FAQs for prospective MSc International Relations applicants

1. Could you please send me information about your MSc IR/MSc IR Research programme?

2. How do I apply online?

3. Does the School or IR Department hold an Open Day for prospective MSc IR/MSc IR Research applicants?

There are no on-campus graduate open days or evenings, but there are many ways to make contact and discover the LSE, for those thinking of applying for graduate study. 

See Meet, Visit and Discover LSE for more details.

4. Will I be expected to attend an interview?

No. Decisions are normally made on the basis of the application form, transcripts and references.

5. Do I need to submit a writing sample with my application?


6. What are the residency requirements for the course?

For queries regarding School regulations, please contact Graduate Admissions.

7. What is the difference between the MSc IR and MSc IR Research?

The MSc International Relations is an advanced, academic study of the subject.  It is suitable if you plan to progress to a career that might have an international focus.  The MSc International Relations (Research) is designed as a preparation for research work and includes compulsory methodology courses.

8. What is the difference between the MSc in International Relations and the MSc in International Relations Theory?

Both of these programmes explore the relationship between the real world of international relations and the theoretical frameworks employed to understand it. The MSc in International Relations Theory, however, is a more specialist programme in which the focus on the theoretical dimension of the subject is more concentrated.

Students on the MSc International Relations Theory programme take a specialist core course (Theories of International Relations) which has three main components: the examination of IR as a distinct academic discourse; the exploration of the relationship between IR and other social sciences; and the examination of the connections between the theory and practice of international relations.

International Relations Theory students also choose from a menu of theoretically-focussed courses for their second paper before taking a third course from either the IR Department, or certain other departments around the School.

9. What is the difference between the MSc IR / MSc IR Research and the MSc Global Politics?

Although the two programmes 'MSc in International Relations' and 'MSc in Global Politics' share certain options and are both concerned with world politics, they are distinctive in their approaches and concerns.

The MSc in International Relations is primarily concerned with the theories and paradigms that are central to International Relations as a distinctive discipline, and these are the focus of its core course.

The MSc in Global Politics has 'globalization' as its central unifying theme. Its core course is focused on arguments about how world politics are shifting from an 'inter-state' to a 'global' framework and it encompasses contributions from Political Science, Development Studies and International Relations.

10. I am invited to give two MSc degree programme choices on the application form. Is it advisable to list the MSc IR and the MSc IR Research programmes separately, as choices 1 and 2, as I am really keen to be considered for the International Relations discipline?

As the compulsory papers for the MSc IR and MSc IR Research differ, and transfer between the two programmes on arrival will not normally be possible, it is advisable to list the two programmes separately as first and second choices.

11. What qualifications are required for admission to the MSc IR/MSc IR Research?

We normally require an Upper Second class first degree (3.5 GPA) or equivalent in International Relations or a related discipline, e.g. History or Politics.

12.  I would like to apply, but I do not have a strong educational background in IR or a related discipline. Can I nevertheless gain acceptance on the basis of my performance in an unrelated degree programme, relevant work experience, and/or my keen interest in the field? 

Unfortunately, there is a disadvantage to applying without a strong educational background. We do sometimes take on a few 'cross over' students in any given year, but the bulk of our students have done well in one of the relevant social science subjects (listed above in Question 11).

Although relevant work experience is taken into account, your academic background will be considered of most relevance. 

13. Do I have to sit the GRE or GMAT tests?


14. Where can I find information about subjects available to study on the MSc IR/MSc IR Research programme?

You will find a description of each course in the online IR-prefixed Graduate Course Guides or the relevant introductory videos

See also:

Programme Regulations for MSc IR
Programme Regulations for MSc IR (Research)

15. Are all courses that are listed in the Graduate Prospectus offered each year?

No. Normally, a few are 'Not Available' due to staff absences on sabbatical leave.  You can view the list of updated programme information for more details or see Question 5 of the FAQs for offer holders: taught course graduate students.

Course suspensions for 2019/20 will be listed as details become available.

16. I want to list MSc IR/MSc IR Research as my second choice. Will this damage my chances of admission?

No. However, it is advisable to address fully why you wish to study IR (albeit as a second choice) in your application statement.

17. I applied last year and was rejected. What is the likelihood of succeeding with a second application?

If you applied last year when the MSc IR/MSc IR Research programme was already full but you have the requisite qualifications, it may be worthwhile re-applying. As to the likelihood of your being accepted, this will depend on the quality and number of other applications.

If you applied last year when the MSc IR/MSc IR Research programme was not full, it is unlikely that you would be successful second time around.

18. I would like to know more about how the IR Department and MSc IR/MSc IR Research programmes operate. Where can I find such information?

You may find the FAQs for offer holders: graduate taught courses for those accepted to the 2019/20 programme of interest, though please note that some details may be subject to change for 2020/21.

19. I am thinking of applying for the MSc IR and I would like to know more about the content of the compulsory course IR410 International Politics. Could you provide this?

Please see the IR410 course guide under 'indicative reading' and the IR410 International Politics lecture programme [PDF] which shows a breakdown of lecture topics offered during 2019/20.  You can also watch the short IR410 International Politics video.

Please note that the content and sequence of the lecture programme may be subject to change.

20. I am thinking of applying for the MSc IR Research and I would like to know more about the content of the compulsory course IR436 Theories of International Relations. Could you provide this?

Please see the IR436 course guide and the IR436 International Relations Theory lecture programme [PDF] which shows a breakdown of lecture topics offered during 2017/18. You can also watch the short  IR436 International Relations Theory video

Please note that the content and sequence of the lecture programme may be subject to change.

21. What are the methods of assessment?

Apart from the 10,000 word Dissertation, the majority of subjects are assessed with an unseen examination during the Summer Term. However, a number of courses make use of mixed modes of assessment and require an assessed essay along with a final examination.  There are also some courses that are assessed solely on the basis of an assessed essay.  

Please see the relevant IR graduate course guides.

22. Am I required to be here after the exams finish?

Your 10,000-word Dissertation has to be submitted in August. Once your exams have finished you are not required to stay in London as you can upload your Dissertation electronically by the deadline.

23. What is the difference between a half unit and a full unit course?

A half unit runs either in Michaelmas Term or Lent Term.  A full unit course runs through Michaelmas and Lent Terms. Two half units may be taken in place of one full unit - see the MSc IR Programme Regulations for details.

24. How much are the tuition fees?

Please see the Fees and Funding sections of the following programme pages:

MSc International Relations
MSc International Relations (Research)

25. Are there any scholarships available for those applying for the MSc IR?

Please see School's Financial Support Office for details.

26. I would like to meet the selector or another member of the academic staff to find out more about the MSc IR/MSc IR Research programme. Can this be arranged?

Given the popularity of the IR Department's taught MSc programmes, we cannot meet prospective applicants.  However, the online Graduate Prospectus, the Financial Support Office website and the IR Department's online FAQs for Prospective and Incoming Students should address most concerns and enquiries. 

See also the MSc IR introductory video

If you have read these sources of information and still have an enquiry, please email the relevant member of Professional Services Staff.

27. What is the deadline for MSc IR/MSc IR Research applicants?

As the programme is extremely popular, it is advisable to apply by early January to gain admission in the following September/October.

28. Can I apply to take the MSc IR/MSc IR Research part-time? If so, how long does it take and are lectures and seminars held in the evenings?

We have a small number of part-time places in any given year. The part-time programme takes two years. Part-time MSc IR students normally take the compulsory paper, International Politics, and one option in year 1 and the second option and the 10,000-word Dissertation in year two. See programme regulations for details.

Part-time MSc IR Research students normally take the compulsory papers, Theory of International Relations, and Foundations of Social Research, in year 1 and the optional paper and the 10,000-word Dissertation in year two. See programme regulations for details.

Lectures and seminars are normally held during office hours. However, as a part-time student, we would certainly be sensitive to your timetabling needs and, where a choice of seminar groups exists, we would allocate you to one that was most convenient to you.

Unfortunately the Sessional Timetable is not normally finalised until a few weeks before the start of the session, so we are unable to answer questions about the likely spread of teaching over the academic year before you make an application.

29. What is the difference between the MSc IR/MSc IR Research and the MPhil/PhD?

The MPhil/PhD is a research degree programme leading either to the MPhil or PhD. All our research students register initially for the MPhil but the vast majority are upgraded to the PhD. Occasionally, a student applies for the MPhil with no intention of going on to the PhD. Applicants to our MPhil/PhD research programme are normally expected to have an MSc qualification in IR or a related discipline. Please see our Information for prospective MPhil/PhD International Relations applicants for further information about applying for the MPhil/PhD.

The MSc IR/MSc IR Research, by contrast, is a 12-month taught postgraduate degree course. Those wishing to go on to take a research degree after the MSc may find it useful to take the MSc IR Research programme rather than the MSc IR programme as the former includes a component of research training.

30. How do I apply for the MSc IR/PhD programmes so as to be considered for Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funding?

Please see the ESRC website and the LSE's Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) studentships webpage.

If you wish to be considered for ESRC 1+3 funding, please check the application deadline listed on Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) studentships which is usually in early January.

31. If I am accepted for the MSc IR and then decide I would like to switch to the MSc IR Research, or vice versa, will this be possible?

This will NOT normally be possible. You must also not accept an offer for the MSc IR or MSc IR Research in the expectation of switching to another programme within the School (e.g. your first choice for which you have been turned down) once you arrive.

32. If I am rejected for the MSc IR/MSc IR Research (e.g. because it is full) but am accepted for my second choice, will I be able to transfer to the MSc IR/MSc IR Research on arrival at the School?

You would be most unwise to accept a second choice offer in the expectation of switching. This would only be possible if: (a) the MSc IR/MSc IR Research intake target was not met, which is not usual; (b) the selector was willing to accept you; and (c) your second choice department was prepared to release you.

33. Is it possible to defer an offer of a place on the MSc IR/MSc IR Research to the following year?

We expect applicants to apply in good faith to begin the course in the academic year indicated. However, if you are made an offer for 2019 entry and circumstances arise which result in your wishing to defer to 2020, you should contact Graduate Admissions (see below) at the point when you realise that you will not be able to take up the offer in 2019.

Deferral is not automatic and will require the approval of the selector. 

See How to respond to your offer for further details.

34. If I have a query about the application process, can I raise this with the Department instead of the School's Graduate Admissions Office?

No, I'm afraid not.  All such queries are answered by the School's Graduate Admissions Office.

35. If my application is unsuccessful but I would like to reapply next year, how can I get feedback on why I was not accepted?

If your academic background or first degree grades/predicted grades do not reach the standard noted in FAQs 11-12 above, this will undoubtedly form part if not all of the explanation for your rejection.

We also have to turn away good candidates due to the popularity of the MSc IR programme, so you may fall into this category. Unfortunately, competition is fierce and detailed feedback is not possible.

36. Does the International Relations Department have any special arrangements with other universities?

Yes, LSE and the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University in Washington, DC have entered into an arrangement whereby LSE graduate students and recent alumni are eligible to apply to take the Elliot School's Master of International Studies (MIS) degree program in one rather than the usual two years.

The MIS is a multidisciplinary, academic dual degree program that is designed to complement your studies at LSE with an intensive year in Washington DC. Please see Master of International Studies at the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University for further details. 

The MSc IR or MSc IPE also form Year Two of the two-year Sciences Po-LSE Double Degree in Affaires Internationales and IR/IPE.