. And, perhaps most important of all, you have to learn how to construct and argue for the key hypotheses of your work based on your original research, so that the thesis becomes an important addition to academic knowledge in the field.
The Department has developed a well-functioning framework in order to guide you through to the completion of your thesis within four years. While your supervisor will be your main guide throughout the process, there are a number of seminars available in the Department, at LSE, and in the University of London Institute for Historical Research that will be relevant to your work, from sessions on how to write a thesis to seminars that discuss overall historiographical developments in specific areas of international history. The PhD programme at LSE includes an international history workshop (compulsory for first-year students), which helps prepare you for the research and writing process and introduces key methodological and historiographical topics. We also strongly encourage you to make use of the many opportunities that exist within the School and in London to receive further specialist training and to discuss your work and your interests with renowned experts in the field.
Progression and assessment
In order to be upgraded from MPhil registration to PhD, you must prepare a dossier for submission (three hard copies) in the Summer Term of your first year of study, if you are a full-time student starting in the Michaelmas term. The review process is designed to determine whether you will be able to meet the requirements of a PhD, and whether the chosen topic will be suitable for a doctoral dissertation. The Department uses the Code of Practice as a determinant of the general responsibilities of research students and their supervisors.
In your first year you will be required to attend the Department's research training programme – International History MPhil/PhD Research Training Workshop. The purpose of this workshop is to familiarise new MPhil/PhD students with the practical research and writing skills necessary for the preparation of a first-rate PhD thesis in history, and to discuss some general methodological and theoretical issues in international history as a research field.
After the first year, we require you to formally report on your progress at least twice a year. If your progress is deemed unsatisfactory by the Doctoral Programme Director or supervisor your position will be assessed and you will not be allowed to continue in the programme.
The Department expects that research students will submit their theses within four years and the reviews of your progress are geared to achieving that goal.