MRes/PhD Political Science

  • Graduate research
  • Department of Government
  • Application code M1ZN
  • Starting 2020
  • UK/EU full-time: Closed
  • Overseas full-time: Closed
  • Location: Houghton Street, London

This programme offers you the chance to undertake a substantial piece of work that is worthy of publication and which makes an original contribution to the field of political science. You will begin on the MRes, and will need to meet certain requirements to progress to the PhD.

The Department of Government at LSE is one of the largest political science departments in the UK and covers almost all areas of politics. We offer a comprehensive range of academic approaches, from political theory, political economy, rational choice theory, public policy, nationalism, conflict studies, and comparative government to the history of institutions and policy. Many faculty members have particular regional expertise on Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and/or Latin America. 

The MRes/PhD Political Science 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 in the world. You will join a small and highly selective entering class, of about 6-10 students, from a wide range of universities around the world. Together you will embark on the MRes portion of the programme, which is a structured route to the PhD.

Teaching and learning in Michaelmas Term 2020 
Information on how LSE will deliver teaching and learning in Michaelmas term can be found here.

Programme details

Key facts

MRes/PhD Political Science
Start date 28 September 2020
Application deadline 10 January 2020
Duration Three to five years (minimum three) full-time
Tuition fee UK/EU: £4,435 (for the first year) - provisional
Overseas: £19,368 (for the first year)
Financial support LSE PhD Studentships (deadline 10 January 2020)
ESRC funding (deadline 10 January 2020)
Minimum entry requirement First class or very good upper second class honours degree (normally 65+) and a taught master’s degree (or equivalent) in political science or a closely related discipline
GRE/GMAT requirement None
English language requirements Higher (see 'Assessing your application')
Location  Houghton Street, London

For more information about tuition fees and entry requirements, see the fees and funding and assessing your application sections.

Entry requirements

Minimum entry requirements for MRes/PhD Political Science

First class or very good upper second class honours degree (normally 65+) and a taught master's degree (or equivalent) in political science or a closely related discipline (such as sociology, economics or history).

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.

For the MRes/PhD Political Science, your research prospoal should be about 2000 words. Your sample of written work should be either a degree essay of between 3000 and 5000 words, or a 3000-5000 word extract from a longer piece of work such as a dissertation.

See requirements for the samples of written work 

If you have studied or are studying outside of the UK then have a look at our Information for International Students to find out the entry requirements that apply to you.

Assessing your application

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.

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

You may also have to provide evidence of your English proficiency. You do not need to provide this at the time of your application to LSE, but we recommend that you do. See our English language requirements.

When to apply

The application deadline for this programme is 10 January 2020. This is also the deadline to be considered for any LSE funding opportunity. See the fees and funding section for more details.

Programme structure and courses

First year (MRes)

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 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. 

Research Design in the Social Sciences
Turns good research questions into systematic projects that deliver interesting and worthwhile results.

Courses to the value of one unit from a range of quantitative, qualitative or political theory research methods topics

Courses to the value of one unit from a range of options within the Department of Government

Research Prospectus in Political Science
A research paper, not to exceed 10,000 words, related to the student's designated major field.


Subject to satisfactory performance, you will be upgraded to the PhD programme and will implement your research plan, for example through fieldwork, data collection and analysis, theoretical work, or a combination of several approaches. You will participate and present your work in doctoral workshops with faculty and fellow researchers (at least one each year), and you will start to attend and present papers at international conferences.

You will also be invited to apply to help teach undergraduate courses in the Department. In your second year, you have the option of taking Political Economy (permission to attend is at the discretion of the course convenor.)

For the most up-to-date list of optional courses please visit the relevant School Calendar page. 

You must note however that while care has been taken to ensure that this information is up to date and correct, a change of circumstances since publication may cause the School to change, suspend or withdraw a course or programme of study, or change the fees that apply to it. The School will always notify the affected parties as early as practicably possible and propose any viable and relevant alternative options. Note that that the School will neither be liable for information that after publication becomes inaccurate or irrelevant, nor for changing, suspending or withdrawing a course or programme of study due to events outside of its control, which includes but is not limited to a lack of demand for a course or programme of study, industrial action, fire, flood or other environmental or physical damage to premises. 

You must also note that places are limited on some courses and/or subject to specific entry requirements. The School cannot therefore guarantee you a place. Please note that changes to programmes and courses can sometimes occur after you have accepted your offer of a place. These changes are normally made in light of developments in the discipline or path-breaking research, or on the basis of student feedback. Changes can take the form of altered course content, teaching formats or assessment modes. Any such changes are intended to enhance the student learning experience. You should visit the School’s Calendar, or contact the relevant academic department, for information on the availability and/or content of courses and programmes of study. Certain substantive changes will be listed on the updated graduate course and programme information page.

Supervision, progression and assessment


You will be assigned a lead supervisor (and a second supervisor/adviser) who is a specialist in your chosen research field, though not necessarily in your topic. Lead supervisors guide you through your studies.

Progression and assessment

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 the first year. If you meet the assessment requirements and successfully defend the Prospectus you will be upgraded to the PhD part of the programme.

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

More about progression requirements.


Students who successfully complete the programme often embark on an academic career. Recent graduates have also gone on to careers in investment banking, auditing, consultancy and public sector and government.

Further information on graduate destinations for this programme

Support for your career

Many leading organisations in the field give careers presentations at the School during the year, and LSE Careers has a wide range of resources available to assist students in their job search. Find out more about the support available to students through LSE Careers

Student stories

Cecile Hoareau

MRes/PhD Political Science
Ile de la Reunion, France 


I particularly like the fact that the programme I am in has some taught element, as opposed to an entirely research based PhD. It is a unique programme in Europe, and provides a very challenging and intensive training in research that I could not get anywhere else. I also like the balance that the interdisciplinary approach of this programme gives, drawing on economic aspects to explain political science.

I chose LSE because it has a great academic staff with a unique expertise. Studying at LSE helped me to broaden my horizons, and, although I am still in my first year of PhD, has already offered my many professional opportunities (teaching and consulting). Since I am studying for a PhD, I would like to pursue a career in academia, or in a consultancy for the public sector.

Fees and funding

Every research student is charged a fee in line with the fee structure for their programme.  The fee covers registration and examination fees payable to the School, lectures, classes and individual supervision, lectures given at other colleges under intercollegiate arrangements and, under current arrangements, membership of the Students' Union. It does not cover living costs  or travel or fieldwork.

Tuition fees 2020/21 for MRes/PhD Political Science

UK/EU students: £4,435 for the first year (provisional)
Overseas students: £19,368 for the first year

The fee is likely to rise over subsequent years of the programme. The School charges UK/EU research students in line with the level of fee that the Research Councils recommend. The fees for overseas students are likely to rise in line with the assumed percentage increase in pay costs (ie, 4 per cent per annum).

Fee status

The amount of tuition fees you will need to pay, and any financial support you are eligible for, will depend on whether you are classified as a home (UK/EU) or overseas student, otherwise known as your fee status. LSE assesses your fee status based on guidelines provided by the Department of Education.

Further information

Fees and funding opportunities

Scholarships, studentships and other funding

The School recognises that the cost of living in London may be higher than in your home town or country, and we provide over £13 million in scholarships each year to graduate students from the UK, the EU and outside the EU.

This programme is eligible for LSE PhD Studentships, and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funding. Selection for the PhD Studentships and ESRC funding is based on receipt of an application for a place – including all ancillary documents, before the funding deadline.  

Funding deadline for LSE PhD Studentships and ESRC funding: 10 January 2020.

In addition to our needs-based awards, LSE also makes available scholarships for students from specific regions of the world and awards for students studying specific subject areas. 

External funding 

There may be other funding opportunities available through other organisations or governments and we recommend you investigate these options as well.

Further information

Fees and funding opportunities

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