Studying International Affairs at Peking University
For just over a century, Peking University has been the centre of research within China and remains China's top institution of higher learning. Students of the LSE-PKU programme engage in intense study of Chinese politics, history, and economics with a staff that is highly regarded amongst Chinese and international academics. The environment surrounding campus offers students ample locations for quiet study. Whether it is on the campus greens, the library, or in one of the many cafes located just outside of campus.
In the Peking University public lecture series, students can meet and learn from the world's greatest minds and political figures. Recent lectures have included Henry Kissinger, former US Secretary of Defense William Perry, New York Times' military correspondent, Michael Gordon, and historian Akira Iriye, Harvard Professor of international history.
Finding information with Beijing is rarely a problem. Students of the PKU-LSE program will study at the Peking University School of International Studies (SIS). To assist student research within the program, a portion of the library at SIS is designated specifically for the literature of the LSE-PKU program. In addition, the general Peking University library is the top university library in China. However, in the unlikely case that the resources at these libraries is not suitable, students are also allowed to use the National Library in the centre of Beijing in addition to the online resources of the London School of Economics.
As a student of the Double Degree Program, you will have access to two libraries of PKU, the SIS library and the PKU library. You can find your course readings, books and journals on international relations at the SIS library. The PKU library has considerable English collections on all the subjects of humanities and social sciences. Most of these are in the reading room of humanities and social sciences, the second floor. The reading room of the American Studies Center (5th floor) also has many books on International Relations and American politics. You can borrow approximately 20 books from the two libraries. Do not forget to bring your PKU student ID card when you visit the libraries. The PKU library also subscribes many databases and electronic journals. However, if you live off campus at PKU it is difficult to use them. The LSE e-library is also available for electronic resources. If you require further resources, the National Library of China is not far from campus.
As the most prestigious academic institution in China, PKU holds many lectures everyday. Most of the speakers are scholars, senior officials, and business elites. Some lectures are given in English by speakers from overseas. However, the PKU website does not have an English webpage with lectures information.
Housing in Beijing depends greatly on the needs and preferences of the individual. The two options available for international students are on campus residences and private residences.
The residences at Peking University offer several choices for international students and differing price ranges. The quality of life within the residence depends on the cost of the room or suite you occupy per day. Students have the option of living in three residential scenarios: 1, a single room attached to either a larger common area that includes a kitchen, sitting room, and bathroom with two other residents; 2, a single room attached to a smaller common room with a kitchen and bathroom with one other resident; or, 3, a twin room that has a shared bathroom and kitchen with an entire floor.
Students who decide to live on campus find that there are many advantages to living at Peking University. The Peking University residences are slightly cheaper than private residences. Students often say that living close to lecture halls and the library afford them sufficient time to study. It is easier to get involved with campus events and activities, societies, clubs, and sports. Finally, living on campus in international student housing gives students the opportunity to experience the most beautiful and famous university in China and immerse themselves in the mix of international students from Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America.
Students who decide to live off campus find that they are closer to events and activities outside of campus, and gain a better perspective of what living in China is actually like. Beijing is increasingly becoming an international city and the foundation for future commerce, travel, and Chinese culture. Students can find fantastic apartments throughout the city that fit a student's budget.
Often times, these apartments are more spacious and contain many conveniences that on campus housing do not have. Most Peking University students live in Huaqingjiayuan-Wudaokou, a lively neighbourhood in the Haidan District. Most international students prefer Huaqingjiauan - Wudaokou because of its proximity to major subway stations and Peking University. Wudaokou is a short 30-minute walk from the West Gate of Peking University and taxis, and buses run back and forth from Wudaokou regularly. Rent runs tends to be around 3,000 - 4,000 RMB per month for a 1 person flat and 5,000-6,000 RMB for 2 to 3 person flats. If students are interested in living off campus, it would be best to consult the Time Out Beijing Website before coming to Beijing.
Another good website is The Beijinger. It is also suggested that if a student is not proficient in Mandarin, it would be best to have an interpreter to explain the terms of agreement associated with letting a private residence. The terms and conditions of renting an apartment may require detailed explanation as foreign students may not be familiar with Chinese contract law.
Social life and extra-curricular activities
Living in China opens a vast opportunity to experience the culture, interact with people, and travel throughout Asia. Previous LSE-PKU students have noted that the cohesion and interplay between students of international affairs and the rich international exposure they can receive has had a great influence on their lives while living in Beijing.
On a daily basis, students can engage in Chinese cultural traditions as well as the activities of their home country due to the mix of students and expatriates that call Beijing home. Peking University has many clubs and organizations that combine fun and personal growth. Clubs and organizations are a great way to make friends and practice Mandarin in real life situations.
Students of the program have been highly successful in obtaining internships, both paid and unpaid in business, multinational organizations, and non-profit organizations. Furthermore, students have used their time in Beijing to conduct personal research on development, poverty and the environment.
Travel within Asia is a preferred past time of students during holiday breaks. Popular destination points include: the Himalayas, the Silk Road, North and Southeast Asia, and many other destinations within China. In the words of one student: "It is a place of both cohesion and contradiction. It is a dynamic country that falls under one time zone, and yet every experience and interaction for me remains timeless."
The Wikitravel gives advice on food, nightlife and shopping at Wudaokou ( 五道口), which is an excellent area for bars and restaurants, and is right next to the PKU campus.
The Beijinger is also a useful resource.
Beijing is home to many branches of the banks you may already use in your home countries. Deutchesbank, Citibank, and HSBC have several branches scattered around the city. This allows students to keep track of their spending while skipping out on the fees that would have accumulated with other card issuers.
There are branches of each of these banks within walking distance from campus. Other students recommend Bank of China as there is a branch right outside the southwest gate of campus and setting up an account is easy. A Bank of China account may have additional benefits when it comes to paying tuition.
Public transportation from Peking University to the city centre has never been problematic, but it surely brings one closer to Beijing's 15 million citizens. The Beijing subway has recently been expanded to accommodate the city's growing population and make the city more accessible for foreign visitors.
This is expansion includes a stop just outside of the Peking University campus (soon to be completed). The subway, however, may feel claustrophobic at times. To get away from this experience, taxis are an excellent alternative and in China they fit a student's budget.
Beijing International Airport is only an hour away from campus by taxi and has daily flights to nearly all destinations in the world. Beijing Daxing International Airport has been in operation since 2019.
This is a great advantage for students travelling back to their home countries or visiting other destinations around the world. That taxi fare from Peking University to the Airport will cost about 100 RMB.
China is known for it's vast cuisine. So much so that a common greeting in China is: "Have you eaten?" The cafeterias on campus serve a wide variety of food, not only from various parts of China, but also from many different countries around the world. One could quite easily enjoy a different cuisine every night of the week.
The on campus food tends to be rather inexpensive, but that could be said of most restaurants throughout China in general. In the neighbourhoods surrounding Peking University there are many restaurants to choose from and all at reasonable prices. Eating out in Beijing for students tends to be the norm rather than the exception due to how inexpensive it is.
The Wikitravel website gives advice food, nightlife and shopping at Wudaokou ( 五道口), which is an excellent area for bars and restaurants, and is right next to the PKU campus.
Studying International Affairs at LSE
The LSE was founded in 1895 originally as an institute of higher education for graduate students. The Department of International History, where students will be based, reflects this tradition and takes its responsibility for graduate teaching and research supervision very seriously. We admit nearly as many masters students as undergraduates, with a critical mass of graduates usually numbering over 150 in a year. Consequently our graduates never feel on the margins of the department or an after-thought which often can be the case at some other London institutions geared more for undergraduate teaching. We have one of the most cosmopolitan graduate communities in London and for international history in the UK and it is therefore one of the most vibrant and dynamic. You will have use of our library, famous for being the best university library in London. In addition, we have an IT network and training facilities that are acknowledged to be leading the field.
LSE History rankings
The department has consistently performed well in the QS World University Rankings. In the QS World University History Subject Table for 2020, History at LSE ranked 5th overall in the world ahead of Stanford, Berkeley, Columbia, Princeton and UCLA. In the UK and in Europe, History at LSE ranked third, behind Oxford and Cambridge, but ahead of KCL, Edinburgh and UCL.
Research in the Department
The department offers a number of established and well-respected taught programmes which give students a range of core and specialist topics, the latter enabling our staff to teach topics which form their current research projects (which also saves you money as you don't have to buy the book later on!). While on the subject of research, the department is divided into five research clusters covering a wide range of subjects taught in the Department. We have our own blog, LSE International History Blog, where students and non-LSE historians contribute historically-informed perspectives on contemporary affairs. We also have our own podcast, Our Histories, with each episode devoted to the research conducted by one of our faculty members.
LSE and departmental events
Graduate students in the Department of International History have a research seminar with guest speakers and there are guest lectures. We organise a weekend away at Cumberland Lodge, Great Windsor Park once a year. This is designed to enable graduates to get to know each other better and to develop their ideas about a particular topic. Additionally throughout the year, students can take advantage of the great LSE tradition of inviting famous (and infamous) figures from the world of politics, business, media and international affairs. Please see the Department's Public Lectures and Events for a good range of history events hosted by us during the academic year as well as the LSE Public Lectures and Events. This helps make the LSE a particularly fertile and exciting place to be studying international history. There is an almost bewildering range of societies and clubs engaging with international politics, single issues, the 'third world', social justice problems or just dedicated to sport, music, dance and a whole range of pursuits which we lecturers haven't got a clue about. We highly recommend our students join the LSE Student Union History Society. We have a gym and squash courts on site and one of the largest student shops on campus. There is also a large student bookshop owned by Waterstone's selling new and used books.
We are very fortunate at the LSE in being so centrally located in the capital. We are in walking distance of the British Library, Covent Garden, the Royal Courts of Justice, the British Museum, the National Gallery, the West End theatres as well as Trafalgar Square, the Barbican, Buckingham Palace, River Thames and the London Eye. Much of our graduate accommodation is located in prime real-estate sites in central London. Our graduate students can take advantage of all the intellectual resources that this capital is home to, including the National Archives south of the river at Kew and the world's largest newspaper archive in North London. Not surprisingly our students are able to produce dissertations of the highest quality benefiting from such easy access to a range of primary sources and people willing to help.