Departmental website: lse.ac.uk/economicHistory
Number of graduate students (full-time equivalent)
Number of faculty (full-time equivalent): 21
REF: 78 per cent of the Department's research was rated world-leading or internationally excellent
Location: Sardinia House
About the Department
Following in a long and distinguished tradition, research in the Department of Economic History uses concepts and theories from the social sciences as a starting point for studying the development of real economies and understanding them in their social, political and cultural context.
The Department is home to by far the largest group of researchers in economic history in the UK and probably the world. The composition and international diversity of its staff, academic visitors and research students mean that its interests range from the medieval period to the current century, from Latin America to China via Africa and Europe, from questions about the institutions of economic change to ones on technology and finance, and from the history of economic ideas and policy to the measurement of past human well-being and explanations for global trade patterns. Research and teaching are particularly vigorous in the international economic history of the 19th and 20th centuries; the economic history of the less developed world; and global economic history.
We particularly value a comparative outlook on research, and the fruits of our research have been used by international agencies, such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, government departments and local communities. Our faculty have included among their research commitments the editorship of The Economic History Review, The Journal of African History and The European Review of Economic History.
Opportunities for research
To undertake research you should have completed a taught master's degree in economic history, economics or a closely related subject. Other students will be expected to take the MSc Economic History (Research) as the first year of their programme. Incoming students may also be required during the first year of the MPhil/PhD to take one or more examined MSc options related to the provision of core knowledge and individual research interests. Those entering from the master's degrees in the Department are required to achieve a merit overall and 65 per cent in the dissertation to qualify for entry to the MPhil/PhD programme.
All research students who have not already taken the MSc in Economic History in the Department are expected to attend the MSc (Research) core courses, Historical Analysis of Economic Change and Research Design and Quantitative Methods in Economic History. These courses provide a basic awareness of historical methodology and central themes in economic history; introduce important analytical tools used by economic historians and consider how these have been and can be applied in research; and examine how statistical techniques and inference procedures can be used in the study of economic history. In addition, all first-year research students attend a compulsory course, which provides a forum for the discussion of general issues and problems relating to PhD research, as well as assisting students to clarify their topics and research strategies through the examination of texts related to their proposed thesis areas. Supervisors may also require students to take additional taught courses in the first year of study.
A thesis workshop for all graduate research students is held weekly during term, and all students are expected to attend. This provides a forum for students to chair seminars, present papers, and act as discussants, and as such constitutes a central part of the graduate training programme.
The main goal of research students in the Department is the researching and writing of a thesis. Students are, however, expected to do much more than just thesis research. Most doctoral students go on to academic or related jobs which require a broader knowledge of the subject than can be gained from intense but narrow thesis research. Research students are therefore regularly expected to attend and participate in departmental workshops and seminars, as well as other seminars in the University of London. Advanced research students are expected to present research papers at conferences and seminars, and many also act as teaching assistants on undergraduate courses.
All students have one main supervisor, and in most cases a second supervisor. The supervisor is the student's most important academic link with the Department. The research student tutor is responsible for the overall research programme, and chairs the Graduate Review Committee which oversees the progress of research students. All students are reviewed at the end of their first year of research, and registration for the second year depends on a satisfactory outcome. Students are reviewed again when they upgrade from MPhil to PhD status, normally at the end of their second year of study, when they are expected to have produced around half the thesis in draft.
The Department has a large body of research students drawn from every continent, who join with staff members to form a vigorous research community. Students leave the Department equipped for any profession that requires intellectual judgement, the ability to assess and analyse evidence and ideas, and good communication skills. Graduates of the programme have gone on to university teaching or research posts, into jobs in international economic agencies, such as the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, and to a variety of other positions, from museum directors to pig farmers!