Programmes

MPhil/PhD Social Research Methods

  • Graduate research
  • Department of Methodology
  • Application code L9ZM
  • Starting 2021
  • UK/EU full-time: Open
  • Overseas full-time: Open
  • Location: Houghton Street, London

This programme offers the chance to undertake a substantial piece of original research that is of publishable standard and which makes an original contribution to social science methodology or which applies advanced methodology to a substantive research problem. You will begin on the MPhil, and will need to meet certain requirements to be upgraded to PhD status.

You will benefit from the knowledge and expertise of staff whose disciplinary backgrounds include political science, statistics, sociology, social psychology, anthropology and criminology. There are a variety of advanced-level courses, seminars and workshops in research design, quantitative analysis and qualitative methods available for you to attend. 

The Department of Methodology at LSE supports both standalone qualitative and quantitative research, as well as interesting ways of combining them. We encourage applications from candidates who demonstrate an interest in a substantive area of research and particular methodological approach, aiming at a methodological development. This could involve collecting innovative new data, new analytic techniques, method comparison, evaluation or validation, method critique, applying existing methodology in new contexts, or cost-benefit analysis of methodologies. 

ESRC collaborative studentships

We are seeking applications for two collaborative studentships:

ESRC funded PhD studentship on web survey methodology

ESRC funded PhD studentship on disproportionality in police use of force

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 Research Methods
Start date 27 September 2021
Application deadline 29 April 2021. However please note the funding deadlines
Duration Three to four years full-time (minimum 2). 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 (deadlines 14 January and 29 April 2021)
ESRC funding (deadline 14 January 2021)
Minimum entry requirement 2:1 degree or equivalent and a merit in a relevant master’s, or equivalent
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 Research Methods

The minimum entry requirement for this programme is an upper second class honours (2:1) degree and a merit in an MSc broadly similar to the MSc Social Research Methods, or equivalent.

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
- 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 requirements

The Department of Methodology requires you to submit a proposal summarising and justifying your proposed research, to be attached to your formal application. This will provide the selectors with an idea of the topics of interest, and help in matching candidates to potential supervisors.

The research proposal should include the following questions: 

Why is the topic interesting?
What is the central research question? Is there a theoretical and empirical 'gap' that your research will seek to fill? Is there a theoretical or empirical contradiction that your research will seek to resolve? How will your research take our understanding forward in your chosen field? What core theories and concepts will you draw on?

What are the relevant literature(s) and field(s) the work will contribute 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 will you address the empirical aspects of the research?
What empirical (qualitative and/or quantitative) information do you propose to collect, how, from where, and why? What methodology of analysis 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 (eg finding suitable participants or data sources)? If so, how might they be overcome?

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 Research Methods

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. 
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.

ESRC collaborative studentships

We are seeking applications for two collaborative studentships:

ESRC funded PhD studentship on web survey methodology

ESRC funded PhD studentship on disproportionality in police use of force

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 a selection of training and transferable skills courses. You will discuss with your supervisor whether the first year courses you take will be examined. You may take courses in addition to those listed, and should discuss this with your supervisor. The courses you take may also include ones from other institutes or departments at LSE, dependent on your needs.

At the end of your second year (full-time), you will need to satisfy certain requirements and if you meet these, will be retroactively upgraded to PhD status.

First year

(* denotes a half unit)

A selection of training courses from an approved list

Transferable skills courses, compulsory (not examined)
Department of Methodology Seminar 

Second to fourth years

Transferable skills courses

Compulsory (not examined)
 
Department of Methodology Seminar 

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 (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

First year review

In the Summer Term of your first year, you are required to produce a 10,000-word 'first year review' that outlines the aims and methods of your thesis: this means summarising the key literature(s), motivating your specific research questions, and highlighting the planned contributions of your work. A first year review document typically includes a general introduction, a comprehensive literature review (covering relevant empirical and theoretical work), a motivation of the research questions and hypotheses, and an indication of the literature(s) that you seek to contribute to (ie, the gaps in knowledge that will be addressed). You will also give an oral presentation of your proposal at the Department of Methodology PhD day.

Written and oral work will be assessed by two academics (not on the supervisory team), normally members of Department of Methodology staff. This work has to reach an acceptable standard to enable you to progress to the second year. It is particularly important that the first year review clearly states the objectives of the doctoral research and indicates how the empirical work will be carried out.

If the panel deems the first year review to be not suitably clear, they can choose not to accept the submitted document and give you up to a month to clarify. This decision will be taken maximum one week after the Department of Methodology PhD Day. Examples of unclear work might include (but not be limited to):

  • a first year review that does not state clear research questions
  • a first year review that does not adequately review the specific literatures that the empirical work is contributing to
  • a first year review that does not give enough methodological detail, showing how the design will produce data that allows you to address the theoretical issues at stake in a systematic and rigorous way.

After your first year

After the first year you will spend more time on independent study under the guidance of your supervisor(s). This will involve the collection, organisation and analysis of data, and writing up the results. During your second year of registration, you will typically submit three (minimum) draft chapters of your thesis plus a short introduction and a detailed plan for its completion. The three draft chapters will typically include a detailed literature review, specification of research problem(s) and two empirical chapters. If you are pursuing a paper-based thesis, your upgrading documents will typically include a short introduction, a literature review and at least two empirical papers. Whether a traditional or paper-based thesis, the material will be evaluated by an upgrading committee (two academics, not necessarily of the MI or even LSE) who will recommend transferral to PhD registration if your work is judged to be of sufficient quality and quantity.

Throughout the MPhil/PhD and PhD, you will attend the Department's research seminar and other specialist workshops and seminars related to your interests. You must present at every Department of Methodology PhD day.

Student support and resources

We’re here to help and support you throughout your time at LSE, whether you need help with your academic studies, support with your welfare and wellbeing or simply to develop on a personal and professional level.

Whatever your query, big or small there are a range of people you can speak to and who will be happy to help.  

Department librarians – they will be able to help you navigate the library and maximise its resources during your studies. 

Accommodation service  - they can offer advice on living in halls and offer guidance on private accommodation related queries. 

Class teachers and seminar leaders – they will be able to assist with queries relating to a specific course you are taking. 

Disability and Wellbeing Service – the staff are experts in long term health conditions, sensory impairments, mental health and specific learning difficulties. They offer confidential and free services such as student counselling, a peer support scheme, arranging exam adjustments and run groups and workshops. 

IT help– support available 24 hours a day to assist with all of your technology queries.  

LSE Faith Centre – home to LSE's diverse religious activities and transformational interfaith leadership programmes, as well as a space for worship, prayer and quiet reflection. It includes Islamic prayer rooms and a main space for worship. It is also a space for wellbeing classes on campus and is open to all students and staff from all faiths and none.  

Language Centre– the centre specialises in offering language courses targeted to the needs of students and practitioners in the social sciences. We offer pre-course English for Academic Purposes programmes; English language support during your studies; modern language courses in 9 languages; proofreading, translation and document authentication and language learning community activities.

LSE Careers ­- with the help of LSE Careers, you can make the most of the opportunities that London has to offer. Whatever your future career plans, LSE Careers will work with you, connecting you to opportunities and experiences from internships and volunteering to networking events and employer and alumni insights. 

LSE Library  Founded in 1896, the British Library of Political and Economic Science is the major international library of the social sciences. It stays open late, has lots of excellent resources and it’s a great place to study. As an LSE student, you’ll have access to a number of other academic libraries in Greater London and nationwide. 

LSE LIFE – this is where you should go to develop skills you’ll use as a student and beyond. The centre runs talks and workshops on skills you’ll find useful in the classroom, offer one-to-one sessions with study advisers who can help you with reading, making notes, writing, research and exam revision, and provide drop-in sessions for academic and personal support.(See ‘Teaching and assessment). 

LSE Students’ Union (LSESU) – they offer academic, personal and financial advice and funding. 

PhD Academy - is available for PhD students, wherever they are, to take part in interdisciplinary events and other professional development activities and access all the services related to their registration. 

Sardinia House Dental Practice - offers discounted private dental services to LSE students. 

St Philips Medical Centre - based in Pethwick-Lawrence House the centre provides NHS Primary Care services to registered patients. 

Student Services Centre – our staff here can answer general queries and can point you in the direction of other LSE services.  

Student advocates and advisers– we have a School Senior Advocate for Students and an Adviser to Women Students who can help with academic and pastoral matters. 

Meet the Department

You can find out more about the people that make up the Department of Methodology on our 'People' page. Meet our academics, visiting staff, research students and professional services staff.

Student life

As a student at LSE you’ll be based at our central London campus. Find out what our campus and London have to offer you on academic, social and career perspective. 

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Want to find out more? Read why we think London is a fantastic student city, find out about key sights, places and experiences for new Londoners. Don't fear, London doesn't have to be super expensive: hear about London on a budget

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 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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