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Teaching and assessment

How you'll be taught and examined in Michaelmas term and beyond

Teaching methods

LSE believes in a rigorous approach to your education, ensuring that you obtain a solid understanding of your subjects. To ensure you continue to receive an excellent educational experience during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are taking a flexible approach to your teaching and learning throughout the Michaelmas Term.

Quality assurance

Experts in our Eden Centre for Educational Enhancement have guided the development of our flexible approach to teaching and learning to endure that you benefit from LSE’s high standards in a safe environment. Our flexible teaching approach will be subject to our stringent quality assurance processes, ensuring that there is no compromise on the rigour or standard of LSE degrees. We will continue to apply our validation, monitoring and review mechanisms to assure the quality of our courses and programmes.

Your degree

In almost all our degrees, you will normally take the equivalent of four courses in each year, made up of full and half-unit courses. However, LSE100 won't be running in your first year, as a result of adjustments being made to enable LSE to operate safely in 2020/21. We are hoping to make this course available to students as an adapted optional course in the second and third year of their degree. Should you wish to take this course, then this therefore may be a possibility.

Teaching style

In each course, teaching will consist of a mixture of lectures and smaller group sessions such as seminars, tutorials, workshops, classes and Harvard style teaching sessions, running in parallel. During these smaller group sessions you will work through questions and problems raised in the lectures and present and discuss your own papers or essays.

Lectures will be delivered online for Michaelmas term. All lectures will be recorded (either pre-recorded or synchronous) and made available for you to access off-campus. Some lectures will be delivered in a synchronous fashion at one specific time and others will be delivered twice to cater for different time zones.

Smaller group sessions, with usually no more than 15 students, will run on campus where possible, all in socially distanced environments. These sessions will also be accessible online, via Zoom or Microsoft Teams, to students unable to access campus if there is a delay to you joining us in London. These sessions may contain only students on campus, students off-campus or may consist of a hybrid of students both on and off campus. Some sessions may be recorded and some will be timetabled once and others more than once to cater for different time zones.

As term progresses, we expect all students to take part in face-to-face small group sessions on the LSE campus.

Lectures are not compulsory but are strongly recommended. Smaller group sessions, however, are obligatory and you will be expected to prepare and fully participate in every session you attend.

The format for smaller group sessions varies considerably depending on the subject and level but you are usually expected to submit two written pieces of work per course during the year. Teachers report each term on your attendance, work in the session and written work submitted. Your academic adviser will receive these reports and although they do not contribute to your final degree result, they can affect whether you are allowed to continue on the course and to take the examination.

Course office hours

Our academics will be available for course office hours either face-to-face on campus or online.

Peer study groups

All programmes will continue to maximise students’ ability to work together, both online and on campus, and contribute safely to your learning community. All students will have the opportunity to work together between lectures and smaller group sessions in Peer study groups on tasks or activities (academic and social). These groups may contain only students on campus, students off-campus or may consist of a hybrid of students both on and off campus.

Community building activities

We know your experience at LSE is shaped outside of the classroom too, and we will offer you a range of exciting opportunities to develop skills and try new things. These include giving back through volunteering, developing your entrepreneurial ideas via LSE Generate, shaping your community through LSE Students’ Union activities and societies and our new online public lecture programme. All activity will start from Welcome 2020, which will be delivered digitally and in-person. You can also access thriving regional alumni groups too, which operate across the globe.

We will also undertake a range of additional community building activities for our students such as quizzes, online debates, community programme Moodle pages, community blogs, and community events.

Independent study

We expect that in addition to formal contact time, you will spend at least double the amount of contact time pursuing your own research. A typical undergraduate timetable involves 7 to 13 hours of teaching per week, but the associated reading and writing of essays, projects and other course work assignments make up a full working week.

The Michaelmas and Lent terms include space for departmental reading weeks, which allow those in participating departments to read around the subject, engage in project work or attend course events.

Individual degree programme pages contain specific details on teaching methods for each programme.

Teaching and learning for students studying at a distance

For those students unable to get to campus during Michaelmas term we will continue to provide you with an excellent education. We will provide you with online lectures alongside smaller group sessions conducted online such as seminars, tutorials, workshops, classes and Harvard style teaching sessions. We will also provide access to online peer study groups, online academic mentoring and make our academics office hours accessible online.

Examination and assessment

Like our teaching methods, LSE has quite a traditional approach to examinations and assessments, which reflects a wish to develop your sense of self-reliance and ability to perform under pressure.

Consequently in almost all degrees you will be examined at the end of each year in the courses taken in that year. In line with our increasingly diverse curricula, however, there is a growing use of alternative ways of assessing progress, such as in-year essays and projects, that complement exams and contribute to end-of-year grades.

Some variation to mode of delivery and/or format of assessments 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. Students will be notified about any changes to assessment plans at the earliest opportunity. You can view changes on our Calendar.

Individual degree programme pages contain specific details on examination and assessment for each programme.

Lent and Summer term teaching 2021

We will monitor and review these arrangements regularly throughout the term and follow government guidance to keep our LSE community safe. We will keep you updated via email as our plans for the Lent and Summer terms develop.

What will LSE do if the government announces another 'lockdown' in London?

LSE is putting in place comprehensive health and safety measures on campus to keep you safe and secure while on campus and in the halls of residence. This will include campus markings to ensure social distancing, the wearing of face masks and enhanced cleaning and hygiene practices. We will always, as a minimum, follow government advice regarding the safety of our students and staff.  

We hope that London does not experience another lockdown in the 2020-21 academic year but we have developed contingency plans for such a situation to ensure that you continue to receive an excellent educational experience. It is not possible to provide details on all possible teaching, learning and support scenarios as government guidance will vary according to local conditions.  However, the School will be ready to do the following:  

  • Issue clear guidance from the School and your department regarding the plans for teaching, learning and support; 
  • Implement government advice regarding student and staff access to campus;
  • Provide lectures online in the Lent Term; 
  • Pivot in-person teaching to synchronous and asynchronous online provision using the mechanisms in place in Michaelmas Term to support those students unable travel to campus; 
  • Deliver departmental teaching materials via Moodle; 
  • Provide support services remotely, via Zoom, Teams, email, telephone, Livechat, etc.  
  • Provide support and guidance for your health and well-being via Zoom appointments and web-based information; 
  • Continue office hours with academic mentors online; 
  • Maintain access to the online Library materials; 
  • Deliver department-appropriate assessments online, taking into account the specific needs of quantitative and qualitative programmes; 
  • Provide support and advice to students resident in LSE and UoL halls of residence;  
  • Make available hardship funds for vulnerable students adversely affected by the pandemic; 
  • Offer practical guidance and adopt a sympathetic approach to students seeking to interrupt or defer their studies.