Academic study is the main impetus for arrival of new students at the London School of Economics, and, at least for me, it’s the part of postgraduate life about which I was most worried. I am a student returning to university study in an education system with which I have no experience; it’s not the easiest environment in which I chose to put myself. Happily, though, I share that I’ve transitioned successfully and feel increasingly comfortable each day with my role as a student.
The courses in which I am enrolled for Michaelmas Term 2015 are as follows:
- GY404: Topics in Local Economic Development (0.5 unit)
- GY409: Globalisation and Territorial Development (0.5 units)
- GY410: Economics of Local and Regional Development (0.5 units)
- GY428: Applied Quantitative Methods (0.5 units)
“GY” is the code for courses in the Department of Geography and Environment, and the 400-level is for postgraduate modules at the LSE. GY404 is the only full year course for which I am registered; GY409, GY410, and GY428 are all one term in length.
A total of four units are needed for successful completion of my Master of Science degree program. I’m in 1.75 units of courses this Michaelmas Term and will have 1.25 units in the spring. The remaining one unit needed for graduation will be obtained through completion of my dissertation; this is a 10,000 word project that will be written over the summer months.
An additional titbit of information: students, at least in my program of study, are not allowed to enrol in more than 4 units. This topic is something about which I anxiously inquired during the first appointment with my academic advisor. As Dr Neil Lee sensibly said, there are many courses at LSE that he’d like to take (even after receiving his doctoral degree from this institution), but you must prioritize and actively engage and excel with the material of your key undertakings. So my attempt to “overload,” in American academic terms, was not successful. I guess that’s okay!
One beneficial aspect of registration at the London School of Economics is that you’re allowed an approximately two week period following the commencement of the term to finalize course selection. If you’re like me and intrigued by the majority of offerings throughout the university (the Department of Geography and Environment and beyond), these two weeks provide the opportunity to truly find the best fit.
I ultimately decided upon the most common course scheme for Local Economic Development degree students because, as you may glean, gaining better comprehension of this topic was my main motivation for enrolment and return to academia. And going back to Dr Lee’s advice: PRIORITISE!
Something by which I was surprised is having class five days a week. I have between 1.5 and 5 hours of class Monday through Friday and a total of 14.5 hours of academic class each week. All of my courses are divided into lecture and seminar components. We’ll have one session in the week dedicated solely to lecture (usually around two hours in duration) and a shorter seminar session. Learning activities in which we participate during seminars include small group discussions and, my favourite, debates. It’s always fun to see the effort and creativity a team puts into their debate presentation, and I really enjoy these engaged and interactive forms of learning – one professor even brings a prize for the winning side!
Here’s a breakdown of the calendar for the current academic year at LSE:
- Michaelmas Term: Thursday 24 September to Friday 11 December (11 weeks)
- Lent Term: Monday 11 January – Thursday 24 March (11 weeks)
- Summer Term: Monday 25 April – Friday 10 June (7 weeks)
Reading weeks are also components of Michaelmas and Lent terms. I’m thankful that this upcoming week (Mon., 2 Nov. through Fri., 6 Nov.) is the Michaelmas Term Reading Week; it’ll allow me the opportunity to become even more organized and familiar with the material we’ve been studying. Reading Week is, from my perspective, a moment to breathe and actively make sure that you’re proceeding successfully and confidently with the courses in which you’re enrolled. Each article or book chapter with which I engage instigates the formation of new ideas and questions in my head, and I’ll ideally have more time over the next five days to actively indulge these queries.
So, as we’ve concluded, I’ve settled comfortably into my life as a student at the London School of Economics. I’ll easily admit that some worry still does exist about one key issue: the ever-looming end-of-the-year examinations. I’ve been active, though, in attempts to remedy and reduce these slightly restless feelings. Professors during their office hours have kindly (and patiently) responded to my inquiries as to effective methods to study for such tests and, as well, I have approached the Teaching & Learning Centre to take advantage of their advising services. I’ll proceed with the belief that my conquering of the examinations will be similar to adjusting to life at the LSE and, overall, an absolute success! Study, study, study!