Programmes

MPhil/PhD Social Policy

  • Graduate research
  • Department of Social Policy
  • Application code L4ZA
  • Starting 2021
  • UK/EU full-time: Open
  • Overseas full-time: Open
  • Location: Houghton Street, London

Social policy at LSE is about the development, design, analysis, and evaluation of public policies. We cover a wide range of policy areas including crime, education, migration, population, social disadvantage, inequalities, and social security. The issues underpinning our work are global in application. What determines the needs, rights, and wellbeing of citizens and non-citizens? What is, and what should be, the roles of the state, the family, the market, and civil society?

This programme offers the chance to undertake a substantial piece of work that is of publishable quality and which makes an original contribution to the field of social policy. You will begin on the MPhil, and will need to meet certain requirements to be upgraded to PhD status.

You will be offered supervision in a wide range of specialist topics and will become a member of a vibrant and exciting research community. You will have access to a full collection of UK, US and EU public documents, parliamentary papers and statistical data as well as use of cutting edge networked computer facilities dedicated to research students, in the Social Science Research Laboratory within the Department.

Alongside the PhD programme, students have the opportunity to access broad LSE resources such as the PhD Academy and audit courses across the School. The Department of Social Policy is also associated with research centres such as the International Inequalities Institute (III), Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) and the Mannheim Centre for Criminology which students can be involved with.  

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 Social Policy
Start date 27 September 2021
Application deadline 14 January 2021
Duration Three to 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

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

Financial support LSE PhD Studentships (deadline 14 January 2021)
ESRC funding (deadline 14 January 2021)
Minimum entry requirement 2:1 bachelor’s degree or equivalent, plus high merit (65+) in a Master’s degree or equivalent, preferably in Social Policy or Public Policy and a high merit (65+) in 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 Social Policy

The minimum entry requirement for this programme is an upper second class honours (2:1) bachelor's degree (or equivalent), plus high merit (65+) in a master’s degree or equivalent, preferably in social policy, or public policy and a high merit (65+) 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 in the Department, and we recommend that you investigate staff research interests before applying. See Department People page.

We carefully consider each application on an individual basis, taking into account all the information presented on your application form. Your application must include:

-a CV
- a personal statement
- details of academic achievement (including existing and pending qualifications with transcripts)
- 2 academic references
- sample of written work
- a research proposal of up to 4000 words with a title and abstract (300 words max) included at the beginning. More details on the Department MPhil/PhD webpage

Your research proposal should give details of the particular issue/problem to be addressed; relevant literature and previous research in the field; the theoretical/conceptual framework to be adopted; the proposed research question(s); and the planned research methods to answer the research question(s).  This will enable the Department to make an informed decision about the proposal and, equally important, to establish if there are appropriate supervisors available to supervise the planned research. Two supervisors are normally identified at this stage. Please include an abstract (300 words max) at the beginning of your proposal which clearly covers what you intend to research, including your methodological approach. 

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 check our English language requirements for further information.

When to apply

The application deadline for this programme is 14 January 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.

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 Social Policy

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.

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

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

You will attend a seminar series run by the doctoral programme director and are also encouraged to take courses in the Department of Methodology and in the Department of Social Policy as necessary. In the first year, you will register initially for the MPhil programme, and undertake specific training in research methods as required. In subsequent years, you will continue your research under the guidance of your supervisors, participate in seminars and present your work from time to time, by giving seminar presentations and conference papers.

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 and should discuss this with your supervisor.

* denotes a half-unit course

First year 

Training courses 

Understanding Policy Research (Advanced)*

Optional
 (not examined)
If not already taken previously:

Case Studies and Comparative Methods for Qualitative Research*

Fundamentals of Social Science Research Design*
Introduce the broad range of design options and to foster an appreciation of these alternatives for particular research objectives.

Qualitative Research Methods*
Prepares students to design, carry out, report, read and evaluate qualitative research projects. Students learn how to collect data using methods including interviewing, focus groups, participant observation, and documentary and historical work.

Introduction to Quantitative Analysis*
An intensive introduction to quantitative data analysis in the social sciences. The course is intended for students with no previous experience of quantitative methods or statistics.

You will discuss with your supervisor any other methodological training that may be relevant for the successful completion of the MPhil/PhD programme.

Transferable skills courses

Compulsory (not examined)

Research Student Seminar 1
Provides background sessions for MPhil/PhD students in their first year of study. It also provides the forum in which first year full-time and second year part-time MPhil/PhD students must present their work in advance of submitting their major review documents.

Optional (not examined)
Relevant courses provided by the Library, Teaching and Learning Centre and Methodology Department.

Second year

Training courses
Optional (not examined)

Applied Regression Analysis*
Focuses on deepening the understanding of the generalised linear model and its application to social science data. 

Multivariate Analysis and Measurement*
Examines the  modern multivariate methods used in the social sciences, with particular focus on latent variable models for continuous observed variables, and their application to questions of measurement in the social sciences. 

Transferable skills courses

Optional (not examined)
Research Student Seminar 2
Provides background sessions for MPhil/PhD students in their second and third years of study. It also provides the forum in which first year full-time and second year part-time MPhil/PhD students must present their work in advance of submitting their third year review documents.

Third year

Transferable skills courses

Optional (not examined)
Research Student Seminar 2
Provides background sessions for MPhil/PhD students in their second and third years of study. It also provides the forum in which first year full-time and second year part-time MPhil/PhD students must present their work in advance of submitting their third year review documents.

Fourth year

Transferable skills courses

Optional (not examined)
Research Student Seminar 2
Provides background sessions for MPhil/PhD students in their second and third years of study. It also provides the forum in which first year full-time and second year part-time MPhil/PhD students must present their work in advance of submitting their third year review documents.

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 lead supervisor who is a specialist in your chosen research field, though not necessarily in your topic. You will also be assigned a co-supervisor/second supervisor. Lead-co supervisors guide you through your studies. During your first year you will attend and contribute to the Department's Research Student Seminar 1 and research training courses. These are designed to strengthen your methodological skills, language skills or background knowledge of specific topics related to your research. During your second and third years you will also attend and contribute to the Department’s Research Student Seminar 2.

Prospective candidates for the MPhil/PhD in Social Policy are not expected to contact potential supervisors in advance of their application. Identifying supervisors is part of the selection process. Due to the high volume of enquiries, potential supervisors are normally unable to provide feedback on enquiries and outline proposals.

Progression and assessment

You are required to undertake Major Review in the summer term of your first year (second year for part-time students). For Major Review you must submit a 10,000 word document with a detailed proposal for  your thesis, your research question(s), a literature review, a description of your methodology, your plans for data collection and analysis and a timetable through to completion. You are interviewed on this document by senior staff who make the decision on upgrading. 

Each pre-Major Review student is required to make a presentation on his or her proposed research to the Research Student Seminar prior to the submission of the major review document and to address issues raised by the Doctoral Programme Director.

Post-Major Review, each student is required to submit a 1,000- to 2,000-word progress report at the end of the second year.

In the third year (full-time), each student is expected to make a presentation to the Research Student Seminar 2 of two substantive chapters/papers of the thesis prior to submission of the Third Year Review, which must be submitted at the end of the third year.

Third year students are expected to submit a Third Year Review document at the end of the year which should contain an introduction including the context of chapters submitted and an overall chapter outline, an outline of research methods, a minimum of two empirical chapters and a timeline to completion. The document is then reviewed by two senior academic from the Department who make a decision on re-registration.

Continued registration depends on satisfactory progress each year.

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