Now that I have fully completed my LLM at LSE with the dissertation submitted, I can reflect on how the year went and how hard it really was. I hope this is helpful to anyone starting the programme in September or thinking of applying for next year’s cohort.
While the work during Michaelmas term consisted mostly of reading new material and getting to grips with what was taught in seminars, a whole lot more was added to this in Lent term and Summer term. Lent term is notorious for being full on. I was juggling reading for classes, working on my dissertation proposal, applying to jobs, and starting to think about revision and writing my summative assignments. Needless to say, there was a lot to do.
Obviously, the workload increased again during the Summer term as the assessment period was nearing. If you are considering the LLM at LSE, one thing to note compared to other courses is that the assessment period is not made easy. All assessments are due between May and June – this includes exams and summative essays. This means that there is no assessment from previous terms to rely on. Besides, our summative essays were longer than most other courses with a word count of 8,000 and our exams took place in-person. Realistically, this did lead to burnout, but I was very proud of myself for completing everything and learned a lot in the process.
The dissertation is also due much earlier than most other degrees. This meant that I did not have too much time to relax after exams but in return get to finish my degree nearly a month earlier. It was hard to motivate myself during the summer while writing the dissertation, but the work days were a lot shorter during this time and I was able to explore London alongside the writing process.
Social life and free time
As the workload increased, free time had to take somewhat of a backseat. However, I still made time for small things, such as walks around London or treating myself to a nice drink in a coffee shop, which also doubled as a change of scenery for studying. I also did not work for hours on end every day. Obviously, this depends on your working style, but for me, working consistently for shorter amounts every day did the trick.
Even though on paper, I had so many more assignments than I did in my final year of undergraduate studies at LSE, this year was a lot more enjoyable and manageable for me. COVID-19 restrictions in the previous year had taken a toll on my mental health and thus motivation and overall performance. Due to this, I did not take the regained freedom to study on campus and take exams together with friends in the exam hall for granted. Knowing that it could be so much worse made me appreciate these little things even in stressful situations. Therefore, I really enjoyed my overall experience of the LLM. Getting to know such a diverse set of people and making connections and the demanding academics made me learn a lot in a very short span of time.