Dissertation in International Relations

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof John Sidel CBG.3.35


This course is compulsory on the MSc in International Relations and MSc in International Relations (LSE and Sciences Po). This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

All MSc IR student are required to write a 10,000-word dissertation on a topic within the field of IR, to be determined in consultation with their academic mentors. The dissertation does not need to entail original empirical research and may rely solely on secondary sources.


All MSc IR students will be assigned dissertation supervisors before the end of the Michaelmas Term. The Department will allocate dissertation supervisors on the basis of the relevant expertise and availability of members of academic staff, with student preferences taken into consideration. Dissertation supervisors will be available to provide guidance in one-on-one meetings and through other forms of communication over the late Michaelmas, Lent, and Summer terms. Thereafter students are expected to work independently on their dissertations without further supervision.

In addition, the Department will provide support by offering a number of lectures and workshops throughout the academic year.  An introductory lecture in the Michaelmas Term will provide an overview of the MSc Dissertation and the processes involved in terms of requirements, oversight and supervision, research and writing, submission and assessment. Bespoke workshops will be offered in the Michaelmas, Lent, and Summer terms in collaboration with LSE Life. In the Lent Term workshop, students will be split into four separate groups, within which Dissertation outlines will be presented for comments, questions, and suggestions from other students. The MSc IR programme director will also offer a question-and-answer session in the Summer Term in conjunction with the LSE Life workshop. Over the summer period the Department will also offer ‘drop in’ sessions for students with individual queries.


Dissertation (100%, 10000 words) in August.

Student performance results

(2016/17 - 2018/19 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 19.5
Merit 55.7
Pass 20.7
Fail 4.1

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2019/20: 114

Average class size 2019/20: 56

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills