PhD Programme Structure

A PhD offers the chance to undertake a substantial piece of supervised work that is worthy of publication and which makes an original contribution to knowledge in a particular field. 

Year by Year

First Year: MPhil

All students registering for a programme of study leading to a PhD begin under MPhil registration. The opportunity to upgrade this registration to PhD typically comes in the second year.

The following courses are mandatory:

and one of:

Students are expected to attend courses suggested to them by their supervisor and perform well in any mandatory assessments. They should also complete any necessary training in research techniques and/or computing.

Throughout their first year students perform literature searches and become more familiar with their chosen research topic. By the end of the year they are expected to have written up an introductory chapter for their thesis, as well as any new results they may have obtained. Assessment by the supervisor is based on these. Students will be asked to present their research topics at the annual PhD presentation event.

All MPhil/PhD students at the London School of Economics have the opportunity to take advantage of research methodology courses provided by the Department of Methodology. Further courses are available at the London Graduate School in Mathematical Finance and the London Taught Course Centre (LTCC). MPhil/PhD students are encouraged to make full use of these additional opportunities.

Second year: MPhil/PhD

In the second year students become more deeply involved with their research topic, producing and writing up new results. During this time students need to meet with supervisors on a regular basis to discuss their academic development and at some stage during the year there will be a formal review their progress.

Following the successful assessment of their work, students may be recommended for upgrade to PhD. Students should also be able to present their current research at departmental seminars and will be asked to present their research findings at the annual PhD presentation event. 

Third Year: PhD

The third year demands considerable and rapid progress with your research.A substantial part of the year should be spent consolidating material that you have already assembled. You may be in a position to begin writing your thesis.

Fourth Year: PhD

The final year is primarily focused on writing up your thesis. The role of your supervisor is to ensure the thesis is of a high standard. Towards the end of the year you will be required to submit your thesis. 

Thesis Examination

When a thesis is nearly ready for submission, the supervisor will nominate a suitable internal examiner and external examiner. The internal examiner will be from the LSE or another college of the University of London, while the external examiner will be from another university. The appointed examiners will normally require at least two months to read a thesis once it has reached them. After the examiners have read the thesis, a date will be arranged for a viva examination. Students should expect to give a short presentation of their work and answer general questions on their area of research, as well as on the details of their thesis. Students may request the attendance of their supervisor at the viva, but the supervisor will speak only if asked to do so by the examiner.

At the conclusion of the viva, examiners will usually inform candidates of the unofficial outcome of the examination. In the best circumstances the thesis will be accepted without change or subject only to minor corrections. Once these are made, an electronic copy (PDF format) must be submitted and official confirmation of the award will follow. In less ideal circumstances a student might be required to undertake more substantial revision of their thesis or an award of MPhil may be decreed instead. In some cases a thesis may be rejected completely.

Please note that the maximum period of full-time registration is four years.


Each student is assigned a first and second supervisor with whom they meet frequently to discuss their research. There is also plenty of opportunity to participate in poster presentations, give seminars and attend advanced training and conferences.