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FAQs about graduate course selection


Here is some information to help you to start thinking about course selection. We'll be sending you information and holding a webinar about course selection, which you can catch up with later if you can't attend.

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 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 most course Moodle pages by Monday 13 September 2021. See Information on how to access Moodle. If you have any problems accessing an IR course on Moodle, contact ir.msc@lse.ac.uk.

3. How do I apply for a course in another department?

If you wish to take an optional course outside the IR Department, you should first make sure your Programme Regulations allow outside options and check the relevant course guide to make sure you are eligible.

The controlled access courses list has information on how and when to apply for courses in other Departments. We would strongly recommend that you contact the programme coordinators in the department concerned and find out if they will be able to accommodate students from outside of their own department. 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 can discuss your course selection options with you. Your Academic Mentor is responsible for signing off on your course selections to ensure you meet all of the requirements to graduate.

If you have questions about course selection 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 K.Whitelock@lse.ac.uk.

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 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 selection

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 Selection 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 selection opens if you have any outstanding documents required by Graduate Admissions.  

8. When do I apply for courses?

Department of International Relations course selection timeline:

  • Graduate Course Selection opens for browsing from 10am Monday 13 September 2021. You can try out using the LFY system, but no changes are saved at this point.
  • Graduate Course Selection opens fully from 10am Monday 20 September 2021. You should log onto LFY to officially start your course selection process.
  • You should make your request to take your IR courses by no later than 10am Wednesday 22 September 2021.
  • Course convenors will review requests and make offers to allow you to join the course by 10am Friday 24 September 2021. 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 on Wednesday 22 September 2021.
  • You must have signed up to all 4 units of your course selection by the School deadline of 5pm Monday 4 October 2021.
  • There will be a short opportunity at the start of the Lent Term to request changes to your half unit courses which start in LT. However, please note that this is subject to availability and places are not guaranteed. You are strongly advised to speak to your Academic Mentor and check with the Programmes Team before making any changes.

Other Department course selection timelines

Different departments will operate their own timelines for course selection, 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 Monday 4 October 2021.

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.

You can apply for up to 4.0 units of courses, which is the unit value required for your programme. You cannot select more courses than you need.

If any of your course requests are unsuccessful you can still request other courses during the course selection period, the total number of live course requests is displayed on your main course selection screen.

In order to help course convenors understand and process your request, you should 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 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 selection 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 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 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. 

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

No, you cannot take more units than what is required by your programme regulations.

You are allowed to watch the online lectures of any courses in the School in which you are interested, but you are not allowed to attend classes (either in-person or online) if you are not registered for the relevant course (ie it is not on your list of selected courses on LSE for You). 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.

16. 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 on Wednesday 22 September 2021. You sign up to seminar groups using the Online Graduate Seminar Sign-up option in LSE for You. Seminar groups are typically limited to 15 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 ir.msc@lse.ac.uk or you can visit us at our office on Floor 10 of the Centre Building to discuss your needs. 

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. 

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

The Graduate Course Selection module reopens at 10am Monday 17 January 2022 until 5pm Friday 28 January 2022 should you wish to revise your Lent Term options. Please note that you should speak to your Academic Mentor and check with the Programmes Team first before making any changes as places are subject to availability. It is not possible to drop a Michaelmas Term course after the Michaelmas Term course selection deadline.

18. 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.

19. 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.  

20. Where can I find more useful information about course selection?