Contact hours and independent study
Within your programme you will take a number of courses, often including half unit courses and full unit courses. In half unit courses, on average, you can expect 20-30 contact hours in total and for full unit courses, on average, you can expect 40-60 contact hours in total. Hours vary according to courses and you can view indicative details in the Calendar within the Teaching section of each course guide.
We expect full-time MSc students to spend at least 40 hours a week on their studies. This combines your face-to-face teaching time in lectures and seminars, as well as reading time, meeting with academics during office hours and general preparation for classes. The amount of time actually spent in class will vary depending on which courses you take (some courses have longer lectures/seminars than others), but you should expect to spend between 5-10 hours a week in class in the first two terms. In the third term, you will be busy preparing for exams and dissertation, so it would be a mistake to expect the work to slow down once teaching has finished for the year.
You are also expected to complete independent study outside of class time. This varies depending on the programme, but requires you to manage the majority of your study time yourself, by engaging in activities such as reading, note-taking, thinking and research.
Each course generally comprises a series of lectures. As graduate students, an important part of your learning will be done through reading the course literature and discussing the issues in and outside seminars. You should understand that you will be expected in your own written work to go considerably beyond the content and approach of lectures in your subjects. Lectures are intended to fulfil various functions, but they are not a substitute for independent reading and thought. Lectures are intended to provide you with an overview of a particular subject area and its related concepts and issues, and to introduce the most important relevant academic literature. This can mean that lectures will often not be able to achieve the depth of coverage that you will find in the relevant literature.
Lectures also provide you with exposure to the individual styles and approaches of different teachers at LSE. LSE is internationally recognised for its teaching and research and therefore employs a rich variety of teaching staff with a range of experience and status. Courses may be taught by individual members of faculty, such as assistant professors, associate professors and professors and we are lucky enough to have LSE Fellows as part of our teaching team. You can view indicative details for the teacher responsible for each course in the relevant course course guide.
The programme will incorporate interactive teaching in lectures and active student participation-led seminars. A range of media will be introduced (including films and photojournalism), as well as a variety of seminar activities from small group work, debates, presentations and café style workshops.
Course teaching – lectures and seminars – will be held in the first two terms (Michaelmas and Lent Terms). The third term (Summer term) is dedicated to preparing to write your dissertation.
The programme includes courses which offer a variety of training in methods and interdisciplinary conceptual frameworks. All taught courses are required to include formative coursework which is unassessed. It is designed to help prepare you for summative assessment which counts towards the course mark and to the degree award. Assessments will range from traditional essays and exams to essay-diaries and group projects. An indication of the formative coursework and summative assessment for each course can be found in the relevant course guide.
You will be assigned an academic mentor who will be available for guidance and advice on personal or academic concerns. The academic mentor will be your most important academic link with the Institute and the School. The academic mentor will have set office hours and usually additional times during the first few weeks and will be happy to offer advice on courses, MSc regulations and on administrative matters generally, eg on the prospects of proceeding to higher degrees such as MPhil/PhD.
Your academic mentor will not necessarily be your dissertation supervisor. Dissertation supervisors will be allocated once topics have been agreed in the second term.
There are many opportunities to extend your learning outside the classroom and complement your academic studies at LSE. LSE LIFE is the School’s centre for academic, personal and professional development. Some of the services on offer include: guidance and hands-on practice of the key skills you will need to do well at LSE: effective reading, academic writing and critical thinking; workshops related to how to adapt to new or difficult situations, including development of skills for leadership, study/work/life balance and preparing for the world of work; and advice and practice on working in study groups and on cross-cultural communication and teamwork.
LSE is committed to enabling all students to achieve their full potential and the School’s Disability and Wellbeing Service provides a free, confidential service to all LSE students and is a first point of contact for all disabled students.