Throughout your degree at LSE, you’ll likely have the opportunity to choose optional courses. In addition to your compulsory courses, these optional courses count towards your degree while offering you the flexibility to deepen an existing area of interest or explore beyond what you’re familiar with.
The specific optional courses that are available to you, as well as the number your programme allows you to choose, will vary considerably depending upon your degree. However, there are 5 tips to keep in mind when choosing your optional courses:
1. Begin with the LSE Calendar
The LSE Calendar offers a detailed course guide containing both the compulsory and optional courses that your programme permits you to take. 2021/22 students can access this guide here and updates for 2021/22 and 2022/23 students can be found here. You can also find this on the programme pages. Finding the list relevant to your programme allows you to see every course that you need to take as well as the optional courses that you can choose from.
School Calendar for Undergraduate Programmes starting in 2021/22 academic year
Undergraduate Programme pages – can find details on modules and course structure
Example of course guide for course module ‘PB100: Foundations of Behavioural Science’ for 2021/22 academic year
2. Filter based on the unit value and pre-requisites.
After understanding the full range of optional courses available to you, filter the options based on the unit value your programme permits and the pre-requisites that you meet. At LSE, courses are offered in 1.0 or 0.5 units, also known as Full Units or Half Units. Full Unit courses often run throughout the academic year while Half Unit courses typically run in one term. Depending on whether your programme permits a Full Unit course or a Half Unit course, you can narrow down your options accordingly.
Top image: Example of Full Unit course module. Bottom image: Example of Half Unit course module
Upon filtering your options based on the unit value, you should also consider the pre-requisites that each course requires. While some courses are open to those without previous background, others are restricted to those who have had commensurate academic experience. This information will be specified in the section titled Pre-requisites and is not only something to consider for the courses you wish to take this academic year but also the courses you wish to proceed into in the future.
Example of pre-requisites for course module ‘PB100: Foundations of Behavioural Science’ for 2021/22 academic year
3. Reflect on your interests
Once you have narrowed the range of courses that you can take, you should reflect on your interests and explore the courses that you want to take. There are two approaches to this process of reflection. First, you can consider choosing a course that deepen an existing area of interest that your compulsory courses touch on briefly. Alternatively, you can also consider choosing a course that explores beyond what you’re familiar with. Keep in mind, LSE offers lots of courses spanning a breadth of disciplines!
4. Consider how and when you will be assessed
Assessments differ from course to course, and it would be wise to consider your preferences and aptitudes. Are you strong at end-of-course exams that count towards 100% of your module grade? Or do you instead prefer writing essays that are spread out throughout the course? You may also want to consider the assessment in the context of your other courses: when do the assessment(s) take place? Will this cause considerable stress when taken together with your other assessments? The form of assessment for your prospective course will be specified in the section titled Assessment.
Example of assessment for course module ‘PB100: Foundations of Behavioural Science’ for 2021/22 academic year
5. Strive for a balance between ease and rigour
A discussion of course selection is never complete without considering how well you might do in it. While it may be comforting to choose courses that you know you’ll preform well in with little effort, it is also worthy to recognise the amount you can learn and develop as a result of taking courses that may challenge you. It is a balancing act between ease and rigour that is different for everyone, depending on your priorities and ambitions.
Ultimately, I hope you find these tips to be of help as you navigate through the academic landscape here at LSE!