Through the student lens

MSc History of International Relations


My year at LSE was transformational, not only because of all the great contents I learned in class through amazing professors, but also because of the great travels I was able to do.

Ming Canaday

Monalisa Saha

Monalisa Saha (Italy)
MSc History of International Relations (2020/21)

Why did you choose LSE?
LSE had the best range of courses for international relations, and the highest graduate success rate through LSE Careers. Also the course I chose was the perfect bridge between my undergraduate degree at Oxford and an IR foundation for a career in IR.

What can you say about your academic growth at LSE?
I think I have become much better at time management and engaging with academic arguments critically rather than at a passive absorptive level.

What’s been the hardest thing you’ve experienced so far, and how have you overcome these difficulties?
Probably balancing the workload in the essay weeks, on top of three reading lists and presentations and essays it has been put my time management skills to the test, but I’ve just had to plan ahead a little bit over Reading Week and use my weekends more productively.

What’s your favourite course(s)?
I enjoy all 3 of my courses deeply, but if I had to pick a favourite it would have to be the European Empires and Global Conflict with David Motadel. Funnily enough, this was a course I didn’t initially see myself in (military history isn’t my area of expertise), but this class definitely produces the most interesting discussions and over the term I believe we’ve developed a sense of class camaraderie, which has been really nice. Not to mention the professor is incredible! Not only a great educator, but a highly interesting person to learn from.

Do you have any advice for future LSE master’s students?
Be proactive in making friends! Everyone here is open minded and has as much to offer you and your perspective of the world as you do them – so get out there, take in the city, the people, and this year(s) that will stay with you!

Do you have any advice about living in London?
Get any sort of travel card, just do. London is very expensive to travel in and getting a travel card would cut down your losses by a lot. Also, walk. London is a beautiful city for walks and you never know what you might find around random nooks and crannies! In a city as big and busy as this, it’s easy to sometimes feel isolated and unproductive, so my advice would be to remember that you are also part of the life-force of the city, and sometimes just taking a walk and getting out and about can do wonders.

January 2021


Marcus Andreopoulos

Marcus Andreopoulos (UK)
MSc History of International Relations (2020/21)

Why did you choose LSE?
The overall quality of the teaching, the university’s reputation and the fact I could stay at home in London were all major factors in deciding to apply for LSE.

What are you looking forward to doing in your studies?
I’m looking forward to doing archival research for my dissertation as that was one of the most enjoyable parts of my studies in Kent, other than that I’m looking forward to actually getting back into classrooms instead of staying online for lessons!

What’s your favourite course?
HY435 Political Islam has to be my favourite course at the moment. It’s a course that covers periods and parts of the world that I’ve never looked at before and you can really see the real life application in the content that you’re learning.

What’s it like living in London? Where’s your favourite place to eat/visit?
I’ve lived in London my whole life so it’s nice to be back studying here after 3 years away. My favourite place to be is Chelsea to be honest, a large part of that is down to going to the football but the area is also great for food and drink when there isn’t a game on!

If you’ve come straight from undergrad, how have you found the transition to master’s?
It’s a lot more work but it’s a manageable difference. It’s hard to determine what’s different because it’s a master’s and what’s different because of the pandemic. It probably wouldn’t feel as intense if we hadn’t spent a month in lockdown with nothing to do except uni work.

January 2021


Nick Massey


Nick Massey
MSc History of International Relations (2018/19)

Having completed an undergraduate degree in history at the LSE in 2017, I was keen to push my horizons and expand into more niche areas of history, both geographically and thematically. I believe history is integral in understanding modern politics and current affairs. Therefore by focusing on these more specialised areas through the MSc in History of International Relations  I could further develop my skills and apply them, be it in industry or in academia. The course provided a brilliant opportunity to both advance my understanding on specific topics while also allowing me the freedom to maintain a variety of academic interests.

The variety of courses, both in the International History Department, and in the rest of the school, opens up a huge amount of specialisation; no two students will study exactly the same course. This degree of flexibility was a huge draw, as was the depth of expertise available within both LSE and in London’s wider academic community.

I expanded my expertise on recent Russian history, and was also able to expand my language skills through courses offered by the Language Centre. Ths in turn allowed me to make use of Russian sources when undertaking my thesis. Taking options in Political Islam and colonial and post-colonial African history have helped me gain an understanding of the impact of religion and national identity in the non-Western world.

The MSc in History of International  Relations has acted as the perfect stepping stone to either pursuing a PhD or begin to work in current affairs.

(“We are especially proud of Nick because he is a child survivor of a potentially life threatening form of bone cancer.  He gives up a huge amount of his spare time raising money by completing amazing physical challenges around the world from the London Marathon to Africa” - Dr Joanna Lewis, Master's Admissions Advisor)


Ming Canaday


Ming Canaday (USA)
MSc History of International Relations (2015/16)

I graduated from LSE a few years ago. A lot has happened since then. I've done several odd jobs, worked in the U.S. Senate, and started my own company. My career path has been far from linear.

Before I share with you about my company and my goals for it going into the future, I would like to take a moment to appreciate LSE and the amazing professors in the International History Department for making my time meaningful and rich. Every time I went into Dr Kirstin E. Schulze class my heart would pound faster and my stomach would be in knots. Why? Because I knew she would hold us accountable for doing the readings. I knew she would ask us tough questions. I knew she would expect us to participate in class and often. Even though I felt high pressure every time I went into that class, I learned so much from her. Dr Schulze is so passionate and knowledgeable about the subject matter that one cannot help but surrender to her expectations and do the readings. Because of her, I learned so much about Islamism and the Middle East. Because of her, I gained the confidence to speak up and know that, as long as I do the readings, I can contribute just as well as everyone else. Dr Joanna Lewis was just as fabulous and passionate. She was always so kind and supportive. Through her, I learned a great deal about the history of colonialism in Africa. The knowledge I learned in her class made me dare to make a trip to South Africa that summer to do further research on my dissertation.

My year at LSE was transformational, not only because of all the great contents I learned in class through amazing professors, but also because of the great travels I was able to do. The influence of these two types of experiences and other personal factors led me to establish a start-up company called Traipsin' Global On Wheels (TGOW). TGOW will eventually be an e-commerce start-up company. Our products are still in the development phase. There are three pillars to TGOW's mission. TGOW is focused on providing travel resources, fitness workout plans, and wheelchair accessories for people with mobility disabilities, especially those individuals that use wheelchairs long-term. Our goal is to help individuals with disabilities create a life that is fulfilling, full of choices and dignity, and empowering.

My hopes with developing this company is to bring into market products that enable people with disabilities to live a life that is as unencumbered as possible. And we also hope to breakdown the attitudinal barriers that people with disabilities face in all aspects of society, especially in the employment sector. One LSE experience that really boosted my confidence and contributed in shaping my decision to start this company is my travels to South Africa. I went to Cape Town, South Africa in order to do a more thorough background research of my dissertation topic and conduct in-person interviews. This led me to participating in the LSE-UCT summer program in Cape Town. The course was demanding, especially since I had just finished my LSE finals. But the experience was extraordinary. I had the opportunity to conduct 100 in-person interviews with the Chinese population living in that city. And Cape Town was absolutely gorgeous! Before traveling to Cape Town, I always thought Africa was this really remote place that would take me a long time to access. But going there by myself and getting to take the emerging markets course, interviewing locals, and going up Table Mountain was such an experience of a lifetime. The confidence and knowledge I gained during those two weeks will last me a lifetime. And I have Dr Joanna Lewis and LSE at large to thank for this breath-taking experience.

Additionally, the London School of Economics name is a reputable and well-known brand here in the United States. I think the LSE brand has helped me in a lot of indirect and direct ways in terms of networking and being competitive in the employment sector. Hence, I definitely do not regret obtaining my master’s degree at LSE. Studying at LSE also opened my eyes to Europe. During the year that I studied at LSE, I travelled to ten countries during my academic year at LSE. Prior to that, I had only traveled to one country at a time. The confidence, the knowledge, and the vibrancy of life all opened up to me that year. I would definitely say my 2015/16 academic year at LSE was a turning point for me in terms of confidence and knowing that I was able to take on the world on my own and make it better.  

(“You would be forgiven from reading this to have no idea that Ming gets around using a wheelchair. Unable to walk and with a developing scoliosis, Ming was abandoned by her family in China and left in an orphanage where her job was to wash nappies. By chance an American family visited with a view to adoption and they fell for her spirit. Her drive and story inspired so many at LSE and we learned as much from Ming as she did from us.You can follow her on YouTube and Twitter. I would recommend it.” - Dr Joanna Lewis, Master's Admissions Advisor)

Joseph Hadwal

Joseph Hadwal (USA)
MSc History of International Relations (2014/15)

Systemic inequity is both a historical truth and an unfortunate present reality within America’s urban public schools. Decades of continual injustice by misaligned structures (in both public and private) harms student potential and curtails community growth. The MSc in History of International Relations provided me with the analytical lenses and the aptitude to help sheppard community members through this quagmire of injustice. Prior to attending the LSE, I earned my undergraduate degree from Midwestern State University with the initial intention of pursuing law. Such ambition, although authentically mine, reflected the sleepy, conservative, manicured North Texas environment that I called home during my adolescence. But as I took those first steps across LSE’s winding Portugal Street, my desire evolved. Enveloped by the many different nationalities and languages voiced around me, I recognized both the universality of our shared existence and yet my own smallness stemming from my North Texas background. Eager to submerge myself within this international setting I registered for HY435: Political Islam -  Ibn Taymiyya to ISIS, HY436: Race, Violence and Colonial Rule in Africa, EU475: Muslims in Europe, SA4D5: Social Rights and Human Welfare, which all provided me the framework and experience needed to combate inequity. 

As an LSE International History student, my academic repertoire was enriched and expanded. Within HY435, Dr Gohel’s rigorous seminars and exceedingly high expectations molded me not only into a scholar of counter terrorism but armed me with the academic confidence needed to face any challenge. In Dr Lewis’s HY436 class, I surveyed sub-saharan systems of colonial oppression and how those historic waves of inequity continually crash rudely against our edifices of postmodernity. Importantly, the International History department gave me the freedom to take classes outside the history core. With such freedom, I took SA4D5 which helped me gain an understanding and love for social justice. The culmination of history and human rights inspired me to pursue a dissertation topic that investigate structural oppression. Traveling to Gaborone, Botswana, I sought to outline the history of early HIV/AIDS and better understand how that virus ravaged the Sub-Sahara. Combing over archival records at the Botswana Record Service, I uncovered a long and eclipsed history of colonial health officials using dubious disinfection methods during mass inoculations: potentially allowing the HIV/AIDS virus a means of mass contamination. Although international travel is not required for the International History Department’s dissertation, I felt emboldened by the outstanding research produced by my peers and professors to venture to a place I had never visited before and conduct my own investigation.

During my studies, my LSE friends and professors motivated me through tough assignments that only months prior I would have found insurmountable. Always, I felt comfortable expressing myself and showcasing the vulnerability needed to become a more developed self. My professors were always available for questions or comments (despite their many award winning book publications and renowned international conferences). Feeling valued within such a dynamic environment allowed me actualize my ambitions - as an advocate for the disenfranchised.  Readjusting to the United States (particularly the Great Plains) after my extended time in London, was challenging. I missed the more urban landscape that I had become accustomed to and the type of sophistication central London can only provide. However, my LSE experiences and study continued to shape my outlook and career. Initially, I worked at a homeless shelter performing clerical duties ensuring smooth operation and empowering residents to access services which would best benefit them. Later, I joined Teach For America to combat educational inequality. Placed in Mississippi, I taught English Literature and History to students who would have gone without such instruction due to teacher shortages. Often, my students originate from home structures that lack the resources to provide them with the necessary materials and emotional supports to enter young adulthood. During my time as a teacher, I have helped students pass state tests and earn scholarships which will help empower themselves to make their own future decisions. 

In the near future, I anticipate earning my Master’s in Social Work so I can continue working with these vulnerable populations with a greater degree of agency. Despite its stereotypes, Mississippi and the greater south has become home: one where I can make a difference. But my desire for a service career started at the LSE. London was where I was enriched by the instructors of an excellent faculty and where I was exposed to the entire world on the few short winding streets of Portugal and Houghton.

Fadi Esber

Fadi Esber
MSc History of International Relations (2013/14)

Fadi Esber Fadi Esber
You look at books in the library and they are written by your professors, so you're studying with the people who are at the top of this field.