With the essay we’d been set over the Christmas break now submitted, I’ve been thinking about the kind of the work we’ve been set over the last few months, us LSE students (I’m finally settling in to being an LSE student!), and I thought it would be good to write a few lines about that because I remember submitting my application about this time last year, and thinking about what kind of “stuff” I’d be expected to do – and how would I fit it all in with work, life, projects, and all the stuff us Londoners do!
Regarding essays, I’ve done three by now: 2 x 1,500 words, and 1 x 2,000 words. These are the most in-depth pieces of work I’ve been asked to do. And this is, remember, for a part-time programme – I “only” do two half-units per term (totalling two units in year one). For me, personally, essay writing itself is not so bad, but it is all the reading and preparation which takes a long time. I’ve found that in those weeks I’ve been writing essays, I have missed out on the reading and content and learning from the course teaching itself i.e. I haven’t done the reading for lectures and seminars. It’s not such a problem because you wouldn’t necessarily do each topic each week in great depth – you have to be selective. I have read somewhere that you should spend about 6-10 hours a week in private study on a half-unit. Hmmm.
The other “big” pieces of work I’ve had to do is seminar presentations. In one seminar I worked with another, and in another seminar I presented a critique of a research paper by myself. I’ve also been selected, as we all have, to give a verbal summing up of the seminar discussion once or twice in the last term. My main point here I think is that a lot more work than expected went into the reading for the presentation. The main point is to be analytical in the presentation, and not just describe what you’ve read or thought. This requires more work, of course.
Smaller pieces of work have been preparing short print-outs of research papers we’ve discussed (I’ve done two of those), and exercises in seminars, where we might be asked about what we’ve come up with or concluded.
I should point out that as a part-time student all my methods courses will be next year, so I’ve not had any computer labs or problem sets etc., or weekly homework to submit. However, I’ve had weekly reading…
Ah, yes, the reading. So much reading! That’s the main work of the course, actually. But as I move into this term, I’m going to have to start thinking about writing short pieces for review and revision, and perhaps even draft answers for exams.
Ah, the idealism at the start of Lent Term is boundless.