Programme Specification: MSc Comparative Politics (R)

Programme Specification: MSc Comparative Politics (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
Political Theory (Research)
12 months full-time, 24 months part-time
Government Department
October 2004
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
 Enable students who go directly into non-academic careers (e.g. government, the
voluntary sector, international organisations, business and media) to become articulate, clear
thinking individuals, able critically to analyse complex bodies of material;
 All programmes aim to provide advanced postgraduate education, and, in the case of RT
programmes, research training in the social sciences, of the highest standards;
 Programmes in Government and IR aim to provide specialist study opportunities to
students with a first degree in a cognate area.
11. Programme outcomes: knowledge and understanding; skills and other attributes
Students completing Masters degrees should possess:
 An advanced, critical, understanding of the main theoretical and policy debates within their
chosen field;
 Specialist knowledge of at least one sub-field of their chosen area;
 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 oral;
 The ability to design and independently execute a ‘long essay’/’dissertation’ on an
approved subject of their own choice within their field.
 A critical understanding of the main methodological and philosophical problems involved
in research in their field;
 Knowledge of the skills appropriate to research in their field, set out in the ESRC’s
Training Guidelines for Postgraduate Research.
Information relating to careers can be accessed here
12. Teaching, learning and assessment strategies to enable outcomes to be achieved
1. Teaching
1.1 Design
The MSc Comparative Politics (Research) programme is the same as the MSc in
Comparative Politics except that students are required to take MI41M1 and MI4M2
Foundations of Social Research. The aim of the methodology courses is to provide the
basic qualitative and quantitative research skills required to successfully complete a
sophisticated research project.
The list of courses available to students on the research track is otherwise the same as
for the regular comparative politics MSc.
1.2 Modes of Delivery
Courses offered by the comparative politics programme are typically conducted in the
form of seminars, although some are also accompanied by lecture series.
Half Unit seminar courses involve 20 hours contact teaching in ten seminars with and
additional four hours for revision in the summer term.
1.3 Staff Expertise
The staff in the comparative politics group is active in research in areas comprising
democracy and democratisation, nationalism, civil war and ethnic conflict, and institutional
analyses of politics and development. The staff has particular expertise in Latin
American, East Asian, and European studies. All the teaching is conducted by full
members of the department, there are no teaching assistants involved in teaching at this
2. Learning
2.1 The role of seminars
Seminars are used to offer students the chance to deepen their understanding of their
reading by writing, presenting and critically discussing papers on topics set out by the
course convenor. The format of discussion and dialogue is that most suitable to
cultivating the analytical and critical skills required to do political theory. The seminar
format provides the opportunity for students to prepare written briefs on a topic, issue or
thinker as a way of informing debate, and identifying issues for further discussion.
The seminar convenor is primarily concerned with directing the discussion and keeping it
focused on the core issue at hand. Faculty use the opportunity of critical engagement with
the class to impart new insights supplement students reading and understanding.
The interactive nature of seminar teaching allows a number of distinct functions
a. Formative assessment and feedback on class presentations, both within the seminar
through discussion and afterwards through oral or written feedback.
b. Independent learning through preparatory reading and research, the preparation of
presentations and the preparation of responses and questions.
c. The development of oral and communication skills in the presentation and defence of
complex arguments. All students are strongly encouraged to participate and seminar
convenors will do all they can to ensure a wide and constructive participation in each
2.2 Support
Each student is assigned a supervisor who advises on course choices and academic
performance. The supervisor will ordinarily help the student prepare the dissertation and
be the first port of call for advice on the framing of the dissertation research project.
Information on study skills, IT training, library resources and language support is given to
students during induction and is available on the LSE website. The Department is
represented on the Library and Information Services Committee.
The MSc Programme manager in the Departmental Office is also available to provide
practical advice where necessary and can direct students to other School wide services.
3. Assessment
3.1 Formative Assessment and Feedback
Students in most courses are required to write formative essays. These are marked and
returned to students with detailed comments and an indicative grade, although they form
no part of the final summative assessment. Students are also given feedback on
3.2 Summative Assessment
This Programme conforms to the LSE Classification Scheme for masters Degrees.
Summative assessment is by means of closed-book two hour examinations in the
summer term for all coursed. Examinations involve eight questions from which
candidates must answer two.
In some courses there is an assessed essay which comprises 75% of the overall
assessment and the essay 25%.
Candidates are also required to submit a 10 000 word dissertation on a topic agreed with
their supervisor and the M.Sc. Political Theory Convenor.
All components of summative assessment are double-blind marked, with samples
moderated by the external examiner.
13. Programme structures and requirements, levels, modules and awards
See MSc Comparative Politics (Research) programme regulations.
Additional information
14. Criteria for admission to the programme
A first or second class honours (2;1, 2;2) degree of a UK university or equivalent in a subject
appropriate to the programme to be followed. Most graduate programmes assume that the
student will have prior knowledge to degree level in particular disciplines. Competition varies
between programmes and the level of grades/marks required will vary. For most programmes
students will need a first or at least an upper second class honours degree or its equivalent.
Students who are taking or have taken a recognised degree programme outside the UK will
need to have obtained, or expect to obtain, at least 70 per cent of the available marks in their
final year examinations. If their country uses the cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA)
system they should have normally obtained, or expect to obtain, a GPA of at least 3.5 (out of
4) or above.
15. Indicators of quality
1.High demand 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 very favourable remarks by external examiners.
4.Student questionnaires plus feedback via staff-student liaison committees.
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
MSc Convenors’ Meeting which raises teaching issues and reviews regulations and
assessment methods. 2 per year.
MSc Student Representatives Meetings. 2 per year.
MSc Student Meetings. 1 per year per programme.
Postgraduate Teaching Review. 5 yearly cycle per programme.
The Teaching and Learning Centre is available to monitor and observe teaching and
offers constructive advice on how to improve the standard of teaching and quality.
Departmental TLAC review once every five years.
The Teaching Learning and Assessment Committee which regulates all aspects of
teaching quality;
The Graduate Studies Sub-Committee which oversees all graduate programmes and
ensures that significant changes to programmes and courses pass through a
sequence of formal stages, so that curricular changes are appropriate and compatible
with other developments.
Course teaching surveys (conducted by TQARO)