The first-year PhD cohort at the LSE’s Department of Social Policy includes students in the Social Policy and the Demography/Population Studies programmes. At a recent seminar, they discussed why they chose this programmes, and the pros and cons of being in a multidisciplinary department. The conversation generated six posts that will be posted on the Social Policy Blog over the coming weeks, which together demonstrate the wide variety of research topics the department accommodates, and the intellectual, practical, and personal factors that contribute to choosing to study here. This may prove useful for future students who might be deciding whether a research degree at LSE’s Social Policy department might be right for them, too.
In conversation with Ivelina Hristova.
What are you studying? PhD in Demography/Population Studies
What is your background? My undergrad and first masters are in business, finance and economics. I then worked as an analyst in public policy settings with focus on labour markets and international migration, and did a second masters in migration studies at LSE.
Did you apply to other schools? I applied for this programme and this school only.
Why did you choose the Social Policy department?
For me, this was a natural continuation of my professional and most recent academic experience here at LSE. My research interests are in migration-related identities and labour markets. I had the opportunity to learn from the strong research traditions in multidisciplinary population studies, international migration, social identities and inequalities across LSE and the Department of Social Policy.
Migration studies is a mixture of sociology, economics, demography/population studies, social policy, public policy, political science, and many more. It uses methods and frameworks across all of these disciplines. There are many experts in these within the Social Policy department – and the exposure to them is enriching for my research. My supervisors are leading experts in my topic – and this is particularly important at a PhD level. I am using mixed methods – and the department has a strong expertise in that.
I would like my research to feed into policy. The Social Policy department creates an outstanding environment to further my academic understanding of policy development in migration and migrant integration. And the school’s traditions in sharing evidence with policy makers and think tanks help bring research done here closer to decision-makers.
How is the experience so far? What are the pros and cons?
My experience has so far been really good. My supervisors give me timely, targeted and constructive advice. I have access to a lot of seminars, discussions and events where academics present their most recent research, talk about their stance on events, or global leaders share their experiences. Indirectly, this is part of my training to become an academic with one foot in the policy world.
At the same time, I’m undertaking formal training in the department — such as the Research Student Seminar, and across and outside the school — for example training in the survey data I will model and in the qualitative methods I will use to build on my quantitative results. I’ve also received valuable career development advice.
I joined an engaged and supportive PhD community. I am part of the Social Policy PhD Quantitative Reading Group where we give feedback on each other’s research. I also co-initiated a PhD migration network for students in all departments across the school to make most of the synergies of studying similar social dynamics from different perspectives. Last but not least – I feel a part of a vibrant cohort, we meet outside school socially, and even writing this blog series together feels like being a part of a team. 🙂
Note: This article gives the views of the authors, and not the position of the Social Policy Blog, nor of the London School of Economics.