Programme Specification: MSc International Relations (Research) 1. Awarding Body

Programme Specification: MSc International Relations (Research)
1. Awarding Body
2. Details of accreditation by a
professional/statutory body, e.g. ESRC;
BPS etc
3. Name of final award
4. Programme Title
5. Duration of the course
6. Based in the Department/Institute:
7. Relevant QAA subject benchmark
8. Application Code
9. First written/last amended
This is an approved programme of the ESRC
1+3 competition scheme (UK/EU only).
International Relations (Research)
Full-time 11 months; part-time 23 months
International Relations
November 2010 / December 2012
10. The programme aims to:
provide an academically challenging education, in a research-active environment, to
intellectually-able students from a wide range of countries;
provide access to the wider context of the social sciences;
enable students intending to pursue higher degrees to develop the necessary
analytical and theoretical sophistication, and breadth and depth of understanding,
within their field of study;
enable students who go directly into non-academic careers (eg government, the
voluntary sector, international organisations, business and media) to become
articulate, clear-thinking individuals, able to analyse critically complex bodies of
provide advanced post-graduate education and research training in the social
sciences, of the highest standards;
provide specialist study opportunities to students with a first degree in a cognate
11. Programme outcomes: knowledge and understanding; skills and other attributes
Students completing the master’s degrees should possess:
 an advanced, critical understanding of the main theoretical and policy debates within
the field of International Relations;
 specialist knowledge of at least one sub-field of International Relations;
 the ability to work independently, employing an empirical and analytical knowledge of
their field in the planning and presentation of succinct, precise arguments, written and
 the ability to design and independently execute a dissertation on an approved subject
of their own choice within the field of International Relations;
 a detailed knowledge of the main findings and theories associated with the particular
focus of their degree.
 a critical understanding of the main methodological and philosophical problems
involved in research in the field of International Relations;
 knowledge of the skills appropriate to research in their field, set out in the ESRC’s
Training Guidelines for Postgraduate Research.
For further information relating to careers.
12. Teaching, learning and assessment strategies to enable outcomes to be achieved
and demonstrated
Teaching Strategies
Teaching is a mix of lectures, seminars and individual tuition. All courses at LSE work to a
notional norm of a minimum of 40 contact hours per course. In addition, students are expected
to undertake guided and independent study.
Lectures play an important role in teaching, providing an overview of the syllabus and
supplementing/updating the literature on the subject. Most lecture series are associated with
examination courses. Attendance is not compulsory, although students are strongly advised to
attend lectures associated with their courses.
Seminars are a key feature of teaching. Seminars have up to 15 students and meet for 1.5 or
2 hours. Most seminars involve student presentations as a way of starting discussion and
teaching students the art of presenting succinctly a body of complex material. Feedback on
presentations is given to students via LSE4U. Seminars are compulsory; attendance and
participation are recorded.
All MSc students have an academic adviser in the Department, who maintains an overview of
their progress and offers advice on dissertations.
Students are expected to supplement formal contact hours by extensive unsupervised
reading, preparation for seminars and essay-writing. Reading lists and course guides, and in
many cases, lecture handouts, are provided in hard copy and on Moodle.
Assessment Strategies
Students are mainly assessed via conventional three-hour unseen examinations, which are
seen as the most appropriate way of determining whether the objective of producing students
capable of writing succinct, precise, lucid and analytical essays is being met. However, a small
number of MSc International Relations (Research) optional courses now offer a mixture of
unseen examinations and assessed coursework. In two cases MSc International Relations
(Research) options are assessed wholly through formative and summative coursework
assessment. The Methodology papers are assessed by a combination of examinations and
assessed coursework. The fourth element of assessment is a 10,000 word independentlywritten dissertation on a topic approved by the student’s academic adviser. Students receive
extensive help in formulating their topic and the planning of research and writing, but the
dissertation is unsupervised in the sense that academic advisers do not read and comment on
draft chapters.
Each full unit postgraduate course involves as a procedural requirement of writing three
formative essays of 2,000 words. For some MSc International Relations (Research) half unit
courses, essay requirements vary from two 2,000 word essays; a combination of ‘book
reports’ and essay; one textual analysis exercise and one essay; and one 2,000 word essay.
This is designed to develop the capacity to write the succinct summaries of complex bodies of
material much of which will be tested in a final assessment.
This is designed to develop the capacity to write the succinct summaries of complex bodies of
material that will be tested in the final assessment.
Students are also required to make presentations to seminars as a way of developing the oral
skills they should possess.
Other formative assessments are conducted, e.g. MSc students take a written, diagnostic test
in early October.
13. Programme structures and requirements, levels, modules and awards
See MSc International Relations (Research) programme regulations
Additional information
14. Criteria for admission to the programme
A good 2:1 Honours or equivalent is required;
GPA of 3.5.
15. Indicators of quality
1. Buoyant demand by well-qualified applicants for the programme and high qualifications
required for admission.
2. The high fees paid by students taking the programme.
3. Consistently good examination results and favourable remarks by External Examiners.
4. Student questionnaires and feedback via Staff/Student Liaison Committee.
5. The LSE Careers Centre website provides data on career destinations of LSE graduates.
16. Methods for evaluating and improving the quality and standard of teaching and
Taught Courses Sub-Committee looks at teaching and assessment issues twice or
three times a year and, when necessary, consults by email. It reports to the
Departmental Meeting;
Staff/ Student liaison committee meets once a term. This operates as a forum for
discussion of any issues to do with teaching quality from the students’ point of view.
Representatives for MSc IR and MSc IR (Research) are elected annually either online
or at the second or third lecture of the compulsory course in Michaelmas term. SSLC
items are raised at the Departmental Meeting as required;
Taught Courses Sub-Committee considers proposals to change any aspects of the
degree programme and any proposals for new courses;
Head of Department analyses scores from TQARO surveys and takes action to
address any problems, where necessary in consultation with the Director of Teaching
and Learning;
Internal IRD programme reviews every 5 years.
The School’s quality assurance processes include:
 regular staff appraisal and review;
 improvements in teaching technique are effected by the Teaching and Learning
Centre (TLC) through observations, advice and further training;
 induction programme and mentoring scheme for new members of staff;
 Staff/student liaison committee;
 centrally administered student satisfaction questionnaires by the Teaching Quality
Assurance and Review Office;
 an improved system for ensuring that External Examiner’s
comments/recommendations are fed through to Departments and acted upon;
 the School’s Teaching, Learning and Assessment Committee (TLAC) which regulates
all aspects of teaching quality;
 annual monitoring of courses and periodic reviews every 3-5 years. The outcomes of
the annual reviews are presented to TLAC;
 the School’s Undergraduate Studies Sub Committee and Graduate Studies Sub
Committee which oversee all taught programmes and ensure that significant changes
to programmes and courses pass through a sequence of formal stages to ensure that
curricular changes are appropriate and compatible with other developments.