Oxford vs. Cambridge: MPhil International Relations Watch

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robmoore
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I am currently a student in the US, and was recently accepted to read for the MPhil in International Relations at Oxford in Fall 2005. I have also applied to Cambridge, and have not yet heard from them (all in all, they seem to be FAR less organized than Oxford).

I was wondering if anyone knows anything about the relative strengths of these programs. I would have a difficult decision to make if I was accepted to Cambridge, and was hoping that you all would be able to provide me with some information that might be helpful.

Also, can anyone tell me anything about New College (Oxford)?

Thanks!

-Robert Moore
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Wagamuffin
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I know New College is pretty good at Oxford. For me it would all boil down to the finances; the reputations are pretty close
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Sock Puppet
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(Original post by robmoore)
I was wondering if anyone knows anything about the relative strengths of these programs. I would have a difficult decision to make if I was accepted to Cambridge, and was hoping that you all would be able to provide me with some information that might be helpful.
Hi Rob,

Dunno about the Cambridge programme, but the MPhil in IR is very competitive and chock-full of decent students from all over the world, unsurprisingly.

Socially I am guessing you'd be slightly better off at Oxford (it's a great place to be a US student), although no doubt someone will find a reason to disagree.

You won't go far wrong at New College, although my personal tip as a grad is Lincoln, as it has (I think) the largest grad population of any of the older, central colleges, almost as many as undergrads, and a very active MCR.
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Hoofbeat
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(Original post by Sock Puppet)
although my personal tip as a grad is Lincoln, as it has (I think) the largest grad population of any of the older, central colleges, almost as many as undergrads, and a very active MCR.
That is indeed correct, that Lincoln has a very active graduate population (including several Americans). If you have any questions about the college just ask - I'm an undergrad physics there so can't answer anything related to your course/graduate studies but I can tell you about the college!
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H&E
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Chloé - Am I right in thinking Lincoln's just completed a brand new graduate accomodation block? I'm pretty sure it's Lincoln. Anyway that's probably significant, because graduate accomodation is pretty variable across the colleges, and private accomodation is difficult to find and expensive.
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robmoore
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Thanks for all the input. This website is quite helpful!
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Hoofbeat
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(Original post by H&E)
Chloé - Am I right in thinking Lincoln's just completed a brand new graduate accomodation block? I'm pretty sure it's Lincoln. Anyway that's probably significant, because graduate accomodation is pretty variable across the colleges, and private accomodation is difficult to find and expensive.
Yep they have indeed - not sure if it is completely finished yet, but I understand it will be by next year and it's supposed to be pretty impressive!

Binya, can you PM me your msn addy so I can annoy you on msn when I feel like procrastinating :p:
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Sock Puppet
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(Original post by Hoofbeat)
Yep they have indeed - not sure if it is completely finished yet, but I understand it will be by next year and it's supposed to be pretty impressive!
Is this an extension to Bear Lane, or something else altogether?

Bear Lane itself is pretty cool: right in the heart of the city and only five minutes' walk from the college itself, unlike the grad accommodation of some (most?) other central colleges, e.g. Exeter which houses its grads out on the Iffley Road.
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Drogue
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(Original post by Hoofbeat)
Binya, can you PM me your msn addy so I can annoy you on msn when I feel like procrastinating :p:
That goes for me too, to both of you. I keep forgetting to collect MSN addys
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Sock Puppet
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(Original post by Hoofbeat)
That is indeed correct, that Lincoln has a very active graduate population (including several Americans).
There were somewhere between ten and twenty when I was there. Good for Super Bowl parties. Quite a few Canadians as well.
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ClaireLeigh
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Hi Rob,

I have just been accepted onto the MPhil in IR at Oxford too, so just thought i'd say hi. I heard on Monday, and am totally thrilled, although, like you, am waiting to hear from a shambolically organised Cambridge, which as my Alma Mater will have a strong pull if i get an offer from there too.

What criteria are you going to use to choose between them if you get onto both courses? For me, the course at Oxford seems to suit my situation slightly better, as i am a History Major, and the Oxford course provides a good 2-year grounding in the subject which i reckon will prove useful. I also fancy trying out a new city for my graduate study.
That said, Cambridge has loads going for it. I know both cities quite well, as my twin studied at Oxford, and it is true that both universities are very different- Cambridge is smaller, more student-dominated, arguably more beautiful, and with second-to-none facilities and teaching. It also seems to attract the kind of student who is fervently dedicated to academia. Oxford on the other hand is larger, has a better non-college based night life, is arguably better known internationally, and tends to attract slightly more 'glamourous' students- the kind who will be packing out parliament and the london party-scene in the future.

The other big difference is prices. Whereas i found Cambridge very very cheap to live in as a student (College rooms are subsidised, your social life will be your college..), my sister found Oxford very expensive, with rooms comparable in price to renting in London (well known to be the most expensive real estate in the western world) and with much of your socialising being city-based. So if money is going to be tight, Cambridge might be the way forward, especially as they give you an MPhil after just one year (although, if like me you intend to do a phd they end up both being 4 years).

Hope that helps your decision making. Do you know when we hear about our college allocation? I put Magdalen as my first choice, but suspect that half the applicants may have done the same, so i am expecting to be 'bumped' to another college.

Claire Leigh

(Original post by robmoore)
I am currently a student in the US, and was recently accepted to read for the MPhil in International Relations at Oxford in Fall 2005. I have also applied to Cambridge, and have not yet heard from them (all in all, they seem to be FAR less organized than Oxford).

I was wondering if anyone knows anything about the relative strengths of these programs. I would have a difficult decision to make if I was accepted to Cambridge, and was hoping that you all would be able to provide me with some information that might be helpful.

Also, can anyone tell me anything about New College (Oxford)?

Thanks!

-Robert Moore
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Alex Stummvoll
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Hello Claire&Rob,

congratulations for your offers! I also just have received notice about being accepted for the MPhil in IR at Oxford. I received the offer letter on Tuesday. I was very surprised as I did not expect to get in at all.

I did not apply for Cambridge but got accepted for the MSc in IR at the LSE. Three more friends from my year (I'm currently studying IR at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth) also secured a place for the LSE.

It will be quite a difficult choice to make. At the moment my criteria are as follows:

Reasons why to go to the LSE:
- first-class department, professors such as Chris Brown, David Held or Fred Halliday are among the top academics in the field, especially if you are interested in IR theory as I am. There are very very few IR theorists on the Oxford IR staff list that I came across during my undergraduate degree. I think would be difficult to deny that for IR the LSE has a better reputation than Oxford.
- London would be a very very exciting cosmopolitan big city to live in, especially after having spent three years in mid-West Wales as I did.
- you get the MSc after one year of studying
- being exposed to big city life could arguably be better for the sake of personal development rather than spending two years in a cosy and closely-knit college atmosphere

Reasons why to go to Oxford:
- The university as a whole definetely seems to enjoy a slightly better reputation than the LSE.
- Oxford as a university town, definetely has its attractions as well, and I may prefer the idea of living in a college rather than having to take the tube everyday in order to get to my classes (even at the cost of "personal development").
- a two-year MPhil must give you a much better grounding in the subject, a 30,000 word dissertation should be much more interesting and engaging than a 10,000 word dissertation at the LSE (besides, on a less important side: Does MPhil not sound much sexier than MSc
- the costs: instead of paying 12,000 pounds for one year at the LSE, you'll get two more years of student life for "mere" 10,000 pounds in Oxford (but of course you have to pay living expenses for an extra year)
- Is there a closer community among the IR MPhil students due to the smaller intake of students (25-30 in Oxford compared with 90-100 at the LSE, plus students of other masters courses)??

I would appreciate if people could add some points to these considerations. In particular I would be interested where you would find more interesting, fascinating and committed students, in Oxford or at the LSE? Or is there no difference? And my parents also asked me about job prospects? Are they higher for Oxford or for LSE graduates? Or no difference?

I put down St Anthony's as my first college choice. I had no idea whatsoever about the strenghts/weaknesses of particular colleges and just chose it because I somewhere read that it's a popular choice for IR students. Could anyone give me more precise information about that college? However, entry seems to be super competitive so I guess I'll be sent somewhere else. But I'm quite open about it and don't care whether it's small or big, old or new etc. It should take between 6-8 weeks before we are informed by the college who accepted us.

I wish you all the best for your other applications, I'm still waiting to hear from Columbia. All the best for any impending decisions. And perhaps, we will all see each other in October in Oxford...

Alex

(Original post by ClaireLeigh)
Hi Rob,

I have just been accepted onto the MPhil in IR at Oxford too, so just thought i'd say hi. I heard on Monday, and am totally thrilled, although, like you, am waiting to hear from a shambolically organised Cambridge, which as my Alma Mater will have a strong pull if i get an offer from there too.

What criteria are you going to use to choose between them if you get onto both courses? For me, the course at Oxford seems to suit my situation slightly better, as i am a History Major, and the Oxford course provides a good 2-year grounding in the subject which i reckon will prove useful. I also fancy trying out a new city for my graduate study.
That said, Cambridge has loads going for it. I know both cities quite well, as my twin studied at Oxford, and it is true that both universities are very different- Cambridge is smaller, more student-dominated, arguably more beautiful, and with second-to-none facilities and teaching. It also seems to attract the kind of student who is fervently dedicated to academia. Oxford on the other hand is larger, has a better non-college based night life, is arguably better known internationally, and tends to attract slightly more 'glamourous' students- the kind who will be packing out parliament and the london party-scene in the future.

The other big difference is prices. Whereas i found Cambridge very very cheap to live in as a student (College rooms are subsidised, your social life will be your college..), my sister found Oxford very expensive, with rooms comparable in price to renting in London (well known to be the most expensive real estate in the western world) and with much of your socialising being city-based. So if money is going to be tight, Cambridge might be the way forward, especially as they give you an MPhil after just one year (although, if like me you intend to do a phd they end up both being 4 years).

Hope that helps your decision making. Do you know when we hear about our college allocation? I put Magdalen as my first choice, but suspect that half the applicants may have done the same, so i am expecting to be 'bumped' to another college.

Claire Leigh
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treff
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I was thinking of applying to Oxford and/or Cambridge for IR as well, but I decided to wait for another year or two. Haven't really been to either Oxford and/or Cambridge, but I was more inclined to apply to Oxford compared to Cambridge for IR. The reasons are:

- Oxford's IR faculty seemed more prolific in terms of research, from what I gathered
- Oxford had higher ratings for IR too (if I'm not mistaken)
- Although the two-year stint may be a disadvantage for some, I found it to be an advantage, since it would allow me to have an in-depth incursion into the field
- The IR program and faculty at Oxford appealed to me more on the whole
- The faculty's linkages with other departments (like QEH) was more apparent in comparison to that of Cambridge, and I liked this because my interests tend to cross over to some other fields like Dev't Studies.
- Although Cambridge is very prestigious and well-known, Oxford has a marginally better international reputation (from what I could tell as an international student)

If I were to apply, I'd probably try to get into St Antony's, since it's generally considered as the most IR-oriented college in Oxford, I hear.

Haven't heard much about New College, sorry.

LSE's excellent too, and I've heard of a number of its IR faculty. But Oxford would still top my list for IR, for the same reasons above. (Although the point about prolificacy of research would probably not apply, since IR research at LSE is as excellent)
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aman21
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Alex: Hi, I'm a BSc IR student at LSE. From what I know the Oxford MPhil programme is one of the finest around for postgrad level and would probably suit those who haven't come from a direct IR background- history, law etc. The first year gives a solid grounding in some key areas and conversations in the subject, thus supplementing your dissertation and 2nd year well. Perhaps, one of the few drawbacks for some is it's a 2 year degree.

I don't know too much about the cam degree

From first hand experience, LSE is an amazing place to study IR and to study generally. The course is incredibly international, I'm one of around 6 students from Britain in a year group of 43- which is daunting at first but advantageous as you settle. Imagine discussing rising China in a group of kids from the US, Scandinavia, Britain, China, Korea, Ukraine, Holland, Germany (thats my class lol) or the cold war with a Russian. The insight you gain is unprecedented before you arrive.

We have world leaders and ministers and visiting professors delivering lectures termly- which is unique, perhaps even more so than the Oxford Union. Business leaders and economists on an almost daily basis. you also have access to Chatham house lectures and if you're a postgrad to write in the Millenium journal.

On top of that you are given much space for private study- which, inevitably ends down the SU or a club! I couldn't recommend the IR department here enough
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(Original post by robmoore)
I am currently a student in the US, and was recently accepted to read for the MPhil in International Relations at Oxford in Fall 2005. I have also applied to Cambridge, and have not yet heard from them (all in all, they seem to be FAR less organized than Oxford).

I was wondering if anyone knows anything about the relative strengths of these programs. I would have a difficult decision to make if I was accepted to Cambridge, and was hoping that you all would be able to provide me with some information that might be helpful.

Also, can anyone tell me anything about New College (Oxford)?

Thanks!

-Robert Moore
Hey Guys,
I am in a simular, if slightly different situation. I am an American student currently completing my B.A. in Political Science and Economics at Columbia University in New York City. I went to high school in Oxford at St. Clare's International College. And last year, I spent a year abroad at Clare, College Cambridge where I studied Social and Political Sciences.

I have submitted applications to both Ox and Cam. At Ox, I applied for the MPhil in Russian and East European Studies at Christ Church and at Cam, I applied for the MPhil in Modern Society and Global Transformation at Clare (2nd Choice Emma).

I have heard from Oxford, and yesterday was contacted by Chirst Church, telling me that I have been secured a place. This is pretty exciting, as Ox was definately my First Choice and Cam had proven to be horribly organized. They have had my app for four months and have not yet notified me, and it only took Ox a month to let me know!!!

So, what I am saying, is that i have a lot of knowledge about Ox, Cam, and American Universities, having already spent time at all three as a student. So, i would like to make myself available to all of you as a resource. Any questions? Send em my way.

- Brad
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alex.stein
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I am bias, as I just got an offer from Cambridge for the mphil in international relations, but you have to remember this. A) Oxford is a two year course. B) LSE is twice as expensive, at least for us domestic students. LSE and Oxford might be 'better' than the Cambridge course, but they are certainly not twice as good.

peace

Alex
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SKelly
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Hi y'all,

And especially to all potential future classmates! I also just heard I was accepted to the Oxford IR course, and I'm excited and confused, in equal parts. But it's great to be able to correspond with others in a similar situation!

I only applied to Oxford, but I'm now tossing up the value of studying in the UK v America. I was wondering if anyone had any sage words of advice? A few people have told me the States is the way to go, largely due to the huge number of amazing people you meet - i.e. instead of studying Albright's policies from afar, you get to meet her and quiz her. Personally, I've always loved Oxford, and wanted to study there, but I'm trying hard to be objective about the whole thing.

I was wondering what made people want to study in the UK rather than the States? Better academic credentials? More respect internationally? Is it impossible to get in to the top schools in America (SAIS, Tufts, Kennedy School etc.)? Or do they cost squillions and financial aid is hard to come by? Or is it just a matter of personal taste, with any of these degrees putting you in a similar situation at the end?

Anyway, thanks to anybody who can help out. It's great to be able to step outside the maelstrom of crap in my mind and chat to others.

Sean
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DAROTO
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I have a similiar dilema. I have been accepted to the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy which for what I've heard is one of the best in the world, however I also applied to LSE and I am having a hard time deciding which school to go to.

Which school has a better reputation on IR? Is a degree in international relations from LSE as well regarded as one from a top school in the US? Overall LSE has a better reputation than Tufts, however for IR I am not quite sure. It seems like IR at LSE is just one more program among many while at Fletcher it is the start program.

If there is anybody who can tell me the stong point and weaknesses of both programs and how do they compare I would appreciate it.







(Original post by SKelly)
Hi y'all,

And especially to all potential future classmates! I also just heard I was accepted to the Oxford IR course, and I'm excited and confused, in equal parts. But it's great to be able to correspond with others in a similar situation!

I only applied to Oxford, but I'm now tossing up the value of studying in the UK v America. I was wondering if anyone had any sage words of advice? A few people have told me the States is the way to go, largely due to the huge number of amazing people you meet - i.e. instead of studying Albright's policies from afar, you get to meet her and quiz her. Personally, I've always loved Oxford, and wanted to study there, but I'm trying hard to be objective about the whole thing.

I was wondering what made people want to study in the UK rather than the States? Better academic credentials? More respect internationally? Is it impossible to get in to the top schools in America (SAIS, Tufts, Kennedy School etc.)? Or do they cost squillions and financial aid is hard to come by? Or is it just a matter of personal taste, with any of these degrees putting you in a similar situation at the end?

Anyway, thanks to anybody who can help out. It's great to be able to step outside the maelstrom of crap in my mind and chat to others.

Sean
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DAROTO
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I have a similiar dilema. I have been accepted to the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy which for what I've heard is one of the best in the world, however I also applied to LSE and I am having a hard time deciding which school to go to.

Which school has a better reputation on IR? Is a degree in international relations from LSE as well regarded as one from a top school in the US? Overall LSE has a better reputation than Tufts, however for IR I am not quite sure. It seems like IR at LSE is just one more program among many while at Fletcher it is the start program.

If there is anybody who can tell me the stong point and weaknesses of both programs and how do they compare I would appreciate it.





(Original post by treff)
I was thinking of applying to Oxford and/or Cambridge for IR as well, but I decided to wait for another year or two. Haven't really been to either Oxford and/or Cambridge, but I was more inclined to apply to Oxford compared to Cambridge for IR. The reasons are:

- Oxford's IR faculty seemed more prolific in terms of research, from what I gathered
- Oxford had higher ratings for IR too (if I'm not mistaken)
- Although the two-year stint may be a disadvantage for some, I found it to be an advantage, since it would allow me to have an in-depth incursion into the field
- The IR program and faculty at Oxford appealed to me more on the whole
- The faculty's linkages with other departments (like QEH) was more apparent in comparison to that of Cambridge, and I liked this because my interests tend to cross over to some other fields like Dev't Studies.
- Although Cambridge is very prestigious and well-known, Oxford has a marginally better international reputation (from what I could tell as an international student)

If I were to apply, I'd probably try to get into St Antony's, since it's generally considered as the most IR-oriented college in Oxford, I hear.

Haven't heard much about New College, sorry.

LSE's excellent too, and I've heard of a number of its IR faculty. But Oxford would still top my list for IR, for the same reasons above. (Although the point about prolificacy of research would probably not apply, since IR research at LSE is as excellent)
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KrkRbts
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Alex,

I wanted to respond to your question about St. Antony's. I am an American- I graduated in 1997 with an MPhil from St. Antony's so I think I can give you some information about the college.

St. Antony's is the most international of all colleges- it is only graduate students though. Americans and Brits still make up the majority. Looking at admissions statistics from the 2004 St. Antony's College record, they had 386 applications, 206 admissions offers, and 132 accepted.

St. Antony's is know for regional studies- Latin American, Russian, Middle East, etc. There are also a fair number who do the MPhil in International Relations. St. Antony's seems to get a fair number of Rhodes and Marshall scholars, some of them are normal, others are a bit pompous.

When I was there, I think most Americans I knew liked St. Antony's mainly because their fellow students were smart, seriously interested in the subjects they were studying, and were decent people. The housing situation has improved and for the first year, you should definitely get accomodation at the college.

A couple of drawbacks in my opinion. St. Antony's is a relatively new college-it lacks the architectural grandeuer of some of the other colleges and at times, it doesn't seem like you are in the UK. Some people felt that they didn't get "the Oxford Experience" by being at the college.

To study international relations, I'm not sure it is necessary to be at St. Antony's. Nuffield has a great reputation in the field. Aside from that, you might enjoy one of the more traditional colleges. Christ Church, Balliol, Magdalen (although in my view it is not centrally located) are certainly prestigious.

Hope that helps,

If you have any other questions, email me at [email protected]

(Original post by Alex Stummvoll)
Hello Claire&Rob,

congratulations for your offers! I also just have received notice about being accepted for the MPhil in IR at Oxford. I received the offer letter on Tuesday. I was very surprised as I did not expect to get in at all.

I did not apply for Cambridge but got accepted for the MSc in IR at the LSE. Three more friends from my year (I'm currently studying IR at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth) also secured a place for the LSE.

It will be quite a difficult choice to make. At the moment my criteria are as follows:

Reasons why to go to the LSE:
- first-class department, professors such as Chris Brown, David Held or Fred Halliday are among the top academics in the field, especially if you are interested in IR theory as I am. There are very very few IR theorists on the Oxford IR staff list that I came across during my undergraduate degree. I think would be difficult to deny that for IR the LSE has a better reputation than Oxford.
- London would be a very very exciting cosmopolitan big city to live in, especially after having spent three years in mid-West Wales as I did.
- you get the MSc after one year of studying
- being exposed to big city life could arguably be better for the sake of personal development rather than spending two years in a cosy and closely-knit college atmosphere

Reasons why to go to Oxford:
- The university as a whole definetely seems to enjoy a slightly better reputation than the LSE.
- Oxford as a university town, definetely has its attractions as well, and I may prefer the idea of living in a college rather than having to take the tube everyday in order to get to my classes (even at the cost of "personal development").
- a two-year MPhil must give you a much better grounding in the subject, a 30,000 word dissertation should be much more interesting and engaging than a 10,000 word dissertation at the LSE (besides, on a less important side: Does MPhil not sound much sexier than MSc
- the costs: instead of paying 12,000 pounds for one year at the LSE, you'll get two more years of student life for "mere" 10,000 pounds in Oxford (but of course you have to pay living expenses for an extra year)
- Is there a closer community among the IR MPhil students due to the smaller intake of students (25-30 in Oxford compared with 90-100 at the LSE, plus students of other masters courses)??

I would appreciate if people could add some points to these considerations. In particular I would be interested where you would find more interesting, fascinating and committed students, in Oxford or at the LSE? Or is there no difference? And my parents also asked me about job prospects? Are they higher for Oxford or for LSE graduates? Or no difference?

I put down St Anthony's as my first college choice. I had no idea whatsoever about the strenghts/weaknesses of particular colleges and just chose it because I somewhere read that it's a popular choice for IR students. Could anyone give me more precise information about that college? However, entry seems to be super competitive so I guess I'll be sent somewhere else. But I'm quite open about it and don't care whether it's small or big, old or new etc. It should take between 6-8 weeks before we are informed by the college who accepted us.

I wish you all the best for your other applications, I'm still waiting to hear from Columbia. All the best for any impending decisions. And perhaps, we will all see each other in October in Oxford...

Alex
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