Programmes

MPhil/PhD Human Geography and Urban Studies

  • Graduate research
  • Department of Geography and Environment
  • Application code L8ZG
  • 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 work that is worthy of publication and which makes an original contribution to the field of Human Geography and Urban Studies. You will begin on the MPhil, and will need to meet certain requirements to be upgraded to PhD status.

This PhD offers training both in human geographic research and in interdisciplinary approaches to understanding/ responding to the challenges of an era of rapid urbanisation and urban redevelopment around the world. Urbanization and development are the main focus of work by both staff and students associated with this programme. But it also provides opportunities for research on topics and issues within human geography which are not specifically “urban” but which relate to other areas of expertise and interest of academic staff within the Urbanization, Planning and Development cluster.

The MPhil/PhD Human Geography and Urban Studies aims to: (i) provide advanced knowledge of the principles and conceptual foundations of human geographic and urban social science research, together with the research skills and methodological understanding needed to develop original research in the field; (ii) expose you to the most recent developments and debates in human geography and urban studies; (iii) prepare you for careers in research, academia, international organisations, urban planning and governance, the consultancy sector and NGOs.

The Urbanization, Planning and Development cluster of the Department of Geography and Environment involves a concentration of researchers with particular interests in how social, economic and political processes interact across a range of urban contexts in all continents, and in different conditions of development. Issues related to the urban economy are also strongly represented within the Department's Economic Geography cluster. Research students on this programme are strongly encouraged to engage with the full range of urban research, teaching and scholarship within LSE's wider urban research community.

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: http://www.lse.ac.uk/study-at-lse/meet-visit-and- discover-LSE/COVID-19/Coronavirus-FAQs-for-prospective-applicants

As well as taking your time to look through the sections below,  we also encourage you to take a look at our FAQs, which cover a range of frequently asked questions, including on the application process and funding.

Programme details

Key facts

MPhil/PhD Human Geography and Urban Studies
Start date 27 September 2021
Application deadline 27 May 2021. However please note the funding deadlines
Duration Three-four years (minimum 2) 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: £4,517 (for the first year) - provisional
Overseas: £20,136 (for the first year)
Financial support LSE PhD Studentships (deadline 17 December 2020)
ESRC funding (deadline 17 December 2020)
Applications submitted after this will not be considered for funding, but will be considered for admission
Minimum entry requirement Taught master’s degree, with a minimum of 65 per cent average and at least 70 in dissertation, in a related discipline
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 Human Geography and Urban Studies

The programme is offered in the following alternative formats:

Either the standalone MPhil/PhD Human Geography and Urban Studies (+3 route)

Or Combined with the MSc Human Geography and Urban Studies progressing onto the MPhil/PhD Human Geography and Urban Studies (1+3 Route)

+3 Route: MPhil/PhD Human Geography and Urban Studies (2-4 years)

The minimum entry requirement for the standalone PhD +3 programme, is a taught master’s degree (or equivalent), with a minimum of 65 per cent average and at least 70 in the dissertation, in a related discipline.

1+3 Route: MSc Human Geography and Urban Studies (1 year) + MPhil/PhD Human Geography and Urban Studies (2-4 years)

The 1+3 route – suitable if you do not hold a relevant postgraduate degree – is aimed at students graduating with an undergraduate degree in geography or similar social science subject. See entrance requirements for the MSc Human Geography and Urban Studies.

The 1+3 Combined PhD Programme is only available as part of an ESRC Funded pathway (EU applicants only). The 1+3 scheme provides funding for a one year research training master's linked to a PhD programme and is designed for students who have not already completed an ESRC recognised programme of research training. The ESRC 1+3 scholarship covers the master’s and the PhD programme and so takes up to 5 years in total. Progression from the master’s onto the PhD programme is dependent upon performance in the master’s programme (students must score 65 per cent overall and at least 70 in their dissertation to comply with the department’s usual PhD entry criteria).

To apply for the 1+3 route, an application must be submitted for the MSc Human Geography and Urban Studies (Research), including a research proposal for the PhD aspect of the pathway. Applicants must also indicate their wish to be considered for the 1+3 pathway and associated funding within their personal statement. Students who apply for the PhD programme directly, will not be considered for the 1+3 pathway.

Research proposal

All prospective students are expected to submit a three-page long (excluding references and appendix) research proposal, which will form part of their application package. Submitted proposals should briefly address: research questions and hypotheses; relevant literature and previous research in the field; potential contribution to knowledge; likely methods and approaches to be adopted; likely data and information sources to be used. A research timetable (of three or four years) must be included as an appendix. Note that we only accept PhD topics that are close to relevant staff interests, so we recommend prospective applicants to check our staff publications and current research agendas (our departmental web pages list key research topics).

Selection is based upon the quality of your research proposal, references, prior achievement, and the appropriateness of your research topic to the Department's research focus. While we normally interview prospective research students (in person or over the phone/Skype), your written proposal is of the utmost importance.

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
- outline 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 27 May 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. Programme fees cover 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. Fees do not cover living costs or travel or fieldwork.

Tuition fees 2021/22 for MPhil/PhD Human Geography and Urban Studies

Home: £4,517 (for the first year) - provisional
Overseas: £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.

The UK Government has confirmed that students from the EU, other EEA and/or Switzerland starting a programme on or after 1 August 2021 will no longer be eligible for the home fee rate. Please note this does not apply to Irish students or students with Citizens Rights benefitting from Citizens’ Rights under the EU Withdrawal Agreement, EEA EFTA Separation Agreement or Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement respectively. For further guidance and advice see the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website

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. Most School administered funding opportunities cover fees. For information on School funding opportunities, please see Fees and funding opportunities.

Funding deadline for LSE PhD Studentships and ESRC funding: 17 December 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

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 courses listed below. You may take courses in addition to those listed but must discuss this with your supervisors.

First year

(* denotes a half unit course)

Training courses

Staff/Research Students Seminars (compulsory - not examined) 

Contemporary Debates in Human Geography 

Course(s) to the value of a half unit from the list of options available on MSc Human Geography and Urban Studies (compulsory -examined)

Relevant advanced qualitative research methods course(s) to the value of one unit from the following:

If appropriate, other advanced research methods courses – for example in quantitative methods - can be chosen, subject to the supervisors' and the course teacher's approval. 

If you have completed MSc Human Geography and Urban Studies you must take different course(s) to those you have already taken.


Transferable skills courses

  • Research Project Seminar (compulsory - not examined except where student presentation forms part of the Annual Review or Upgrade process)
  • Workshop in Information Literacy (compulsory - not examined except where student presentation forms part of the Annual Review or Upgrade process): Finding, managing and organising published research and data.
  • Writing for the World

Second, third and fourth years

Training courses

Staff/Research Students Seminars (compulsory - not examined) 

Transferable skills courses:

Research Project Seminar (compulsory -not examined except where student presentation forms part of the Annual Review or Upgrade process)

Writing the World (compulsory - not examined except where student presentation forms part of the Annual Review or Upgrade process)

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.

 

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 either be allocated a principal supervisor and a review supervisor, or two joint supervisors. One or both will be specialist in your chosen research field, though not necessarily in your topic. The Department encourages – whenever possible – joint-supervision arrangements. However, please confirm your supervisory arrangements during your first meeting with your supervisor(s).

Joint supervisors will have a joint leading role throughout your studies, and you will be able to meet them separately or jointly. Students with a main and a review supervisor should be aware that the main supervisor will have a leading supervisory role during the doctoral studies, whereas the review supervisor will be involved less frequently, being primarily responsible for progress monitoring and participating in review and upgrading decisions (see below). However, please keep your review supervisor abreast of your progress throughout the year and discuss with him/her any matters arising as soon as possible.

Progression and assessment

Once on the MPhil/PhD programme you will go through a First Year Progress Review, taking place in the Summer Term of your first research year. This is Year 1 for students in the +3 programme and Year 2 for students in the 1+3 programme.  For the First Year Progress Review, you must submit a written progress report containing an extensive and updated research proposal (typically including an introduction to the topic and motivation for the research; aims and objectives/research questions; contribution to knowledge; summary of methods to be used; and outline of the work to be done) and either a comprehensive literature review or a substantive draft of a chapter/paper as evidence of progress made during the year. Normally, there will be a progress review meeting between you and the supervisors to discuss the written material presented. The work has to reach an acceptable standard to enable you to progress. There is provision for a second Supplementary Review in cases where there are doubts as to whether progress has been sufficient to allow entry to the second year (third year of the 1+3 programme). Progression to the second year (third year of the 1+3 programme) is also dependent on you having passed all required examinations obtaining at least one merit, and having presented your work satisfactorily in the doctoral presentation workshops.

All research students are initially registered for an MPhil and have to be upgraded to PhD status. The upgrade from MPhil to PhD usually occurs during the second year of full-time registration. This is Year 2 for students in the +3 programme and Year 3 for students in the 1+3 route. The exact timing depends on your progress. You are required to submit a formal written upgrade report consisting of an extensive revised research proposal, two substantive draft papers/chapters, of which one can be a literature review, and a detailed plan for completion. You will be asked to discuss your research paper/thesis outline during an Upgrade Meeting in front of an Upgrading Committee normally formed by your main supervisor, your review supervisor and a third member of staff with relevant expertise. The material is evaluated by the Upgrading Committee, who will recommend transferral to PhD registration if your work is judged to be of sufficient quality and quantity. The upgrade is also dependent on you having completed all required training courses and having made a satisfactory research presentation in your doctoral presentation workshop.

In addition to these formal arrangements, each year during the Summer Term and throughout the course of your studies, you and your supervisors have to complete a yearly Progress Report Form, detailing the progress made, problems arising and a plan/timeline for completion. The forms are sent to the relevant Doctoral Programme Director for approval before you are able to re-register for the following session. If perceived lack of progress is identified, it can trigger a more formal annual review of progress in which you will be asked to produce specific written documents to be evaluated by a review panel. 

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.  

Academic mentors – an academic member of staff who you will meet with at least once a term and help with any academic, administrative or personal questions you have. (See Teaching and assessment) 

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– they 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 support. lse.ac.uk/language  

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. 

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. 

Student societies and activities

Your time at LSE is not just about studying, there are plenty of ways to get involved in extracurricular activities. From joining one of over 200 societies, or starting your own society, to volunteering for a local charity, or attending a public lecture by a world-leading figure, there is a lot to choose from. 

The campus 

LSE is based on one campus in the centre of London. Despite the busy feel of the surrounding area, many of the streets around campus are pedestrianised, meaning the campus feels like a real community. 

Life in London 

London is an exciting, vibrant and colourful city. It's also an academic city, with more than 400,000 university students. Whatever your interests or appetite you will find something to suit your palate and pocket in this truly international capital. Make the most of career opportunities and social activities, theatre, museums, music and more. 

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

Preliminary reading

Howard Becker, Writing for Social Scientists: how to start and finish yout thesis, book, or article (University of Chicago Press, 2007)
Patrick Dunleavy, Authoring a PhD: how to plan, draft, write and finish a doctoral thesis or dissertation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003)

Careers

Students who successfully complete the programme often embark on an academic career. The programme will also prepare you for careers in international organisations (eg the World Bank, OECD, UNEP or European Commission), urban planning, governance, the consultancy sector, infrastructure providers and NGOs.

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

Find out more about LSE

Discover more about being an LSE student - meet us in a city near you, visit our campus or experience LSE from home. 

Experience LSE from home

Webinars, videos, student blogs and student video diaries will help you gain an insight into what it's like to study at LSE for those that aren't able to make it to our campus. Experience LSE from home

Visit LSE

Come on a guided campus tour, attend an undergraduate open day, drop into our office or go on a self-guided tour. Find out about opportunities to visit LSE

LSE visits you

Student Marketing and Recruitment travels throughout the UK and around the world to meet with prospective students. We visit schools, attend education fairs and also hold Destination LSE events: pre-departure events for offer holders. Find details on LSE's upcoming visits

Request a prospectus

  • Name
  • Address

Register your interest

  • Name

Speak to Admissions

Content to be supplied