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Departmental website: lse.ac.uk/anthropology 

Number of graduate students (full-time equivalent)
Taught: 91 
Research: 23

Number of faculty (full-time equivalent): 20

REF: 73 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 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 2014 REF, LSE's Anthropology Department was ranked first in the UK for research quality.

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, Europe, 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 MRes/PhD programme, you must normally have completed an MA or MSc in social anthropology at a British university to a high standard (students with a UK-based BA/BSc in anthropology should contact us to discuss possible exemptions to this requirement). If you do not have these qualifications, but have equivalent training in social anthropology in another national context, the Department may, in exceptional circumstances, consider admission. If you do not have the appropriate taught-degree background in anthropology, you should apply first for one of our MSc programmes. While studying for the MSc, you may apply for admission to the MRes/PhD programme in the following year, although admission is still competitive and is not guaranteed. 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 MRes to PhD registration if their proposals have been approved, and if they have achieved the required marks in their 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 guidance of their supervisors. During this period of their studies, they attend weekly thesis-writing seminars, and seminars on recent developments in anthropology and their professionalisation 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. Our range of regional interests is equally wide. Please see the staff profiles to get a batter sense of the particular areas of expertise. Applicants to the MRes/PhD are strongly advised to consider how their interests match those of the staff.

Taught programmes



MRes/PhD Anthropology
Visiting Research Students

Application code: L6ZB (MRes/PhD), L6EA (VRS) (check availability)

Start date: 22 September 2016

Duration: MRes/PhD 3/4 years (minimum 2), (VRS) up to 9 months (renewable)

Entry requirement: Merit in taught master's in social anthropology from a British university. If you do not have these qualifications you should apply for an MSc in the first instance. In exceptional circumstances the Department will consider students with a BA/BSc in Social Anthropology (at least an upper second) from a UK university. (Please note that for students currently registered on the Department's MSc Anthropology and Development, MSc Anthropology and Development Management, MSc Religion in the Contemporary World, or MSc China in Comparative Perspective programmes, specific additional conditions apply)

English requirement: Research

GRE/GMAT requirement: None

Fee level: See Tuition fees

Financial support: LSE scholarships and studentships (see Financial support), LSE is an ESRC Doctoral Training Centre. The MRes/PhD Anthropology is part of the Social Science group of accredited programmes for ESRC funding (see Economic and Social Research Council)

Application deadline: 27 April 2016, but please note that the selection process for LSE PhD and Research Council Studentships will take place earlier. The funding deadline is 11 January 2016. Selection for funding is based on receipt of an application for a place – including all ancillary documents