External examiners comments

on programmes in the Department of International Relations

The MSc in International Relations is an excellent degree programme, combining theoretical, practical and regional themes in meaningful ways. The courses offered are highly topical, well-organised, intellectually rigorous and at the cutting-edge of research in IR.

Comments from BSc IR External Examiners on the 2022-2023 session

External examiner A

The BSc International Relations at LSE is an excellent programme, which does a good job of combining cutting-edge research in the field with a strong grounding in the longer history of the discipline. The method of assessment is varied but there’s a coherent focus on core academic skills of clear analytical writing, critical argument supported by evidence, and evaluative judgement informed by sophisticated theoretical understanding.

While the marking process, and review and confirmation of marks, has been badly delayed by the marking and assessment boycott, the IR department has handled this by applying exceptional policies in a consistent and fair way. Students should be reassured that great care has been taken in marking their work and determining their outcomes, especially for final year students.

External examiner B

The courses I examined were assessed in line with the standards of the wider sector, with marking and moderation carried out to a high standard. The variety and contemporary relevance of questions students were asked as part of their assessments was a particular strength. Student performance was reflective of their engagement with the course. 

External examiner C

The program offers a broad choice of papers, all of which appear to be taught to a high standard judging by the examined work produced by students. It offers a varied menu of forms of assessment, playing to different strengths of students. Overall, I find the standard of performance to be high – generally in line with what I see both Cambridge undergraduate level. My only slightly negative comment is that average marks sometimes vary quite a bit across papers. This is the case on most programs and there may often be good reasons for it, but it is nevertheless important to keep an eye on to ensure that students are not advantaged/disadvantaged by their choice of papers. 

External Examiner D

The modules I have reviewed are well constructed, offering students exposure to contemporary and relevant material in a rigorous way. Additionally, the distinctiveness of each module within the programme is commendable, although some minor overlap is inevitable given the common engagement with certain theories and themes.

The high standards achieved by students reflect positively on the quality and appropriateness of teaching within the programme.  

The essay and exam questions are intellectually challenging and provide a fertile ground for the student to demonstrate their learning. Overall, the student performance across assessments is commendable, indicative of the programme's high standards and the students' dedication to academic excellence.

Comments from MSc IR and MSc IPE External Examiners on the 2022-2023 session

External Examiner A

The MSc in International Relations is an excellent degree programme, combining theoretical, practical and regional themes in meaningful ways. The courses offered are highly topical, well-organised, intellectually rigorous and at the cutting-edge of research in International Relations. I would also add that it serves as an excellent pathway to doctoral studies if the students wish to take forward their study of International Relations.

The design and delivery of the programme and the individual courses more than meets the standards set in the QAA Framework for Higher Education Qualifications. I had the pleasure of going through a sample of student coursework across 5 different courses within the programme and I must say that their performance compares very favorably with and in some regards exceeds similar programmes that I am familiar with. This is in line with my highly positive assessment of the quality of teaching in this programme. So congratulations to everyone involved!

The assessment methods are suitable and well-aligned with the learning outcomes and well-administered overall. The sample of assignments I looked at included a range of marks including top and bottom marks and in-betweens. Overall, the marking and moderation process is very clear and robust and seems to work very well. Marking is generally fair and consistent across the programme. The feedback is detailed and constructively articulated in most cases.

The process of determining results during internal and external exam boards is rigorous and taken seriously. Like all programmes elsewhere, there are slight variations in the quality of marking, moderation and feedback across and within courses, but this does not take much away from the overall excellent quality of the programme.

I must all add that the administration of External Examination and the organisation of the Exam Board was highly effective and largely pain-free even for this new External Examiner. Thank you!

External examiner B

This programme is clearly giving students opportunities to engage with cutting-edge research in International Relations, and to emulate this within their own coursework. I was especially impressed with the courses on Conflict and Peacebuilding; and Gendered/ing International Politics.

Most of the courses that I moderated have modes of assessment that either allow students to go deep into their own research project and/or give students the chance to submit lower-stakes assessment(s) during the course, to help them to gear up for a higher-weighted assessment at the end. These are good practices that students should look out for when choosing what to study.