I welcome applications from prospective PhD students whose proposed research usually relates to any of the following areas: NGO development, activism, volunteerism, LGBT issues, sexuality, sexual and public health policy. As social policy is an interdisciplinary field, I draw primarily (but not exclusively) from work and literatures in political science, sociology, public health, and public policy.
I am keen on students who are interested in doing methodologically diverse research, data collection and analysis that is qualitative and quantitative in nature. Those with creative approaches to answering interesting and important puzzles that have been previously ignored or misunderstood are also of particular interest to me.
Before moving further into the application process, I suggest that you carefully (and honestly) consider:
Is studying for a PhD really the right thing for you?
PhD studies are not for the faint-hearted. They aren't necessarily for the bold and the brave, either. As it can be a rather lonely and frustrating process, one where the eventual rewards rarely match your expectations, studying for a PhD is not the best choice for most people. While I love my job, I'm always reminded of how difficult a process it was to get where I am—and that to some degree I got a bit lucky along the way. I strongly recommend that potential students think about why they believe pursuing a PhD is truly right for them.
What do you want to do after finishing your doctorate? Is getting a PhD necessary to do it?
There are many research jobs in government and the non-governmental sector for which a masters might be advanced enough of a degree to get hired.
If you want to be an academic, are you willing to move anywhere you can find a permanent position?
Because of the nature of the academic job market—it is incredibly competitive, quite fickle, totally unpredictable, and sometimes unfair—you are unlikely to have much choice as to where you work and live. I always ask prospective PhD students to think of one of the least desirable places to live in their home country: Would you accept a position as an academic in that city or town if it were your only option?
Do you understand the (harsh) reality of a career in academia today?
Many who have considered pursuing a PhD (myself included!) have an overly-romanticised idea of what it’s like to be an academic. Even if/when you secure a coveted tenure-track job you might not be able to research as much in academia as you assume. When supervising PhD students, I ensure that they have an honest understanding of the kind of career they are embarking upon, warts and all.
Have you secured enough funding allowing you to focus on your PhD, without having to live hand to mouth for four years?
London is an incredibly expensive place to live. While I admire the sacrifice some students make to reach their goal of getting a PhD, I do not believe we should be contributing to a situation where a student lives in poverty to do so—especially knowing that a tenure-track/permanent job in a desirable place to live is not something we, or any institution, can promise our PhDs. As such, our Department normally will not admit applicants who are ‘self-funded’ (i.e., those who do not receive LSE studentships or external funding).
In thinking through your answers to these questions, take time and be very honest with yourself. You will be glad you did in the end.
Application process for PhD studies at LSE
Keep in mind that admission for doctoral studies at LSE is very competitive, and applications for funding even more so. A strong application must include a well-thought-out PhD research proposal, including a focused and refined research question, and potential methods for data collection and analysis.
A good research proposal should be interesting, important, and do-able. There are research projects that change the field, and those that get done—choose a project that you can actually get done. With a more compressed timeframe than many PhD programs in North America, you need to convince the admissions committee that you are ready to 'hit the ground running' upon arriving at the LSE.
Jessica S.C. Ng, began PhD studies in 2016 (2nd supervisor: Prof David Lewis)
Research project: Surviving success: Organisational adaptation in post-success environments
Research interests: NGO development, activism, LGBT, public health
To learn more, visit Jess' personal website.
Eliz M.Y. Wong, beginning PhD studies in 2019 (2nd supervisor: Dr Amanda Sheely)
Research project: ‘I can’t be openly gay, I am the only child’ A four-city empirical comparative study on how family pressure on LGB Chinese is impacted by family planning and elder care policies
Research interests: family, LGBT, sexuality, gender, public policy
Eliz Wong begins her PhD studies at LSE in the 2019 Michaelmas Term. She is currently Project Manager for the Sexualities Research Programme at the The Chinese University of Hong Kong where she focuses on LGBT politics and policies. Her research has been published in academic journals such as Journal of Homosexuality, edited volumes, and policy briefs. Eliz is also frequently asked to speak on LGBTI issues at universities and organisations around the world, including SOAS-University of London, Amnesty International, and AIESEC, Hong Kong. She holds an MPhil in Multi-Disciplinary Gender Studies from the University of Cambridge, supported by The Women Foundation’s Hong Kong Scholarship.