Programmes

MPhil/PhD Data, Networks and Society

  • Graduate research
  • Department of Media and Communications
  • Application code P3ZN
  • Starting 2021
  • UK/EU full-time: Open
  • Overseas full-time: Open
  • Location: Houghton Street, London

Media and communications research is developing rapidly, both theoretically and methodologically, in keeping with the vast expansion in the penetration, technological diversity and social significance of the media globally. Media and communications research is essentially interdisciplinary, drawing on the theories and methods of a range of social science disciplines as they apply to the media, both old and new.

With 91 per cent of its research output judged to be "world leading" or "internationally excellent" (REF 2014), the Department of Media and Communications provides an excellent research-based education to its doctoral researchers. Its mission is to guarantee the highest quality graduate research training in media and communications and to undertake original social science research in the field, emphasising in particular the relationship between media, technology and social change.

This programme offers the chance to undertake a substantial piece of work that is worthy of publication and which makes an original contribution on the role of data and networks in relation to society.

Teaching and learning in 2021
We hope that programmes beginning in September 2021 will be unaffected by Coronavirus. If there are going to be any changes to the delivery of the programme we will update this page to reflect the amendments and all offer holders will be notified. For more information about LSE's teaching plans for 2020 please visit: https://www.lse.ac.uk/study-at-lse/Graduate/Prospective-students/Teaching-Methods and to view our Coronavirus FAQ's for prospective students please see: https://www.lse.ac.uk/study-at-lse/meet-visit-and-discover-LSE/COVID-19/Coronavirus-FAQs-for-prospective-applicants

Programme details

Key facts

MPhil/PhD Data, Networks and Society
Start date 27 September 2021
Application deadline 29 April 2021. However please note the funding deadlines
Duration Three-four years (minimum two) full-time. 

Please note that LSE allows part-time PhD study only under limited circumstances. Please see lse.ac.uk/study-at-lse/Graduate/Prospective-students/Types-of-study for more information. If you wish to study part-time, you should mention this (and the reasons for it) in your statement of academic purpose, and discuss it at interview if you are shortlisted.

Tuition fee UK/EU: £4,517 (for the first year) - provisional
Overseas: £20,136 (for the first year)
Financial support LSE PhD Studentships (deadline 14 January 2021 and 29 April 2021)
ESRC funding (deadline 14 January 2021)
Minimum entry requirement High merit (68 per cent) in in a taught master’s degree in social science or humanities and normally a distinction in the dissertation
GRE/GMAT requirement None
English language requirements Research (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 MPhil/PhD in Data, Networks and Society

The minimum entry requirement for this programme is a high merit (68 per cent) in a taught master's degree (or equivalent) in social science or humanities and normally a distinction in the dissertation.

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.

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)
- statement of academic purpose
- references
- CV
- research proposal (see below)
- 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 29 April 2021. However to be considered for any LSE funding opportunity, you must have submitted your application and all supporting documents by the funding deadline. See the fees and funding section for more details.

Research proposal guidelines

Applicants for doctoral study with the Department of Media and Communications are required to submit a research proposal of no more than 2,500 words summarising and justifying their proposed research.

The research proposal will provide selectors with an idea of topics of interest, and help in matching candidates to potential supervisors. If your application is accepted, you may be permitted to re-negotiate your topic, subject to the Department’s ability to supervise the new topic.

The final project proposal should feature the following sections:

  • Title: A clearly stated title / research question at the beginning of your proposal.
  • Preferred potential supervisor: Please indicate clearly on the first page of the proposal who you wish to supervise your project. Available supervisors can be found on our list of Academic staff (please note LSE Fellows cannot supervise PhD projects).
  • Keywords: Please include on the first page of the proposal up to 10 keywords or phrases which accurately reflect the content of your project (e.g., 'internet governance', 'data privacy', 'children's media use', 'feminism', 'representation', 'platform studies').
  • Introduction to research question(s): What question(s) will you attempt to answer? Why is the topic interesting and important? Is there a theoretical and empirical 'gap' that your research will seek to fill? What core theories and concepts will you draw on?
  • Literature Review: Summarise the relevant literature and the field(s) to be contributed to. What are the main theories in the area? What are the critical empirical phenomena in the area? Specify the key references relevant to the proposed research. How do you position yourself vis-à-vis the theories and concepts you propose to use?
  • Methodology: How will you address the empirical aspects of the research? Which methodology is appropriate and why? If the research question requires a combination of different methodologies, how will they be related? Do you foresee any practical difficulties in pursuing the research (e.g. finding suitable participants or data sources)? If so, how might they be overcome?
  • Conclusion: What is the added value of the project? How will your research take our understanding forward in your chosen (sub-)field? 
  • Bibliography: A list of texts used in preparing your proposal. (Not to be included in the word count).

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 2021/22 for MPhil/PhD in Data, Networks and Society

Home students: £4,517 for the first year (provisional)
Overseas students: £20,136 for the first year

The fee is likely to rise over subsequent years of the programme. The School charges home 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 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 about fee status classification.

Please note that LSE allows part-time PhD study only under limited circumstances. Please see lse.ac.uk/study-at-lse/Graduate/Prospective-students/Types-of-study for more information. If you wish to study part-time, you should mention this (and the reasons for it) in your statement of academic purpose, and discuss it at interview if you are shortlisted.

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 generous 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 first round of LSE PhD Studentships and ESRC funding: 14 January 2021.  

The deadline for the second round of LSE PhD Studentships: 29 April 2021

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

Information for international students

LSE is an international community, with over 140 nationalities represented amongst its student body. We celebrate this diversity through everything we do.  

If you are applying to LSE from outside of the UK then take a look at our Information for International students

1) Take a note of the UK qualifications we require for your programme of interest (found in the ‘Entry requirements’ section of this page. 

2) Go to the International Students section of our website. 

3) Select your country. 

4) Select ‘Graduate entry requirements’ and scroll until you arrive at the information about your local/national qualification. Compare the stated UK entry requirements listed on this page with the local/national entry requirement listed on your country specific page 

Programme structure and courses

In addition to progressing with your research, you are expected to take the listed training and transferable skills courses. You may take courses in addition to those listed but you must discuss this with your supervisor.

First year

All First year students are MPhil students until they pass their upgrade, at which point they will become PhD students.

Theories and concepts training

Research Seminar for Media, Communications and Culture
Focuses on the key conceptual issues and analytical strategies required in media and communication research, with special reference to the study of the changing environment of media production, dissemination and consumption, under conditions of globalisation and digitisation of information. Each participant must make at least one presentation annually.

One full unit or two half units of theory courses, chosen from the School’s graduate course provision. Courses are to be chosen in liaison with the primary supervisor/co-supervisors and will be approved by the Doctoral Programme Director. For MPhil students who have no background in the field, it is strongly advised that they select at least one half unit on Media and Communications.

Research methodology training

MPhil students will take Advanced Methods of Research in Media and Communications. This is a course which involves 3 discrete sections:

i. Principles of Research in Media and Communications: a series of lectures offered by Department of Media and Communications faculty in Michaelmas Term. The lectures will normally cover the following topics central to research design across the social sciences, with a specific emphasis on their application to media and communications contexts: the general nature of research as social inquiry, interviewing, discourse analysis, social network analysis, content analysis, visual analysis, survey design/questionnaires, case studies, ethnography and participant observation, as well as research ethics.

ii. Specialist workshops: Workshops (three hours) x 5 Lent Term (each comprised of one 3-hour session), offered by Department of Media and Communications faculty in Lent Term. Students are required to participate in all five workshops.

iii. Principles of Social Research Analysis: Students have to take at least one quantitative analysis course offered by the Department of Methodology (Introduction to Quantitative Methods for Media and Communications is the basic option). In addition, students need to take either another quantitative or a qualitative analysis course offered by the Department of Methodology. The combination of courses must be approved by the supervisor and discussed with the Advanced Methods of Research in Media and Communications (including Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis) convenor. Students will not be permitted to select Fundamentals of Social Science Research or  Qualitative Research methods.

Upgrade process

In addition to satisfactory completion of the above training, all MPhil students will be required to submit a thesis proposal of 10,000 words to their thesis committee. This paper needs to include a substantive statement of the aims, theories and methods proposed for the thesis, a tentative chapter outline, an indicative bibliography and a timetable for completion.

Together with any examination/s for quantitative methodological courses, the thesis proposal will form part of the evaluation process, and, together with an upgrade viva, will determine whether students are permitted to upgrade from MPhil to PhD and continue into their second year

Second year 

Research Seminar for Media, Communications and Culture
Focuses on the key conceptual issues and analytical strategies required in media and communication research, with special reference to the study of the changing environment of media production, dissemination and consumption, under conditions of globalisation and digitisation of information. Each participant must make at least one presentation annually.

All upgraded PhD students must submit an end-of-year reflection document.

Third year 

Full time PhD students must submit their thesis by the end of their fourth year, part-time PhD students must submit their thesis by the end of their eighth year.

All upgraded PhD students not submitting their thesis must submit an end-of-year reflection document.

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

Supervision 

You will be assigned a principal supervisor with requisite knowledge in your chosen field and to an appropriate second supervisor. Supervisors are normally members of the Department of Media and Communications faculty. If appropriate, a second or joint supervisor may be recruited from another department.

Progression and assessment

You will initially register for the MPhil and follow a taught programme involving coursework which is formally assessed. Towards the end of your first year, you will submit a 10,000-word research proposal. This paper will include a substantive statement of the aims, theories and methods proposed for the thesis, a tentative chapter outline, an indicative bibliography and a timetable for its completion. Evaluation of this paper, together with an oral examination based on the thesis proposal and the submission of satisfactory coursework, will contribute to assessing whether you are permitted to upgrade from MPhil to PhD and continue into your second year.

You will be assigned a Thesis Committee consisting of your two supervisors and a senior member of the Department’s faculty as Chair. This committee will act as the review panel at the end of the first year of registration and in the decision to upgrade you from MPhil to PhD. The Thesis Committee also provides feedback on draft chapters submitted at the end of the second year and remains responsible for overviewing your progress in subsequent years.

All upgraded PhD students must submit an end-of-year reflection document at the end of their second year and each subsequent year in which they are not submitting their thesis.

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Student stories

Ludmila Lupinacci Amaral
PhD Researcher
Porto Alegre, Brazil

When I first decided to apply to the Department of Media and Communications, the possibility of meeting, and engaging in intellectually stimulating discussions with renowned international scholars of the field was one of my crucial incentives. As someone who comes from a developing country, the idea of having contact with those who constitute the cornerstone of my academic background – and most of my bibliography! – had been, until then, nothing more than a distant daydream.

I evidently had a personal interest in enjoying the structure of a world-class institution such as the LSE, and in the benefits that this experience could potentially bring to my curriculum and prospective career. Nevertheless, the central motivation for my application was my understanding that the Department of Media and Communications maintains a strong focus on the development of a broad set of research skills, both theoretical and methodological. After one year in the doctoral programme, I can confirm my impressions were spot-on. What is distinctive about the Department, I would add, is the interdisciplinary, but always critical, approach it provides and fosters.

Being a PhD student is, at the same time, a challenging, rewarding, stressful, inspiring, and emotionally demanding experience. However, in the Department of Media and Communications, the faculty, the staff, and the colleagues provide a welcoming and encouraging environment for early-stage researchers. I have always heard how doing a PhD can be a lonely and socially isolating process. My experience in this first year of registration, however, shows me that this is, thankfully, not always the case.

View Ludmila's profile.

Richard Stupart
PhD Researcher
Johannesburg, South Africa

I chose the Department of Media and Communications for my PhD primarily because it contained so many of the world’s leading researchers working on projects connected to the mediation of distant suffering, public action, and humanitarianism. It was an area that had interested me for a while, and LSE turned out to be the perfect home for my project.

The first day at school, as it were, was terrifying – a chance to meet academic heroes and accomplished first-year PhD colleagues from a range of backgrounds. It surprised me how approachable my supervisors, colleagues, and the Department in general was, and the intense reading and discussions of the first year made it one of the most intellectually fulfilling of my life. PhD study has meant developing a new relationship with reading, writing, and argumentation which can be equal parts intense and rewarding, but in moments where I’ve paused from worrying about how much I still don’t know and haven’t read, it’s incredible to see just how far I’ve developed already.

My own research has developed into a project looking at the work of journalists covering conflict and its effects in South Sudan – something perhaps unconventional to most Media and Communications Departments. LSE has been probably the most supportive environment in which to be doing this work, though. The presence of so many colleagues interested in questions of the representation of suffering, journalism in difficult contexts, and postcolonial critiques of many ‘foreign correspondent’ studies has been a constantly valuable resource. Being granted the freedom – and support – to do practical fieldwork in Juba and Malakal in South Sudan really drove home that this was a space in which I really did have the freedom to do the practical work involved in pursuing my project where I needed to.

At the time of writing I am heading into my third year, and there is a great deal of writing and thinking still on the horizon, but I’ve no doubt at all that I’ve found the right academic home in which to be doing it.

View Richard's profile.


SSu-Han Yu
PhD Resaercher
Taoyuan, Taiwan

The reason I chose the Department of Media and Communicationsfor my PhD may seem obvious, considering it has been ranked within the top 3 in the QS World University Rankings for Communication & Media Studies for the past three years. Nevertheless, the rankings do not tell the whole story, as faculty in the Department not only excel in conducting research, but are always ready to listen, giving advice and feedback. In particular, I am very impressed by how much care and respect my supervisors have shown not only to my studies, but also to my professional development.

During my studies, I have had access to a large pool of research and teaching opportunities within and beyond the Department, which have allowed me to coordinate with external research institutions, organise international conferences, exhibit research findings, and write for publications. Additionally, I have gained knowledge and experience of engaging graduate students in seminar discussions through my role as classroom assistant.

Most importantly, however, my PhD journey would not have been the same without my peers. Although I expected LSE to attract talented individuals from around the world, I did not foresee that my cohort’s support and their enthusiasm for research and social change would help sustain me during the moments of self-doubt inevitable within the PhD process. The commitment to advancing knowledge and improving the state of the world demonstrated by my peers, faculty, and visiting fellows is as stimulating as the diverse events one can enjoy whilst studying in London.

View Ssu-Han's profile.

Preliminary reading

  1. Baym N. K. (2010) Personal Connections in the Digital Age, Polity
  2. Boltanski l. and Chiapello E. (2001) The New Spirit of Capitalism London: Verso
  3. Carey J. W. (1989) Communication as Culture New York, NY: Routledge
  4. Chadwick A. (2017) The Hybrid Media System: Politics and Power – 2nd Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press
  5. Chesher C. Crawford K. and Dunne A. (2014) Understanding the Internet. Language, technology, Media, Power London: MacMillan. Palgrave
  6. Chouliaraki L. (2013) The Ironic Spectator. Solidarity in the Age of Post-humanitarianism Cambridge: Polity
  7. Couldry N. (2012) Media, Society, World Cambridge: Polity
  8. Lievrow A. L. and Livingstone S. (eds.) (2006) The Handbook of New Media (updated edition) London: Sage
  9. Mansell R. (2012) Imagining the Internet Oxford: OUP
  10. Papacharissi Z. (2014) Affective Publics. Oxford: OUP
  11. Rogers R. (2013) Digital Methods Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press
  12. Wacquant L. and Bourdieu P. (1992) Introduction to Reflexive Sociology Chicago: University of Chicago Press
  13. Silverstone R. (20060 Media and Morality. On the Rise of Mediapolis Cambridge: Polity

Careers

Students who successfully complete the programme often embark on an academic career. 

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.

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