MPhil/PhD programme

in the Department of International Relations

All applications for MPhil/PhD should be submitted by 15 January 2024. This includes applications for School scholarships and externally funded applications.

About our MPhil/PhD programme

MPhil/PhD International Relations

The Department of International Relations provides supervision across the discipline for research leading to a PhD degree. Applicants are normally required to have a master's degree in a subject relevant to their proposed research with a high merit (65% or above) including a high merit in the dissertation (65% or above). Applications which do not meet these criteria (or do not expect to do so on completion of any pending qualifications) are not considered eligible.

We encourage research projects which will expand and diversify the research profile of the Department. Please check our People page to see whether there is supervision capacity in the Department to take on your research project.

We welcome applications from high quality students from all geographic regions. We are especially interested in receiving applications from UK BAME students and encourage all self-identifying BAME applicants of UK nationality to participate in the Attaining Comprehensive Equality in Postgraduate Research Initiative (ACE PGR Initiative). By participating in this scheme, you will be entitled to a waiver of the application assessment fee. In addition, you will benefit from a contextualised admissions process, a 15-minute pre-interview session if you are invited to an interview, and tailored admissions feedback if your application is unsuccessful. 

If you have questions about the provisions of the ACE PGR Initiative, please contact

UK students may wish to apply for the MSc International Relations (Research) or MSc International Political Economy (Research), as appropriate, with a view to applying for an ESRC 1+3 research studentship. If successful in obtaining an ESRC grant, a student would be entitled to continue to the MPhil/PhD programme upon satisfactory completion of the master's.

Programme structure

In the first year, MPhil/PhD students are required to attend the Methods in International Relations Research Training Seminar (IR501) which explores the theoretical and practical problems associated with a piece of major research. Study concentrates on epistemological and theoretical issues, with special reference to the context and literature of international relations, and time is also devoted to problems arising from source materials, methodology and normative dilemmas. The aim is to train well-rounded academic professionals, who are able to comprehend, critically interrogate, and engage with scholarship employing diverse methodological toolkits.

Students are also required to take assessed courses to the combined value of one unit from the range of quantitative and qualitative research methods topics listed on the Graduate Prospectus page.

All MPhil/PhD students at LSE are initially registered with MPhil status. Continued re-registration and upgrade are dependent on satisfactory progress being made. 

Progress will be reviewed in the first and second year by a Research Panel made up of members of academic staff, other than the supervisor.  Students are normally upgraded to PhD status by the end of the first year, and no later than 18 months after initial registration. Students in their third year are required to submit an annual progress report with a timeline to completion.

Visit the Graduate Prospectus page for more details on supervision, progression and assessment requirements

Research community and research students

The department is able to offer supervision in a variety of specialist areas, and, with its research centres and over 45 current research students, provides a vibrant and rich research community.

During the course of the programme, research students are required to attend and contribute to at least one of the workshops linked to the department’s four research clusters: International Institutions, Law and Ethics; Theory/Area/History; International Political Economy; Security and Statecraft

Students will also find it beneficial to get involved and contribute to the operation of Millennium: Journal of International Studies, the highly-ranked postgraduate student-run journal. Millennium is always open to new members, each editorial board meeting offers students the very rare opportunity to read a submitted manuscript and to hear what peer-reviewers have said about the piece. Millennium also runs a prestigious annual conference in mid/late October.

PhD recent completions

PhD Job Market

What does a career in Research in International Relations look like?

Hear from PhD Alumni about the diverse range of careers that research studies in the field of International Relations (IR) can lead to:

Dr Victor Bojbov is Head of Cooperation in the Delegation of the European Union in Azerbaijan

Dr Giovanni Angioni is Head of Government Social Research Strategy at the HM Treasury

Dr Kiran Phull: Assistant Professor in IR, Department of War studies at King’s College, London

Dr Marnie Howlett: Lecturer in Politics, Oxford

Watch their short interviews here


Download or print the timeline above [PDF]


How to apply and application guidance

Full information on how to apply

All prospective research students must apply using the graduate online portal.

See the IR PhD application timeline [PDF]

Please read the information below before you begin the online application so that you have all the necessary documents ready for consideration. 


Completing your application

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 4,000 words

Your research proposal should give:

  • details of the particular topic to be addressed
  • relevant literature and previous research in the field
  • the theoretical/conceptual framework to be adopted
  • the proposed research question(s)
  • 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 is appropriate supervision within the Department.  One supervisor is normally identified at this stage.

See the LSE guide with further information on supporting documents


Application checklist

Use the correct application code 

M1ZR MPhil/PhD in International Relations OR

M1ER for Visiting Research Students (VRS) programme

Do you meet the minimum requirements?

The minimum entry requirements for this programme are a 2:1 bachelor’s degree, plus Master’s degree marks equivalent to an LSE high merit grade (+ 65%), preferably in International Relations or in a subject relevant to your proposed research, with an overall average of 65% (or equivalent) and 65 % in the dissertation (or equivalent). Please note that applications which do not meet these criteria (or do not expect to do so on completion of any pending qualifications) are not considered eligible.

See information on international entry requirements - scroll down for country-specific information

Do you meet the English language requirements?

Applicants whose first language is not English, or who have not been taught entirely in English at degree level, are required to provide evidence of their English language ability. The most common qualifications are the IELTS or TOEFL tests.

Applicants do not need to have the required marks when they apply, but successful award of the qualification would form a condition of any offer issued, and would have to be achieved before registration. For research level, candidates are expected to meet the research programmes requirement. See our English language requirements.

Identifying supervisors 

The department welcomes applications for research programmes that complement the academic interests of members of staff in the department. We recommend that you investigate staff research interests and their availability before applying.

Please note:

  • Prospective candidates for the MPhil/PhD in International Relations are not expected to contact potential supervisors in advance of their application. Due to the high volume of enquiries, potential supervisors are unlikely to be able to provide feedback on enquiries and outline proposals.
  • Individual academic members of staff are not able to make commitments to supervise prospective students outside of the formal application process.
  • You should name academics who have research interests which fit with yours in your personal statement so that they can be asked to consider your research proposal.

Part-time study

The MPhil/PhD is only available full-time.

Application and funding deadlines

Application will open in early October 2023 and close on 15 January 2024

There is only one funding deadline for the MPhil/PhD in International Relations: 15 January 2024. Selection for funding is based on receipt of a complete application (including all supporting documents: transcripts and references) by the deadline. We will not be able to accept any materials that arrive after the deadline; only complete applications supplied with all the required supporting information by 15 January 2024 will be considered.

When will I hear the outcome of the application?

We aim to process all complete applications in a timely manner, however the application process for research programmes can take up to three months. This is to enable the department to make an informed decision about your proposal and, equally important, to establish if there is appropriate supervision available for your research. All applications are reviewed by our PhD Sub-Committee which normally meets to review applications in mid-March once interviews have been carried out.


The department interviews all shortlisted applicants before any offer of a place is made. 

Programme start

Please note that students may only start their studies in the department at the beginning of the Autumn Term (September). This is so that they can attend the compulsory research training courses in their first year.


1. Where can I check the equivalence of my non-UK qualifications?

The Student Recruitment Office provides information aimed at prospective applicants coming from outside the UK. It includes information on international entry requirements, just scroll down and click on the country of your choice. 

2. Should I contact potential supervisors before I apply?

Before applying you should ensure that your research area can be supervised in the department. Our People webpage and individual staff profiles clearly outline the research interests of faculty, and whether they have capacity to take on new PhD students.

You are welcome to contact prospective supervisors, but because of the high volume of enquiries, we cannot guarantee an answer.

If you feel that one of the academics in the department has interests that fit with yours, you should name them in your application and they would normally be asked to consider your research proposal. You should indicate if you have discussed your proposed research with any member of faculty, and give the name of that person so they are automatically consulted.

3. Do you offer distance learning?

Our programme requires regular attendance at the LSE during the course of your programme, to attend courses, supervisory meetings and seminars, so we cannot offer distance learning. In exceptional circumstances, students may be granted permission to reside outside the UK while continuing their research programme but this is usually not granted before the final year.

Please see Regulations for Research Students for information on study time away from the School.

4. Can I apply for an MPhil programme rather than a PhD?

There is no separate MPhil programme. The MPhil/PhD International Relations is intended for students wishing to complete a PhD. All students are initially registered as MPhil students and are upgraded to PhD status upon meeting the upgrade requirements at the end of the first year.

Students who do not wish to complete their PhDs or whose work is not of PhD standard, may elect to submit an MPhil thesis instead.

Further details of alternative master's programmes.


The MPhil/PhD International Relations is part of the group of accredited programmes for ESRC funding. LSE is an ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership. The programme is also eligible for LSE PhD Studentships.

Please note: There is no separate application for funding. Funding is allocated by nomination and you will automatically be considered for the award you are eligible for alongside all applications received by the funding deadline.

LSE's Financial Support Office administers a variety of studentships and award schemes for which different deadlines apply. There are also other funding opportunities available through organisations or governments and we recommend you investigate the options listed on our External Funding Sources document [PDF]. The LSE Financial Support Office also provides a list of external funding providers.

Visiting Research Students (VRS) Scheme

Visiting Research Student (VRS) scheme allows research students from other universities to spend up to 3 terms in the Department of International Relations. Visiting research students are normally research and doctoral students registered at overseas universities wishing to undertake some aspect of their research in the UK. Certain seminars and classes can be attended subject to the advice and approval of the supervisor and teachers concerned.

An advisor is assigned to every VRS and advice and direction offered as necessary. 

How to apply to the VRS programme

The procedure and requirements are the same as for the MPhil/PhD. Please refer to the 'How to Apply' section above. Please ensure you use the correct code: M1ER- Visiting Research International Relations.

Contact us

All enquiries should be addressed to the PhD Team:
Sarah Hélias and Amy Brook at