Home > Department of International Relations > Frequently asked questions (FAQS) > Frequently asked questions (FAQS) for offer holders and current students

Frequently asked questions (FAQS) for offer holders and current students

Prospective Applicants: please read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS) for applicants wishing to apply for the BSc IR|, MSc IR and MSc IR Research|MSc IR Theory|MSc IPE and MSc IPE Research|MPhil/PhD programme|.

The FAQ is divided into the following sections:

NOTE: During the summer 2014, you will be receiving materials about your registration at the School from the Student Services Centre, and also a welcome letter with some suggested summer reading from the International Relations (IR) Department. Please read these materials carefully before your arrival. A detailed IR Handbook will also be given to you at the beginning of your course. In the meantime, you may find the answers to your questions on this site. You may also find it helpful to look at the School's 'Your First Weeks' website|.

 

updating announcement
PLEASE NOTE: These FAQs are updated in May or June of each year, when arrangements for the coming academic session have been finalised.

 

General questions

  1. What are the dates of the terms in 2014/15?
  2. Where is the Department of International Relations located?
  3. What is the difference between a 'course' and a 'programme'?
  4. What is the difference between a 'class' and a 'seminar'?
  5. When is the orientation meeting?  Is it important to attend?
  6. Is there a Departmental Common Room?
  7. Is there any formal representation of students in the IR Department?
  8. Do you have an IR student society?  What is the Grimshaw Club?
  9. What is Millennium: Journal of International Studies?
  10. When will I be given access to email? Can I access reading lists before the session begins?
  11. What study skills support is provided by the School?
  12. Does the Department award any student prizes?
  13. How many hours per week are given over to lectures and classes/seminars? How is teaching distributed across the three terms?
  14. Can I tape lectures and access lecture notes?
  15. How often will I meet my academic adviser?
  16. Do students usually work to support themselves while studying, and what paid jobs are available within the School? Also, are internships arranged by the Department?
  17. When will the examinations be held and when will the examination timetable be available?
  18. What careers do most IR graduates move into?
  19. Is there anything I should read before starting in late September?
  20. Are there any social/study events in the IR Department?

Questions for first-year undergraduates (BSc IR)

  1. What induction is provided by the IR Department for first-year BSc IR students?
  2. Who is in charge of my programme?
  3. What is the format of undergraduate teaching?
  4. What kind of tutorial supervision will I receive?
  5. How do I find out who my Academic Adviser is?
  6. How will I choose and sign up for my Year One courses?
  7. How do I find out when and where lectures and classes are held?
  8. How do I change the time of a class?
  9. What guidance is provided on course teaching?
  10. Why are some parts of reading lists for IR Dept courses generally so long?
  11. What is the method of assessment for BSc students in the IR Dept?
  12. Why is there very little continuous assessment?
  13. How do I get my examination results?

Questions for taught course graduate students

(MSc International Relations (IR), MSc IR Research, MSc International Political Economy (IPE), MSc IPE Research and Sciences Po-LSE Double Degree in Affaires Internationales and IR/IPE (SPDD), MSc IR Theory)
  1. Who is in charge of my programme?
  2. What is the format of graduate teaching?
  3. What kind of supervision will I receive?
  4. How will I sign up for my compulsory courses?
  5. How will I choose and sign up for my optional courses? Is there restricted access to any courses?
  6. Are there any courses not running in 2014/15?
  7. How do I find out when and where lectures and seminars are held?
  8. What is the difference between the MSc IR and the MSc IR Research programmes? Is it possible to change from one to the other?
  9. What is the difference between the MSc IPE and the MSc IPE Research programmes? Is it possible to change from one to the other?
  10. What is the October Test?  Do I have to attend?
  11. What guidance is provided on course reading?
  12. Why are reading lists for IR Dept courses generally so long?
  13. What is the method of assessment for MSc students in the IR Dept?
  14. Why is there limited continuous assessment?
  15. Can you tell me more about the 10,000 word dissertation?
  16. Are there any rules regarding word-processing or handwriting essays?

Questions for first-year Research Students (MPhil/PhD)

  1. Who is in charge of the research programme?
  2. When is the orientation meeting?  Is it important to attend?
  3. What kind of supervision will I receive?
  4. What kind of research training will I receive?
  5. Can you tell me more about Research Panels?
  6. How do I find out when and where lecture, seminar and research workshops are held?
  7. How should I organise my research?
  8. When will I be able to transfer from MPhil to PhD registration?
  9. Does the Department provide any special facilities for research students?
  10. Can I teach an undergraduate class in the Department?
  11. What happens if I wish to change my research topic substantially?
  12. Will I be supported to attend conferences during my MPhil/PhD?

Answers to general questions

 

updating announcement
PLEASE NOTE: These FAQs are updated in May or June of each year, when arrangements for the coming academic session have been finalised.

 

1.  What are the dates of the terms in 2014/15?

Michaelmas Term: Thursday, 2 October 2014 to Friday, 12 December 2014 (Teaching begins on Monday, 6 October 2014).
Lent Term: Monday, 12 January 2015 to Friday, 20 March 2015
Summer Term: Monday, 27 April 2015 to Friday, 3 July 2015

2.  Where is the Department of International Relations located?

The IR Department is located in Clement House, 99 Aldwych (see Finding your way around LSE: room numbering and accessibility|), a few minutes' walk away from the main LSE campus. (Please note that the postal address is LSE, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE). Academic staff offices are located on the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th floors and administrative staff offices are located on the 6th floor, as are notice boards, academic and administrative staff postboxes and student pigeonholes. A small suite of staff offices is also located in St Clement's Building in Houghton Street. We also have a Graduate Teaching Assistants' room and two research student rooms in 'SHF' building in Sheffield Street.

3.  What is the difference between a 'course' and a 'programme'?

We use the words 'course' and 'programme' interchangeably. In other words, the 'MSc International Relations degree programme' can also be referred to as the 'MSc International Relations course'. Individual papers such as 'IR410 International Politics' are also referred to as 'courses' or 'papers'. Therefore, a programme may be called a course, but a course will never be called a programme. It will all make sense when you arrive here!

4.  What is the difference between a 'class' and a 'seminar'?

Classes are held for undergraduate students to provide an opportunity to discuss issues raised in lectures and as a result of private study.  Normally, classes have up to 14 students and meet for one hour a week.  Most classes involve student presentations as a way of starting discussion.

Seminars are similar to classes but are held for postgraduate students and will normally have up to 15 students.  They are normally 1.5 hours in length.

5.  When is the orientation meeting?  Is it important to attend?

The International Relations Department will be holding the following orientation meetings for new IR students on Thursday 2 October 2014, where you will meet the Deputy Head of Department (Teaching and Learning), and the Departmental Tutor (for undergraduates) and Programme Directors (for postgraduates). After the meetings, refreshments will be available (details to follow). 

  • BSc IR (first year undergraduates):
    Thursday 2 October, 13.00-14.00. Room CLM.4.02 (see also Qn 1 BSc IR below)
  • General Course:
    Thursday 2 October, 12.15-13.00, Room STC S.421
  • MSc IR:
    Thursday 2 October, 09.30-10.30, Room Shaw Library (6th floor, Old Building)
  • MSc IR Research:
    Thursday 2 October, 11.30-12.30, Room CLM.3.06 
  • MSc IPE (International Political Economy)/MSc IPE Research:
    Thursday 2 October, 14.00-15.00, Room CLM.2.02
  • SPDD (Sciences Po-LSE Double Degree in Affaires Internationales and IR/IPE):
    Thursday 2 October, 09.00-09.30, Room CLM.2.04
  • MSc IR Theory (IRT):
    Thursday 2 October, 10.30-11.30, Room CLM.3.04 
  • Research (new students only):
    Thursday 2 October, 16.30-17.30, Room CLM.1.01 

It is important to attend your orientation meeting as the structure of your course and administrative arrangements - including arrangements for meeting your academic adviser on the Thursday afternoon or Friday - will be explained at this time. We would therefore be grateful if you could keep your diary free of other engagements between 9am and 5pm on Thursday 2 and Friday 3 October 2014.   

Please note that names of academic advisers and appointment times cannot be given out in advance and that it is not possible to request a particular academic adviser.    

Occasionally some graduate students accept a place on a programme in the hope of changing their course of study on arrival. If you fall into this category, please note that this is only allowed in exceptional circumstances and the matter should be discussed with your academic adviser. You are therefore expected to attend only the orientation meeting for the course for which you have been accepted.

6.  Is there a Departmental Common Room?

Yes.  There is a large IR student common room with study carrels and a large, open-plan area with soft seating on the 7th floor of Clement House|.

7.  Is there any formal representation of students in the IR Department?

Yes.  There are two International Relations Staff-Student Liaison Committees|. An IR departmental Staff-Student Liaison Committee for Taught Courses (SSLCTC) and a Staff-Research Student Liaison Committee (SRSLC) both meet at least once a term to discuss matters of common interest. These are consultative, not executive bodies.

The SSLCTC consists of the Deputy Head of Department (Teaching and Learning) as Chair, the Departmental Manager, the Committee Secretary and student representatives from each programme covered by the Committee.

The SRSLC consists of the Director of Doctoral Programmes as Chair, the Departmental Manager, the Research Programme Administrator as Committee Secretary, and students representing both new and continuing research students.

Further details about elections for the two Committees and dates of meetings will be provided at the beginning of the session. 

8.  Do you have an IR student society?  What is the Grimshaw Club?

The Grimshaw Club is the student society of the International Relations Department and the oldest LSE society. It is organised by a group of around ten IR students who are elected to positions on the Executive Committee by the Club's members at the beginning of each session. The Club welcomes all students interested in current affairs but also provides an important social forum for student and staff members of the Department.   Unlike many other LSE student societies, which are purely social affairs, the Grimshaw Club regularly hosts speaker and panel discussions through the year as it aims to stimulate debate on a wide range of subjects relating to international relations. The Club also organises study trips abroad during the Easter vacation and holds a number of parties. Further information about how to get involved in the Grimshaw Club will be provided at the beginning of the session.  You can also read some more about it on the Grimshaw Club| webpage. 

9.  What is Millennium: Journal of International Studies?

Millennium is one of the pre-eminent journals in the field of international relations theory and has a world-wide circulation. One of the few academic journals edited and published completely by postgraduate students, it maintains a high professional standard and a reputation for publishing innovative work by young scholars as well as by established figures in the field. Weekly Editorial Board meetings involve students in lively discussion and debate.  Furthermore, a number of Management Team positions will be filled in November, normally by graduate students. Further information about how to get involved in Millennium will be provided at the beginning of the session. You can also read more about Millennium on the Millennium: Journal of International Studies| webpage.  

10.  When will I be given access to email? Can I access reading lists before the session begins?

If you are coming to the IR Department as a BSc IR or General Course student, you will be sent detailed information in late August regarding the date from which you can access your LSE network log-in and email account. Please note that for new undergraduate students this information will be sent to you along with your statement of confirmation once all conditions attached to your offer have been met.

LSE network log-in for new students is likely to be activated during September, prior to registration.  Once you have been granted access, you will be able to make your course selection via LSE For You| (see also FAQs for New Students - first year undergraduates Qn 6|), and to register on Moodle, the School's virtual learning environment, where you will find reading lists.

If you are coming to the IR Department as a post-graduate student, you should check the Graduate Admissions| website during the summer for a link to information regarding your network log-in and email access which will be via the School's LSE For You|.

Once you have an LSE network account, you will be able to register on Moodle, the School's virtual learning environment, and gain access to the readings and other information, even if you decide not to take the subject as an examination option.

11.  What study skills support is provided by the School?

The School offers a range of study support facilities, via the Library|, IMT Services|, LSE Learning World| (via Moodle, run by the Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC)), LSE Language Centre|, and Student Services Centre|.  TLC support includes study skills lectures and workshops as well as one-to-one 'tutorials' for students requiring more detailed support. Easy access to the various events and support activities are available via LSE Learning World| Moodle website set up by TLC.

12.  Does the Department award any student prizes?

Yes.  Prizes to the value of £250 are awarded annually as follows:

  • BSc IR Year 1 (The Geoffrey Stern Prize) : for the best IR100 Structure of International Society examination performance by an IR student.
  • BSc IR Year 2 (The Goodwin Prize): for the best examination performance by a second year BSc IR student.
  • BSc IR Year 3: for the best degree performance overall by a third year BSc IR student.
  • MSc IR (The Philip Windsor Dissertation Prize): for the best 10,000 word MSc IR Dissertation.
  • MSc IR (The Michael Donelan Prize): for the best IR410 examination performance.
  • MSc IPE (The Susan Strange Dissertation Prize): for the best 10,000 word MSc IPE Dissertation.
  • MSc IRT Dissertation Prize (The Fred Halliday Dissertation Prize): for the best 10,000 word MSc IRT Dissertation.
  • MSc IR Research/MSc International Political Economy Research (The Martin Wight Dissertation Prize): for the best 10,000 word MSc IR Research or MSc IPE Research Dissertation (sponsored by the Martin Wight Memorial Trust).

Those awarded prizes will be notified after the relevant Examination Board meetings.  

13.  How many hours a week are given over to lectures and classes/seminars? How is teaching distributed across the three terms?

For each examinable course that you will be taking, there will normally be a weekly 1-hour lecture and an accompanying 1-hour weekly class (for undergraduates) or 1.5 hour weekly seminar (for MSc students). These normally run during Michaelmas and Lent Terms with revision sessions in the early part of the Summer Term. Sometimes you will also be advised by the Course Coordinator to attend a complementary set of lectures. Details of the teaching arrangements for individual courses can be found in the relevant Undergraduate course guides| and Postgraduate course guides|

You can also view the online Sessional Timetable|. This will tell you the terms in which teaching is held, ie. MT = Michaelmas Term, LT = Lent Term, ST = Summer Term, the week in which teaching for a given course begins, the room and any room changes that are due during the course of the year.

14.  Can I tape lectures and access lecture notes?

Many lectures are 'captured' 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 Department will make reasonable adjustments for the needs of students with disabilities.

15. How often will I meet my academic adviser?

This and other details of academic adviser provision can be found in the Code of Good Practice for Undergraduate Programmes: Teaching, Learning and Assessment| and the Code of Good Practice for Taught Course Masters Programmes: Teaching, Learning and Assessment|.

16.  Do students usually work to support themselves while studying, and what paid jobs are available within the School? Also, are internships arranged by the Department?

Some students do take on part-time work during their studies. However, as it is important not to over-commit yourself, it is advisable to speak to your academic adviser about any such plans. Unfortunately, the School has relatively few part-time employment opportunities but you may find it helpful to ask the Library and your hall of residence if there are any vacancies. The Department does not arrange internships, but you may find the LSE Careers webpages on Internships and Work Experience| helpful. If you are planning to pursue this, it is advisable to speak to your academic adviser beforehand to ensure that the time commitment involved will be compatible with your studies. Graduate students may be interested in the LSE Internship Scheme|.

17.  When will the examinations be held and when will the examination timetable be available?

Examinations are held in the Summer Term, normally from week 4 for undergraduate students and week 6 for MSc students. The provisional examination timetable, which is organised by the School's Examinations Office not the IR Department, is normally published by the end of the preceding Lent Term.

18.  What careers do most IR graduates move into?

Please see our webpage on recent IR career destinations|, and the International Relations pages at LSE Careers| which feature IR graduate career destinations, undergraduate and post-graduate careers, and graduate profiles.

19.  Is there anything I should read before starting in late September?

You will be sent a welcome letter from the IR Department via email in early summer which will include some suggested reading.

20.  Are there any social/study events in the IR Department?  

The IR Department holds a number of parties during the year and the Grimshaw Club| offers a varied programme of both social and study events.

The IR Department also hosts a weekend conference during the session, though space is necessarily limited.   It is held at Cumberland Lodge, Windsor Great Park (to the west of London) in late November and provides an opportunity to discuss a particular topic in depth, and enable staff and students to mix informally in pleasant surroundings. Further details about signing up for the conference will be provided at the beginning of the session.

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Answers for first-year undergraduates (BSc IR)

 

updating FAQs
PLEASE NOTE: These FAQs are updated in May or June 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 orientation meeting to be held on Thursday 2 October 2014 (see FAQ 5 General Questions|), Mr Mark Hoffman (Deputy Head of Department (Teaching and Learning)) and Dr Peter Wilson (Departmental Tutor) will be hosting a lunch for all BSc IR Year 1 students early in the Michaelmas Term.  This will be an excellent opportunity to break the ice and meet your peers before the academic year begins.  Further details will be provided in due course.

2. Who is in charge of my programme?

In 2014/15, the BSc IR will be overseen by the Departmental Tutor (DT), Dr Peter Wilson. If you have an urgent enquiry which cannot wait until the orientation meeting, where much will be explained, you should email Jollo (Onno) Dekker, BSc IR Programme Administrator, at o.dekker@lse.ac.uk| or telephone him on 020 7955 7562 and he will refer it to the DT. Matters related to your registration/payment of fees should be directed to the Student Services Centre.

3.  What is the format of undergraduate teaching?

Each course generally comprises a series of lectures which are not compulsory but which you are strongly advised to attend and an accompanying class at which attendance is compulsory. 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 private 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 unsupervised reading, preparation for classes and essay-writing. Reading lists, and, in many cases, lecture handouts, are provided electronically. The former will be available from the beginning of the new session. See also Question 10| and Question 11| below.

4.  What kind of tutorial supervision will I receive?

Your academic adviser maintains an overview of your progress and offers advice on your first-year compulsory IR course, IR100 Concepts of International Society. Arrangements for meeting your academic adviser on a regular basis will be explained at your first meeting with him/her. Although you may not request a particular academic adviser, if the relationship proves unsatisfactory, it is entirely proper for you to approach the Departmental Tutor (or, if your academic adviser 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 adviser are not permitted.

5.  How do I find out who my Academic Adviser is?

You will be informed of your academic adviser's name and first appointment shortly before or at the end of your orientation meeting (see General Question 5|). 

6. How will I choose and sign up for my Year One courses?

Please consult the Student Services Centre 'Your First Weeks' webpage| for information regarding course registration.

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

Timetabling is undertaken by the School rather than by Departments and the Module Timetable, which gives lecture times and venues, is available on-line (see LSE Teaching and Timetabling|) shortly before teaching begins. Once you have been allocated to classes, this information will also be accessible via LSE For You| towards the end of week 1 of Michaelmas Term. (Please note that the Module Timetable also lists details of MSc seminars and research student workshops which are not relevant to you.) Relevant Course Guides| in the online Undergraduate Handbook also provide details of timetable arrangements, e.g. the number of meetings and when teaching begins.

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

Students are allocated to classes centrally by the Student Services Centre.  In exceptional circumstances you can ask to be assigned to another class. For further details, please see the Student Services Centre| website. 

9. What guidance is provided on course reading?

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

10. Why are some parts of reading lists for IRD courses generally so long?

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 to write essays. Reading lists for individual courses will be 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 often have hyperlinks that will take you to e-versions of the readings. These can be accessed while 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 and in writing your essays. 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 is the method of assessment for BSc students in the IRD?

Examinations are the primary method of assessment. In almost all BSc IR full unit courses you are assessed on the basis of a three-hour final examination in the Summer Term. The mark for that examination will constitute 100% of your mark in the course unit. The one exception is IR311 Europe's Institutional Order which requires students to write a long essay of 5,000 words, based on research involving original documents, in addition to a final three-hour exam. The essay constitutes 25% of the final mark.

The Department also offers a number of BSc IR half unit courses.  These are assessed on a mixture of two-hour final examinations and/or assessed essays.

In most full-unit courses, you must write three short essays (normally maximum 1,500 words in length) as part of your preparation for the examination. These essays are marked but the marks do not count towards your final mark. Note: Students may substitute the third essay for a timed, hand-written answer to a past examination question as long as it is submitted by the essay 3 deadline.

In addition, all BSc IR students can choose to write a 10,000-word Dissertation in their third year (IR398). The Dissertation is unsupervised and must be entirely the candidate's own work. The IR398 Course Coordinator will give advice and may also refer you to other members of the Department for advice of a general and bibliographic nature on the basis of the submitted outline. In no circumstances are they, or any other teachers within the School or the wider university community, permitted to read or comment upon a draft of the dissertation or any part thereof. Further information regarding the Dissertation is provided in the IR398 Course Guide| and the School Calendar and in our IR Student Handbook which will be given to you at your orientation meeting.

12. Why is there very little continuous assessment?

While there is a mixture of assessment methods across the BSc IR degree as a whole and within individual courses, the Department generally adheres to the pedagogical philosophy that final examinations are the fairest and most effective means of assessing student learning. Continuous assessment (via essays and mid-term examinations) has various drawbacks: grading essays can disincentivise students to experiment and to take risks in writing essays; there is much greater risk of plagiarism in essays; and the LSE's double-marking requirements make essay grading a very costly process. Final examinations also have the advantage of testing students after their knowledge and understanding has matured over the course of the academic year.

13 .  How do I get my examination 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 (e.g. 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.  

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Answers for taught course graduate students 

(MSc International Relations (IR), MSc IR Research, MSc International Political Economy (IPE), MSc IPE Research and Sciences Po-LSE Double Degree in Affaires Internationales and IR/IPE (SPDD), MSc International Relations Theory (IRT))

 

updating FAQs
PLEASE NOTE: These FAQs are updated in May or June 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 (PD), who is a full-time member of the IR Department. The names of the PDs will be confirmed in the IR Student Handbook at the beginning of the new session.  However, if you have an urgent enquiry which cannot wait until the orientation meeting, where much will explained by your PD, you should instead email the relevant Programme Administrator as follows:

MSc IR:
Ms Uzma Lone (u.lone@lse.ac.uk|, tel 020 7955 7129)

MSc IR Research
Ms Martina Langer (m.langer@lse.ac.uk| tel 020 7955 7560)

MSc IPE/MSc IPE Research:
Ms Martina Langer (m.langer@lse.ac.uk| tel 020 7955 7560)

LSE-Sci Po Double Degree:
Ms Martina Langer (m.langer@lse.ac.uk| tel 020 7955 7560)

MSc IRT:
Ms Martina Langer (m.langer@lse.ac.uk| tel 020 7955 7560)

However, it would be appreciated if such enquiries could be kept to a minimum. Matters related to your registration/payment of fees should be directed to the Student Services Centre.

2.  What is the format of graduate teaching?

Graduate students often ask about the intended role of lectures and seminars. The following provides a brief guide. 

Lectures:  Each course generally comprises a series of lectures which you are strongly advised to attend. Lectures, though important, are not compulsory. As graduate students, an important part of your learning will be done through reading the course literature and discussing the issues in and outside seminars. You should understand that you will be expected in your own written work to go considerably beyond the content and approach of lectures in your subjects.

Lectures are intended to fulfil various functions, but they are not a substitute for independent reading and thought. 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. (Note: Many lectures are 'captured' and made available as video podcasts.  The recording of other lectures requires the consent of the lecturer concerned. For students with disabilities, the Department will make 'reasonable adjustments' on a case-by-case basis.)

Seminars:  In addition to lectures, teaching is conducted in seminars. These are usually held weekly over the period of the course, with students allocated permanently to groups of, normally, ten to fifteen. Although each course has a 'Teacher Responsible' (also known as 'Course Coordinator') for its overall organisation (as indicated in the Graduate Course Guides| in the online Graduate School Handbook), the academics involved in the teaching of courses are responsible for individual seminar groups. 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 unsupervised reading, preparation for seminars and essay-writing. Reading lists, and, in many cases, lecture handouts, are provided in hard copy and electronically. The former will be available from the beginning of the new session after you have been given network access (see FAQ General Question 10| and Question 11| below).

Note that attendance at seminars is compulsory. Participation in a seminar represents a commitment to the seminar leader and your fellow students.

3.  What kind of supervision will I receive?

MSc IPE/IPE Research students will be supervised by their IR450 International Political Economy seminar teacher, whom they will meet during week 1 of Michaelmas Term.

All other IRD MSc students will be allocated an academic adviser on the first or second day of the session with an appointment to meet them before teaching begins (on Monday 6 October 2014). Please keep your diary free of other engagements between 9 am and 5 pm on 2 and 3 October 2014 so that you are free to attend the appointment.  Further details will be provided at your orientation meeting (see FAQ General Question 5|).  Please note that it is not permitted to ask for a particular academic adviser.

Your academic adviser will mark and give feedback on the October Test|, maintain an overview of your progress and offer initial advice on the writing of the 10,000-word Dissertation.

Arrangements for meeting your academic adviser on a regular basis will be explained at your first meeting with him/her. As noted above, MSc IPE/IPE Research students self-select their academic adviser by means of choosing their IR450 seminar group.  For other IRD MSc students, although you may not request a particular academic adviser, if the relationship proves unsatisfactory, it is entirely proper for you to approach the relevant Programme Director (or, if your academic adviser 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 adviser are not permitted.

Note: If MSc IPE/IPE Research students find that the relationship with their academic advisers proves unsatisfactory, the matter should also be discussed with the IPE/IPE Research Programme Director or Deputy Head of Department (Teaching and Learning), but any change would involve a move to a different IR450 seminar group.

4.  How will I sign up for my compulsory course/s?

As you will have noted from the Graduate Prospectus when you applied to the School, you will be required to take the following compulsory courses:

MSc IR:  IR410 - International Politics

MSc IR Research: IR436 Theories of International Relations and MY4M1.MY4M2 Foundations of Social Research, (Quantitative Analysis, Fundamentals of Research Design, Qualitative Research: Interview, Text and Image). As an adjunct to MY4M1.MY4M2, MSc IR Research students are also recommended to attend IR501 International Relations Research Methods.

MSc IPE and MSc IPE Research: IR450 - International Political Economy

MSc IPE Research: MY4MI/MY4M2 Foundations of Social Research, (Quantitative Analysis, Fundamentals of Research Design, Qualitative Research: Interview, Text and Image).

Sciences Po-LSE Double Degree in Affaires Internationales and IR/IPE (SPDD): Students will select either the MSc IR or MSc IPE for their second year of study.

MSc IRT: IR436 Theories of International Relations

You will be asked to sign up for a seminar group in your compulsory course on Friday 3 October 2014.  Further details will be provided at your orientation meeting.

5.  How will I choose and sign up for my optional courses? Is there restricted access to any courses?

As an incoming International Relations Department postgraduate student, you should check the Graduate Admissions website during the summer for a link to information regarding your network log-in and email access, which will be via the School's 'LSE For You|' (LfY). You will be given access to the School's computer network in the run-up to the beginning of the new session, probably in early September, and we suggest that you look at the online Calendar 2014/15| which lists all courses on offer and provides a 'Course Guide' for each. The Course Guide gives a brief description of the syllabus and teaching arrangements. You will also be able to access 2013/14 reading lists and/or, when they are ready, 2014/15 reading lists via the School's virtual learning environment called 'Moodle|'. 

From 10.00 on Friday 3 October 2014, i.e. the second day of term, you will also have access to the School's online course selection software, which will enable you to register for your preferred option courses and which your Academic Adviser will be able to view and approve online. Registering for an optional course does NOT, however, mean that you have been automatically accepted for it.  This will be the decision of the Course Coordinator.  To enable the Course Coordinator to make the judgement, you should click through to the seminar sign-up section which is linked to the course registration software.  Here you should complete the 'Statement Box' indicating why you wish to take the course.  You are allowed to register an interest in up to four optional courses.  We ask you to indicate whether the chosen course is your first, second, third or fourth choice.  Failure to do so may lead the Course Coordinator to give priority to those who have indicated their order of preference.

Choosing your optional courses can be stressful and we would like to reassure you that the Department is normally able to offer sufficient numbers of seminar groups in a given subject to ensure that we do not have to turn away IRD students who wish to take an IR option listed on their MSc degree programme regulations.  

Everything will be explained fully at our orientation meetings on Thursday 2 October 2014.

Please see Question 6 below| to see which courses will NOT be on offer in 2014/15.

 

6. Are there any courses not running in 2014/15?

In 2014/15, the following courses will NOT be on offer:

  • IR415 Strategic Aspects of International Relations
  • IR431 European Union Policy Making in a Global Context
  • IR461 Islam in International Relations: From Al-Andalus to Afghanistan
  • IR463 International Political Theory of Humanitarian Intervention

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

Timetabling is undertaken by the School rather than by Departments and the Module Timetable is available on-line shortly before teaching begins (see LSE Teaching and Timetabling|). Timetable clashes are kept to a minimum but are sometimes inevitable because of the number of optional courses offered across the School. You are therefore advised to make your final course selection only after having checked carefully the scheduling of relevant lectures and seminars in the Module Timetable.

See also FAQ General Question 13|

8.  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 Research is designed as a preparation for research work and includes Methodology courses. 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 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, details of which are listed in the MSc IR section of the Graduate Prospectus and in the School's online Graduate Handbook (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, details of which are listed in the MSc IR section of the Graduate Prospectus and in the School's online Graduate Handbook (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 not normally possible.

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.

9 .  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) Research is designed as a preparation for research work if you are entering the field from another related discipline. The MSc 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 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, details of which are listed in the MSc IPE section of the Graduate Prospectus and on the Programme Regulations| webpage. 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 adviser 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 the Programme Regulations| webpage.

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.

10.  What is the October Test?  Do I have to attend?

All MSc IR, MSc IR Research, MSc IPE, MSc IPE Research and MSc IRT students are required to take a test in International Politics (MSc IR), International Political Economy (MSc IPE) or Theories of International Relations (MSc IRT) on the afternoon of Wednesday 8 October 2014. Details of the times and venues will be circulated at the beginning of the session.

The October Tests do not count towards the awarding of the degrees. The purpose of these Tests, which are marked by your academic adviser, is to identify the problems you are likely to face and ascertain the kind of guidance you will need during the course. In other words, they assist both student and academic adviser in identifying strengths and weaknesses so as to ensure appropriate supervision. Special preparation for the Test, beyond the readings suggested in the letter that the Department will be sending you|, is NOT expected.  

On the basis of the Test and the essays written for compulsory course seminar leaders, academic advisers may strongly advise students to extend their registration for a second academic year, although in practice this is a rare occurrence.

11. What guidance is provided on course reading?

Each course has its own detailed reading list, which is available on Moodle, which is a web-based location bringing together a range of resources, including course information and reading lists, discussion boards and online quizzes. Some teachers make additional course materials available via Moodle.

12. Why are reading lists for IRD courses generally so long?

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 'required' readings for a particular topic, some will highlight ' recommended ' reading (works considered to be of use or interest with respect to a particular topic) . 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.

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

Examinations are the primary method of assessment. In most MSc courses in the IRD you are assessed on the basis of a final exam in the Summer Term. The mark for that exam will constitute 100% of your mark in the course unit. In all courses, you must write short essays (normally maximum 2,000 words in length) as part of your preparation for the exam. These essays are marked by seminar teachers, but the essay marks do not count towards your final mark. Note: Students may substitute the third essay for a timed, hand-written answer to a past examination question as long as it is submitted by the essay 3 deadline.

In a few courses some essays do count towards the final mark for that subject, or are 100% coursework assessed. The online Course Guides| explain the assessment methods of individual courses and further details will also be provided on arrival.

In addition, 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. This means that academic advisers and other LSE staff must not read drafts of your work. However, they provide initial guidance regarding the selection of a suitable topic and provide verbal comments on short outlines of 4-5 pages and respond to reasonable enquiries related to your Dissertation. Further information about the Dissertation is provided at a meeting during the Michaelmas Term.

14. Why is there limited continuous assessment?

The Department generally adheres to the pedagogical philosophy that final examinations are the fairest and most effective means of assessing student learning. Continuous assessment (via essays and mid-term examinations) has various drawbacks: grading essays can disincentivise students to experiment and to take risks in writing essays; there is much greater risk of plagiarism in essays; and the LSE's double-marking requirements make essay grading a very costly process. Final examinations also have the advantage of testing students after their knowledge and understanding has matured over the course of the academic year.

15.  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 the study of international political economy (MSc IPE/ MSc IPE Research), international relations (MSc IR/MSc IR Research) or international relations theory (MSc IRT). 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 need not necessarily be an account of primary fieldwork or archival research. It may draw on either primary or secondary source material. However, it must demonstrate:

  • an ability to formulate a clear research question or topic and to organize it in a coherent, logical and clear way within the constraints of the 10,000 word limit and the submission deadline.
  • an ability to employ relevant theoretical literature in a critical and sophisticated manner and to show how the argument of the Dissertation relates to this literature;
  • an ability to marshal evidence, of a logical-theoretical and/or an empirical kind, in support of the arguments of the Dissertation;
  • an ability to produce work of a scholarly standard as to literary presentation, clarity, accuracy in point of spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Producing the dissertation is a process with various stages.

  • The first part of the process is the identification and refinement of your research problem or question. This involves surveying relevant literature and working out, in discussion with your academic adviser (or other relevant experts in the department), how to turn what may be a rather broad interest into a manageable topic. The topic and scope of the Dissertation is subject to the approval of the student's academic adviser, and you will be given an opportunity to meet with your academic adviser specifically to discuss this once the session has got underway.
  • The second part of the process, about which you should also consult with your academic adviser (or other relevant experts in the department), involves mapping out the relevant sources on which you are going to draw (primary or secondary) and planning your research accordingly.
  • The third part of the process involves doing the research.
  • And the fourth part of the process, which proceeds in parallel with the third, involves working out your argument, on the basis of your research, and writing it up as a finished piece of work.

A core part of the Department's academic philosophy at the Master's level is that the Dissertation is to be researched and written (the third and fourth parts of the process) by you, working independently and unaided. This means that academic advisers and other LSE staff must not read drafts of your work.

However, you will be given detailed guidance on preparing and writing your Dissertation during Michaelmas Term 2014. You are politely requested to wait until that time to pursue any questions you may have related to this matter.

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

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

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Answers for first-year Research Students (MPhil/PhD)

 

FAQ announcement
PLEASE NOTE: These FAQs are updated in May or June of each year, when arrangements for the coming academic session have been finalised.

 

1. Who is in charge of the research programme?

The MPhil and PhD programmes are overseen by the Doctoral Programme Director (DPD), Dr Tarak Barkawi.

You are politely requested not to contact the DPD before your arrival. If you have an urgent enquiry which cannot wait until the orientation meeting, where much will be explained, you should instead email Ms Gabrielle To at g.to@lse.ac.uk| or telephone her on 020 7955 7561. However, it would be appreciated if such enquiries could be kept to a minimum. Matters related to your registration/payment of fees should be directed to the Student Services Centre.

2.  When is the orientation meeting?  Is it important to attend?

The International Relations Department will be holding an orientation meeting for new MPhil students on Thursday 2 October 2014 (see General FAQ 5 above|), where you will meet Professor Chris Hughes, Head of the IR Dept, and Dr Tarak Barkawi, Deputy Head of Department (Research) and DPD. 

It is important to attend your orientation meeting as the structure of your course and administrative arrangements will be explained at this time. If you are unable to attend the meeting please contact Ms Gabrielle To at g.to@lse.ac.uk|, or telephone her on 020 7955 7561 to make alternative arrangements. 

3.  What kind of supervision will I receive?

The relationship between research student and supervisor is of key importance for research students. It is also one of the most rewarding aspects of teaching and research for supervisors.  It is the supervisor who will advise what further course of study may be needed and it is the supervisor who will advise on reading, sources of documentation and the development of a research design and framework for the thesis.  The supervisor will also read and comment upon draft chapters etc, and recommend such additional seminars, workshops, learned societies etc that the student may wish to attend.  Your supervisor will also be in contact with the members of your Research Panel| when you have your interview in the Summer Term, where your progress will be reviewed.  

4.  What kind of research training will I receive?

The basic aim of training is to equip a research student in IR to design, research and write a professional doctorate within a maximum of four years (full-time registration). In its own turn the doctorate and associated training should enable a person to go on to further research and/or to become an academic in the field, familiar with all its major areas and methodologies.

Students selected to join the Department to pursue MPhil/PhD degrees will have been chosen on the basis of their previous qualifications in International Relations and cognate subjects. As a First-Year Research Student your research training needs will be discussed with your supervisor and a training programme will be approved by the Director of Doctoral Programmes. All first-year research students are required to attend (i) the Department's Research Methods Training Seminar (IR501), which meets weekly for two terms, covering first epistemological and theoretical issues, and then ethical and practical questions, and (ii) the International Relations Design Workshop (IR509). If you have not already taken a Research track Masters degree you will need to attend the Teaching and Learning Centre'|s course Authoring a PhD and Developing as a Researcher. The Library also runs a series of seminars on Information Skills|. You are also encouraged to attend Department of Methodology courses|.

All research students, regardless of year, are expected to attend at least one of the subject workshops offered by the Department, details of which will be provided at your orientation meeting. These include international political theory; foreign policy analysis; security, conflict and peace studies; international institutions; political economy and public policy; North-South relations; European international politics; and workshops on Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. You are also expected to attend any other relevant Department of  Methodology courses.

5 .  Can you tell me more about Research Panels?

The Department holds Research Panels (RPs) for MPhil and PhD students during weeks 2-5 of the Summer Term. The Panel, which does not include your supervisor, will normally comprise at least one member of staff with cognate research interests. RP meetings normally take about thirty minutes and the membership of the RP will normally be the same in Year Two as in Year One, although this cannot be guaranteed.

In Year One, you will be required to submit an outline of your proposed thesis and one complete chapter to your RP members before the meeting. Prior to doing this, your supervisor will have read and given feedback on your work and you should indicate to your RP whether the chapter is in draft or finished form. At the meeting, you will be asked to make any additional verbal comments which you may wish to add to the written work you have already submitted. Members of the RP will then discuss the progress and orientation of your work, encourage your progress, identify any problems that may have arisen and suggest further initiatives that may be taken, by you or the Department, to assist your progress. However, where the Panel and your supervisor doubt that completion of a successful thesis is likely within a reasonable period, they may take the view that registration should not be renewed. A decision may be made then and there or you may be asked to submit an additional piece of work by a specified deadline before the start of your second year so that the RP and your supervisor can make a final judgement.

In Year Two, you will be required to submit two further chapters which show evidence of doctoral quality and the RP and your supervisor will then decide whether to give permission for your upgrade from MPhil to PhD. In cases of unsatisfactory progress, upgrading and/or continued registration may be made conditional upon completion of further written work of an appropriate standard. Students may also be required to attend a further Research Panel meeting.

As a new MPhil student, you are automatically required to attend a RP at the end of your first and second years. Thereafter your supervisor will monitor your progress and discuss with you whether it would be beneficial for you to attend Panels in subsequent years.

6. How do I find out when and where lecture, seminar and research workshops are held?

Timetabling is undertaken by the School rather than by Departments and the Module Timetable is available online (see LSE Teaching and Timetables|) shortly before teaching begins.

7. How should I organise my research?

It will help to organise your work if, amongst other things, you construct a timeline of proposed work. Like everything else to do with a PhD, you will want to revise this every few months, as new avenues of research open up or new distractions tempt you to divert. Nevertheless, a plan of work helps to cut down on dead time, and to keep in view that you are going to finish your PhD within a defined time limit.

Year One 

  • Define topic in more detail, define research hypotheses, draft first chapter.
  • Research training, wider studies on social science research, theoretical approaches.
  • Preliminary investigation of sources for research - availability, access.
  • Regular meetings with supervisor - three per term.

At the end of first year: Research Panel. Key point for gaining permission to re-register for Year Two. Also, to check that you now have a clear and well-defined research theme, hypotheses, and plan for future research, and that your supervisor and Research Panel members are happy with your outline and draft introduction.

Year Two/Years Two-Three

  • Detailed research, including field research if needed.
  • Test out approach on audiences, through graduate workshops, conference papers, etc.
  • Draft further chapters as research proceeds.
  • Maintain contact with supervisor, 2 meetings a term, emails if away.
  • Participate in research workshops, departmental seminar, etc.

At the end of second year: Research Panel. Key point for gaining permission to upgrade to full PhD status|; to check that you have made substantial progress, including at least two chapters in draft in addition to the outline and one complete chapter written in Year One. You will not be upgraded to full PhD status unless you satisfy the Panel and your supervisor that you are well advanced both in research and writing at the appropriate level.

Year Three/Year Four

  • Complete first draft, allowing 3-6 months for revision and submission.
  • Supervisor will read and comment on full draft, and approve for submission for exam.
  • Further presentations to conferences, articles for publication?
  • Plan postdoctoral moves: next career stages.

At the end of third year: Research Panel, if thought necessary by your supervisor. To check progress towards completion, including timetable for submission.

Variables in time plan: need to learn an additional language? Extended field research abroad? Part-time teaching in second and third years? Involvement in Millennium|?

8. When will I be able to transfer from MPhil to PhD registration?

Students are normally upgraded from MPhil status to the PhD degree by their Research Panel and their supervisor at the end of their second year. Please see FAQ No 5| above for further details.

9. Does the Department provide any special facilities for research students?

There are three IR research student study rooms with IT facilities located within the Department.  Further details will be provided on your arrival.

10.  Can I teach an undergraduate class in the Department?

Yes.  All IR research students entering their second or subsequent years of registration are eligible to apply for teaching.  Further details will be provided on your arrival.

11. What happens if I wish to change my research topic substantially?

Unfortunately we cannot guarantee suitable supervision in this case. However, the School will always make every effort to accommodate you.

12. Will I be supported to attend conferences during my MPhil/PhD?

In each of your four years of study, the IR Department will underwrite to the value of up to 75% of the cost of attending one overseas conference (such as the ISA Conference in North America) or one UK-based conference, up to an agreed maximum in any given year. Approval of requests for more than one grant will be at the discretion of the Head of Department and the availability of funds. 

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