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The postgraduate experience

Frederik Hesselhoj

  • Course: MSc Economic History
  • Graduated: 2006

I graduated from the LSE in 2006 and joined the graduate training program at the Investment Bank Bear Stearns. Before commencing the role I spent 3 months on a rotation in New York and also had to complete the necessary exams to become an FSA Approved Person. I have since moved jobs to the Capital Introduction Group at J.P. Morgan.

I still stay in touch with some of my old classmates - we often discuss how highly we valued our time at the LSE and the Economic History department and its ability to attract some of the best and brightest students from around the world and employ world class professors who can inspire and lead the heated debates in class.

The course not only educated and challenged me but also opened doors, as evidenced by the many interviews I had in the Spring of '06 across a wide array of industries. There is no doubt in my mind that Economic History is an excellent course at a first class institution which will provide you with interesting challenges and yield exciting opportunities.



Soon Kyu Choiphoto


  • Course: MSc Political Economy of Late Development
  • Graduated 2009

What made you decide to take this course?   

I applied for the MSc Political Economy of Late Development because of its historical approach to development studies. I believed an understanding of economic history would allow for deeper analysis to issues pertinent to development studies.  Through the course I gained a stronger sense of why certain countries developed while others fell behind, and learned to view current issues, eg  the recent financial crisis, H1N1 epidemic etc, within the context of history. As a student of economic history, you understand why societies and individuals respond the way they do to global events or crises, as well as and why and how systems in place today have come into existence and evolved.  

Having received my bachelor's degree in International Relations in the U.S  I thought it critical to gain a non-U.S. perspective, particularly since I wanted a career in international development and believed the LSE 's international student body and London location would provide the global outlook I sought. Also, for me the combination of courses from two departments, Economic History and DESTIN, was more interesting compared to other universities.  

What have you found most interesting, surprising and/or challenging about the course itself?   

Most surprising: having no prior experience of economic history, I found it surprising that pre-industrial revolution economies and societies were highly sophisticated in their own right and their growth was driven by the same forces that fundamentally drive the development of society today.  

Most challenging: learning to question and critique well-established ideas and thereby question and change my own ideas. Much of this attitude was driven by my professors who encouraged us to be critical at all times, and by fellow students with different cultures, histories and academic backgrounds. This aspect of the course has been priceless because it has changed how I approach and understand scholarship and has also given me a better sense of and confidence in my own ideas.

What have you found most interesting, surprising and/or challenging about being at the LSE?   

Interesting: its international student body.  The LSE attracts people who are interested in learning about other countries and cultures, thus people are generally open to discussion and sharing their experiences.  

Also, as a graduate student I never felt the school programs or activities were primarily tailored toward undergraduates. A graduate student at LSE, possibly due to the sheer numbers, feels just as much a part of the student body as an undergraduate would.   

Challenging: lack of administrative support. Having come from a school with a large administrative staff which barely required student involvement, it was difficult for me to adjust to a system in which I was responsible for ensuring administrative work was in order. 

What advice, if any, would you give a prospective student?   

The most important advice I would give is to be proactive about meeting people. I think what made my experiences at LSE positive and memorable was friendships and our willingness to help each other. If someone else hasn't already, take the initiative to get people together! On a related note, don't be afraid to ask for guidance or help from advisors, classmates or even alumni.

I enjoyed my academic experience because I took the time to seek out classes taught by professors I liked or whose subject matter interested me. However, with some of the classes I had no prior knowledge and they turned out to be among the most intellectually rewarding.  

Finally, if you are hoping to secure a job immediately upon graduation, keep in mind that recruiting begins in the autumn. Thus, I would take the time to prepare before university starts so you are not overwhelmed with school, finding a job and making friends!