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FAQs for offer holders and current students: taught-course graduate students

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 changes to processes for admission to LSE


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. Who is in charge of my programme?

Each graduate programme in the department is overseen by a Programme Director, who is a member of the IR Department faculty. The names of the Programme Directors will be confirmed at the beginning of the new session. However, if you have an urgent enquiry, you should email the Programme Co-ordinators on ir.msc@lse.ac.uk.

2. What is the format of graduate teaching?

Each course generally comprises a series of lectures and seminars. Lectures are intended to provide students with an overview of a particular subject-area, its related concepts and issues, and to introduce the most important relevant academic literature. This can mean that lectures will often not be able to achieve the depth of coverage that you will find in the relevant literature. Lectures also provide you with exposure to the individual styles and approaches of different teachers at LSE.

We strongly encourage you to attend lectures both in your subjects and in other areas that interest you; we hope that you will find many of the lectures available in the department and in the School interesting and stimulating.

Many lectures are recorded and made available as video podcasts. The recording of other lectures requires the consent of the lecturers, who may also distribute lecture notes and slides at their own discretion. The LSE Disability and Wellbeing Service can put in place Inclusion Plans to help you.

In addition to lectures, teaching is conducted in seminars. These are usually held weekly over the period of the course, with students allocated to groups of, normally, ten to fifteen students. Each course has a Course Co-ordinator responsible for its overall organisation (as indicated in the online Graduate Course Guides), but lectures and seminars may be taught by other department academics.

While lectures can attract large numbers of students, seminars are limited in size and provide an opportunity for students to give presentations and discuss issues raised in the academic literature. Students are expected to supplement formal contact hours by extensive reading, preparation for seminars and formative coursework. Reading lists, and, in many cases, lecture handouts, are provided on the dedicated course Moodle page (see FAQ General Question 9 and Question 10 below).

3. What kind of supervision will I receive?

MSc IPE/IPE Research students self-select their academic mentor by means of choosing their IR470 seminar group, and MSc IRT/IR Research students self-select their academic mentor by means of choosing their IR436 seminar group. MSc IR students will be assigned an academic mentor after registration.

Your academic mentor will maintain an overview of your academic progress over the course of the year, and offer initial advice on selecting a topic for the 10,000-word dissertation. 

If the relationship with your mentor proves unsatisfactory, you can approach the relevant Programme Director (or, if your academic mentor is the Programme Director, 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. For MSc IPE/IPE Research and MSc IRT/IR Research students who wish to change mentor, any change would involve a move to a different IR470 or IR436 seminar group.

Your academic mentor will explain how to arrange regular appointments with them at your first meeting.

4. Can you tell me about Graduate Course Choice?

Please see the School’s Graduate Course Choice (GCC) website and GCC tutorials (step-by-step guide to course selection on LfY).

Also, please read the Department's FAQs for offer holders and current students: graduate course choice.

5. Are there any courses not running in 2020/2021?

We will let you know the courses that will not be running in 2020/21 later in the summer.

6. How do I find out when and where lectures and seminars are held?

The Teaching Timetable is available on-line shortly before teaching begins (see Current Students Timetable).

Timetabling is undertaken by the School rather than by departments. Timetable clashes are kept to a minimum but are sometimes inevitable because of the number of optional courses offered across the School. You should therefore only make your final course selection after having checked carefully the scheduling of relevant lectures and seminars in the Teaching Timetable.

See also: FAQ General Question 12

7. What is the difference between the MSc IR and the MSc IR Research programmes? Is it possible to change from one to the other?

There are two MSc programmes. 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, particularly those considering going on to do a PhD, and includes compulsory Methodology courses.

The majority of students will be taking the MSc International Relations programme, comprising a compulsory paper in International Politics, a compulsory 10,000-word Dissertation and two papers which can be chosen from a number of subjects (see MSc International Relations Programme Regulations).

Students taking the MSc International Relations Research programme will be required to take the following subjects: Theories of International Relations, Foundations of Social Research (Quantitative Analysis, Fundamentals of Research Design , Qualitative Research), one paper which can be chosen from a number of subjects (see MSc International Relations (Research) Programme Regulations) and a compulsory 10,000-word dissertation.

Transfers between the MSc IR and MSc IR Research programmes are only allowed in exceptional circumstances.

Transfers from either of the two versions of the MSc IR to either of the two versions of the MSc International Political Economy (IPE) at the beginning of the session are only allowed in exceptional circumstances.

8. What is the difference between the MSc IPE and the MSc IPE Research programmes? Is it possible to change from one to the other?

There are two MSc programmes. The International Political Economy (IPE) is an advanced academic study of the subject and would be suitable if you plan to progress to a career that might have an international focus. The International Political Economy (IPE) Research is designed as a preparation for research work, particularly those considering going on to do a PhD, and includes compulsory Methodology courses.

The majority of students will be taking the MSc IPE programme comprising a compulsory paper in International Political Economy, a compulsory Dissertation and two papers which can be chosen from a number of subjects (see Programme Regulations). In addition, there are other courses offered in the School especially by the Departments of Economics, Economic History and Law, which may appeal to you and for which you may be considered eligible by your academic mentor and the Department concerned.

Students taking the MSc IPE Research programme are required to take the following subjects: International Political Economy, Foundations of Social Research (Quantitative Analysis, Fundamentals of Research Design, Qualitative Research), one optional paper, and the Dissertation - see Programme Regulations.

It may be possible, depending on your choice of options, to change programmes up to the end of the first term of the course.

Transfers from either of the two versions of the MSc IPE to either of the two versions of the MSc International Relations (IR) at the beginning of the session are only allowed in exceptional circumstances.

9. What guidance is provided on course reading?

Each course has its own detailed reading list, which is available via Moodle. Some teachers also make additional course materials available via Moodle.

 

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

The IRD's teaching philosophy places great emphasis on independent study and student initiative. The reading lists provided by course teachers are intended as guides: some courses will flag 'essential' or 'required' readings for a particular topic, which will usually be online readings. 

In addition reading lists will highlight 'recommended' or 'further' reading (works considered to be of use or interest with respect to a particular topic). These provide a wider range of readings that you can draw on in making seminar presentations or in writing essays. 

Ultimately, you are responsible for ensuring that you have read widely and deeply enough to be able to contribute to seminar discussions and to write essays. You are expected to select readings from the reading list and your own research which you judge to be appropriate for the topic at hand.

11. What is the method of assessment for MSc students in the IRD?

The department uses a wide variety of assessment mechanisms to assess your achievement of learning outcomes at both the individual course level and the programme as a whole. 

Different forms of assessment are linked to the material covered in a particular course and its learning outcomes and 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.

All of these forms of assessment are complemented by formative assessment.  These usually are short essays (about 2,000 words in length) which are marked but don’t count towards your final degree. This allows you the opportunity to explore and experiment in developing your ideas and arguments, importantly to make and learn from mistakes, without the adverse consequences of the work counting towards your final grade.  

As part of the degree programme, all MSc students must write a 10,000-word dissertation. A core part of the department's academic philosophy at the master's level is that the Dissertation is to be researched and written by you, working independently and unaided. 

12. Can you tell me more about the 10,000-word dissertation?

The dissertation is a 10,000 word long piece of independent work that makes a contribution to ongoing debates in your field of study. Within the dissertation, students apply the knowledge they have acquired in their taught courses to the investigation of a particular problem or question in depth. The dissertation is not usually based on primary fieldwork or archival research. It may draw on either primary or secondary source material.

You will be given detailed guidance on preparing and writing your dissertation during Michaelmas Term 2020.

13. Are there any rules regarding word-processing or handwriting essays?

Although essays during the year should be word-processed, final examinations are usually hand-written. Legibility is, of course, vitally important. Your academic mentor may also recommend that you undertake additional study in writing English, using the facilities of the School's Language Centre

14. I am thinking of taking an MSc-level Economics course as part of my programme, what are the procedures and deadlines?

Please see EC400 application for full details and deadlines.

 

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