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Sarah Neuenschwander

June 28th, 2019

Student life in the Department of International Development


Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Sarah Neuenschwander

June 28th, 2019

Student life in the Department of International Development


Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

From an exciting range of different courses, conferences and events, to a rich variety of students: the Department of International Development has lots to offer! Find out more about the experiences of two of the Department’s current Student Ambassadors.

Question time from the audience at an LSE event, March 2019

Lucy Lu, MSc Development Studies 2018/19

Academic Coursework

For Development Studies, in addition to the two term-long courses DV400 Development: History, Theory and Policy and MY410/DV410 Research Design and Dissertation in International Development, you will have the choice of two units of elective courses. I chose four half unit courses, one in Michaelmas Term, two in Lent Term, and one in both Michaelmas and Lent Term. I enjoyed all of my classes very much both in terms of teaching quality and level of academic rigor. Since I have a variety of interests in development, my coursework reflected this variety. I took two theoretical courses: Gender, Globalization and Development from the Gender Department, and Cities and Urbanization in East Asia from the Geography and Environment Department, as well as two more hands-on practical courses: International Development Consultancy Project and Sexual and Reproductive Health Programmes: Design, Implementation & Evaluation both from our own ID Department. I like the fact that it is quite easy to venture outside our own department and take or audit classes from other departments. I audited a Social Psychology class and another methodology course to learn GIS and STATA. I also took a non-degree Spanish language course, which is offered by the LSE Language Centre.

Special Events 

Besides attending the talks and events offered by the department and LSE in general, I also participated in activities organized by the LSESU International Development Society. They sometimes host exciting events and socials for both postgraduates and undergraduates who are interested in the field of international development.

A perk of being in London is that there are a lot of events and conferences of interest to our sector happening all the time. I have attended events, conferences and public lectures hosted by other universities such as SOAS, UCL, King’s or interesting organizations and think tanks such as the Overseas Development Institute, Hansard Society, and the Senate House.


The ID Department organizes a weekend-long workshop every year for MSc students at Cumberland Lodge. I really enjoyed the weekend trip as we not only had interesting academic workshops around the topic of climate change but it was also a great opportunity to get to know fellow classmates from our programme.

International Development students at Cumberland Lodge, January 2019 (Photo credit: Mikhael Farr)

General Perks of Being at LSE

One of my favourite aspects of being an LSE student is that we have access to one of the largest social science research libraries in the world. For a book worm like me, I love the fact that I can find pretty much any social science book I want in our library. The main collection is quite up to date as well. You can borrow up to 20 books at once from either the course collection or main collection. This is very helpful, especially when you have to write a research-heavy paper.

The spiral ramp in the centre of the LSE Library in the Lionel Robbins Building

Another thing LSE does well is its career service, LSE Careers. I find the career service workshops on job search, visa or resume writing quite helpful for someone unfamiliar with the UK employment landscape. LSE Careers also host a lot of professional networking events such as meet an alum, industry lunches, or coffee mornings. I have met some interesting ID alumni from those events!

Lucy Lu is a Student Ambassador in the Team Mentorship for the International Development Department. Before joining the MSc Development Studies programme, Lucy did an undergraduate degree in the US and spent a year abroad in Florence, Italy.


Natasha Glendening, MSc African Development 2018/19

Doing my Master’s in the International Development Department at LSE was definitely the best decision I could have made. This past year allowed me to learn the most interesting and eye-opening things, gain important new skills within academia and also more generally, and make lifelong friends.

The Friday afternoon lecture series, Cutting Edge Issues in Development Thinking and Practice, was a definite highlight of mine as I got to gain a new insight into the practicalities of development beyond the theory of our classrooms. I particularly enjoyed Rory Stewart, an MP who I had previously met and discussed aid in Africa with, so getting to hear about his experiences in Afghanistan was very captivating, given that his circumstances were slightly different than most. It led to me going out and buying his book because I really wanted to learn more!

Rory Stewart giving a lecture as part of the Cutting Edge Issues in Development Thinking and Practice series (Photo credit: Pedro Ponce)

The school-wide lecture series with guest speakers is always amazing, given the high-profile nature of a lot of speakers and the fact that they’re all prominent in their fields. Having Paul Collier and Amartya Sen on the yearly list was great! However, the International Development Department-run Friday lectures were a great supplement to this because they were already development-orientated in their subject matter. I definitely want to try and attend some next year if I’m still in London!

The consultancy project, a module I took within the department, also allowed me a more practical insight into international development. This was a definite highlight of my year, due to the fact that it was a refreshing break from my theory-intense classes and let me make great friends across lots of different programmes. In the module you are grouped with other students and assigned a real-life international development client – mine was Chatham House – for which you have to research and write a report on a subject matter of the client’s choosing. For example, my group’s topic was about unplanned pregnancy during conflict in the DRC.

It was by far the hardest module I took at LSE, but also one of the best. When I look back on my Master’s in years to come, the consultancy project is definitely going to stand out! It was difficult as it has significantly less formal teaching, and you have to create your own timeline to complete the project across the whole year. I definitely struggled getting to grips with the different style of the module, but overall I’m so proud of my group’s final project and it has helped me gain new skills including client-management!

Another highlight of my year in the department is learning new theories and frameworks of international development. I chose this Master’s to learn more about development and the teaching was great throughout the year.

I really liked how a lot of the courses on offer within the department are all subtly interconnected through shared theories, readings, prominent writers etc. This realisation of the interconnectedness of seemingly diverse areas of this field came late to me in the year. Yet, once I did, I couldn’t stop seeing connections and applications across all of my courses, including amongst my global health and African development courses!

Overall, I’m really glad I chose LSE and the International Development Department to do my Master’s. I’ve made amazing memories with wonderful people and I’ve already planned many trips to visit my new friends all around the world, which incidentally is a great perk of being at LSE! It’s been a year I certainly won’t forget!

Natasha Glendening is a Student Ambassador in the Team Mentorship for the International Development Department. She is currently on the MSc African Development programme. Before this, she studied Politics and International Relations at LSE.


Would you like to get in touch with a current student in the International Development Department? Join the facebook group for ID offer holders or send an email to!

The views expressed in this post are those of the author and in no way reflect those of the International Development LSE blog or the London School of Economics and Political Science. 


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Sarah Neuenschwander

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