The General Course is a fully-integrated year of undergraduate study at LSE. General Course students will join the same classes and sit the same end of year examinations as our regular, degree-seeking undergraduates.
The academic year at LSE is divided into three terms: Michaelmas (Autumn), Lent (Spring) and Summer.
Courses at the School are year-long in duration, with teaching taking place in the Michaelmas and Lent terms, and examinations in the Summer term. The year-long structure means that students are able to cover topics in considerably more depth and breadth than in an equivalent single-semester course.
General Course students will take four courses (or equivalent half-unit courses), and may pick and choose these from across the 250+ options in 18 academic disciplines.
At LSE there is a strong focus on independent, self-motivated study. The School takes a well-established approach to teaching, which takes the form of a mixture of lectures and classes. In some advanced final year courses, the two functions of lectures and classes may be combined in seminars or small-group tutorials.
Lectures are attended by all the students taking the course, which could run to several hundred for popular courses.
Classes, by contrast, are a much more intimate affair, consisting of no more than 15 students. In your classes you will work through questions, problem sets and issues raised in lectures, and you are also expected to contribute your own ideas, researched independently, to class discussions.
The number of formal contact hours will vary with the type of course you are taking but will normally be between 8 and 12 hours per week. While this may not seem like much, your formal contact hours are intended as a framework to provide you with a structure for your own research and reading. It is expected that you will spend at least another 20 hours per week pursuing independent study.
While we believe our students should be responsible, self-motivated and self-disciplined, we will not simply leave you to "sink or swim". There are a number of avenues of academic support available to our students.
For guidance about a particular course there is the individual class teacher, and an academic who has overall responsibility for each course. These teachers will hold regular office hours where you can discuss aspects of the course about which you may need extra help.
You will be allocated an academic adviser, who will meet you regularly over the course of the year, receives regular reports from your class teachers and is able to advise on your progress. Your academic adviser is also there to help with any academic, administrative or personal questions that you may have during your time with us.
In addition to your class teachers and an academic adviser, the Dean of the General Course is available to deal with any academic, administrative or pastoral support issues you might have. This includes advice on housing, course choices and credit transfers to your home institution. You are encouraged to contact the Associate Dean whenever you need assistance.
Throughout the year you will be asked to submit formative coursework in the form of written essays or problem sets. At the end of the year you will receive an overall class grade for each of your courses, which will be based on your formative coursework and any presentations you made in your classes.
You will also be required to sit the end-of-year examination for each of your courses, which will take place in May or June. Exams usually take the form of a single three-hour unseen paper for each of your four courses.
There is more information about assessment of General Course students on our webpages for current students.
Credits, grades and the transcript
On completion of the General Course, each student will receive a detailed transcript that includes the following information:
the titles of the courses on which you were enrolled;
a class grade, expressed as a letter (A to F), for each of your courses;
an examination grade, expressed as a letter (A to F), for each of your courses;
an indication of the exam grade distribution for all General Course students and equivalents for degree-seeking undergraduates at the School.
Your home institution will determine if and how credit is awarded, not LSE. However, as courses at LSE are year-long, General Course students typically receive "double credit" for the four courses they study while at the School.
There is more information about transcripts on our webpages for current students.