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MSc Philosophy and Public Policy

About the MSc programme

This programme is based in the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method. The programme offers the following benefits:

  • It provides a foundation in the conceptual and normative questions underlying public-policy formulation.
  • It prepares for a wide variety of policy-oriented careers.

It is distinctive in three ways:

  • It is resolutely interdisciplinary. We take philosophical analysis to be continuous with the scientific study of political, social and economic problems.
  • It offers a thorough background in moral and political theory, which students learn to apply to issues in public policy.
  • It provides a foundation in evidence-based policy, which is now widely mandated at all levels of policy-making.

Students have access to a wealth of courses and resources within the Philosophy Department and at LSE that are relevant for the philosophical analysis of public policy, for example:

  • Research seminars on philosophy and public policy, rational and social choice, scientific evidence and policy-making;
  • The LSE Internships programme in Public Policy, Social Issues and Public Affairs;
  • The many policy-related courses and colloquia in LSE.
  • It is taught at an institution which is a major centre for national and international public policy debates. 

The MSc in Philosophy and Public Policy will be of interest to students from various backgrounds, for example, from philosophy, history, economics, sociology and political science. We consider applicants with good first degrees in any discipline, with a considered interest in the area covered by the MSc. If your first language is not English, please submit with your application a sample of your work in English (five to ten typewritten pages).

We recruit students from all across the world to assemble a genuinely international group, which enriches the social and intellectual environment that the programme offers. We approach philosophical issues in public policy through the lenses of historical and contemporary developments in ethical theory and political philosophy and we teach students how to use results of the natural and social sciences in evaluating policy. Topics may include various policy areas (for example, health care, development, social security, climate change), approaches to the study of society (rational, social and public choice), central topics in political philosophy (for example, democracy, liberal neutrality, equality, human rights, punishment and just war) and science and policy (for example, the nature of evidence, objectivity, theory choice, facts and values).

Programme details

Instruction consists of lectures, seminars and one-on-one supervision sessions. Seminar sizes are kept small (less than 16 students). The average number of contact hours on this MSc is 180 hours. 

We encourage our students to apply to the LSE Internships schemes in Parliament. Careers Service also provides assistance in applying for internships and work experience in various institutions across London. Please visit the Careers Service for more information. 

The students in this programme typically form a tight social group. The Department, the School and the setting in London offer an interesting social environment. 

Compulsory courses 

(*half unit)

  • Philosophy and Public Policy examines the design and evaluation of public policies from the perspective of moral and political philosophy.
  • Either Philosophy, Morals and Politics or  Scientific Method and Policy.  Philosophy, Morals and Politics covers central topics in moral and political philosophy. Scientific Method and Policy addresses questions such as the following: What counts as evidence for deciding the best policy? Are certain types of evidence (for instance, that from large-sample randomised trials) more objective and thus more telling than others? Do scientists have a responsibility to communicate policy-relevant research in a value-free way? In what sense, if any, is science a 'public good', and what does this mean for how it should be governed?
Students will be expected to choose courses to the value of one unit from a range of options.

Please read the following important information before referring to full details of course options found in the Programme Regulations.

The programme regulations available are for the current academic session and may be subject to change before the beginning of the next academic year. For more information about course availability in the next academic session, please contact the relevant academic department. The School reserves the right at all times to withdraw, suspend or alter particular courses and syllabuses, and to alter the level of fees. Courses are on occasion capped (limited to a maximum number of students) or subject to entry conditions requiring the approval of the course convenor. The School cannot guarantee that places on specific courses will be available.

Graduate destinations

The programme prepares you for PhD work in philosophy as well as for policy-oriented careers in governmental, non-governmental or international organisations. We have a very good record of students moving on to good PhD programmes and to high-level jobs with think tanks, in government, or in business. Our graduates are currently working or studying in the following branches:  

  • non-government organisations and think tanks: 17 per cent
  • governmental organisations: 16 per cent
  • PhD programmes: 15 per cent
  • law school or legal practice: 13 per cent
  • commercial enterprises: 10 per cent
  • banking and finance: 9 per cent
  • consultancy: 8 per cent
  • international organisations: 6 per cent
  • academic research and teaching: 6 per cent



Application code: V7U8 (check availability)

Start date: 24 September 2015

Duration: 12 months full-time, 24 months part-time

Intake/applications in 2013: 38/107

Minimum entry requirement: 2:1 or 1st class degree, with a considered interest in the areas covered by the MSc (see entry requirements)

English requirement: Standard (see English requirements)

GRE/GMAT requirement: None

Fee level: £18,600

Financial support: Graduate Support Scheme (see Fees and Financial Support). Lakatos Memorial Scholarship – one £4,000 award

Application deadline: None – rolling admissions

Note: If your first language is not English, you must submit a writing sample of 5-10 typewritten pages

A photo of Mischa van den Brandhof, an LSE student