MRes/PhD Political Science Admissions FAQ

How do I apply?

Applications for 2023/4 entry are now closed. They will reopen again for 2024/5 entry in October 2023. In the meantime, please read the information on this page and on the Graduate Admissions website carefully before beginning to prepare your application.

Students should first read all the relevant information on the MRes/PhD Political Science prospectus page, and then apply through the Graduate Admissions online application system. Make sure that you choose the MRes/PhD in Political Science when making your application. Please submit your application, with all required documents, by the deadline to ensure that it is considered by the department and put forward for any relevant funding you may be eligible for.

Please check your junk folder in case emails regarding your application have been redirected there; this will enable you to respond to any queries regarding your application (including interview invitations) as soon as possible.

What are the entry requirements?

Candidates should have a first class or very good upper second class undergraduate degree (normally 65+) and a taught master's degree (or equivalent) in Political Science or a closely related discipline (such as Sociology, Economics, History or Philosophy). We do not require any GRE/GMAT scores.

Go to the 'Entry Requirements' page for further details.

Where can I find out the equivalency of my qualification/s?

You can find out the equivalent entry requirement grades and classifications for the country/countries you undertook your qualification/s in by looking at the International Students admissions information web page. From here, you can select the relevant countries and see the equivalent grades/classifications that would be deemed suitable for Research programmes, as well as take a look at other information you might find helpful if and when you apply for the programme at LSE.

What are the English language requirements?

If your first language is not English and your previous degree was not taught entirely in English, you will be required to provide evidence of your English language ability. Full details can be found on the English language requirements page.

How can I get funding for my PhD?

We offer the opportunity of a fully funded PhD programme for some students. Election for funding is based on receipt of application to the programme by the relevant deadline (for 2023/4 entry this was 13 January 2023). There is no separate application form for LSE studentship or ESRC funding. You do not need to inform the Department of your intention to be put forward for funding.

For 2023 entry, LSE is also offering three doctoral studentships for PhD study in any Department for research addressing ‘Analysing and Challenging Inequalities’ (ACI - more information can be found here). As with LSE studentships and ESRC funding, applicants should apply to the programme by the deadline stated above to be considered, though applicants who would like to be considered for ACI funding should make reference to where their research will fit into the ACI theme in their application.

We recommend that applicants also look into external sources of funding at the time of application, to increase their chances of securing funding for the duration of the programme. This will not affect the nomination process for LSE, ESRC or ACI studentships.

Further information on funding

Can I contact academic faculty to discuss my research topic? How can I find out if my research topic is suitable for the department?

You should think carefully about the suitability of your PhD project and how it fits within the Department of Government at LSE. To do this, you could take a look at our people page to find out more about our academics' research interests and to help you in assessing whether or not your research would be a good fit for the department.

You are welcome to contact potential supervisors in advance to express interest and ask if they may be interested in supervising, but it is not essential to do this. You are also welcome to mention potential supervisors in your application (this can usually be included in the research proposal summary or the statement of academic purpose), but again, this is not essential; if you meet the entrance requirements, we will pass on your application to academics we think would be suitable, but it can be helpful to know who you would like to work with.

Cross-departmental supervision can also be considered, though you should apply to the department you’d like to be primarily based in (and where your lead supervisor would be based) as your first choice.

How long should my research proposal be?

For the MRes/PhD in Political Science, your research proposal should be approximately 2,000 words in length (including bibliography).

You may find that an "outline" is requested on the online application system; this is because our programme incorporates an MRes year, and so it is expected that your proposal would be adapted during this element. However, we recommend that, for our programme, you still submit a full research proposal that is similar in structure to one you would submit for an MPhil/PhD programme (as specified on the Graduate Admissions Supporting Documents page, linked to below), so that the selection committee can get a better sense of your research interests and ideas at this stage.

For more information about what questions you should answer in your research proposal, as well as guidance on what to include in other elements of your application, please visit Graduate Admissions' Supporting Documents page.

What are the selectors looking for in the research proposal?

Selectors will be looking to see that the MRes/PhD research proposal:

  • Is clearly written and motivated;
  • Moves beyond stating a topic and describing a literature;
  • Formulates an overarching research question and gives a sense as to why the applicant's thesis will be important;
  • Shows that the project would be feasible for completion within 4 years; and
  • (For empirical projects:) Discusses possible research design and methodological challenges.

How can I ensure that my writing sample fits the application requirements?

Ideally, we would like to see a writing sample of a marked assignment from your most recent programme of study. This can be in the form of a degree essay of around 3,000 words (including bibliography), or an extract of comparable length from a longer piece of work.

We recognise that not all applicants will have a writing sample that fulfils these criteria. As a result, applicants should aim to submit a sample that is as close as possible to the following:

  • The sample should relate to your proposed research topic (or more broadly to the general area of political science that you are interested in)
  • The sample should be in English and must be your own work - if the assignment was not originally written in English, you should translate it yourself.

Can I apply if I'm currently completing an MA/MSc and am not due to receive my grades before the application deadline?

As highlighted in our entry requirements, we look favourably on applicants who have completed an MA or MSc degree in Political Science, or a closely related discipline, before entry onto the MRes/PhD. However, you are still able to apply and receive an offer if you are currently undertaking a master's degree and do not yet have final grades.

If you are currently undertaking a master’s degree, you may wish to consider asking your academic referees to include information about your performance and predictive grades in their reference letters.

I already have an MRes/MPhil qualification - can I skip the one year MRes part of the programme?

The MRes year is an integral part of the MRes/PhD in Political Science. It provides an important underpinning in methods and research design to enable students to upgrade to PhD status. It is unlikely that an applicant would be able to skip year one and begin in year two. Any decision regarding this would remain at the discretion of the School after an offer had been made. All applicants need to apply to the 1+4 MRes/PhD in Political Science programme in the first instance.

Is there a different application deadline for current LSE students?

No. The deadline is the same for all applicants, including current LSE students.

When will I hear back from the department about my application?

We will assess applications on a rolling basis from November 2022 to just after the deadline on 13 January 2023, aiming to make an initial decision on the application (to reject or proceed to interview) within eight weeks of receipt. For applicants invited to interview, this will usually take place around February time, though interviews can be conducted sooner or later depending on when we receive the application. Decisions on funding are made separately to decisions on offers of a place, and are usually made by around March time. All applications submitted by 13 January 2023 will be considered for a place on the programme.

It would be a good idea to ask your referees to provide a reference for you in plenty of time before the deadline, so that they can know to expect an email once you have submitted your application, ensuring that there are no delays in your application being passed on to us. More information about this can be found on Graduate Admissions' Supporting Documents page.

Please do check your junk/spam/deleted items/bin folder for important information regarding your application, including interview invitations. If you do find any of our emails in any of these folders, please make sure to add the domain @lse.ac.uk to your ‘Safe Senders’ or ‘Never Block’ list.

How do I apply to be a Visiting Research Student (VRS) in the department?

If you are currently a student pursuing research at another institution, then you may be interested in applying to be a VRS in the department, which would enable you to attend courses and benefit from the expertise of the LSE faculty, Library and academic support services for a duration of one term up to one academic year. Please note that a tuition fee is applicable for this period of study (see the programme page link below for more information).

We welcome applications that complement the academic interests of members of staff in the Department, and so we recommend that you take a look at our People page before applying. Once you have found an academic whose research interests are similar to your own you should contact them directly, outlining your proposed area of research, to see if they will agree, in principle, to supervise you during your time at LSE.

More information about the scheme and how to apply can be found on the VRS Government programme page. Applications can be considered year-round, but ideally they should be submitted by the Summer of the preceding academic year (e.g. by July 2023 for a visit in the 2023/4 academic year).

Can I study the programme entirely online/by distance learning?

Unfortunately not, no. Students are expected to be resident in London for the beginning of the programme and into the PhD element, as they are expected to be in regular attendance at the LSE for lectures and seminars in their MRes year, and then for workshops, seminars and supervisory meetings during the PhD itself (unless the School has given them permission to reside outside of the UK, undertake fieldwork, or study abroad in later years). The programme is not designed to be taken entirely online or by distance learning, especially not during the taught MRes year.

I have an enquiry about the status of my application, who should I contact?

The Graduate Admissions Office deals with all enquiries regarding applications in progress. Please visit the Graduate Admissions Website for further details on how to contact Graduate Admissions.

We wish you luck in your application.