About us

Department of International Relations


What IR scholarship or IR as a subfield of political science brings to the study of international politics is the application of concepts, theories and methods.


International Relations: An Introduction International Relations: An Introduction
Contributors: Professor William A Callahan, Dr Toby Dodge, Dr Jens Meierhenrich, Professor Iver Neumann, Professor Karen Smith, Dr Stephen Woolcock


Welcome from the Head of the Department of International Relations


Welcome to the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), one of the world's leading social science institutions, and to the International Relations (IR) Department. As a Department we are now in our 95th year, making us one of the oldest as well as largest in the world.

The Department has about 500 students in any given year, drawn from more than 30 countries. There are approximately 225 undergraduate students, the majority of whom are on the three years of the BSc IR programme, and the remainder on the one-year General Course. We also have about 220 postgraduate students on our MSc programmes. In addition, we have about 50 research students registered in the Department at any one time. Our research students are initially registered for the MPhil but the majority go on to complete a PhD and many then go into academia in the UK and overseas. We will offer a number of exciting public events this year - you can find the details here.

The Department also has a vibrant research culture which enhances our teaching programme. Details of staff research interests and areas of expertise, research centres and units attached to the Department and IR research student topics are included on this website, in addition to a detailed breakdown of programmes of study and FAQs. We hope that you will find the website of interest and assistance.

Professor Jeffrey M Chwieroth
Head of Department

About the department

The Department of International Relations celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2002-2003. You can read about the Foundation and History of the International Relations Department.

International Relations has been taught at LSE since 1924 when Philip Noel-Baker was appointed to a new, privately-endowed Chair of International Relations. The Department, which was set up three years later, was not only the first of its kind, but has remained a leading world centre for the development of the subject ever since. Its reputation for international excellence was recognised in the most recent National Research Assessment Exercise when the IR and Government Departments, assessed as one unit, received one of the highest rankings.

In the early years the Department drew heavily on other disciplines, in particular Diplomatic History and International Law; but in the 1960s the leadership passed to Geoffrey Goodwin and Fred Northedge, both of whom were graduates of the Department. They took the study of IR into a new era, as well as helping to establish the Centre for International Studies in 1967, and the graduate programme in European Studies launched in 1972. They also helped found the student-run journal, Millennium: Journal of International Studies which is one of the most prestigious IR journals.

The Department is also closely associated with the development of a specifically 'English School' of International Relations. But although many of its leading figures -- Martin Wight, Hedley Bull, and John Vincent -- did indeed teach in the Department, we have never endorsed a particular orthodoxy. Indeed, many new developments in the subject have been pioneered by us such as the increasing concern with international political economy which owes much to the work and inspiration of Susan Strange, and the interest in revolutions and IR which owes much to Fred Halliday. Our aim is to offer students a broad range of options including major theoretical perspectives on IR, the study of conflict as well as conflict management, the work of the major international institutions, and the major regions of the world from Europe to the Middle East.

The Department has always been strongly international in character and today the majority of our graduate students, a good proportion of our undergraduates, as well as many members of the faculty are drawn from Europe, North America and further afield. At the same time we have always prided ourselves as having both a national and an international role in training diplomats and future university teachers. At least fifty former students are now teaching International Relations in universities both in Britain and abroad.

Staff-student liaison committees

The International Relations Department has three staff-student liaison committees.

Find out more

Academic staff and GTA handbooks

These handbooks are both available online. 

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Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) at LSE

LSE is committed to building a diverse, equitable and truly inclusive university. LSE believes that diversity is critical to maintaining excellence in all of our endeavours. We seek to enable all members of the School community to achieve their full potential in an environment characterised by equality of respect and opportunity.

The School’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion is one of its six strategic priorities, as highlighted in the LSE Strategy 2020, and ‘equality of respect and opportunity’ is one of the core principles set out in the School’s ethics code. The EDI Office acts to promote and further LSE’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion for all members of the School community.

To provide some examples of our work

  • Athena SWAN is a national charter mark – run by the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) – that recognises the advancement of gender equality in higher education: representation, progression and success for all. The School has been working towards an institutional bronze Athena SWAN award.

  • LSE has convened a self-assessment team to work towards the ECU’s Race Equality Charter Mark.  The Race Equality Charter is focussed on improving the representation, progression and success of black and minority ethnic (BME) staff and students in Higher Education.

  • LSE is a Stonewall diversity champion and is part of the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index.

  • LSE has also worked closely with AccessAble to develop online access guides to all the School’s buildings, and route maps around campus.
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