About the Programme

The Department of Government is a beacon of excellence in many different fields

"We are proud to offer a doctoral programme that provides world-leading methods training, participation in a lively and open research culture, and the opportunity to be part of one of the best departments in political science and political studies.

"We believe that to succeed in the discipline you need to hone your methodological skills early on. This is why the first year of the MRes/PhD in Political Science consists of a course in research design, methods courses, specialist courses in our department, and the authoring of a Research Prospectus. The specialist training courses provided by us and the Department of Methodology will help you to refine your project and 'hit the ground running' after year one.

"The Department of Government is a centre of excellence in many different fields. As a doctoral student, you will have the opportunity to participate in several lively research seminars across the various sub-fields.

"If you are looking for a potential supervisor, please browse our staff pages.

"On this page you will find more information about the programme and its structure, the application process, and funding opportunities. Please have a look around, and do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions."

Professor Sara Hobolt
Doctoral Programme Director

Programme structure

The MRes/PhD in Political Science offered by the LSE Department of Government is designed to provide a structured route into a PhD.


In the first year, you will take a series of courses and prepare a Research Prospectus. You will be trained in research design and research methods and also take courses from a broad range of graduate specialisms in our Department and across the LSE.

You will study with acknowledged leaders in their fields and learn what political scientists know (and don’t know), what the key debates have been and where the discipline is going.

At the end of the first year you will complete the assessments for your courses and finalise your Research Prospectus, the provisional research plan for your PhD. You will defend the prospectus at a committee of relevant faculty in September at the end of the first year.

If you are awarded the MRes with at least a Merit, achieve at least a Merit in your Research Prospectus and successfully defend it to the committee, you will be ‘upgraded’ to the PhD part of the programme.

For full information about the MRes/PhD programme structure, MRes courses and upgrade requirements please refer to the programme regulations and the MRes/PhD in Political Science admissions pages.


You will now be ready to implement your research plan, for example through fieldwork, data collection and analysis, theoretical work, or a combination of several approaches. You will be assigned a lead supervisor (and a second supervisor/adviser, or a supervisor team) who is a specialist in your chosen research field to guide you through your studies.

You will participate and present your work in Doctoral Workshops with faculty and fellow researchers, and you will start to attend and present papers at international conferences. You will also be eligible to help teach undergraduate courses in the department.

During your time at LSE, we will offer workshops about career progression. We will also help you prepare for the academic job market by offering “mock job talks” or interview practice meetings.

Your final award of the PhD will be determined by the completion of an original research thesis and a viva oral examination.

How to apply

Students should apply for the MRes/PhD in Political Science through the Graduate Admissions online application system.

Admission for entry opens each year in the autumn, and closes in early January. Applications for 2024/5 entry are now closed (the deadline for applying was Monday 15 January 2024), and will reopen for 2025/6 entry in October 2024. We recommend you submit your application earlier than the January deadline to ensure that references are received in time to be considered for funding, and that you check your email/the tracker regularly for updates on your application (be sure to check your junk folder, too).

The Government Department has one deadline (in January) to consider all applications. This is also the deadline to be considered for any LSE funding opportunity. Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed either in person or online, usually in late January or early February.

You should ensure before applying that your area of research can be supervised within the Government Department. The research interests of staff members can be found on the Department of Government people pages.

When submitting your research proposal as part of your online application, you should also indicate if you have discussed your proposed research with any member of the LSE academic staff and, if so, give the name of that person.

For further details of how to apply, including minimum entry requirements, English Language requirements, and supporting documents to include with your application, please refer to the programme pages on the Graduate Admissions website.

For answers to some frequently asked questions about the MRes/PhD in Political Science please see our Admissions FAQ.

Funding your studies

Funding may be offered to new PhD students in the form of LSE PhD Studentships or ESRC DTP Scholarships. These awards are available for Home and Overseas students undertaking full time research in any LSE discipline, with annual renewal subject to satisfactory academic performance at the School. Studentships will be awarded on academic merit and research potential. LSE PhD Studentships on 'Analysing and Challenging Inequalities' are also available to research students, though these are for students whose research aligns with this particular topic. For further details of these awards, please visit the LSE Fees and Funding webpage.

The Department of Government is allowed to nominate a limited number of candidates for these awards. Award decisions will be made by a Panel representing different academic disciplines within the School. The awards will be made solely on outstanding academic merit and research potential. This relates not only to your past academic record, but also to an assessment of your chosen topic and to your likely aptitude to complete a PhD in the time allocated.

There is no separate application form for studentship awards. The selection of students for these awards will be based on the PhD application to the School. If you wish to be considered for an award, you must submit a complete application for a place on the MRes/PhD programme (including all supporting documentation such as references and transcripts) by the January deadline.

For more information, please contact the PhD and Programme Delivery Manager.