UCL vs LSE (for Gender and in general)

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pennyswitch
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Hi! Just looking for some advice as I have received unconditional offers from LSE in MSc Gender and from UCL in MA Gender, Society and Representation and I am really struggling to choose between them. I waited about 2 weeks for LSE's offer and nearly 12 for UCL's.

I will be looking more in depth at the courses themselves because I know overall that is what is important, but I struggle to choose between the inter-faculty/interdisciplinary perk of the UCL course vs the specialism of the LSE course.

I really go back and forth in terms of their reputations, league table placement and employment prospects. UCL tends to come out higher in league tables but I believe LSE is higher in terms of gender (since they only offer social sciences that obviously comes into play). I have read so many conflicting posts about whether one is better than the other. Does either offer better student support, employment, reputation etc?

UCL is £11,170 for the year, LSE is £14,640 which is definitely a difference to consider. Accommodation is not such a worry as I have someone I can live with in London should halls be too expensive etc.

It's a particularly difficult decision to make as I can't visit either campus to get a feel for the university or department. I have applied for universities before during my undergrad based on reputation alone and when I was able to visit I immediately knew they weren't for me, so it's difficult being in this position. I know it's only one year and the work load will be intense either way, plus the social side tends to be impacted at London unis anyway so I'm not as much concerned about the social side. I am however interested in what the atmosphere is like? Are the students and staff friendly, which uni has a nicer campus with good facilities such as the library etc? Where are the lecturers better and more helpful? Basically I know it's hard to tell just from my post without knowing me, but does anyone have any personal experience in either uni/degree which would help me decide which one is better for me?

Overall I'm really confused and back and forth, I'm worried about turning down LSE due to their reputation and everyone I have spoken to has hyped them up and made me feel like I'd be silly to turn them down? They have been friendly and helpful when I contacted them, but I do worry the atmosphere isn't as nice as UCL or the course isn't as interdisciplinary?

Sorry for the rant and thank you very much in advance for any advice you can offer about postgrad study or general experiences!
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Kaylee Frye
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Hello! I'm currently doing the MSc Gender at LSE, so happy to answer whatever questions I can

Unfortunately I can't help in how it relates to the UCL course, as I never really considered that one. The reason I chose LSE is because of its reputation for excellence, the financial aid they offer, and because I liked so many of the Gender department's courses (you can find an overview and description of each in the course calendar).

As for the feel of the place, I'd say that studying Gender at LSE is very different from studying most other courses there. Gender tends to have a very tightly-knit community, and the learning culture is less competitive and more about communal learning than at the rest of LSE. I don't like our campus much; it feels a bit 'corporate', and I tend to just go to my lectures and seminars, then study either in my room or at Senate House (the UL library) - but that's personal taste, of course. The library is really well stocked, and if there's anything else you might need the staff is very good at getting it for you, plus you can access other UL libraries with very little hassle. Social life within Gender is typically really good, and while I'm not a part of any societies or do any sports at LSE, I have an amazing group of friends and I live in the West End, so I'm never bored! LSE has a great program of public lectures and events as well, plus Gender does a good job of keeping us informed about what's happening at other institutions. The department staff is very friendly and approachable; we're on a first-name basis with all our professors, and they do weekly 'drop in' sessions so you can discuss your work or ask questions (or just have a chat!).

As for the question about interdisciplinary studies, I was worried about that too; I studied English before this, so I was afraid I was going to be very out of my depth, or that everything would be so social-science-y as to no longer be of interest to me. I'm happy to say that that's not the case; LSE is a social sciences university, and Gender does offer you a bit of crash course in big theories and approaches within the social sciences - but the courses they offer are very diverse, and they range from policy-related stuff and peacekeeping to culture and media. You can also choose to do courses from other LSE departments (some of my friends do courses from the Media and Communications department, for example), or even from other colleges within the UL; I was in talks with UCL at one point to do a course with them, but in the end I decided I liked LSE's offerings too much to go elsewhere. I'd also say that, despite the title of 'Gender', that isn't the only thing you can study; the courses are really about inequality more generally. Depending on what courses you choose, there's definitely a lot of opportunity to study your own interests; I think I've written about literature in almost all of my summatives so far, which goes to show that Gender is good at providing you with a 'toolkit' of theories and approaches, and they encourage you to then apply that to your own field of interest.

At the end of the day, I'd say that between UCL and LSE there probably isn't a wrong choice; they're both fantastic universities, and I'm sure you'll have a great time wherever you go! If there's anything else I can help with feel free to ask!
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momomo88
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(Original post by Kaylee Frye)
Hello! I'm currently doing the MSc Gender at LSE, so happy to answer whatever questions I can

Unfortunately I can't help in how it relates to the UCL course, as I never really considered that one. The reason I chose LSE is because of its reputation for excellence, the financial aid they offer, and because I liked so many of the Gender department's courses (you can find an overview and description of each in the course calendar).

As for the feel of the place, I'd say that studying Gender at LSE is very different from studying most other courses there. Gender tends to have a very tightly-knit community, and the learning culture is less competitive and more about communal learning than at the rest of LSE. I don't like our campus much; it feels a bit 'corporate', and I tend to just go to my lectures and seminars, then study either in my room or at Senate House (the UL library) - but that's personal taste, of course. The library is really well stocked, and if there's anything else you might need the staff is very good at getting it for you, plus you can access other UL libraries with very little hassle. Social life within Gender is typically really good, and while I'm not a part of any societies or do any sports at LSE, I have an amazing group of friends and I live in the West End, so I'm never bored! LSE has a great program of public lectures and events as well, plus Gender does a good job of keeping us informed about what's happening at other institutions. The department staff is very friendly and approachable; we're on a first-name basis with all our professors, and they do weekly 'drop in' sessions so you can discuss your work or ask questions (or just have a chat!).

As for the question about interdisciplinary studies, I was worried about that too; I studied English before this, so I was afraid I was going to be very out of my depth, or that everything would be so social-science-y as to no longer be of interest to me. I'm happy to say that that's not the case; LSE is a social sciences university, and Gender does offer you a bit of crash course in big theories and approaches within the social sciences - but the courses they offer are very diverse, and they range from policy-related stuff and peacekeeping to culture and media. You can also choose to do courses from other LSE departments (some of my friends do courses from the Media and Communications department, for example), or even from other colleges within the UL; I was in talks with UCL at one point to do a course with them, but in the end I decided I liked LSE's offerings too much to go elsewhere. I'd also say that, despite the title of 'Gender', that isn't the only thing you can study; the courses are really about inequality more generally. Depending on what courses you choose, there's definitely a lot of opportunity to study your own interests; I think I've written about literature in almost all of my summatives so far, which goes to show that Gender is good at providing you with a 'toolkit' of theories and approaches, and they encourage you to then apply that to your own field of interest.

At the end of the day, I'd say that between UCL and LSE there probably isn't a wrong choice; they're both fantastic universities, and I'm sure you'll have a great time wherever you go! If there's anything else I can help with feel free to ask!
I am planning to accept my offer for MSc Gender, Development and Globalisation at LSE and that was a really helpful overview! I have a few more questions which I hope you don't mind answering?

- How are you finding the online teaching? Fingers crossed we will be able to do face to face classes from September, but I wanted to get a sense of how the department is coping with the current situation?

- Agree that LSE looks a bit corporate! Which building do the lectures and seminars take place?

- Which is the best UL library for gender literature? Also what floor can you find the gender books in the LSE library (silly question I know but I'm not a fan of heights and the library looks a bit daunting!).

- Do you have any recommendations for which modules students find most interesting?

- What are you planning to do after your MSc?

Thank you!
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Kaylee Frye
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(Original post by momomo88)
I am planning to accept my offer for MSc Gender, Development and Globalisation at LSE and that was a really helpful overview! I have a few more questions which I hope you don't mind answering?

- How are you finding the online teaching? Fingers crossed we will be able to do face to face classes from September, but I wanted to get a sense of how the department is coping with the current situation?

- Agree that LSE looks a bit corporate! Which building do the lectures and seminars take place?

- Which is the best UL library for gender literature? Also what floor can you find the gender books in the LSE library (silly question I know but I'm not a fan of heights and the library looks a bit daunting!).

- Do you have any recommendations for which modules students find most interesting?

- What are you planning to do after your MSc?

Thank you!
Hi! Not at all, happy to help - and congratulations on your offer!

- Online teaching has been okay, overall. All lectures were recorded, so there was little difference there. Seminars have been a bit mixed; one of my professors gave us worksheets and asked us to post responses (and feedback to others' responses) by a certain deadline - which was okay, but I did miss getting the professor's input and feedback. Another professor chose to do 'live' online seminars, where she was online and monitoring discussions, responding to questions and prompting us in new directions - a system that I personally preferred. Overall I think they've done a good job with the limited time they had, and I expect that if the situation continues, there'll be a more uniform approach to online teaching across the department by Michaelmas.

- Where you're being taught depends on your courses - mine have mostly been in Lincoln's Inn (a nice but confusing building - just outside Lincoln's Inn Fields, so nice to walk to) and Centre Building (it's okay; very new and lots of study space, but I don't like their coffee!).

- Definitely the LSE library - there's really a lot available, and LSE hosts the Women's library as well, so if you're into archival work it's an incredible resource. The reason why I'm at Senate House a lot is because my own research is literature-related, and LSE obviously doesn't have resources on that. I'm not actually sure where most gender books are, but don't be daunted by that weird staircase - the books are located far away from it, and you can't see down it when you're studying or in the stacks! Depending on what courses you take, you also might not need the library much; several of my friends have never set foot inside it, as the department is great at making required reading available online, and LSE subscribes to loads of databases. I'm really the exception rather than the rule by going to other libraries; everything you (normally) need is available at LSE.

- That really depends! I don't want to give names, in case my professors google themselves, but I personally really loved the postcoloniality and development course (life-changing might be an exaggeration, but only a slight one), and the media course was a lot of fun, and more 'lighthearted' than some others. I'm a big fan of theory, but I've noticed that some of my friends on the GDG programme aren't, so you might have very different favourites!

- I'm hoping to do a PhD in English I decided to study Gender because my research would focus on feminist literature and I felt I had a bit of a knowledge gap there, and I wanted to gain some research skills in the social sciences - both of which I definitely got out of my degree. I have an offer from Oxford, but no word on funding yet, so I might have to reapply, but I definitely hope to stay in academia. As an LSE student you'll have access to a really great career centre, and Gender students tend to do very well usually; I actually got headhunted via LinkedIn today, so even though I said no, it gave me confidence that if I do enter the job market, I'll have options!

Hope that helps, and if there's anything else I'm happy to help!
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momomo88
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(Original post by Kaylee Frye)
Hi! Not at all, happy to help - and congratulations on your offer!

- Online teaching has been okay, overall. All lectures were recorded, so there was little difference there. Seminars have been a bit mixed; one of my professors gave us worksheets and asked us to post responses (and feedback to others' responses) by a certain deadline - which was okay, but I did miss getting the professor's input and feedback. Another professor chose to do 'live' online seminars, where she was online and monitoring discussions, responding to questions and prompting us in new directions - a system that I personally preferred. Overall I think they've done a good job with the limited time they had, and I expect that if the situation continues, there'll be a more uniform approach to online teaching across the department by Michaelmas.

- Where you're being taught depends on your courses - mine have mostly been in Lincoln's Inn (a nice but confusing building - just outside Lincoln's Inn Fields, so nice to walk to) and Centre Building (it's okay; very new and lots of study space, but I don't like their coffee!).

- Definitely the LSE library - there's really a lot available, and LSE hosts the Women's library as well, so if you're into archival work it's an incredible resource. The reason why I'm at Senate House a lot is because my own research is literature-related, and LSE obviously doesn't have resources on that. I'm not actually sure where most gender books are, but don't be daunted by that weird staircase - the books are located far away from it, and you can't see down it when you're studying or in the stacks! Depending on what courses you take, you also might not need the library much; several of my friends have never set foot inside it, as the department is great at making required reading available online, and LSE subscribes to loads of databases. I'm really the exception rather than the rule by going to other libraries; everything you (normally) need is available at LSE.

- That really depends! I don't want to give names, in case my professors google themselves, but I personally really loved the postcoloniality and development course (life-changing might be an exaggeration, but only a slight one), and the media course was a lot of fun, and more 'lighthearted' than some others. I'm a big fan of theory, but I've noticed that some of my friends on the GDG programme aren't, so you might have very different favourites!

- I'm hoping to do a PhD in English I decided to study Gender because my research would focus on feminist literature and I felt I had a bit of a knowledge gap there, and I wanted to gain some research skills in the social sciences - both of which I definitely got out of my degree. I have an offer from Oxford, but no word on funding yet, so I might have to reapply, but I definitely hope to stay in academia. As an LSE student you'll have access to a really great career centre, and Gender students tend to do very well usually; I actually got headhunted via LinkedIn today, so even though I said no, it gave me confidence that if I do enter the job market, I'll have options!

Hope that helps, and if there's anything else I'm happy to help!
Thank you for all of the information - so helpful! I'm really looking forward to starting and great to know that online teaching has been working well.

Congratulations on your offer from Oxford and fingers crossed for funding!
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pennyswitch
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(Original post by Kaylee Frye)
Hello! I'm currently doing the MSc Gender at LSE, so happy to answer whatever questions I can

Unfortunately I can't help in how it relates to the UCL course, as I never really considered that one. The reason I chose LSE is because of its reputation for excellence, the financial aid they offer, and because I liked so many of the Gender department's courses (you can find an overview and description of each in the course calendar).

As for the feel of the place, I'd say that studying Gender at LSE is very different from studying most other courses there. Gender tends to have a very tightly-knit community, and the learning culture is less competitive and more about communal learning than at the rest of LSE. I don't like our campus much; it feels a bit 'corporate', and I tend to just go to my lectures and seminars, then study either in my room or at Senate House (the UL library) - but that's personal taste, of course. The library is really well stocked, and if there's anything else you might need the staff is very good at getting it for you, plus you can access other UL libraries with very little hassle. Social life within Gender is typically really good, and while I'm not a part of any societies or do any sports at LSE, I have an amazing group of friends and I live in the West End, so I'm never bored! LSE has a great program of public lectures and events as well, plus Gender does a good job of keeping us informed about what's happening at other institutions. The department staff is very friendly and approachable; we're on a first-name basis with all our professors, and they do weekly 'drop in' sessions so you can discuss your work or ask questions (or just have a chat!).

As for the question about interdisciplinary studies, I was worried about that too; I studied English before this, so I was afraid I was going to be very out of my depth, or that everything would be so social-science-y as to no longer be of interest to me. I'm happy to say that that's not the case; LSE is a social sciences university, and Gender does offer you a bit of crash course in big theories and approaches within the social sciences - but the courses they offer are very diverse, and they range from policy-related stuff and peacekeeping to culture and media. You can also choose to do courses from other LSE departments (some of my friends do courses from the Media and Communications department, for example), or even from other colleges within the UL; I was in talks with UCL at one point to do a course with them, but in the end I decided I liked LSE's offerings too much to go elsewhere. I'd also say that, despite the title of 'Gender', that isn't the only thing you can study; the courses are really about inequality more generally. Depending on what courses you choose, there's definitely a lot of opportunity to study your own interests; I think I've written about literature in almost all of my summatives so far, which goes to show that Gender is good at providing you with a 'toolkit' of theories and approaches, and they encourage you to then apply that to your own field of interest.

At the end of the day, I'd say that between UCL and LSE there probably isn't a wrong choice; they're both fantastic universities, and I'm sure you'll have a great time wherever you go! If there's anything else I can help with feel free to ask!
Hi! Thank you so much for taking time out to reply, it was really helpful to hear from someone directly who is actually doing the course and I really appreciate all the info

That's really reassuring to hear the gender department is friendly and helpful, that was definitely one of my reservations as I was hearing that LSE has a bit of a reputation for being quite a stressful place in terms of academics and competitiveness, and mixed things about student satisfaction (although I've read that about UCL too!)

I also did a BA for my undergrad so I was definitely worried about the MSc aspect and the social science focus so it's also reassuring to hear that it isn't too overwhelming. I think I'm more used to learning about gender in more abstract/arty ways for lack of a better term!

I know from visiting unis for my undergrad that London universities to tend to feel a bit less 'homey' in a sense, but did you find the atmosphere of the uni in general positive? And the uni in general organised? From what you said about the lecturers they sound helpful and friendly which is great, did you find them good at teaching? I know LSE on the whole has a reputation for good teaching especially for finance related degrees, but I think I was a bit nervous that the degree would either have too much of a science focus (and possibly try and link gender mostly to social science) or if the degree was outside that specialism the teaching wouldn't be as strong. You mentioned going on to further study and being head hunted which is amazing! Did you find the support for employment and opportunities have been strong? I know both unis are good names, but I think I'm afraid of turning LSE down if it might lead to better employment opportunities!

I know it's a fairly expensive course too for the year, did you find them helpful with regards to funding and possible help with living expenses etc?

If you don't mind me asking random specific questions, I wondered how big the class sizes are? And is it mostly lecture based or equal seminars? And did you find it overall more coursework based or written exams? Of course I'm sure that depends on the modules too!

Thank you again for taking time to answer all these questions when you must be really busy, and for the reassurance, and I'm sure you're right about both universities being a good choice!
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Kaylee Frye
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(Original post by pennyswitch)
Hi! Thank you so much for taking time out to reply, it was really helpful to hear from someone directly who is actually doing the course and I really appreciate all the info

That's really reassuring to hear the gender department is friendly and helpful, that was definitely one of my reservations as I was hearing that LSE has a bit of a reputation for being quite a stressful place in terms of academics and competitiveness, and mixed things about student satisfaction (although I've read that about UCL too!)

I also did a BA for my undergrad so I was definitely worried about the MSc aspect and the social science focus so it's also reassuring to hear that it isn't too overwhelming. I think I'm more used to learning about gender in more abstract/arty ways for lack of a better term!

I know from visiting unis for my undergrad that London universities to tend to feel a bit less 'homey' in a sense, but did you find the atmosphere of the uni in general positive? And the uni in general organised? From what you said about the lecturers they sound helpful and friendly which is great, did you find them good at teaching? I know LSE on the whole has a reputation for good teaching especially for finance related degrees, but I think I was a bit nervous that the degree would either have too much of a science focus (and possibly try and link gender mostly to social science) or if the degree was outside that specialism the teaching wouldn't be as strong. You mentioned going on to further study and being head hunted which is amazing! Did you find the support for employment and opportunities have been strong? I know both unis are good names, but I think I'm afraid of turning LSE down if it might lead to better employment opportunities!

I know it's a fairly expensive course too for the year, did you find them helpful with regards to funding and possible help with living expenses etc?

If you don't mind me asking random specific questions, I wondered how big the class sizes are? And is it mostly lecture based or equal seminars? And did you find it overall more coursework based or written exams? Of course I'm sure that depends on the modules too!

Thank you again for taking time to answer all these questions when you must be really busy, and for the reassurance, and I'm sure you're right about both universities being a good choice!

Hi! No worries at all - I’m honestly thrilled to have an excuse not to work!

I definitely think LSE Gender >>> LSE in general; the department is very inclusive, friendly, and helpful, and it shows in the fact that they really manage to create a community, which is something I wasn’t even expecting to get from a one-year course.

I was worried about the same things as you seem to be, and I’ll admit that in the first few weeks, I felt a little overwhelmed; the course attracts some real heavyweights (there are rights campaigners, lawyers, and business leaders in my cohort!), and then there was me, having done a bit of feminist literature at undergrad. But I found that by simply doing the work and turning up for all my lectures and seminars, I soon enough caught up, and by the time assessments came around I was doing fine. I think just about everyone I know in my year has a BA, so don’t be put off by that - but I’ll also say that, at the end of the day, it is a social sciences university. If you’re worried that studying society and its many aspects won’t be of interest to you, it might not be the best programme - but I’ve personally found ample opportunity to use what I’ve been taught and apply it to my own interests. We study authors and academics from very many disciplines, and this is reflected in the professors and cohort as well; we’re all interested in vastly different things, but we’re all of the opinion that studying gender, as an organising principle of society, is worthwhile.

As for the campus atmosphere - that’s a bit tricky. I can’t really judge ‘the LSE experience’ the SU boasts off, as that’s just not really my scene, but I don't particularly like our campus, and I haven't felt inclines to join in on many aspects of uni life. I can’t say I’ve had any real negative experiences in regards to campus life either, other than bad and overpriced coffee (a CRIME). I think that, like all London unis, it’s probably best suited to people who want to live in and experience London - though it has an active Student Union too, and given by how many LSE hoodies I see around, it definitely inspires a kind of university pride in many!

Lectures: I’d say that they tend to be both really helpful and pretty much obligatory. Gender courses tend to attract students from around LSE, with some of them heavily oversubscribed (both courses I took in Lent term were so popular even Gender students missed out!), which I think is testament to how interesting our courses are. All the courses I picked had a lecture (90 minutes) a week, plus one seminar (60 or 90 mins) a week. You’re expected to do a lot of preparatory reading for each seminar, and while you’ll never be grilled or even get asked questions directly, you’d get very little out of them if you were to turn up unprepared. At the risk of sounding lazy, I was a bit shocked by the amount of work I had to do at LSE, and by how many classes I had; I had to write a lot more at undergrad, but in terms of reading time and expected attendance it was a good deal more relaxed! Class sizes depend - for lectures I'd say 40-ish students, while seminars are usually between 10 and 15 people - but you’re right, it does depend, and courses that have multiple seminar teachers tend to take on more students.

I think there’s only one course (GI424, the one everyone has to take) that does an exam, and it’s a take-home one. You write summatives for all other courses (usually 4k words) over the breaks, and for some you’ll do some kind of presentation or peer-review as well. The course calendar is definitely worth checking out, as it tells you what's required for each course, and you can play to your strengths; I, for example, avoided group work, as that's pretty much my worst nightmare!

Employment should be really good; LSE has an excellent career service, where you can book appointments to get individualised advice, attend info sessions or ‘fairs’, or go to meetings/lunches with successful people from certain fields, some of them specific to Gender. I haven’t really made the most of this, as I want to do a PhD, but the help was definitely there had I wanted it. I can’t speak for other London unis, but I think LSE’s support in this regard is probably exceptional - though I don’t really think that, outside of finance, anyone is going to really value LSE over UCL. UCL has a very similar reputation for excellence, so I don't think there's a real 'winner' between those two!

The course is ridiculously expensive, and even though I got two bursaries (one from my home country, one from LSE), I still had to take out the full SFE master's loan to afford it. I know there is some funding available during your studies (though most of it is for entrants), but I’ve heard that getting it isn’t easy, and requires you to give the SU insight into all your accounts, your spending habits etc, so they’re definitely not as generous as some other places.

I think that answered everything - feel free to ask or PM if there's anything else!
Last edited by Kaylee Frye; 8 months ago
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tls2020
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Hi, I am wondering if you could provide any guidance on what to include in the personal statement (for studying gender at UCL and LSE). They both provide a basic list of questions to answer on their websites but how essential is it that I answer every question and do my responses to each need to be equally weighted (i.e. can i talk more about interest in the subject/course and not mention career goals?). Thank you very much for any help anyone can give.
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