Workload at LSE for General Course Students
Before leaving the U.S., I asked two people from my school who studied at LSE about the workload and I got two very different opinions. After a few weeks at LSE, I’m able to understand from experience that as a General Course student, you can make your studies very manageable or extremely intellectually challenging.
One way to have a relatively easy year is to choose only 1st and 2nd year courses. Personally, my 2nd year courses are very manageable compare to even intro-level courses at Davidson College (my school in the U.S.). The quantitative courses are not so quantitative, the qualitative ones though, are very reading intensive. The reading list is long, normally 6 -7 “essential” articles/chapters plus 5-7 “background” readings. The good point is the only graded work will be the final exam, and an entire summer term before the exam will be dedicated to revision. There might be a few formative assessments through the year, such as one essay and a presentation. In the case of General Course students, these assessments would be counted toward participation score, which make up 50% of the final grade, with final exam score taking up the other 50%. Even so, the workload is very manageable compare to at Davidson with weekly blogs, several essays, presentations, plus midterm and final exams all squished into a 3-month period.
If you prefer to stay busy with work, then take a 3rd year course. Most of these courses are comparable to what’s taught at post-graduate level in the U.S. While the workload is still not unreasonable, it’s difficult for General Course students because the first two colleges years are very interdisciplinary for a lot of us, whereas in the UK students specialize in one subject from the first day of university. For this reason, a lot of us will end up spending most time self-learning materials already mastered by local students.
For anyone thinking to study abroad at LSE, it’s important to know what you want your experience to look like and structure your courseload around that. I decided to take the difficult courses and while I’m learning a lot, I also had to spend a lot of time in the library instead of traveling around Europe. All in all, LSE offers many great resources one should take advantage of besides classes, and London has so many places worth exploring, so it all depends on what you want your study abroad experience to be like.