MPhil/PhD in Social Research Methods

This programme offers the chance to undertake a substantial piece of work that is worthy of publication and which makes an original contribution to the field of methodology or which applies advanced methodology to an applied research problem. You will begin on the MPhil, and will need to meet certain requirements to be upgraded to PhD status.

Information for prospective students

This PhD programme offers the chance to undertake a substantial piece of work that is worthy of publication and which makes an original contribution to the field of methodology or which applies advanced methodology to an applied research problem. Students will begin on the MPhil, and will need to meet certain requirements to be upgraded to PhD status.

You will benefit from the knowledge and expertise of staff whose disciplinary backgrounds include political science, statistics, sociology, social psychology, anthropology and criminology. There are a variety of advanced-level courses, seminars and workshops in research design, quantitative analysis and qualitative methods available for you to attend. 

The Department of Methodology at LSE supports both standalone qualitative and quantitative research, as well as interesting ways of combining them. We encourage applications from candidates who demonstrate an interest in a substantive area of research and particular methodological approach, aiming at a methodological development. This could involve collecting innovative new data, new analytic techniques, method comparison, evaluation or validation, method critique, applying existing methodology in new contexts, or cost-benefit analysis of methodologies.

The Department of Methodology welcomes applications from prospective students for the MPhil/ PhD in Social Research Methods, both full-time and part-time.

Visit the MPhil/PhD Social Research Methods online prospectus page.

Please see the Calendar for an outline of the programme structure.

For ideas on current and recent research topics, please see individual current student profiles.

Application procedures

Applications are handled by the LSE Graduate Admissions Office. Official information about the application procedures can be found here.

We welcome applications for research programmes that complement the academic interests of members of staff at the School, and we recommend that you investigate staff research interests before applying.

See the LSE Experts Directory for more information

We carefully consider each application on an individual basis, taking into account all the information presented on your application form, including your:

- academic achievement (including existing and pending qualifications)
- personal statement
- references
- CV
- research proposal
- sample of written work.

See further information on supporting documents

Minimum entry requirements for MPhil/PhD Social Research Methods

Applicants to the doctoral programme in the Department of Methodology (Mphil/PhD in Social Research Methods) should possess, as a minimum, a high level pass in an appropriate Master’s degree, together with at least an upper second class honours degree or equivalent in an appropriate subject from a UK university or its equivalent elsewhere. Graduates from the Department’s own Master's degree must normally have achieved an average mark of 65% or better overall (pass mark, 50%), plus preferably higher in their Dissertation, to be eligible for admission to the doctoral programme.

Competition for places at the School is high. This means that even if you meet our minimum entry requirement, this does not guarantee you an offer of admission.

See international students entry requirements

When to apply

Applications can be made throughout the year. To be considered for studentships (LSE PhD studentships and Research Council studentships), an applicant aiming to start in the autumn must submit their completed application by 15th January 2024.

Research proposal requirements

The Department of Methodology requires you to submit a proposal summarising and justifying your proposed research, to be attached to your formal application. This will provide the selectors with an idea of the topics of interest, and help in matching candidates to potential supervisors.

The research proposal should include the following questions:

  • Why is the topic interesting? What is the central research question? Is there a theoretical and empirical 'gap' that your research will seek to fill? Is there a theoretical or empirical contradiction that your research will seek to resolve? How will your research take our understanding forward in your chosen field? What core theories and concepts will you draw on?
  • What are the relevant literature(s) and field(s) the work will contribute to? What are the main theories in the area? What are the critical empirical phenomena in the area? Specify the key references relevant to the proposed research.
  • How will you address the empirical aspects of the research? What empirical (qualitative and/or quantitative) information do you propose to collect, how, from where, and why? What methodology of analysis is appropriate and why? If the research question requires a combination of different methodologies, how will they be related? Do you foresee any practical difficulties in pursuing the research (e.g., finding suitable participants or data sources)? If so, how might they be overcome?


All candidates who are shortlisted as candidates for admission to the MPhil/PhD programme will be interviewed by their potential supervisors and/or the Doctoral Programme Director. Interviews can be conducted in person or on the telephone or via Skype/other video conferencing facilities. The department will contact the candidates to arrange the interview.

Frequently Asked Questions 

I am interested in a Methodology PhD programme, but my master's degree is not related to MPhil/PhD Social Research Methods.

If you have no previous experience with methodology, we recommend applying for the ESRC Scholarship 1+3 Scheme. This scheme is designed for students who have not already completed an ESRC-recognised programme of research training at MSc level. It provides funding for a one-year MSc programme linked to a four-year MPhil/PhD programme, of which the first four years (1+3) are funded by ESRC and the final year by LSE, so the study period related to this scheme is five years in total.

How long does it take to obtain a PhD?

Obtaining a PhD typically lasts for four years. However, this could vary case by case due to extenuating circumstances.

Can I pursue a PhD part-time?

We will consider applications for a part-time mode of study in some circumstances. A standard PhD programme lasts four years, while part-time studentships will extend to eight years. We advise you to contact our team by email at or discuss it with your potential supervisor if you have already identified one.

Can I work alongside my studies?

We do not recommend attempting to pursue a PhD while in full-time employment. However, you may be able to work part-time alongside your studies. Full-time LSE students are generally limited to working 20 hours per week to maintain focus on their studies. The department offers teaching work opportunities for PhD students with relevant experience and expertise.

Will I be able to complete my PhD remotely?

In general, the option for remote completion is limited, often due to commitments to regular seminars and participatory activities integral to the course. While PhD students typically engage in independent work, which may involve fieldwork research, remote completion is possible during specific phases of your study. However, undertaking the entire PhD program remotely is highly discouraged.

How many PhD studentships are available at the Department of Methodology each year?

There are no limits on the number of students accepted each year, and applications from qualifying students from all disciplines are welcome. However, while there is no specific limit on the number of students accepted, it is important to note that scholarships are scarce, and there is intense competition for student funding opportunities.

Tips for Applicants 

We strongly advise you to review our staff and current PhD student profiles before submitting your application. This will help you seek advice on what to include in the research proposal and gain insight into potential supervisors for your PhD, as well as valuable insights from those already in the academic field.

While we are here to assist you within our department's scope of knowledge, we are unable to provide information or assistance regarding visa or funding-related questions. These topics fall outside of our expertise. We recommend contacting the appropriate department or seeking guidance from the relevant authorities for the information you require.

If you cannot find the answers to your questions, please feel free to contact us at

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