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FAQs for offer holders and current students: 1st-year undergraduates

Attention prospective applicants

Please read the FAQs for applicants wishing to apply for the BSc IRMSc IR and MSc IR ResearchMSc IR TheoryMSc IPE and MSc IPE ResearchMPhil/PhD programme.

If you have any questions about applying to or studying at LSE, you're welcome to get in touch with LSE's Student Marketing and Recruitment team.

To answer many of your current concerns, please also read:

LSE coronavirus/COVID-19 FAQs for undergraduate offer holders


The FAQ is divided into the following sections:

Please note:

During the summer 2020, you will be receive lots of information about your registration at the School from the Student Services Centre, as well as frequent emails from the International Relations Department. We look forward to welcoming you to our Department!

These FAQs are updated in the spring/summer of each year, when arrangements for the coming academic session have been finalised.

1. What induction is provided by the IR Department for first-year BSc IR students?

In addition to the formal Welcome meetings (see our Arriving Students page), the Deputy Head of Department (Teaching and Learning), and the Undergraduate Programme Director, host a lunch for all BSc IR Year-1 students early in the Michaelmas Term. This will be an excellent opportunity to meet your peers. Further details will be provided in due course.

2. Who is in charge of my programme?

The BSc IR is overseen by the Undergraduate Programme Director and supported by the BSc Programme Co-ordinators.

Email. IR.BSc@lse.ac.uk

3. What is the format of undergraduate teaching?

Each course generally comprises a series of lectures and an accompanying class. While lectures can attract large numbers of students, classes are limited in size and provide an opportunity for students to give presentations and discuss issues raised both in the lectures and as a result of independent study.

You are entitled to attend any lectures offered throughout the school but should only attend those classes for which you are registered.

Students are expected to supplement formal contact hours by extensive reading and preparation for classes. Reading lists, and, in many cases, lecture handouts and slides, are provided electronically. The readings will be available from the beginning of the new session on a dedicated website.

See also question 9 and question 10 below.

4. What kind of tutorial supervision will I receive?

Your academic mentor maintains an overview of your progress and will be your first contact for any advice you require regarding your studies, or if anything outside your studies is affecting your work. Arrangements for meeting your academic mentor on a regular basis and for keeping in close contact will be explained at your first meeting with him/her.

Although you may not request a particular academic mentor, if the relationship proves unsatisfactory you can approach the Departmental Tutor (or, if your academic mentor is the Departmental Tutor, the Deputy Head of Department - Teaching and Learning) to request a transfer. In seeking such a transfer, requests for a specific academic mentor are not permitted.

5. How do I find out who my academic mentor is?

We will let you know your academic mentor's name and first appointment shortly before or at the end of your welcome meeting (see Arriving Students for details of the welcome meetings). 

6. How will I choose and sign up for my year-one courses?

The LSE website Your First Weeks will give you lots of information on what to expect from your first few weeks at LSE, complete with 'how to' guides.

7. How do I find out when and where lectures and classes are held?

Current Student Timetable will give you all the information.

Individual student timetables are published from the Tuesday in Week 0 of Michaelmas Term.

Relevant online course guides will give you general details of the number of meetings and when teaching begins.

8. How do I change the time of a class?

Undergraduate classes are automatically allocated centrally by the Timetables team using the schools central software.

Find out how to request a class change

All requests to change class group must be approved by the Departmental Tutor.

9. What guidance is provided on course reading?

Each course has its own detailed reading list, which is accessed via the School's virtual learning environment (VLE) called Moodle.  Some teachers make additional course materials available on the course's Moodle page.

10. How are the reading lists for IRD courses structured?

The IRD's teaching philosophy places great emphasis on independent study and student initiative. You are expected to read widely and deeply enough to be able to contribute to class discussions and take part in formative assignments (see question 11 below).

Reading lists for individual courses are found on the Moodle teaching platforms for each course. The readings will normally be divided into a short section listing ‘essential’, ‘required’ or ‘recommended’ readings and longer ‘general’ or ‘further’ readings. The essential readings are meant to identify keys readings for that week’s class discussions and will be online readings. These can be accessed both on the LSE campus and remotely.

The further readings are meant to provide a wider range of readings that you can draw on in making class presentations, writing essays, and taking part in other activities set by your class teacher. You are free to choose from these readings as you judge appropriate for the topic at hand, as well as seek advice from your class teachers and/or academic advisor on which of the further readings may be of relevance to the ideas and arguments you wish to develop.

11. What are the methods of assessment for BSc students in the IRD?

You will have formative assessment and summative assessment. For the formative assessment, you receive a mark and feedback, but it does not count towards your grade for the course. The summative assessment determines your grade for the course. 

The IR department uses a variety of assessment mechanisms at both the individual course level and the programme as a whole. Assessments are usually written exams and/or essays, but they can also be seminar presentations, group projects, blogs, videos/films, and/or dissertations.

Different forms of assessment are linked to the material covered in a particular course and its learning outcomes. In some cases, this will take the form of an unseen examination at the end of the year. These encourage you to develop the ability to synthesize a significant amount of material, developing concise, effective arguments in your own voice. Examinations develop the ability to write and argue concisely, a set of transferable skills that will prove valuable whatever career path you choose.

In other cases, this will take the form of summative assessed essays or a dissertation. These require you to pursue guided research projects, formulating research questions and developing your ideas and arguments, marshalling the relevant evidence to sustain your argument. This form of assessment offers a greater reward for originality and creativity than in an unseen exam.

Some courses entail collaborative projects, films and videos, or writing blogs. In each case, the nature of the assessment is linked to the particular learning outcomes for that course – as well as developing transferable skills that you will draw on and make use of after completing your degree.

All of these forms of assessment are complemented by formative assessment. These are usually short essays (about 1,500 words in length) which are marked but the marks don’t count towards your final degree.

Formative work allows you the opportunity to explore and experiment in developing your ideas and arguments, and to make and learn from mistakes without the adverse consequences of the work counting towards your final grade. They provide the basis for detailed feedback on how far you have come in terms of the learning objectives of an individual course. Whether a course makes use of unseen exams and/or assessed coursework, formative assessment allows you to develop ideas and arguments that you will make use of in summative assessments.

As part of your assessment, all BSc IR students can choose to write a 10,000 word dissertation in their third year (IR398). The dissertation is a piece of research that must be entirely the candidate's own work, but you will get advice and feedback from a supervisor and the IR398 Course Co-ordinator. Further information regarding the Dissertation is provided in the IR398 Course Guide and the School Calendar.

The combination of these methods within individual courses and across the degree as a whole is designed to provide feedback to you on your learning, help you improve your academic performance and develop transferable skills. It also allows the department to gauge your achievements – what you have learned, what you know, your critical analytical skills - and assists the department and School in making decisions about progression from one year to the next, and as well as forming the basis for decisions on final degree classification.

12. How do I get my exam results?

Official results are sent to students' home addresses by the central Student Services Centre during August. Provisional results are available online in mid-July.

If you fail to meet the progression requirements for the degree (eg if you fail more than one examination), you will be automatically sent details to your email address by the central administration on what you need to do next. This will be done by the end of July.


Read more of our FAQs for offer holders and current students: