BSc IR External Examiners' comments

Comments from BSc IR External Examiners on the 2015-2016 session:

External Examiner A

As external examiner, I was satisfied that all the marking, moderation and assessment was carried out with great care, professionalism and fairness. Students were given many opportunities to engage with substantive material and demonstrate their knowledge and understanding through both formative and summative types of assessment. The programme offers a range of different conceptual approaches, from modules covering quite traditional IR to critical and interdisciplinary options.

The students achieved excellent standards on this programme, and I read some terrific work, especially from final year students. It was good to see students engaging in depth with the material, and the best work showed students developing their own critical and independent approaches to the work covered. I thought some of the written feedback to students was extremely helpful in letting them know what they did well and how they could improve.

The methods of assessment on the programme are mainly exams, and some of the work I saw on the final year papers was very impressive. I know the School is currently developing its strategy on the diversity of assessment so that students have different ways to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding. There will always be students that prefer exams and those that prefer course work: the goal is to have a range of these options available. I was especially impressed with the innovative forms of assessment developed in final year, and some of the work that came out of these modules was terrific.

The standard of student work was very good indeed. The assessment I looked at demonstrated that students were very engaged with the substantive material and showed both breadth and depth in their knowledge and understanding. I was impressed with the UG Dissertations that enabled students to pursue their own independent interests.

External Examiner B

I attended the Examination Committee meeting and I was satisfied that students were treated fairly and equitably. I was also happy with the discussions within the Committee overall. The abilities of the students are truly impressive and the academic maturity they demonstrate in exam scripts and dissertations suggests that students are making the most of what this excellent Department and the School has to offer them.

I am most impressed by the quality of the teaching, having seen the standards achieved by the students whose work I assessed. Indeed, by my reckoning, teaching is the strength of the IR department. The quality of the exam papers too were a marker of the this, by which I mean the high level of expectations set through good teaching. These were fair, but well crafted and challenging papers! Standing out above all else was the quality of the dissertations. Of the firsts I marked – and there were many! – I would have been happy to read those as MA dissertations and to give similar marks at the postgraduate level. At the exam board, I gave special congratulations to the person who spearheaded changes in dissertation supervision in the IR department at the LSE, Peter Wilson. He has provided lectures on dissertation writing and created peer-to-peer sessions, which from what I see, have helped to generate fantastic research outcomes this year. Indeed, I urged that feedback on the dissertations be circulated to students and for staff to think about outlets for undergraduate publishing and research with staff, as there is a cohort who would clearly thrive given such opportunities. The standard of student performance across the courses I examined is easily comparable to those across the most highly regarded higher education institutions of the UK.

External Examiner C

It is a pleasure again to be part of the external examining process. I wanted to thank Mark Hoffman for his excellent steering and management. I also need to thank Adnan Khan again for his superb handling of the entire process. His attention to detail was great: clear communications and neatly managing any difficulties makes everyone’s life easier. He is a real asset to making the process go well.

In terms of the quality of candidates, it was a real pleasure to read a lot of the scripts. I know this is the case every year, but it is particularly pleasing to see the best first-class students able to dissect questions in a persuasive fashion and clearly organise their thoughts. In respect to the quality of the marking, it remained of a high standard overall. This included the marking range and distribution which remained generally fair and appropriate. Qualitative justifications were good on the whole. Where there were disputes between markers that were brought to my attention, I was happy to resolve and reconcile.