Dissertation in International Relations

This information is for the 2022/23 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 and dissertation supervisors. The dissertation should be understood as a work of independent analysis. Original empirical research based on primary sources is not required.


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. The MSc IR Program Director will also hold further sessions to answer questions from students in the Michaelmas and Lent terms. Bespoke workshops will be offered in the Lent and Summer terms to guide students in crafting their research questions, designing their dissertation projects, and bringing them to fruition.

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

(2018/19 - 2020/21 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 23
Merit 56.7
Pass 18.5
Fail 1.9

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2021/22: 117

Average class size 2021/22: 14

Controlled access 2021/22: Yes

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

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Personal development skills

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