FAQs about graduate course choice

Here is some information to help you to start thinking about course choice. Rest assured that we will discuss course choice procedures in detail during Welcome, with lots of opportunities for questions at that time. There will be drop-in sessions with the Professional Services Staff (PSS) for you to ask questions about how to sign up for courses and seminars. You will also have a chance to meet your Academic Mentor to discuss your options and we will host information sessions during Welcome.

You can also watch this 25-min video which provides an overview of IR Graduate Course Choice 2020/21 and highlights useful resources for students (LSE log-in required):

Watch the IR Graduate Course Choice Introduction video

1. What courses am I permitted to take?

Every MSc programme at LSE has a set of Programme Regulations, which outline the courses that you are permitted to take. Unless your regulations specifically state that you are able to take a course from outside the regulations with permission, then you are expected to only choose courses listed in your Programme Regulations:

MSc in International Relations

MSc in International Relations (Research)

MSc in International Relations (Theory)

MSC in International Political Economy

MSc in International Political Economy (Research)

LSE-Sciences Po Double Degree in Affaires Internationales

2. Where can I find details about course content and format?

Course guides provide descriptions of every individual course at the School, including information about content, teaching methods, types of assessment and more. Click the course code within your regulations to view each course guide. 

You can also watch a short video for all IR optional courses.

The method of teaching and types of assessment for LSE courses vary.  Some operate a lecture/seminar style of teaching; students attend lectures together in a larger group, and break into seminars of approximately 10 students per group to facilitate smaller group discussions.  Some courses will operate a combination of lectures, seminars and workshops, or have seminar teaching only. Each course guide will clarify what to expect.

Use Moodle to browse course reading lists, see the structure of a course week by week and find out about the course convenors. The IR Department will release the course Moodle pages by Monday 21 September 2020. See Information on how to access Moodle. If you have any problems accessing an IR course on Moodle, contact

3. How do I find out about courses outside the IR Department?

If you wish to take an optional course outside the IR Department, you should check the relevant course guide for any instructions on enrolment deadlines and/or contact the department concerned if the procedure for signing up is not clear. The IR Department will not be able to help with queries about courses in other departments. 

4. What is the difference between a half unit and a full unit course?

A half unit course typically runs for just one term - either the Michaelmas (first term) or Lent Term (second term) and typically comprises around 20 hours of teaching (lecture/seminar) over ten weeks. A full unit course, on the other hand, usually runs for both the Michaelmas and Lent Terms and typically comprises 40 hours of teaching (lecture/seminar) over twenty weeks. The course guide for each course will indicate the number of units for each course.

5. Who can give me advice on which courses to choose?

You will be assigned to an Academic Mentor during Welcome who will discuss your course choice options with you. Your Academic Mentor is responsible for signing off on your course choices to ensure you meet all of the requirements to graduate.

If you have questions about course choice and how it relates to your future career goals, you could also consider speaking to LSE Careers for advice.  The International Relations dedicated career advisor is Kirsty Whitelock, who can be contacted at

6.  Where/when do courses take place?

A provisional timetable will become available online in late August on the LSE Timetables website. Timetables are decided at a School level, and the Department does not have access to the timetable until it is formally released. 

It is important that you take the time to review the Timetable before selecting your courses to ensure that you do not select courses with a timetable clash (courses scheduled at the same time), as this is not permitted.  Although the LSE for You (LFY) system will allow you to sign up for clashing courses, you will be contacted by the IR PSS staff and asked to make a different course selection. It is best to check the Timetable before choosing your courses to avoid disappointment.

7. Where do I apply for courses?

You will register for your courses online via LSE for You (LFY). You do NOT need to be on campus when you select your courses. You can sign up for your courses anywhere with internet access that will allow you to log into LSE for You.

Information on how to make your LSE Taught Postgraduate course choices

You must be signed up for 4 units of courses from within your programme regulations and must be registered on all Michaelmas and Lent Term courses when Graduate Course Choice closes in October.

Compulsory courses will have already been selected for you, but you will still have to ensure that you submit these courses on LFY.

If you are a part-time student you should de-select the courses you intend to take in your second year.

Note: The option to select courses will not appear when course choice opens if you have any outstanding documents required by Graduate Admissions.  

8. When do I apply for courses?

Department of International Relations course choice timeline:

  • Graduate Course Choice opens for browsing from 10am on Monday 21 September 2020. You can try out using the LFY system, but no changes are saved at this point.
  • Graduate Course Choice opens fully from 2pm on Thursday 24 September 2020. You should log onto LFY to officially start your course choice selection process.
  • You should make your request to take your IR courses by no later than 5pm Tuesday 29 September 2020.
  • Instructors will review requests to take courses and make offers to allow you to join the course by 5pm on Wednesday 30 September.
  • You must accept your offers within 48 hours. Offers that have not been accepted within 48 hours will automatically time out. Any remaining places will then be offered to students on the waiting list.
  • Seminar sign up will open at 10am on Thursday 1 October 2020.
  • Course choice remains open until 5pm on Monday 12 October 2020 to allow for students who register after the main registration period.
  • You must have signed up to all 4 units of your course choice by 5pm on 12 October 2020. However there will be a short opportunity at the start of the Lent Term to amend half unit courses which start in the Lent Term subject to availability and Academic Mentor approval.

Other Department course choice timelines

Different departments will operate their own timelines for course choice, and you should check with each department.

The Departments of Government and International Development, the European Institute and School of Public Policy all follow the same timeline as International Relations and you must make your selections for any courses run by these departments by 5pm Tuesday 29 September 2020.

9. How do I apply to take a course?

All IR courses operate controlled access due to limited places and/or prerequisites that are required in order to study the course. 

You will apply to courses of interest in LSE for You (LFY) with a written supporting statement of no more than 200 words which should succinctly address your reasons for wishing to take the course and how it fits with your overall research interests. Statements are reviewed by course convenors who decide who will receive an offer to join a course.

Most students are offered places on their first choice options (although we cannot guarantee this), but you may wish to apply for back-up courses should you not secure a place on your first choice courses. You can APPLY for up to six units’ worth of courses in total (including compulsory courses). However, you can only ACCEPT offers for up to 4.0 units of courses. If you have already accepted 4.0 units, but you change your mind and want to accept an offer for a different course, then you will need to drop a course before you can accept a new offer, as the system will never allow you to enrol on more than 4.0 units at a time.

In order to help course convenors understand your priorities and how a course fits into your overall research interests, you can state your preference by indicating if a course is your 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th course choice preference. It is also helpful to state under which Paper you are selecting the course.

In summary:

  1. Keep your statement short and to the point. Write no MORE than 200 words.
  2. Indicate if a course is your 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th course choice preference.
  3. Indicate if the course is for Paper 2 or Paper 3. 

10. Do I need to sign up to take compulsory courses such as a dissertation?

Yes, you MUST register for compulsory courses in LSE for You, (for example, dissertations). The system does not do this automatically for you.

You will be required to ‘submit’ these selections in order to register for these courses. LFY will automatically accept your registration request for your compulsory courses; you can then sign-up for your core course seminar.

11. Can I take more courses in one term than another?

We strongly recommend that you plan to take a balanced course load across terms. The academic year is a very busy one, and students who balance their course choices evenly find it easier to manage their time. If you do want to take more courses in one term than another, then you must discuss this with your Academic Mentor. Your Academic Mentor has final approval of your course choice selection. 

12. Will I automatically be accepted on to my optional courses?

Applying for an optional course does not mean you will automatically be accepted. The Department makes every effort to offer a sufficient number of seminar groups in a given subject. However, there all courses are controlled to a specified number of places and there are no guaranteed places on optional courses. 

13. What should I do when I am offered a place?

Accept or decline the offer. After 48 hours (excluding the weekend) the offer will be withdrawn if not accepted, but a quick response from you will help other students who may be waiting to hear back. 

14. What should I do about my second preference course I no longer wish to select?

If you accept enough offers to complete your all of your choices, we ask you to immediately withdraw applications or decline any additional ‘back up’ offers. As above, this gives other students a greater chance to get onto those courses.

15. What should I do if I am not accepted on my first or second course choices in the initial round?

If the course convenor has placed you on the waiting list for that course, you may be offered a space if one becomes available.

However, generally if you are not offered a place on a course you are encouraged to immediately apply for an additional course. 

16. Can I take more than 4.0 units of courses?

No. You may wish to “shop around” before choosing courses, and/or audit some additional courses that you are not registered for or which are not part of your programme, and for which you will not gain credit. Please remember that due to social distancing requirements, class sizes this year are extremely limited and only students formally enrolled on the course can attend in person, and only the class/seminar group which they are allocated to.

You are allowed to watch the online lectures of any courses in the School in which you are interested, but you may not normally attend classes (either in-person or online) if you are not registered for the relevant course (i.e. it is not on your list of selected courses on LSE for You). This is particularly important for in-person classes where social distancing and track and trace policies need to be in place to maintain the safety of the LSE community. Please contact the relevant course teacher to discuss how to access the class material of courses you are auditing if it is needed.

Students who try to attend classes where they are not enrolled will be asked to leave.

17. I've accepted an offer on a course! How do I sign up for a seminar group?

For all IR courses, you may select a seminar group while there is space available. Seminar group sign up will open at 10am on Thursday 1 October. You sign up to seminar groups using the Online Graduate Seminar Sign-up option in LSE for You. Seminar groups are typically limited to 10 students. Students will be unable to select a particular seminar group once it reaches capacity. Where this happens please select another seminar group. In some cases we may ask students to change groups to assist other students with clashes.

If there is only one seminar group which fits with your timetable, but it is full, please contact a member of the MSc IR PSS team. You can send an email to or you can visit us at our office on Floor 10 of the Centre Building to discuss your needs. Please note that social distancing rules apply on campus and in our office.

Please note that access to a seminar group cannot be guaranteed, but if you have a strong justification for needing to attend a seminar on a particular day or time, every effort will be made to accommodate your needs. 

18.  What if I want to make changes to my Lent Term courses later in the year?

The Graduate Course Choice module reopens at 10am on Monday 18 January 2021 until 5pm on Friday 29 January 2021 should you wish to revise your Lent Term options. It is not possible to drop a Michaelmas Term course after the Michaelmas Term course choice deadline.

19. I'm a part-time student - what should I register for this year?

You should only select the courses that you will be studying in this academic year. You will be able to register for your second-year courses in the next academic year. Part-time students are required to take the dissertation in their second year of study. You are strongly encouraged to work closely with your Academic Mentor to split your teaching load equally across the two years of your study.

20. When can I start accessing online course materials?

You will automatically be given access to the relevant Moodle pages for your courses a few hours after you accept an offer of a place on a course.  

21. Where can I find more useful information about course choice?

Here are some links that you may find useful: