Turn on thread page Beta

UCL LSE or Cambridge for for MSc in Social Anthrology and in Social Psychology? watch

    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    7
    ReputationRep:
    (Note to mods: this thread is about UCL vs LSE; the other is about Cambridge vs the two London places. The two threads do not overlap in any way.)

    I'm seeking opinions on how the LSE compares with UCL for the following MSc degrees:

    * Social Anthropology (LSE) vs Social and Cultural Anthropology (UCL)

    * Social and Cultural Psychology (LSE) vs Psychological Sciences (UCL).

    The criteria I'm interested in are academic quality (amount of effort required; depth and breadth of knowledge; teaching skills and energy levels among lecturers and supervisors; amount and breadth of material studied; range of course options; access to library and other resources; general academic environment) and prestige.

    For what it's worth, applications per admission at the LSE in 2016 were 2.7 (Soc Anth) and 5.2 (Soc and Cult Psych). I haven't got figures for UCL but would like to know how they compare. Figures for applications per offer would also be interesting, since many intending students receive offers of MPhil places from more than one institution,.

    Consensus seems to be that the LSE is superior for economics, politics, and law, and UCL is better for history, but so far I've found little to go on for the subjects I'm considering applying for - anthropology and psychology!

    I'm also interested in the age mix on each of the four courses.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    7
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Jeremy T)
    I'm seeking opinions on how the LSE compares with UCL for the following MSc degrees:

    * Social Anthropology (LSE) vs Social and Cultural Anthropology (UCL)

    * Social and Cultural Psychology (LSE) vs Psychological Sciences (UCL).

    The criteria I'm interested in are academic quality (amount of effort required; depth and breadth of knowledge; teaching skills and energy levels among lecturers and supervisors; amount and breadth of material studied; range of course options; access to library and other resources; general academic environment) and prestige.
    (...)
    I'm also interested in the age mix on each of the four courses.
    .
    I'm answering my own question here, at least regarding social anthropology, after reading some more about tthe MSc programmes offered by the LSE and UCL. Hopefully some other people will come in to give some opinions and advice, whether based on their experiences at one or more of these institutions or otherwise!

    At the moment I've considered only range, both of 1) the basic stuff in the anthropology programmes (the four main areas of the subject - politics, economics, religion, and kinship-gender - plus ethnography) and of 2) the more advanced courses in them that one can both study and be examined in. And from this point of view it's seriously looking as though UCL wins.

    UCL has a core part that seems well-balanced and is between the other two in size, and the programme really shines in the breadth of the more advanced material, from which you choose three courses from about 50.

    It's looking like this:

    (anthropology)
    UCL > LSE

    Thoughts? I've only spent a few hours researching and thinking about this. Perhaps I'm talking rubbish?

    Edit: now I've looked some more at the MSc programmes in psychology at the LSE (social and cultural psychology) and UCL (psychological sciences) and would say that from where I'm standing, this time

    (social psychology)
    LSE > UCL

    Reason: a quarter of the UCL MSc is on computer programming, qualitative data analysis, and statistics, and a further sixth is on brain and mind, none of which is up my street.

    So out of UCL and LSE, I'm getting UCL first choice for anthropology and the LSE first choice for social psychology. (And the UCL beats Cambridge for anthropology, while the LSE beats Cambridge for social psychology, but I talk about this in the other thread.) Does this tally with or go against anyone else's thoughts?
    • TSR Support Team
    • Very Important Poster
    • PS Reviewer
    Offline

    20
    ReputationRep:
    TSR Support Team
    Very Important Poster
    PS Reviewer
    (Original post by Jeremy T)
    ...
    It really doesn't matter what anyone else thinks and only you can work out what is important to you. It's obvious that you know what those factors are and are able to compare them so go with what makes sense to you.
    Offline

    8
    ReputationRep:
    I did an anthropology masters at UCL (although not social and cultural). Would highly recommend the department, and from what I saw, the social and cultural course seemed a good balance between theoretical grounding (the core course) and more specialised optional courses from across social, medical, digital and biological anthropology. The department hosts regular seminars and lectures, with some really great speakers. There's a nice atmosphere, and some of the staff are really amazing. For me though, the main selling point of the UCL masters was the fact that you are encouraged to plan and carry out your own fieldwork for your dissertation. Not many other masters seem to offer that, and it was by far the best part for me!

    Happy to answer any other questions you might have.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    7
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by laebae)
    I did an anthropology masters at UCL (although not social and cultural). Would highly recommend the department, and from what I saw, the social and cultural course seemed a good balance between theoretical grounding (the core course) and more specialised optional courses from across social, medical, digital and biological anthropology. The department hosts regular seminars and lectures, with some really great speakers. There's a nice atmosphere, and some of the staff are really amazing. For me though, the main selling point of the UCL masters was the fact that you are encouraged to plan and carry out your own fieldwork for your dissertation. Not many other masters seem to offer that, and it was by far the best part for me!

    Happy to answer any other questions you might have.
    Many thanks for this, laebae. I'd noticed that the big dissertation at UCL forms more of the examinable work (50%) than at the LSE (25%) or Cambridge (40%, plus an essay worth 20% chosen from a set list and done from within a section that's mostly non-examinable).

    Did you have an idea of what you were going to do your dissertation on before you applied? I'm wondering whether they'd be open to pre-application discussion, with a view to a subsequent PhD that I might or might not do at UCL. I'm in an unusual position because a) I have a BA and PhD in unrelated areas of social science (neither anthropology nor psychology) and would be returning to academia after many years away, and b) although I haven't yet decided exactly what I'd do my master's dissertation on, or my second PhD (or even yet whether they'd be in anthropology or social psychology) I plan to draw up a short list and then concretise topics for the master's dissertation and PhD over the coming weeks - subject to later amendments of course, as much good research is - and it's pretty crucial that I find a department that would be helpful.

    (I spoke to UCL about psychology and right from the outset they were surprisingly unhelpful - their psychological sciences MSc is largely a professional rather than an academic programme, but this is of little relevance now I've realised it doesn't meet my needs anyway).
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    7
    ReputationRep:
    (Note to mods: this thread is about Cambridge vs the two London places; the other is not about Cambridge, being about one London place vs the other. The two threads do not overlap in any way.)

    In another thread I am trying to compare UCL with the LSE for the following MSc programmes

    * Social Anthropology (LSE) vs Social and Cultural Anthropology (UCL)
    * Social and Cultural Psychology (LSE) vs Psychological Sciences (UCL).

    While doing so, I've also looked at the nearest equivalent masters' programmes at Cambridge, namely the following MPhils:

    * Psychology and Education (Cam)
    * Social Anthropology (Cam)

    My preliminary conclusions are that the Cambridge programmes are academically inferior to the UCL MSc in Anthropology (Social and Cultural) and the LSE MSc in Psychology (also Social and Cultural). This is unless you are an anthropologist who wants to work in a museum or medicine, or a psychologist who wants to work in "education".

    Cambridge is much cheaper to live in than London, and it's a much cleaner and less hectic city, which are positives.

    "Cambridge" is also a very strong brand, and "UCL" isn't particularly, with "LSE" in the middle, but I don't care about that side of things - I'm only interested in academic strength of masters' programmes, not what jobs the qualifications might be exchanged for on the basis of brandnames.

    As for the college system in Cambridge, personally I detest it, so that's a big negative.

    Is someone willing to argue that the Cambridge programmes match up to or surpass the London offerings (specifically, UCL anthropology and LSE psychology) academically? I'd like to hear an opposing view
    Offline

    10
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Jeremy T)
    As for the college system in Cambridge, personally I detest it, so that's a big negative.
    I agree the college system at Cambridge is vile. It works strongly against the "independence of thought" that the university's brand managers make a lot of in their advertising. Those who defend the college system usually have laughably little independence of thought. That would make for a good comedy skit.

    I think you're probably right that UCL > Cam for social anthropology and LSE > Cam for social psychology, but you should be aware that there are two colleges at Cambridge which are postgrad-only (Clare Hall and Darwin) and don't do some of the things that the ones that admit 18-year-olds get away with, e.g. telling you where to live, keeping a close watch on you, and encouraging you to dinners where there's a high table and everyone wears uniform.
    Offline

    13
    ReputationRep:
    Honestly, I would choose Cambridge over the other two simply because the city is so lovely and would be far less stressful (for me). Also it wouldn’t exactly be a bad thing to say you have a master’s from Cambridge. Also I hate the college thing too, it’s so babyish. But I think the fact that you’re a postgrad and not an incredibly influential undergrad will make that better for you.
    Posted on the TSR App. Download from Apple or Google Play
    • TSR Support Team
    • Very Important Poster
    • PS Reviewer
    Offline

    20
    ReputationRep:
    TSR Support Team
    Very Important Poster
    PS Reviewer
    (Original post by Jeremy T)
    ...
    Hi,

    Please do not keep creating additional threads. You have also been officially warned about this. You are comparing unis just like the other thousands of students who visit this forum and will only end up in one place. That's why we like to keep all relevant discussions by the same person in one place. No amount of 'notes to mods' is going to change that so please stop creating extra work for yourself and us.
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Fizzy98)
    Honestly, I would choose Cambridge over the other two simply because the city is so lovely and would be far less stressful (for me). Also it wouldn’t exactly be a bad thing to say you have a master’s from Cambridge. Also I hate the college thing too, it’s so babyish. But I think the fact that you’re a postgrad and not an incredibly influential undergrad will make that better for you.
    The centre of Cambridge is indeed lovely and maybe two-thirds of its outskirts are nice too, and the city is far more relaxed and, on the whole, more pleasant than London.

    I agree with both Fizzy98 and marers about how detestable the college system is in Cambridge. One day somebody may expose it in all its goriness, falseness and ickiness, and I wish them the best of luck both in getting a publisher and in getting reviews in the newspapers

    But - and to add to what Fizzy98 says - while postgrads at Cambridge do unfortunately have to register with a college, the college isn't supposed to play any academic role at all, unlike with undergrads. They are only supposed to play a light pastoral role, which means a meeting with a "tutor" at the beginning and end of each term, a person who will know little about your subject. You can just talk about anything (holidays, recipes, whatever), so long as he can tick the box, claim his payment, and make a note to which he can refer before you leave when he writes a polished and poiseful reference and files it with his secretary. If you do apply for a PhD place, simply don't quote him as someone who can give you a reference - quote an anthropologist or a psychologist instead, depending on which field you decide on. I don't think that if you're a postgrad the college will try to tell you where to live either. (I'm not 100% certain of that.) That's other than that there's a rule that you must live within so many miles of a churchtower in the centre of Cambridge. So if you were to choose Cambridge, all the "college" rubbish wouldn't be anything near as heavy as it is for undergrads (unless you allowed it to be, which clearly you wouldn't).

    But if Cambridge is inferior to other places academically in particular subjects - which in your two subjects of interest it sounds as though it is - I'd say choose one of the other places.

    A taught master's only takes one year, and living in a lovely city shouldn't be your main criterion. As for being able to say "I went to Cambridge", well, that kind of thing cuts most ice with a) people who were at Cambridge and who loved the college system (do you seriously want respect from such people?) and b) people who don't know anything about Cambridge from personal or even secondhand experience but who know it's a prestigious brand.

    Then there is a third group that overlaps a) but is perhaps not wholly within it. This is the group of senior lecturers at non-Oxford and Cambridge and often non-Russell Group universities who themselves got their PhDs at Cambridge and who sometimes account for a large proportion of the research at universities where little research is done. Often their attitudes towards Cambridge are contradictory. Many will be willing to criticise the college system and some will especially dislike Trinity College. But some - perhaps brand-drunk enough to be jealous of Cambridge contemporaries who got post-PhD jobs at Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, or somewhere in Britain that's higher up the pecking order than where they're now at - will allow colleagues to admire their Cambridge "shine", and the way the word "Cantab" appears on their CVs, which looks good in the section of their department's prospectus which lists "lecturers' research interests". Sometimes these people will look favourably on PhD applicants who got BAs or masters' at Cambridge. Sometimes they will look disfavourably on them because they fear competition for the position of "lord of research". There's a kind of network of lecturers with Cambridge PhDs and it's global, a remnant of empire.

    Personally I say screw all of this, do your master's at the LSE if it's in social psychology, because they're the best academically for that, do it at UCL if it's in anthropology, for the same reason, and if you want to do a PhD afterwards then choose wherever is best for that, and make a brilliant contribution with your research, standing on its own merit as brilliant research, and the hell with brandnames.

    I'm saying go for what you think is best academically.

    This is assuming you can afford to live in London. It isn't just a bit more expensive than Cambridge. Like for like - say, a self-contained one-bedroom flat 20-30 minutes away from where you're studying - it's maybe four times more expensive. For that kind of accommodation in London, and assuming you don't want to stay in a horrible slum in a high-crime area, you will be paying more than you will for the tuition.
    Offline

    10
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by a^n)
    This is assuming you can afford to live in London. It isn't just a bit more expensive than Cambridge. Like for like - say, a self-contained one-bedroom flat 20-30 minutes away from where you're studying - it's maybe four times more expensive. For that kind of accommodation in London, and assuming you don't want to stay in a horrible slum in a high-crime area, you will be paying more than you will for the tuition.
    True. Even the rent for self-contained accommodation provided by London University is very expensive by non-London standards, although it's reasonable by London standards. In Cambridge you can get a nice 2-bedroom self-contained flat 30 minutes from your department, with all rooms off the hall - so the kitchen isn't a part of the living room, and the front door doesn't open straight to the living room - for say £700 per month. I doubt you could find something like that in London for £700 per WEEK. But in London even if you rent accommodation supplied by the University or college (thereby doing yourself the favour of avoiding Rachmanism), or let by one of the various University-approved landlords, there will NEVER be any of the Cambridge undergraduate "college" stuff that at least some Cambridge students have the good taste to detest.

    PS I've heard (secondhand) that UCL (*) and Oxford are Britain's best places academically for social anthropology, in that order, and that the LSE is the country's best academically for social psychology, so you sound as though you're on the right lines.

    (*) The range of advanced masters' anthropology courses at UCL is amazing. They include several that are medical and for some reason a few that are to do with filmmaking, but DOZENS more besides. Does anywhere in the world even come close to UCL on this score?
    Offline

    8
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Jeremy T)
    Did you have an idea of what you were going to do your dissertation on before you applied? I'm wondering whether they'd be open to pre-application discussion, with a view to a subsequent PhD that I might or might not do at UCL. I'm in an unusual position because a) I have a BA and PhD in unrelated areas of social science (neither anthropology nor psychology) and would be returning to academia after many years away, and b) although I haven't yet decided exactly what I'd do my master's dissertation on, or my second PhD (or even yet whether they'd be in anthropology or social psychology) I plan to draw up a short list and then concretise topics for the master's dissertation and PhD over the coming weeks - subject to later amendments of course, as much good research is - and it's pretty crucial that I find a department that would be helpful.
    I sort of had a rough idea, but it developed a lot over the duration of course. If there's a potential supervisor in the department whose work is very relevant to your topic of interest, no harm in getting in touch with them directly I guess. (It's probably worth mentioning that, if you're enrolled on the social course, you are only guaranteed a supervisor from that section of the department - so if you realise your ideal supervisor is, say, a medical anthropologist, it might be worth applying directly to that course instead. I actually switched from social in the second week, partly for this reason).
    Offline

    4
    ReputationRep:
    I don't really agree that UCL is better than Cambridge for Social Anth... Especially at Postrad level, it seems that the UCL professors are pretty overloaded with their own major research projects and are supervising way too many students. Some of the top Anth professors at UCL are supervising 12 postgrad students simultaneously, so you're really not going to get much of their attention or guidance. I had been in touch with potential supervisors at both Cambridge and UCL and the profs at UCL wrote really sloppy responses to my very thoughtful emails, it seemed as though they hadn't even read them properly. Definitely not a good first sign to indicate future engagement as a supervisor. The Cambridge Anth department, on the other hand, have been most engaged, interested and helpful from my very initial contact with them. Most of the top Anth profs at Cambridge only have a few postgrad students at a time, which means the supervision is much more involved. At postgrad level this is one of the most important factors, as lack of guidance and supervisor support leading to even greater feelings of alienation than what many postgrad students already experience is a major reason for them dropping out, especially at PhD level, if you want to continue down that path.
 
 
 
Reply
Submit reply
Turn on thread page Beta
TSR Support Team

We have a brilliant team of more than 60 Support Team members looking after discussions on The Student Room, helping to make it a fun, safe and useful place to hang out.

Updated: February 28, 2018
Poll
Is the Big Bang theory correct?

The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

Write a reply...
Reply
Hide
Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.