Department website: lse.ac.uk/socialPsychology
Number of graduate students (full-time equivalent)
Number of faculty (full-time equivalent): 12
RAE: Department staff contribute to a number of Units of Assessment and 45 per cent of the Department's research was rated world-leading or internationally excellent
Location: St Clement's
About the Department
The Department of Social Psychology at LSE is a thriving centre for research for the study of social psychology and has an international reputation for its research-led teaching in a variety of fields. Founded in 1964 the Department is one of the largest concentrations of social psychologists in Europe with 12 full-time academic staff and over 150 graduate students enrolled on four specialist master's programmes and conducting research towards PhD.
The MSc degree in Social Psychology, now called MSc Social and Cultural Psychology, established in 1964, was the first specialised degree in social psychology in the UK. The MSc in Organisational and Social Psychology was launched in 1990, the MSc in Social and Public Communication in 2003, and the MSc Health, Community and Development in 2005. All our MSc programmes are recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council as providing research training.
As teaching is research-led it emphasises the contribution of social and cultural psychology in the analysis of contemporary social, economic and political issues. Among the current wide range of interests are social representations, beliefs and attitudes, the interface cognition and culture, communication, health, community and development, consumption, science and society, new technologies, multiculturalism, ethnicity and race, gender and social identities.
Former students include professors, lecturers, researchers, and professionals in media and business now working all around the world. Many have entered a variety of occupations including local or national government, international agencies, social research, marketing, media and broadcasting, industry, personnel, consulting and teaching. About one in five graduates from master's programmes go on to complete higher degrees by independent research.
Opportunities for research
The Department offers research opportunities in health, community and development; social and cultural psychology; organisational social psychology; and social and public communication.
The stream that a student belongs to is flexible and open to negotiation and depends largely on the topic of research and the area of coursework. The streams overlap and students are encouraged to develop interdisciplinary approaches to research.
Normally, you should have a high level of pass at merit level or better in an appropriate master's degree, together with at least an upper second class honours degree in an appropriate subject from a UK university or its equivalent abroad. We also value professional experience outside university and mature students are welcome.
Initially you will register for the MPhil and follow a programme which involves formally assessed coursework. This includes a broad training in research methods together with the core course from the corresponding master's programme (Contemporary Social and Cultural Psychology, Organisational Social Psychology, Social Psychology of Communication, Health and Community Development). In addition you follow a specialised option course appropriate to the topic of your research (assessed by coursework). You may be exempt from some or all of these courses, depending on your qualifications. You must attend the Current Research Seminar.
At the end of your first year, progression will be determined by an extended essay of around 13,000 words, assessed by a thesis committee. The thesis committee includes your supervisor and a member of staff whose research interests differ from your research area. During your second year, the decision on whether your registration should be upgraded to PhD is made by your thesis committee, based on reading three draft chapters of your thesis, a plan for completion, and a viva voce examination. You will be provided with detailed feedback on your work and a tape recording of the examination.
We have excellent computing facilities in the Department. There are two purpose built computing laboratories with a wide variety of software packages for data analysis and running experiments. Most popular programming languages are available, including packages for multimedia development and CD-ROM authoring.
Other facilities for research include an observation and audio-visual suite, professional videotape editing facilities, video capture and image scanning for multimedia applications, and computer assisted telephone interviewing, and a number of rooms set aside for research. The Department prides itself as being at the cutting edge of new methods in digital ethnography, for which equipment and support are available in-house, including subcams and sensecams. Students have access to a large range of software, from the classic statistical packages and CAQDAS to text and video mining. The licencing for much of this software enables students to install the software on their own computers for a nominal charge.
There is a technical workshop which supports the teaching of research methods and the work of graduates and staff. This includes advice and assistance on a range of areas including audio-visual recording, editing, multimedia production and analysis, and the design and construction of apparatus for experimental and observational studies.
The Department has research partnerships with top institutions on all continents, and field work is often outside the UK. The editorial offices of three international journals are based at the Department.
Students are encouraged to present at international conferences and publish in international journals. Part time positions for research, teaching and editorial assistance are often available, giving students valuable experience and publication opportunities.
We encourage transdisciplinary research, methodological triangulation, lab, online or real-world experiments, collaboration within and outside LSE, theoretical diversity and research that has an impact on society.