External examiners comments

on programmes in the Department of International Relations

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.

Comments from BSc IR External Examiners on the 2021-2022 session

External examiner A

One of the core strengths of the programme is the breadth of courses on offer; students have a very wide range of course-options to choose from and are presented with a variety of different forms of assessment. Judging by the high standards achieved by a majority of students, the teaching is generally of a high quality.

I found the methods of assessment to be transparent and appropriate and the marking process to be carried out diligently and fairly. Almost all markers provided detailed comments on student’s work, adding a formative element wrt students sitting further exams and increasing confidence in the fairness of the assessment process. 

External examiner B

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. IR100 and IR200 are both great introductory courses, and there are a range of exciting optional courses available, especially in the final year.

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. The best student work displays these qualities at a very high level and the teaching team do an excellent job of structuring the courses and assessment to support students’ development. 

External examiner C

The questions presented to the students are in most cases of excellent quality, allowing students to fully demonstrate their level of critical engagement with the subject. 

The selection of topics and readings presented in the different modules I have reviewed is appropriate for the level and it achieves the key objective of maintaining a clear, distinctive, and complementary identity across the different modules. These well complement each other without significant overlap. 

I’ve reviewed a broad sample of exam scripts, coursework, and dissertation papers. In my view, the assessment process within the programme is reliable and fair. The markers generally make good use of the whole marking scale, rewarding excellence with marks in the high 70s and occasionally 80s. 

External Examiner D

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.  

Comments from MSc IR and MSc IPE External Examiners on the 2021-2022 session

External examiner A

The MSc in IR is a well-established programme that offers a wide range of student options in addition to the core course and dissertation element, taking advantage of the opportunities that a very strong and relatively large department can offer. The quality of teaching as measured by the results achieved is obviously very high, especially in the smaller option courses where strong Distinction marks were achieved by a number of students. The methods of assessment are well-adapted to the nature of the individual courses. Overall the standard of student performance was very high and reflects well on both students and teachers. 

External examiner B

I enjoyed reading the sample essays and reviewing the feedback and marks. In general, it all looks consistent, in-depth, and thoughtful.  

For a bit more specific commentary, my moderation is as follows: 


  • Some excellent essays, but also, a range of work included in the sample, which has been marked thoughtfully and appropriately, reflecting the different levels of quality.  
  • The feedback is thoughtfully engaging with the content and format of the essays. It is in-depth and broadly constructive. 
  • In some cases, there was a difference in format and tone across the first and second answer feedback.  
  • Perhaps a more standard format (rubric set) could be used to organise the feedback, so that they, for instance, discuss the marking criteria in turn? 
  • Evidence of moderation; the second marker seems to have placed comments about the mark level (e.g. mid-pass, borderline) in the “Moderator” column rather than the “Moderator Comments” column. Looking at the other module, it seems that the “Moderator” column should specify the name of the moderator? 


  • The top level of essays are outstanding (and as the marker said, of a publishable quality), and there is a range of essays, in terms of marks and quality, included in my sample. This is helpful to see. The marking seems considered and consistent.  
  • Well-structured, consistent and constructive feedback across the first and second essays. 
  • Evidence of moderation and indication that the second marker agrees with the mark given.