One of the reasons I wanted to pursue my master’s at LSE was because of the programme’s compelling list of modules. When I started in September, I found out, to my great dismay, that one of the modules that I had my heart set on taking was not on offer for this academic year. Since taking this course was so important to me, my academic mentor said that I could take advantage of the fact that students at LSE can sometimes take modules at other universities part of the University of London. I took his advice and searched for an appropriate module that could work as a substitute, finally finding one that worked with my schedule at University College London (UCL). With my academic mentor’s approval and permission from the Programme Director, I was able to take a class at UCL.
Although I would always recommend trying to find courses you like at LSE first (as this is easier in terms of administration and balancing your schedule), I have found taking a course outside of LSE to be a great experience. Because of this agreement between universities, I was able to study something I am really passionate about. Additionally, in taking a module at UCL, I had to become a registered student there which gave me access to UCL’s facilities, like their libraries. This in particular has come in advantage for when I needed a textbook that LSE didn’t have, but was available at UCL.
Of course, there are difficulties as well, though mostly just at the start. I found that studying for this module was much more individual since it was taught online, so it was initially difficult to create study groups with students who already knew each other. In the beginning when I was setting myself up to take the module, the administrative details were a pain to work out – if you choose to take an intercollegiate course, everything is on you to figure out. Make sure you have all the forms and permissions that are required to do so and that you hand these in before any deadlines for either university. The Student Services Centre can help with this, but if you choose to do something outside of LSE, it’s your responsibility. This also extends to the fact that you need to check that the module you choose fits into your schedule and that you can still attend all of your LSE classes as normal. If at the end exam schedules clash, there are contingency plans for this: you take your LSE exam first, then a proctor will administer your UCL exam. Your academic mentor can go through the details of how this works, and you will need to talk to them anyway if you are seriously considering taking an intercollegiate module.
With these things in mind, you should have a good reason to take a course outside of LSE or it might not be worth it. Try your best to make study buddies in the course with students at the other university. This also widens your student network and hopefully you become friends with some of them. Be aware that taking a module at a different university may mean that assessments and teaching methods are different. Personally, I feel this is a benefit; diverse teaching styles and learning in different environments can only enrich your experience.
Regardless of what you decide is best for yourself, it is an option that students should be aware of. I chose to take an intercollegiate class because it was an area of study that was extremely important to me, and I felt there were no other classes at LSE that could come close to or overlap with this. Having now finished the class, I am glad that I took it. So my advice for students trying to figure out their course load is: make sure you look at all of LSE’s offerings first, and if you decide taking a course outside of LSE is the right choice for you, do your research and ensure you’re taking the course for the right reasons.