Departmental website: lse.ac.uk/anthropology
Number of graduate students (full-time equivalent)
Number of faculty (full-time equivalent): 22
RAE: 65 per cent of the Department's research was rated as world leading or internationally excellent
Location: Old Building
About the Department
The Department of Anthropology has a strong international reputation and a long and distinguished history of leadership in the discipline. It is characterised by a dynamic research culture and by a strong commitment to teaching and to promoting an inclusive intellectual environment. We engage in innovative research in the unfolding contemporary world while maintaining core anthropological traditions: long-term empirical research, a commitment to a broad comparative enquiry on the nature of human sociality and human nature, and a constructive but critical engagement with social theory. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, LSE's Anthropology Department obtained the highest proportion of 4* rated submissions (the highest ranking) in the UK.
The Department has extensive international links and leading scholars in the discipline often come to LSE as academic visitors. These links bring a special quality to the Department's research culture, and are of great educational and professional benefit to students.
The Department has a long and distinguished history. It originated with the work of Bronislaw Malinowski who arrived in 1910 and developed the distinctive features of British social anthropology. Many of the most famous figures in this tradition have been students and teachers in the Department. You can hear from some of the current members of staff and students by watching our video Anthropology at LSE.
Opportunities for research
Our graduate research programme, which is central to the life of the Department, is built around long term participant observation fieldwork. In recent years, doctoral students have conducted fieldwork – related to a broad range of contemporary themes in social anthropology – in many different countries, especially in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, South America and the Pacific. We invite applications for research, particularly on topics which are linked to the interests and expertise of our members of staff.
In order to be considered for direct admission to the MPhil/PhD programme, you must have completed an MA or MSc in social anthropology at a British university to a high standard. If you do not have these qualifications, you should apply first for one of our MSc programmes (students with a UK-based BA/BSc in anthropology should contact us to discuss possible exemptions to this requirement). While studying for the MSc, you may apply for admission to the MPhil/PhD programme in the following year, although satisfactory completion of the MSc (obtaining a 'Merit' classification or higher in the MSc overall) is required before an offer of admission to the MPhil/PhD can be confirmed. However, if you will be supported by a scholarship which can be held only for a research degree and not for the MSc degree, you should write directly to the Department's Doctoral Programme Director to discuss this in relation to your individual circumstances.
The first year of our graduate research programme focuses on fieldwork preparation and training in research methodologies. Students 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, kinship or religion. 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. Students are normally upgraded from MPhil to PhD registration if their proposals have been approved, and if they have achieved the required marks on their methodology coursework. They are then allowed to proceed to fieldwork.
During fieldwork – depending on the practicalities of communication – students are expected to maintain close contact with their supervisors about the progress of their work. Most of our students carry out fieldwork for approximately 18 months.
After fieldwork, doctoral candidates begin writing their PhD dissertations under the close supervision of members of staff. During this period of their studies, they attend weekly thesis writing seminars, and fortnightly seminars on recent developments in anthropology as well as departmental seminars on anthropological theory. Most students complete their dissertations between one and two years after their fieldwork has ended.
The research interests of our staff span nearly all the major theoretical spheres of modern social anthropology – from learning and cognition, to industrialisation and globalisation, mythology and religious symbolism, temporality and history, development and human rights. Our range of regional interests is equally wide.