About the MPhil/PhD in Regional and Urban Planning
The M/Phil/ PhD in Regional & Urban Planning is part of a vibrant, innovative and interdisciplinary graduate training programme that addresses the opportunities, problems, politics and economics of urban and regional planning in cities around the world. Our emphasis is on ‘understanding the causes of things’ to quote the School’s motto and we do this by employing analytical skills and theoretical insights gained from the social sciences and the fields of planning, architecture, economics and the environment.
Our programme aims to produce top quality social scientists who are able to engage with the conceptual foundations of urban planning and employ robust and appropriate methods in their research. We prepare students for a variety of careers in academia, international organisations (eg World Bank, OECD, UNEP, European Commission, etc), urban planning, community development, NGOs and national and local governmental institutions.
Research in Urban Studies and Planning at the LSE involves a large number of staff from most of the range of social sciences represented in the School, who interact through the inter-departmental Urban@lse group. The Cities and Development cluster of the Department of Geography involves the largest concentration of urban researchers, and one with particular interests in how social, economic and political processes interact, across a range of urban contexts in all continents, and at all stages of development. Issues related to the urban economy are also strongly represented within the department's Economic Geography cluster and through the Spatial Economics Research Centre. Research students on this programme are strongly encouraged to engage with the full range of urban research, teaching and scholarship within the LSE's wider urban research community.
Structure of the programme
In addition to progressing with their research, students are expected to take training courses and transferable skills courses. Students may take courses in addition to those listed, and should discuss this with their supervisor.
For admissions to the +3 PhD programme
Students with MSc degrees in related disciplines are welcomed. It is normally expected that students will have achieved a solid overall merit (ie 65 out of 100 or equivalent) in the MSc classification and obtained a distinction in their MSc dissertation (ie 70+ out of 100 or equivalent) where this applies. Under exceptional circumstances, students not meeting these requirements will be considered (eg on the basis of an outstanding dissertation not matched by a solid merit in the MSc programme overall; or on the basis of a narrowly missed 70 in the dissertation coupled with a remarkable performance in all other relevant courses; or on the basis of an outstanding research proposal; see next). Students must also meet the School's minimum English language requirement and have some research methods training.
For full details of the programme structure and available courses please see the Programme Regulations.
Progression and upgrade requirements
Students on the MPhil/PhD programme will go through a First Year Progress Review taking place in the Summer Term of their first research year. For the First Year Progress Review, the student submits a written progress report containing an extensive and updated research proposal (typically including an introduction to the topic and motivation for the research; aims and objectives/research questions; contribution to knowledge; summary of methods to be used; and outline of the work to be done) and either a comprehensive literature review or a substantive draft of a chapter/paper as evidence of progress made during the year. Normally, there will be a progress review meeting between the student and the supervisors (main supervisor and review supervisor) to discuss the written material presented. The work has to reach an acceptable standard to enable the student to progress to the second year. There is provision for a second Supplementary Review, in cases where there are doubts as to whether progress has been sufficient to allow the student to enter the second year. Progression to the second year is also dependent on students having passed all required examinations and obtained at least one merit, and having presented their work satisfactorily in the doctoral presentation workshops.
Research students are initially registered for an MPhil and have to be upgraded to PhD status. The upgrade from MPhil to PhD usually occurs during the second year of full-time registration. The exact timing depends on the student's progress. Students are required to submit a formal written upgrade report consisting of an extensive revised research proposal, two substantive draft papers/chapters, of which one can be a literature review, and a detailed plan for completion. The material is evaluated by an upgrading committee that will recommend transferral to PhD registration if the work is judged to be of sufficient quality and quantity. The upgrading committee is normally formed by the student's main supervisor, review supervisor and a third member of staff with relevant expertise. The upgrade is also dependent on students having completed all required training courses and having made a satisfactory research presentation in their doctoral presentation workshop.
In addition to these formal arrangements, each year during the Summer Term and throughout the course of their studies, all PhD students and their supervisors have to complete a yearly Progress Report Form, detailing progress made, problems arising and plan/timeline for completion. The forms are sent to the relevant Doctoral Programme Director for approval before students are able to re-register for the following session. If perceived lack of progress is identified, it can trigger a more formal annual review of progress in which the student is asked to produce specific written documents to be evaluated by a review panel.
About the Department
The Department was ranked amongst the leading departments in the country in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise. The Department is distinctive in that it concentrates on the social scientific aspects of geography and environmental studies, placing great emphasis on multi-disciplinary teaching, and research and focuses strongly on policy relevant work.
Department research primarily takes place in three thematic clusters: Economic Geography and Regional Science; Environmental Economics and Policy; Cities and Development. The first two clusters are closely associated with two large externally-funded research centres: the ESRC Spatial Economics Research Centre (SERC) and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment (incorporating the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy), respectively.
Departmental staff are also actively involved with the School's other interdisciplinary institutes and research centres (including the Centre for Economic Performance, Department of International Development, LSE London, Media@LSE, Gender Institute, and Urban@LSE) and undertake collaborative research with colleagues in other disciplines.