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Research - PhD Programme

We offer our PhD students a vibrant and supportive environment in a world-class centre for economic history research.

Professor Sara Horrell

The Department of Economic History is committed to an individualised and contextual review of each application to the MPhil/PhD Economic History programme.

As one of the largest Economic History departments in the world we offer unusually broad teaching and research expertise to our doctoral students. We invite applications from those wishing to carry out research within the wide spectrum of economic history. Our faculty's own research interests range from the medieval period to the current century, from Latin America to China via Africa and Europe, from questions about social well-being to ones on technology and finance, and from the history of economic ideas to the measurement of past human development and explanations for global trade patterns.

The major academic goal of a research student in the department is, of course, the researching and writing of a thesis, but members of our doctoral programme achieve much more than this. During the programme students participate in departmental workshops and other seminars held within the University of London and later at conferences and seminars at other universities.

We expect our students to gain a broad knowledge of the subject from graduate level course-work in the first year which complements the deeper knowledge gained from intense thesis research. Many of our research students also take the opportunity to gain valuable teaching experience on undergraduate courses. Graduates go into a wide variety of careers, including university teaching and research posts, as well as jobs at international economic agencies such as the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.  

Methodological training

First year research students are required to take EH520 Approaches to Economic History, and are strongly advised to attend the induction programme provided by the Methodology Institute. Students are also required to take EH401 and EH402, the core modules for MSc Economic History (Research) unless they have already taken this MSc. Supervisors may require students in their first or subsequent  years of study to take other relevant methodological courses (including quantitative methods) provided by the Methodology Institute, the Institute of Historical Research, or other skills training courses as required for their thesis topic.   

Research Clusters in the Department of Economic History

Members of the Economic History department pursue research in all areas of the discipline with particular strength in thems such as demography; labour and living standards; historical economic geography; and firms and finance.  You can explore these, and other, themes here.

Open Day

The Department participates in the School's series of online sessions for prospective students.  Full information for students thinking of applying for entry in 2024 can be found here.

The presentation slides for the 2023 Open Day are available here, or you can watch the recording here.

Programme requirements

Entrants to our graduate research programme have usually completed a Master's degree in economic history, but we also accept applications from those with a background in a related subject, for example, history or one of the social sciences.

Students who did not follow the MSc Economic History (Research) in the Department will usually be required to take EH401 and EH402, alongside any other Master's level course as recommended by their supervisor, in their first-year.

Students are initially registered for the MPhil, but in the second year, subject to successful completion of all target objectives, are upgraded to PhD status.  Full information on progression and upgrade requirements can be found in the PhD Handbook (pp. 12-14).

Full details of the MPhil/PhD programme regulations can be found here.

Students are also accepted for the so-called 1+3 programme, the one-year MSc Economic History (Research) followed by a three-year research programme.

In addition, we welcome applicants from other universities wishing to join us for from one term to one academic year.  See Visiting Research Student for more information, paying particular attention to deadlines.

Programme and School Regulations

 See the LSE Calendar for full information.

Further information

How to apply

MPhil/PhD FAQs 

How to apply

General information for prospective students

Guidelines for submitting Research Proposal

An application for 2023 entry to the MPhil/PhD in Economic History should include a research proposal, along with other required information.  Please note: a separate sample of written work is also required/not required.

Your research proposal should be submitted, along with your application form and other required supporting documents, via the LSE online application system.

Definition of a research proposal
You should state your research topic as accurately as possible. Your research proposal should address the following questions:

i) what is your general topic?
ii) what questions do you want to answer?
iii) what is the key literature and its limitations?
iv) what are the main hypotheses of the work?
v) what methodology do you intend to use?
vi) what are your case studies, if any, and what are your case selection criteria?

MPhil/PhD applications that are received without a research proposal that addresses these questions will not be considered.

Financial Information

Job Opportunities

Class Teaching Opportunities:
Class teaching opportunities are available during the course of research degrees. They represent useful professional training and can be a valuable and important experience. More information can be found here.

PhD Job Market:
Towards the completion of a research degree, the Department organises several workshops for prospective job market candidates, and offers advice as well as a platform for candidates to present their experience and research.  Please see: PhD Job Market for our current job market candidates.

Contact Details

MPhil/PhD Programme Director - Professor Sara Horrell
PhD Placement Officer - Dr Mohamed Saleh
MPhil/PhD Programme Manager - Tracy Keefe

You can find more information about the profiles of faculty, teaching fellows and graduate teaching assistants in the People section of our webpages.

Quick Links

Research courses
Office hours
LSE Calendar: regulations for research students
PhD Academy
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Contact us


Professor Sara Horrell +44 (0)20 7955 7075

Ms Tracy Keefe +44 (0)20 7955 7860


Professor Sara Horrell, Doctoral Programme Director

Tracy Keefe, PhD Programme Manager


Department of Economic History, London School of Economics