Departmental website: lse.ac.uk/sociology
Number of graduate students (full-time equivalent)
Number of faculty (full-time equivalent): 25
RAE: 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 Sociology at LSE was the first to be created in Britain and has played a key role in establishing and developing the discipline nationally and internationally – since 1904. Today the Department has around 25 teaching staff, together with a number of research fellows, visiting professors and visiting scholars from all over the world. The Department is committed to empirically rich, conceptually sophisticated, and socially and politically relevant research and scholarship. While building upon the traditions of the discipline it seeks to play a key role in developing new intellectual areas, and addressing the social problems and ethical dilemmas that face a globalised society.
LSE Sociology embraces a theoretically and methodologically diverse range of approaches, focussing upon the following key areas:
Economies, risk and technology
The economies, risk and technology cluster develops key areas of sociology in original and critical ways, bringing together cutting edge sub-disciplines in the sociology of economic life, science, technology and society, the sociology of money and finance, and risk regulation.
markets, cultures and institutions: changing forms of production, consumption, exchange and regulation
risk governance, knowledge and technology: knowledge, calculation and expertise; biological economies; technology, information and communications
money, finance and banking: the sociology of money; social studies of finance; global networks and financial markets; risk and financial regulation
work, families and migration: work and employment; labour markets and economic immigration; households, families and inequality
Human rights, violence and injustice
Human rights, violence and injustice develops a strong intellectual tradition in the department related to the sociology of human rights. Key themes include:
human rights: Ideologies of human rights; human rights reporting; truth commissions; trauma and memory; human rights governance, law and western power
violence: War, warfare and militarism; political, civil, religious, nationalist and communal violence; genocide; state violence; post-conflict reconciliation; violence and political ideologies; the sociology of violence and conflict
injustice: Social, economic and political injustice and discrimination; justice and accountability; transitional justice and reparations
inequality: Race and racism and modern societies, xenophobia and xenological thinking; post colonialism, postcolonial ideologies and societies; political religion; ethnicity and nationalism; identity and difference
Politics, states and movements
Politics, states and movements has developed around major distinctive themes:
social bases of parties and movements, especially the origins, development and contemporary fortunes of social democratic parties and labour movements, and different forms of party and cleavage formation in the democratic world
state transitions and democratisation, especially transitions from authoritarian rule in the wake of political violence, the colonial and post-colonial state, and the development of political and economic democracy
political ideologies, especially the evolution and impact of liberalism and conservatism, neo-liberalism and nationalism in the developing world, and contemporary developments in major traditions of British political thought
Urban change, space and connection
The urban change, space and connection cluster addresses the scale and dynamism of processes of urban transformation. We examine the physical and social shaping of environments, infrastructures, institutions and localities as they emerge in relation to cultural hierarchies, modes of power and ordering, and forms of inclusion and exclusion. We aim to inform urban practice through empirical research that brings together critical approaches to urban contexts, processes and problems, including case study and comparative methods, time-series and survey data, fieldwork, mapping, and visual methods. Three primary frames provide the focus for the core research concerns:
urban change and resilience: how do spatial and social forms intersect with changing conditions over time? We consider this question in relation to urban form and infrastructures, as well in relation to changing economies and technologies
urban divisions and connections: how are inequalities and inclusions constructed? We analyse segregation and participation in stratified and increasingly diverse urban contexts, including their cultural manifestations
urban politics, governance and institutions: what are forms of power at different spatial scales? Policy and regulation and social order are explored in relation to modes of formal and informal organisation
Our teaching is informed by these commitments and by our active research in these areas. LSE Sociology aims to provide a learning environment in which students are encouraged to think critically and independently. Many of the key issues in the discipline worldwide are the subject of contestation, and our teaching aims to equip students to understand and evaluate these disputes and adopt a position in relation to them. Rigorous, critical, independent thought is the most transferable skill of all, and the overarching objective of what we seek to provide to our students.
LSE has been recognised as a Doctoral Training Centre (DTC). As well as research training in the Department, the Department of Methodology provides a range of specialised courses in quantitative and qualitative research methods and statistics.
The Department is responsible for one of the world's leading specialist periodicals, the British Journal of Sociology and also houses the influential interdisciplinary social science journal Economy and Society.
The Department supports and promotes academic diversity within the School through these programmes and through its central participation in interdisciplinary research and in particular its close relationship with LSE Cities, the Centre for the Study of Human Rights, the Department of Methodology, STICERD (Suntory and Toyota International Centre for Economics and Related Disciplines), the Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation, and the Mannheim Centre for the Study of Crime and Criminal Justice.
Opportunities for research
You should usually have a higher merit in a master’s degree, plus high 2:1 in a bachelor’s degree in sociology or another social science from a British university, or its equivalent in another country, in either sociology or another related social science.
When you apply for an MPhil/PhD, you will need to send us a research proposal 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. 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. We will also need to see two pieces of written work that you feel reflect your academic interests and abilities. You will be initially registered for the MPhil. At the end of your second year or early in your third (full-time), you will be transferred to PhD registration upon successful completion of our 'upgrade' procedure (submission of three complete chapters, examined by viva voce).
In the first year, you may spend much of your time taking a range of methods and specialist courses. These are selected in discussion with your supervisor, dependent on your needs and may include courses from other institutes or departments at LSE. You must attend the first year research class for MPhil students and, unless you have already successfully studied research methods at master's level, you will normally be expected to complete graduate course units in methodology, on the advice of your supervisor. If you accept an offer of admission from us, we will send you information on methodology requirements and other relevant matters.
At the end of your first year, you will produce a 5,000 word research proposal, outlining the aims and methods of your thesis. This has to reach an acceptable standard to enable you to progress to the second year.
After the first year, you will spend more time on independent study under the guidance of your personal supervisor. This will involve the collection, organisation, analysis and writing up of data and ideas. You will have the opportunity to attend a regular general research seminar and/or specialist workshops and seminars related to your interests. You will be expected to make an active contribution to these by presenting papers and joining in the general discussion.
The Department will only accept candidates for a Michaelmas term start.