FAQs for prospective MSc International Relations applicants

1. Could you please send me information about your MSc IR/MSc IR Research programme?

2. How do I apply online?

You can find information on How to apply and Supporting Documents on the School’s Prospective Student webpages.

Please note that for entry into the programme the GRE or GMAT is not required and you will not need to attend an interview. Decisions are normally made on the basis of the application form, transcripts and references.

3. If I have a query about the application process or my eligibility, can I raise this with the Department instead of the School's Graduate Admissions Office?

No, all such queries are answered by the School's Graduate Admissions Office. For queries about admissions documents, entry requirements or your application, you should contact Graduate Admissions directly. 

4. Does the School or IR Department hold an Open Day for prospective MSc IR/MSc IR Research applicants?

There are no on-campus graduate open days or evenings, but there are many ways to make contact and discover the LSE, for those thinking of applying for graduate study. 

See Meet, Visit and Discover LSE for more details.

5. What qualifications are required for admission to the MSc IR/MSc IR Research?

We normally require an Upper Second class first degree (3.5 GPA) or equivalent in International Relations or a related discipline, eg History or Politics.

We normally require students to meet the ‘Higher’ English language requirements as listed under B. Higher table on the English language requirements page.

6. I would like to apply, but I do not have a strong educational background in IR or a related discipline. Can I nevertheless gain acceptance on the basis of my performance in an unrelated degree programme, relevant work experience, and/or my keen interest in the field?

Unfortunately, there is a disadvantage to applying without a strong educational background. We do sometimes take on a few 'cross over' students in any given year, but the bulk of our students have done well in one of the relevant social science subjects such as International Relations or a related discipline, e.g. History or Politics.

Although relevant work experience is taken into account, your academic background will be considered of most relevance. 

7. I am interested in applying for a PhD after my LSE MSc programme. Where can I find further information?

The Department co-hosts an open day with the LSE Careers team about research opportunities for MSc students within the Department, followed by a Q&A session, each November.

Watch the Virtual Graduate Open Events

You can also check the Department of International Relations PhD FAQ page for information on our MPhil/PhD programme and how to apply.

You can also find further information on the LSE Careers further study webpage. 

If you have any other questions about the PhD programme, please contact our team at ir.research@lse.ac.uk.

8. What is the difference between the MSc IR and MSc IR Research?

The MSc International Relations is an advanced, academic study of the subject. It is suitable if you plan to progress to a career that might have an international focus. The MSc International Relations (Research) is designed as a preparation for research work and includes compulsory methodology courses.

The majority of students will be taking the MSc International Relations programme. They will be required to choose two out of four paper 1 options (Core Theories and Debates, Global Applications, Critical Perspectives, and a Methodology course), two optional papers which can be chosen from a number of subjects, and a compulsory 10,000-word Dissertation.

Students taking the MSc International Relations Research programme will be required choose one of three paper 1 options (Core Theories and Debates, Global Applications, Critical Perspectives), two Methodology courses in Paper 2, and 1.5 optional papers which can be chosen from a number of subjects. They must also complete the compulsory 10,000-word dissertation.

Transfers between the MSc IR and MSc IR Research programmes are only allowed in exceptional circumstances.

Transfers from either of the two versions of the MSc IR to either of the two versions of the MSc International Political Economy (IPE) at the beginning of the session are only allowed in exceptional circumstances.

9. What is the difference between the MSc IR / MSc IR Research and the MSc Political Science (Global Politics)?

Although the two programmes 'MSc in International Relations' and 'MSc in Political Science (Global Politics)' share certain options and are both concerned with world politics, they are distinctive in their approaches and concerns.

The MSc in International Relations is primarily concerned with the theories and paradigms that are central to International Relations as a distinctive discipline, and these are the focus of its core course.

The MSc in Political Science (Global Politics) has 'globalisation' as its central unifying theme. Its core course is focused on arguments about how world politics are shifting from an 'inter-state' to a 'global' framework and it encompasses contributions from Political Science, Development Studies and International Relations.

10. I am invited to give two MSc degree programme choices on the application form. Is it advisable to list the MSc IR and the MSc IR Research programmes separately, as choices 1 and 2, as I am really keen to be considered for the International Relations discipline?

As the compulsory papers for the MSc IR and MSc IR Research differ, and transfer between the two programmes on arrival will not normally be possible, it is advisable to list the two programmes separately as first and second choices.

11. Where can I find information about subjects available to study on the MSc IR/MSc IR Research programme?

You will find a description of each course in the online IR-prefixed Graduate Course Guides.

Watch our MSc IR introductory video

12. Are all courses that are listed in the Graduate Prospectus offered each year?

No. Normally, a few are 'Not Available' due to staff on sabbatical leave or other absences.  You can view the list of updated programme information for more details.

You can read the full list of suspended and withdrawn courses for 2023/24 for reference.

Suspended and withdrawn courses for 2025/26 will be published later in 2024.

13. I want to list MSc IR/MSc IR Research as my second choice. Will this damage my chances of admission?

No. However, it is advisable to address fully why you wish to study IR (albeit as a second choice) in your application statement.

14. I applied last year and was rejected. What is the likelihood of succeeding with a second application?

If you applied last year when the MSc IR/MSc IR Research programme was already full but you have the requisite qualifications, it may be worthwhile re-applying. As to the likelihood of your being accepted, this will depend on the quality and number of other applications.

If you applied last year when the MSc IR/MSc IR Research programme was not full, it is unlikely that you would be successful second time around.

15. I am thinking of applying for the MSc IR and I would like to know more about the content of the core courses.

Details of the core courses for 2023/24 can be found through the link below:

MSc International Relations

Watch our MSc IR introductory video

16. I am thinking of applying for the MSc IR Research and I would like to know more about the content of the core courses

Details of the new core courses for 2023/24 can be found through the link below:

MSc International Relations (Research)

17. I would like to know more about how the IR Department and MSc IR/MSc IR Research programmes operate. Where can I find such information?

Please have a look at our Current Students subsite to get an idea of the department and the student experience.

18. I would like to meet the selector or another member of the academic staff to find out more about the MSc IR/MSc IR Research programme. Can this be arranged?

Given the popularity of the IR Department's taught MSc programmes, we cannot meet prospective applicants.  However, the online Graduate Prospectus, the Financial Support Office website and the IR Department's online FAQs for Prospective Students should address most concerns and enquiries. 

If you have read these sources of information and still have an enquiry, please email the relevant member of Professional Services Staff.

19. What is the deadline for MSc IR/MSc IR Research applicants?

As the programme is extremely popular, it is advisable to apply by early January to gain admission in the following September/October.

20. What are the methods of assessment?

Apart from the 10,000 word Dissertation, the majority of subjects are assessed with a take home assessment, a summative essay or an unseen examination during the Summer Term. However, a number of courses make use of mixed modes of assessment and require an assessed essay along with a final examination. There are also some courses that are assessed solely on the basis of an assessed essay.  

Please see the relevant IR graduate course guides.

21. Am I required to be here after the exams and take-home assessments finish?

Your 10,000-word dissertation has to be submitted in August. Once your exams and take-home assessments have finished you are not required to stay in London as you can upload your dissertation electronically by the deadline.

However, please note that if you plan to take the Graduate Route which is a new visa which will allow international graduates to stay in the UK to work upon completion of your studies, please consult the LSE immigration advice website to ensure you meet residency and other requirements.

22. What is the difference between a half unit and a full unit course?

A half unit runs either in Autumn Term or Winter Term.  A full unit course runs through Autumn and Winter Terms. Two half units may be taken in place of one full unit.

23. How much are the tuition fees?

Please see the Fees and Funding sections of the following programme pages:

MSc International Relations
MSc International Relations (Research)



24. Are there any scholarships available for those applying for the MSc IR?

Please see School's Financial Support Office for details.

25. Can I apply to take the MSc IR/MSc IR Research part-time? If so, how long does it take and are lectures and seminars held in the evenings?

We have a small number of part-time places in any given year. The part-time programme takes two years.

Lectures and seminars are normally held during office hours. However, as a part-time student, we would certainly be sensitive to your timetabling needs and, where a choice of seminar groups exists, we would allocate you to one that was most convenient to you.

Unfortunately the Sessional Timetable is not normally finalised until a few weeks before the start of the session, so we are unable to answer questions about the likely spread of teaching over the academic year before you make an application.

26. What is the difference between the MSc IR/MSc IR Research and the MPhil/PhD?

The MPhil/PhD is a research degree programme leading either to the MPhil or PhD. All our research students register initially for the MPhil but the vast majority are upgraded to the PhD. Occasionally, a student applies for the MPhil with no intention of going on to the PhD. Applicants to our MPhil/PhD research programme are normally expected to have an MSc qualification in IR or a related discipline. Please see our Information for prospective MPhil/PhD International Relations applicants for further information about applying for the MPhil/PhD.

The MSc IR/MSc IR Research, by contrast, is a 12-month taught postgraduate degree course. Those wishing to go on to take a research degree after the MSc may find it useful to take the MSc IR Research programme rather than the MSc IR programme as the former includes a component of research training.

27. How do I apply for the MSc IR/PhD programmes so as to be considered for Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funding?

Please see the ESRC website and the LSE's Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) studentships webpage.

If you wish to be considered for ESRC 1+3 funding, please check the application deadline listed on Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) studentships which is usually in early January.

Interviews for ESRC funding will take place between 21 February and 1st March 2022. If you have not received an interview request by then, your application was unsuccessful.

28. If I am rejected for the MSc IR/MSc IR Research but am accepted for my second choice, will I be able to transfer to the MSc IR/MSc IR Research on arrival at the School?

You would be most unwise to accept a second choice offer in the expectation of switching as this will NOT normally be possible. You also should not accept an offer for the MSc IR or MSc IR Research in the expectation of being allowed to switch programmes within the IR department.

29. Is it possible to defer an offer of a place on the MSc IR/MSc IR Research to the following year?

LSE has taken the decision not to allow deferrals from one academic year to the next. 

See "How Do I..." for full details.

30. If my application is unsuccessful but I would like to reapply next year, how can I get feedback on why I was not accepted?

If your academic background or first degree grades/predicted grades do not reach the standard noted in the FAQs above, this will undoubtedly form part if not all of the explanation for your rejection.

We also have to turn away good candidates due to the popularity of the MSc IR programme, so you may fall into this category. Unfortunately, competition is fierce and detailed feedback is not possible.