This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Christopher Kent CLM 4.05


This course is available on the BSc in International Relations. This course is not available as an outside option nor to General Course students.

Course content

Candidates are required to submit a dissertation of 9-10,000 words, excluding bibliography, but including notes and any appendices and tables, by the beginning of May of their final year. The subject of the dissertation can be anything within the syllabus of the undergraduate degree in International Relations at the School. Candidates are required to submit the title of their dissertation for approval by the Course Co-ordinator before the last day of the Michaelmas Term of their third year. They are also required, by the same deadline after the last Michaelmas term class, to submit to the Course Co-ordinator a brief plan and structure of how their proposed study will be carried out.

The dissertation is unsupervised and must be entirely the candidate's own work. Before they choose to do a dissertation it is vital that candidates identify an interest in a particular field of study that they wish to explore in more depth. All teachers are prepared to give advice of a general and bibliographic nature on chosen topics within the areas of their particular expertise. This is a learning experience where students are not expected to perform a number of specific weekly tasks set by a particular teacher. The Course Co-ordinator will hold one general class at the beginning of Michaelmas term, one at the end of the LT for second year students considering doing dissertations in 2014-15 and one class early in the ST, also for 2nd year students, on general approaches to dissertation writing. Candidates will be given guidance on whom to consult for initial advice on reading material in order that they can have the opportunity to  begin reading over the summer vacation. 2013-14 candidates will discuss their dissertation topics in small groups in the latter weeks of Michaelmas term and in the middle weeks of Lent term. Each candidate will be required in Michaelmas term to produce for circulation to other members before the class in no more than one A4 page, a draft plan of HOW the dissertation will answer the research question(s) inherent in the title. The draft plan should provide, in the form of headings, more details of HOW the topic will be covered. Allocation to classes will be done early in Michaelmas term and further email appointments can be made with the Course Coordinator to deal with any issues that are problematic or if there are further questions candidates might have about their approach to the topic after their classes. Detailed information concerning footnotes and referencing etc., is available on Moodle.


1 hour of lectures in the MT. 1 hour of lectures in the LT. 1 hour of lectures in the ST.

Advice and Assistance

In no circumstances are teachers within the School or the wider university community, permitted to read or comment upon a draft of the dissertation or any part thereof. Advice may be given of a general nature through the Course Co-ordinator on points of difficulty that arise during its preparation. The dissertation should contain a coherent argument based on independent and critical analysis of a relevant body of theoretical or empirical material. This may consist entirely of secondary literature. There is no requirement, and no special credit will be given, for the use of original material such as unpublished documents, archives, or personal interviews.

Dissertations offer the chance to discover, and deal with, new and interesting material - as in many fulfilling jobs. Students are encouraged to participate in this challenge, which assesses different skills from examinations, and to use the opportunity to enhance their knowledge in an area of particular interest to them. The aim is to develop the ability to make independent judgements and decisions on extracting and analysing the most important and relevant material. The outcome will be the provision of coherent, clearly argued answers to significant questions candidates identify in their particular topic.

The final text should contain a full bibliography of utilised sources. Direct quotations from published or unpublished work must be fully referenced. Standard scholarly practice with regard to referencing the ideas of other scholars should be followed. The completed dissertation must be typed with double spacing on one side of the paper and with a wide left-hand margin. The pages must be numbered consecutively and adequately secured. The first page should contain the full title, the candidate's number (but not name), together with the rubric: 'BSc International Relations 2013/14. Dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the degree.' All students must add on the cover page of their dissertation a declaration which is required for all work submitted as part of the formal assessment of degrees other than work produced under examination conditions, to the effect that they have read and understood the School's rules on plagiarism and assessment offences at  and that the work submitted is their own apart from properly referenced quotations.


Dissertation (100%, 10000 words) in the LT.

Examiners of the dissertation look for a variety of skills and qualities such as: conceptual precision, skill in analysis and organisation of material, clarity of exposition, and capacity for logical reasoning. Examiners also attach weight to accuracy in English spelling, grammar, and punctuation. The dissertation must consist of not more than 10,000 words (including footnotes or endnotes, tables and appendices but excluding bibliography, contents page and, where relevant, a list of acronyms). A penalty will be deducted from the given mark for any dissertation that exceeds the word limit of 10,000. The penalty will be a deduction of 5 points for each 500 words above the word limit  (i.e. a 5 point reduction from 10,001 words; a further 5 points from 10,501, etc.). Dissertations over 12,000 words will automatically fail. For further details, please see the IR398 Moodle site.

The dissertation must be handed in to room CLM 6.11 by 5 pm on Tuesday 6 May 2014.

Penalties for the late submission of course work.
(i) Where a course includes course work as part of its assessment, the LSE requires that all students must be given clear written instructions on what is required and the deadline for its submission;
(ii) if a student believes that s/he has good cause not to meet the deadline (e.g. illness), s/he should first discuss the matter with his/her academic advisor or Course Coordinator and seek a formal extension from the Chair of the Examination Sub-Board. Normally extensions will only be granted where there is a good reason backed by supporting evidence (e.g. medical certificate);
(iii) if a student misses the deadline for submission but believes that s/he has good cause which could not have been alerted in advance s/he should first discuss the matter with his/her academic adviser or the Course Coordinator and seek a formal extension;
(iv) any extension should be confirmed in writing to the student;
(v) if a student fails to submit by the set deadline (or the extended deadline as appropriate) the following penalty will apply:

Five marks out of 100 will be deducted for a Dissertation submitted within 24 hours of the deadline and a further five marks will be deducted for each subsequent 24-hour period (working days only) until the Dissertation is submitted.

Student performance results

(2010/11 - 2012/13 combined)

Classification % of students
First 30.2
2:1 41.3
2:2 17.5
Third 9.5
Fail 1.6

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2012/13: 25

Average class size 2012/13: Unavailable

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information