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Social Policy

Departmental website: lse.ac.uk/socialPolicy

Number of graduate students (full-time equivalent)
Taught: 319
Research: 44

Number of faculty (full-time equivalent):

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

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About the Department

Crime, education, health care, housing, population, social care, social disadvantage, social security, welfare, international development: the problems and challenges in all these areas are as inescapable and relentless as they have ever been. We equip people who want to understand the causes of these problems and the development of policy towards them.

In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), the UK's nationwide assessment of research quality, impact and environment, the Department was ranked first in the UK for world-leading and internationally excellent research and was also awarded joint highest marks for the non-academic impacts of its work. When adjusted to take account of the high proportion of staff submitted to REF, it is the number one UK Social Policy Department for overall research quality.

Our research programmes and centres, such as the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE), LSE Health and Social Care, the Mannheim Centre for Criminology and the Education Research Group, have outstanding national and international reputations. We have a long standing and deep interest in social policy, planning and related issues in developing countries.

Our reputation is based on a history which dates back to 1912 when social policy was first taught at LSE. This tradition, combining action and research, continued with the contributions of LSE staff such as Richard Titmuss, Peter Townsend, Brian Abel-Smith and David Donnison to the development of social policy and building of the welfare state in Britain and similar developments abroad.

We are actively engaged in local, national and international policy debates, and provide policy advice to government bodies, and assistance to international and local organisations. LSE is also home to Population Studies, one of the world's leading demographic journals.

Study in this area leads to a wide variety of careers that are challenging, socially important, intellectually demanding and personally rewarding. Students go on to senior policy related and academic positions in countries throughout the world.

Opportunities for research

We welcome applications from students for our research degrees, both full-time and part-time. The Department has approximately 80 research students and is able to offer supervision in a wide range of specialist topics. Students are members of a vibrant and exciting research community. The LSE Library has a full collection of UK, US and EU public documents, parliamentary papers and statistical data. High class networked computer facilities dedicated to research students exist in the Social Science Research Laboratory within the Department. A wide range of computer packages for quantitative and qualitative analysis are available.

Students on the MPhil/PhD programme attend a seminar series run by the doctoral programme directors and are also encouraged to take research methods courses in the Department of Methodology and relevant courses in the Department of Social Policy. Students also have the opportunity to attend various seminars and courses related to carrying out a PhD, and to present their research.

Applicants for the MPhil/PhD programme should have a master's degree, preferably in social policy, health policy or public policy, together with an upper second or first class honours degree from a UK university or its equivalent abroad. Applicants will normally need marks equivalent to an LSE high merit grade or distinction, with an overall average of 65% in their MSc and 65% in their dissertation to be eligible for admission to the doctoral programme.

For the MPhil/PhD programme, applicants should provide a written proposal of no more than 4,000 words, which gives details of the proposed research question(s), the relevant literature and previous research in the field, planned research methods and theoretical/conceptual framework to be adopted. This will enable an informed decision about the proposal to be made and to establish if there are appropriate supervisors for the research. Initially students are registered for an MPhil degree. At the end of the first year on the MPhil programme, students submit a piece of written work, of up to 10,000 words, and if progress is satisfactory they transfer retrospectively to the PhD programme; alternatively, they continue with their MPhil registration.

Certain UK/EU applicants may be eligible for the ESRC 1+3 programme. Students on this programme take a recognised MSc in their first year. Transfer from the one year MSc programme to the three year MPhil/PhD programme depends on obtaining high marks in the MSc courses taken. 

Registration as a visiting research student is for those who do not wish to proceed to a higher degree, but want to pursue their own research with a supervisor who can support them in their research. Visiting research students include research and doctoral students registered at overseas universities wishing to undertake some aspect of their research in the UK. Certain seminars and classes can be attended subject to the advice and approval of the supervisor and teachers concerned.

Detailed information on the MPhil/ PhD programmes can be found on the Department of Social Policy website at: socialpolicy/ResearchDegreeProgrammes and on the Demography and Population Studies pages.

Taught programmes

Programmes on health and health policy

Programmes on population studies

Programmes on social policy

Social Policy is also available as a specialist field in the MSc Social Research Methods (Social Policy) and MSc Social Research Methods (Population). See MSc Social Research Methods.



MPhil/PhD Social Policy
MPhil/PhD Demography/Population Studies
Visiting Research Students

Application code: L4ZA (MPhil/PhD Social Policy), M9ZD (MPhil/PhD Demography/Population Studies), L4EA (VRS) (check availability)

Start date: 22 September 2016. VRS intake in all three terms

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

Entry requirement: High merit in a master's degree, preferably in social policy, health policy or public policy, plus a 2:1 bachelor's degree

English requirement: Research

GRE/GMAT requirement: None

Fee level: See Tuition fees

Financial support: LSE scholarships and studentships (see Fees and Financial support). LSE is an ESRC Doctoral Training Centre. The MPhil/PhD Social Policy is part of the Social Policy group of accredited programmes for ESRC funding (see Economic and Social Research Council). The MPhil/PhD Demography/Population Studies is part of the Environment, Energy and Resilience group. ESRC-funded students may be eligible for additional funding for Advanced Quantitative Methods training during the MPhil/PhD

Application deadline: Rolling admissions until early July. Please note that the selection process for LSE PhD and Research Council Studentships will take place in two rounds, and all students are advised to aim for the first round if possible. The funding deadlines are 11 January and 27 April 2016. Selection for funding is based on receipt of an application for a place – including all ancillary documents