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MSc Philosophy of the Social Sciences

About the MSc programme

This programme is based in the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method. The Department provides additional programme information on its degree webpage.The programme offers the following benefits:

  • It offers a critical examination of conceptual and methodological issues underlying social scientific research.
  • The Department's approach to philosophical study is resolutely interdisciplinary. We believe that philosophical analysis is best seen as continuous with scientific practice. (It this sense, we fall squarely within the "naturalist" tradition in the philosophy of science.)
  • The Department's strength in philosophy of economics and rational choice theory make it a natural place to study for those who wish to examine, and critique, the use of these methods within the social sciences.
  • The Department is one of the major centres for the philosophy of social science in the world.
  • The degree is highly regarded internationally.
  • The Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science, housed at LSE, is one of the international centres of the discipline and attracts a series of eminent visitors. MSc students benefit from the seminars and research activities at the Centre.
  • The Department has close links with other philosophy departments in the University of London. Many graduate level lecture courses given in other colleges of the University are available to MSc students and are required teaching for some courses. This gives students access to the very rich, general London philosophical environment.
  • The position of the Department within an international centre of excellence in the social sciences means that there is a good deal of collaboration between social scientists and philosophers both in teaching and research.

The MSc in Philosophy of the Social Sciences will be of interest to students from a variety of backgrounds, e.g., from philosophy, history, economics, sociology, anthropology, social psychology, geography, political science, and so on. We will consider applicants with a first or strong upper second class (2:1) honours degree or equivalent, with a considered interest in the area covered by the MSc. If your first language is not English, please submit with your application to LSE 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 the social sciences through examining historical and contemporary issues with the scientific study of society. These include topics such as the following: the scientific status of the social sciences, and whether they might count as properly objective. What accounts for the diversity of methods in the social sciences (and lack of agreement as to which ones ought to be followed)? Do evolutionary explanations of social phenomena provide an accurate account of why societies are the way they are, or are such explanations merely unverifiable just-so stories? What relations exist among rationality, choice, action, and interpretation?

Programme details

A typical student on this programme can expect to have, for each examined course, 20 hours of lectures and 30 hours of seminars (with a guarantee that no seminar will have more than 15 students). In addition, there will be 30 hours of teaching on the dissertation research and writing seminar. Additional contact time concerning one-on-one dissertation and class teaching support is available during office hours and by appointment at the request of the student.

Our students typically form a tight social group. The Department facilitates this by hosting a number of social occasions through the year. In addition, London has a wide range of opportunities for socialising, with a great many additional philosophical activities offered by the Institute of Philosophy and the University of London, enabling enterprising students to make contact with people from other universities.

Compulsory courses

You will write a Dissertation of not more than 10,000 words, on a topic in the philosophy of the social sciences (within the 'analytic' tradition, broadly construed).

Students will be expected to choose courses to the value of three units 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

Past programme graduates have gone on to a wide variety of careers, ranging from Law, studying in various PhD programmes in Philosophy, forming their own start-up, working in the City and working at Google. We have a very good record of students entering excellent PhD programmes.

Contact us

If you have any further questions about the programme or the department, please email us at philosophy-dept@lse.ac.uk.



Application code: V7U1 (check availability)

Start date: 24 September 2015

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

Intake/applications in 2013: 19/54

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

English requirement: Standard (see English requirements)

GRE/GMAT requirement: None

Fee level: UK /EU £12,024; overseas £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