MSc in Political Sociology Dissertation

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Robin Archer STC.S114a


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Political Sociology. This course is not available as an outside option.

These seminars are for students on the MSc Political Sociology only.

Course content

These seminars aim to help you to begin the process of writing your dissertation. At the end of MT we will have a few seminars that aim to get students thinking at a meta-level about research in political sociology. The seminars can, of course, only address a small selection of approaches. Examples might include rational choice and institutionalist theories, or comparative and case study methods. But please note that the MSc in Political Sociology takes a pluralist approach and does not seek to prescribe these or any other particular theories or methods. In LT we will hold dissertation workshop seminars that aim to give individually tailored guidance on proposed research questions in small groups with fellow students who are working on similar topics or using similar methods. Every student is required to make a formal presentation once during the term.


8 x 1.5 hour seminars and workshops over the course of MT and LT.

There will be three sessions during MT for ALL MSc students based in the Sociology department. These will be offered in conjunction with LSE Life and LSE Library and aim to provide some basic guidance about planning your dissertation, such as selecting a suitable topic, reviewing the existing literature, devising a research question and designing a research method.

Teaching arrangements may be adjusted if online teaching is required at any point.

Reading Weeks: Students on this course will have a reading week in MT Week 6 and LT Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Students are expected to participate in seminars beginning in MT and produce a research statement and presentation in the LT.

Students will: (1) assess the strengths and weakness of selected theories and methods; (2) formulate a clearly specified research question and set out the rationale for researching this question and a proposed approach; and (3) give a presentation which develops one or two of the main arguments they anticipate will be important to their project.

Indicative reading

Donatella Della Porta and Michael Keating (2008), Approaches and Methods in the Social Sciences: a Pluralist Approach, Thomas Janoski et al, (2005), The Handbook of Political Sociology, James Mahoney and Dietrich Rueschemeyer (2003), Comparative Historical Analysis in the Social Sciences.


Dissertation (100%, 10000 words) in August.

Two hard copies of the dissertation, with submission sheets attached to each, to be handed in to the Sociology Hub, STC.S116, no later than 4.00pm on Thursday 19th of August 2021. An additional electronic copy to be uploaded to Moodle no later than 4.00pm on the same day.

Both hard copies and electronic copies must be submitted on time to avoid any late submission penalties.

Dissertations may be up to and no more than 10,000 words, must be word-processed and be fully referenced using a recognised citation system.

Attendance at all classes and submission of all set coursework is required.

Student performance results

(2016/17 - 2018/19 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 30.4
Merit 62.3
Pass 7.2
Fail 0

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2019/20: 18

Average class size 2019/20: 10

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills