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MPhil/PhD in Sociology

Programme Code: RPSO

Department: Sociology

For students starting this programme of study in 2021/22

Guidelines for interpreting programme regulations

In addition to progressing with their research, students are expected to take the listed training and transferable skills courses. Students may take courses in addition to those listed, and should discuss this with their supervisor.


Course number, title (unit value)

Year 1

Training courses

Compulsory (examined):


SO500 Aims and Methods Research Class for MPhil Students (1.0)


Students may also be asked to attend and pass the assessment for up to one further course unit (or two half units) chosen with their supervisor on the basis of an assessment of their research training needs.


Optional (examined):


MY500 Fundamentals of Social Science Research Design (0.5)


MY521L Qualitative Research Methods (0.5) 1


MY521M Qualitative Research Methods (0.5) 2


MY551L Introduction to Quantitative Analysis (0.5) 3


MY551M Introduction to Quantitative Analysis (0.5) 4


MY552L Applied Regression Analysis (0.5) # 5


MY552M Applied Regression Analysis (0.5) # 6


Other courses from Sociology Masters programmes


Specialist research courses:


SO491 Quantitative Social Research Methods (0.5)


SO492 Qualitative Social Research Methods (0.5)


SO511 Research Seminar in Political Sociology (0.0)


SO521 Research Seminar on Cities and Space (0.0)  (not available 2021/22)

Transferable skills courses

Optional (not examined):


Methods software training workshop




Workshop in Information Literacy: finding, managing and organising published research and data

Year 2 and/or Year 3

Training courses

Compulsory (not examined):


SO501 Data Analysis Workshop (0.0) A

Year 3 and/or Year 4

Training courses

Optional (not examined):


SO505 Becoming a Professional Sociologist (0.0) #

Prerequisite Requirements and Mutually Exclusive Options

1 : MY521L can not be taken with MY521M

2 : MY521M can not be taken with MY521L

3 : MY551L can not be taken with MY551M

4 : MY551M can not be taken with MY551L

5 : MY552L can not be taken with MY552M

6 : MY552M can not be taken with MY552L


A : SO501 is required.

# means there may be prerequisites for this course. Please view the course guide for more information.

Progression and upgrade requirements

In the Summer term of each year the progress of each student registered in the Department is discussed at the MPhil/PhD Board, which is a general meeting of all research student supervisors. This Board decides whether to recommend to the School that students be permitted to proceed to the next year of study. If progress is unsatisfactory, a course of action to assist students to reach performance standards deemed appropriate by supervisors may be required, or a recommendation may be made that the student not be allowed to re-register. The following benchmarks are used by the MPhil/PhD Board to determine if students are progressing appropriately:

By Summer Term Year 1 for Full Time Students: Submission of Formative Essay for SO500, including approvals from the Ethics Committee and Health and Safety

By Summer Term Year 2 for Full Time Students: Upgrade from MPhil to PhD Student

By Summer Term Year 3 for Full Time Students: Successful completion of the Third Year Progression Package

In addition, students are expected to have completed requirements as laid out by the supervisory team. The PhD is an individual project and will require research and writing tailored to that project.

Full time students are required to have submitted their Upgrade materials in Week 6 of the Michaelmas Term of Year 2, and to have successfully defended their research design in viva voce by the end of the Michaelmas Term of Year 2. Upon successful completion, the student will upgrade from MPhil to PhD student. All full-time research students are required to have made the transition from MPhil to PhD (upgrading) student within two years of first registration and to have submitted their PhD thesis within four years. Part-time students are expected to be upgraded to PhD student by the end of their third year, and to submit their thesis within eight years.

The decision to upgrade a student from MPhil to PhD is taken by a panel consisting of two academics from the Department. For upgrade, students submit a 10,000 word research proposal that includes: 1) the research question(s); 2) a concise literature review through which the significance of the proposed research is articulated; 3) a discussion of research methodology; 4) preliminary data collection and analysis or a ‘pilot’ study; and 5) discussion of research ethics and risks. This material is then assessed by viva voce, with the supervisor(s) in attendance and available to be consulted by the panel. A written report is made by the panel on the basis of both the written upgrade submission and the viva.

Students should aim to have a complete a first draft of their thesis in years three to four and allow three to six months for revision and submission. To facilitate this, students are required to submit a Third Year Progression Package no later than Week 6 of the Lent Term in the 3rd Year for full time students. The decision to progress a student from the third to the fourth year is taken by a panel consisting of two academics from the LSE with at least one being from the Sociology Department. Students are to submit: a) two draft chapters (an introduction and a substantive chapter) totalling no more than 20,000 words; b) a thesis outline; c) a timeline for completion and d) a bibliography. This material is then assessed by viva voce, with the supervisor(s) in attendance and available to be consulted by the panel.

Note for prospective students:
For changes to graduate course and programme information for the next academic session, please see the graduate summary page for prospective students. Changes to course and programme information for future academic sessions can be found on the graduate summary page for future students.