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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 policymaking.

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 policymaking
  • the LSE Internships programme in Public Policy, Social Issues and Public Affairs
  • the many policy-related courses and colloquia in LSE
  • learning 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 upper second class honours 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 typed 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  Evidence and Policy* plus an extra half unit elective. Philosophy, Morals and Politics covers central topics in moral and political philosophy. Evidence and Policy advocates that good policy decisions - concerning climate, conservation, international development, poverty, education, medicine, health etc - require a rationally based view of whether the proposed policy will (or is likely to) bring about the intended outcome.
  • Research and Writing Seminar in Philosophy and Public Policy – this seminar will prepare you to write a Dissertation of about 10,000 words on philosophical aspects of a public policy issue.

An additional one unit course or two half unit courses chosen from a range of options in the Department or on a space-available basis across the School.

You can find the most up-to-date list of optional courses for MSc Philosophy and Public Policy in the Programme Regulations section of the current School Calendar.

You must note however that while care has been taken to ensure that this information is up to date and correct, some circumstances may cause the School to subsequently change, suspend or withdraw a course or programme of study, or change the fees that apply to it. The School will neither be liable for information that after publication becomes inaccurate or irrelevant, nor for changing, suspending or withdrawing a course or programme of study due to circumstances outside of its control. You must also note that places are limited on some courses and/or subject to specific entry requirements. The School cannot therefore guarantee places on its courses. You should visit the School's Calendar, or contact the relevant academic department, for information on the availability and/or content of courses and programmes of study. Certain substantive changes will be listed on the Updated graduate course and programme information page.

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, governmental organisations, PhD programmes, law school or legal practice, commercial enterprises, banking and finance, consultancy, international organisations, academic research and teaching.



Application code: V7U8 (check availability)

Start date: 22 September 2016

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

Intake/applications in 2014: 38/119

Minimum entry requirement: 2:1 or first 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: £19,344

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