This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr George Lawson CLM.5.12


This course is available on the BSc in International Relations and BSc in Politics and International Relations. This course is not available as an outside option nor to General Course students.

Course content

Candidates are required to submit a dissertation of up to 10,000 words, excluding bibliography, but including notes and any appendices and tables, by the beginning of May of their final year. The subject of the dissertation can be anything within the syllabus of the undergraduate degree in International Relations at the School. Candidates are required to submit the title of their dissertation for approval by the Course Co-ordinator before the last day of the Michaelmas Term of their third year. They are also required, by the same deadline, to submit to the Course Co-ordinator a brief plan of their proposed study.

Dissertations offer the chance to discover, and deal with, new and interesting material. Students are encouraged to participate in this challenge, which assesses different skills from examinations, and to use the opportunity to enhance their knowledge in an area of particular interest to them. The aim is to develop the ability to make independent judgements and decisions on extracting and analysing the most important and relevant material. The outcome will be the provision of a coherent, sustained, systematically developed, and well supported argument on a topic, predominantly empirical or theoretical, within the field of International Relations. The dissertation may deal entirely with secondary literature. There is no requirement for the use of original material such as unpublished documents, archives, or personal interviews.

The final text should contain a full bibliography of utilised sources. Direct quotations from published or unpublished work must be fully referenced. Standard scholarly practice with regard to referencing the ideas of other scholars should be followed. The completed dissertation must be typed with double spacing on one side of the paper and with a wide left-hand margin. The pages must be numbered consecutively and adequately secured. The first page should bear the full title, the candidate's number (but not name), together with the rubric: 'BSc International Relations 2015/16. Dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the degree.' All students must add on the cover page of their dissertation a declaration which is required for all work submitted as part of the formal assessment of degrees other than work produced under examination conditions, to the effect that they have read and understood the School's rules on plagiarism and assessment offences at and that the work submitted is their own apart from properly referenced quotations. Further information including detailed information on footnote and referencing style can be found on the IR398 Moodle site.


2 hours of lectures and 4 hours and 30 minutes of classes in the MT. 2 hours of lectures and 1 hour and 30 minutes of workshops in the LT.

There will also be a 1 hour introductory lecture in the Summer Term of the preceding year for those interested in taking this option, IR398 contains lectures on how to formulate a research question, how to structure a dissertation, and how to find and use evidence. Classes explore how questions are formed, how literature is used, and how evidence is deployed. Tutorials are a chance for students to discuss outlines, as well as receive guidance on issues of structure, logic and evidence.

Advice and Assistance

The dissertation is unsupervised and must be entirely the candidate's own work. In no circumstances are teachers within the School or the wider university community, permitted to read or comment upon a draft of the dissertation or any part thereof. This does not mean, however, that students will be without guidance. The Course Co-ordinator will provide guidance on the nature and process of writing a dissertation in the field of International Relations. He will also provide bibliographical guidance, and will be available for consultation throughout the year to help students address more specific problems as and when they arise. Students are encouraging to approach other teachers within the department for bibliographic and general guidance on topics falling within that teacher’s particular field of expertise. Students will have ample opportunity to discuss aspects of their topic, general and particular, with fellow students and the Course Co-ordinator throughout the year.


Dissertation (100%, 10000 words) in the LT.

Examiners of the dissertation look for a variety of skills and qualities such as: conceptual precision, skill in analysis, organisation of material, clarity of exposition, and capacity for logical reasoning. Examiners also attach weight to accuracy in English spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Candidates should ensure that their submitted dissertation does not exceed the word limit. A penalty will be deducted from the given mark for any dissertation that exceeds 10,000 words. The penalty will be a deduction of 5 points for each 500 words above the word limit (i.e. a 5 point reduction from 10,001 words; a further 5 points from 10,501, etc.). Dissertations over 12,000 words will automatically fail. There is no lower word limit, but students should be aware that it is very difficult to produce a sustained argument to the required standard in less than 8,000 words. For further details, please see the IR 398 Moodle site.

The dissertation must be handed in to room CLM 6.11 by 5 pm on Monday 23 April 2018.

Penalties for the late submission of course work.

(i) Where a course includes course work as part of its assessment, the LSE requires that all students must be given clear written instructions on what is required and the deadline for its submission;

(ii) if a student believes that s/he has good cause not to meet the deadline (e.g. illness), s/he should first discuss the matter with his/her academic advisor or Course Coordinator and seek a formal extension from the Chair of the Examination Sub-Board. Normally extensions will only be granted where there is a good reason backed by supporting evidence (e.g. medical certificate);

(iii) if a student misses the deadline for submission but believes that s/he has good cause which could not have been alerted in advance s/he should first discuss the matter with his/her academic adviser or the Course Coordinator and seek a formal extension;

(iv) any extension should be confirmed in writing to the student;

(v) if a student fails to submit by the set deadline (or the extended deadline as appropriate) the following penalty will apply:

Five marks out of 100 will be deducted for a Dissertation submitted within 24 hours of the deadline and a further five marks will be deducted for each subsequent 24-hour period (working days only) until the Dissertation is submitted.

Student performance results

(2014/15 - 2016/17 combined)

Classification % of students
First 22.7
2:1 53
2:2 18.2
Third 1.5
Fail 4.5

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2016/17: 26

Average class size 2016/17: Unavailable

Capped 2016/17: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information