Departmental website:

Number of graduate students (full-time equivalent)
Research: 50

Number of faculty (full-time equivalent): 54

REF:  88 per cent of the Department's research was rated world-leading or internationally excellent 

Location:  Connaught House

About the Department

The Government Department is one of the largest in the UK and covers almost all areas of politics. We offer a comprehensive range of academic approaches, from political theory, political economy, rational choice theory, public policy, nationalism, conflict studies, and comparative government to the history of institutions and policy.

Being based within the only UK institution that specialises solely in the social sciences is a great benefit and our graduate programmes involve close collaboration with other departments and institutes in the School. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), the Government and International Relations Departments were assessed as one unit. LSE came top in the Politics and International Studies REF panel in terms of the most research publications graded “world-leading” (4*), the absolute number of top-rated research outputs.

We currently have students from all corners of the globe researching across the whole field of politics.

Opportunities for research

You will join a small and highly selective entering class, of about 8–12 students, most with full scholarships, chosen from applicants from a wide range of universities from around the world.

Together you will embark on the MRes/PhD in Political Science, which is a structured route to a PhD. In the first year, you will take a series of courses and prepare a Research Prospectus. You will be trained in research design and research methods and also take courses from a broad range of graduate specialisms in our Department and across LSE. You will study with acknowledged leaders in their fields and learn what political scientists know (and don’t know), what the key debates have been and where the discipline is going. 

At the end of the first year you will complete the assessments for your courses and finalise your Research Prospectus, the provisional research plan for your PhD. You will defend the prospectus at a committee of relevant faculty in September at the end of the first year. 

If you pass the exams and successfully defend the Prospectus you will be ‘upgraded’ to the PhD part of the programme. You will now be ready to implement your research plan, for example through fieldwork, data collection and analysis, theoretical work, or a combination of several approaches. You will participate and present your work in doctoral workshops with faculty and fellow researchers, and you will start to attend and present papers at international conferences. You will also be eligible to help teach undergraduate courses in the Department. 

There is no question that the first year is hard work. But you will learn fast and you will learn a great deal. Graduates of our programme are able to interpret, evaluate, and use research results across a broad spectrum of topics, well beyond the field of their specific doctoral research. The purpose of this combination of training and research is to produce a new generation of political scientists who upon graduation are qualified to take up important positions in our profession. The benefits of the programme are clear to see in the job placements of our graduates.

All of this takes place in one of the world’s great universities, located in the heart of the United Kingdom’s political, business, cultural, and intellectual capital. Furthermore, the School has one of the largest concentrations of social scientists in the world.

MRes/PhD in Political Science

The PhD programme is a five-year degree with a 1+4 structure: one year of formal coursework followed by four years of research and writing.

During the MRes year (year 1) each student takes four units as follows: Research Design; Methods; Field Seminars; and a Research Prospectus.

Conditions for upgrade to PhD

Students must obtain at least a Merit in the MRes and in the Research Prospectus to be upgraded to the PhD.

The remaining years of the programme involve researching and writing a dissertation and participating in at least one doctoral workshop in the Government Department or elsewhere in the School each year (unless officially away on fieldwork or further training). 

Taught programmes


MRes/PhD Political Science
Visiting Research Students

Application code: M1ZN (MRes/PhD), M1EG (VRS) (check availability)

Start date: 22 September 2016

Duration: MRes/PhD 5 years (minimum 3), VRS up to 9 months (renewable)

Intake/application in 2014: 9/200

Entry requirement: Very good undergraduate degree and a taught master's degree (or equivalent) in political science or a closely related discipline

English requirement: Research

GRE/GMAT requirement: None

Fee level: See Tuition fees

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

Application deadline: 11 January 2016. This deadline is final. Successful candidates will normally be notified in March. Selection for funding is also based on receipt of an application for a place – including all ancillary documents – by 11 January 2016

Notes: Applicants must submit either two degree essays of between 3,000–5,000 words or a dissertation of no more than 10,000 words (this can be an extract from a longer work)