Department website: lse.ac.uk/methodology
Number of graduate students (full-time equivalent)
Number of faculty (full-time equivalent): 8
RAE: 45 per cent of the Department's research was rated world-leading or internationally excellent
Location: Columbia House
About the Department
The Department of Methodology is an interdisciplinary group with joint appointments in or close connections to other departments in the School. The disciplinary backgrounds of the staff include political science, statistics, sociology, social psychology, political science and criminology.
In addition to the MSc and MPhil/Phd in Social Research Methods, the Department offers a variety of advanced level courses, seminars and workshops in research design, quantitative analysis and qualitative methods. These are available for all PhD students in the School. Many departments in the School require students to take courses in the Department as part of MSc (Research, MRes and MPhil) and PhD programmes.
Opportunities for research
The Department of Methodology welcomes applications from students for our research degree, both full-time and part-time.
For admission to the MPhil/PhD programme in the Department of Methodology, we normally require a good grounding in research methods at master's level. You should have an upper second class honours degree from a UK university or its equivalent abroad, and an MSc at merit level that provides a training broadly similar to our MSc Social Research Methods. Gaps in training in methodology can be addressed in the first year of registration.
Applicants are advised to consult the Department of Methodology website and identify a member of staff who might supervise their project before submitting an application. Any member of staff will be helpful and discuss a potential application beforehand.
Applications should primarily identify a substantive area of research and also demonstrate a particular methodological interest, aiming at a methodological development, for example in collecting innovative new data, new analytic techniques, method comparison, evaluation or validation, method critique, applying existing methodology in new contexts, or cost-benefit analysis of methodologies.
The Department of Methodology at LSE is catholic with regard to methodology: we support both standalone qualitative and quantitative research, as well as interesting ways of combining them.
When you apply for an MPhil/PhD, you will need to send us a brief research proposal (two to five pages) that sets out clearly the research problem you wish to investigate, explains why it is important, and describes the methods of research you propose to use, and your particular ambition for developing these. This will help us to evaluate your potential to embark on a research degree, and to identify a supervisor with similar interests and the appropriate expertise.
It is expected that a PhD in the Department will be completed in three years of full-time study, with appropriate adjustment made for part-time study. Two supervisors are normally assigned to each research student at the time an offer of admission is made. One of these supervisors may be from outside the Department of Methodology.
Supervisors may recommend or require that students take courses that are deemed essential for their research. These courses may be offered both within and outside the Department or the School, and may require examination.
All research students are initially admitted to the doctoral programme as MPhil students, until they are upgraded to PhD.
In the summer term of your first year, you will produce a 10,000 word research proposal, outlining the theoretical and conceptual framework, the aims and methods of your thesis. You will also give a short oral presentation of your proposal. The proposal will be assessed by two academics, normally members of the Department of Methodology, who will judge the standard of the proposal to enable you to progress to the second year. In the first year, you will normally also take a portfolio of specialist courses as recommended by your PhD supervisor.
During your second year of registration, you will submit either three or four draft chapters of your thesis (which normally includes an introduction and focused literature review) or a short introduction, a literature review and one or two empirical chapters (for a traditional monograph thesis) or papers (if you are pursuing the paper-based thesis). You should also provide a detailed plan for the completion of the thesis for evaluation by an MPhil/PhD upgrading committee, who will recommend transferral to PhD registration if your work is judged to be of sufficient quality and quantity.
After the first year you will spend more time on independent study under the guidance of your supervisor. This will involve the collection, organisation and analysis of data, and writing up the results. You will also attend the Department's research seminars and other specialist workshops and seminars to broaden your horizon as a social researcher. You will be expected to make an active contribution to these by presenting papers and joining in the discussions.