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    I'm in my second year at LCC doing journalism. I know this isn't 'relevant' but I'm working as the Politics and Current Affairs editor for a high profile online magazine, and have written as much about politics as possible, as before wanting to do the IR degree it was my primary ambition.

    I've been pretty pro-active since college, I was my NUS president of City of Bristol College (in the top five for size, students, premises, revenue, etc.), I then did an internship with their marketing dept. which turned into a paid temp job, then I moved to London and did a few PR/writing internships, then started uni, curated an event for the London Literature Festival, interviewed people like Benjamin Zephaniah and Shami Chakrabarti, did a course in radio broadcasting and about 7 months ago started working in the Better Regulation Exec (cross governmental regulation reform body in Whitehall)

    That's all done, but I really need advice on what to do from here.

    I'm volunteering for a month in Thailand from March to April, and then in summer I was going to do (www.myplatform2.co.uk) and volunteer for two and a half months, or work for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and do LSE summer schools in Development Economics and one of the International Relations subjects.

    Then I'd probably do more work in the FCO next easter holidays, and Summer would be decided later.

    Once my degree's done should I apply if I have a first? Should I intern at an NGO? Or look for a job at the FCO/Whitehall in general?

    Also would there be any international alternatives I should look at? I know King's in LDN, but I kind of want LSE or nothing! (greedy I know)

    I'd just like some informed opinions about my chances, I presume I'm in a relatively favourable position, but I know it's one of the toughest degree programs in the world, so I'm going against the best of the best.

    Thanks for your help in advance

    Your work experience does appear to make you a competitive candidate, it all depends on how you translate this into your Personal Statement (which is weighed heavily on) and try to contextualize it in a more focused field of IR. The Thailand volunteering would appear a plus if you have shown and done some reading around Development or S.E. Asia as a general focus area in the field of IR. If you're concerned with having a more obvious linkage to IR in your work experience, from my year most of the CVs were NGO-heavy or non-profit heavy. If you could get an internship at the FCO, great, but NGO work would no doubt suffice.

    The LSE courses are quite theoretical and they do hold a high premium on pre-existing academic knowledge (hence their October Test for all offer takers). Work experience and outside interest can only get you so far. If you haven't already, I'd get a general book on IR and acquaint myself with some basic theory Realism/Liberalism/Constructivism and see if there is any thing that particularly grabs you that you can focus on in your personal statements. I switched disciplines as well from European Studies/Comparative Politics and incorporated my work experience through the lens of power-projections, observations on how it made me think of the field more, etc.

    As for alternative courses, I have heard good things about the degrees offered at UCL's MA in International Public Policy and there is a new MA on Security Studies. If you've got your heart sent on LSE and are a little intimidated by the quality of applicants. For a second choice you could put MSc International Relations Theory. They just started the programme last year and their core course is more organized with higher student satisfaction than the MSc IR core course. Also their acceptance rate is higher. Though do take a look at a general IR text book beforehand so you could situate yourself effectively in the discipline to show you are interested.

    You can get in with 2.1s, it's their standard offer. I got in and at my time of application I looked like a solid 2.1 rather than a first (I acquired that after they asked for a 2.1). By all means shoot for a first but a good personal statement, references, and the CV could cover some academic ills.
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