Defined project ideas

You can submit a propsal for either a pre-defined project idea (suggested by a member of staff) or an original idea (chosen by you).

Each of the following projects has been proposed by a particular department or unit at LSE. If your application is successful, we will put you in touch with them for further support. 

For the application form, you can use as much of the information given here as you like, and suggest particular methods for your project, or a particular focus (see below). For projects which already provide a lot of detail, you could add some information on why you would be particularly suitable to undertake the project. 

Methods 

Some of these projects suggest a specific research method, while others are completely open. This resource suggests some ways to choose a methodology. Try to identify a method which can both answer the question, and give you some benefit from using it (furthering your studies; developing your broader skills; enjoyment!). 

Focus  

 Several of the projects below relate to a specific department at LSE, who are keen to support the research and act on its findings. It is also possible to submit a proposal for a similar topic, but researching another department. If you do this, we suggest contacting the department you wish to focus on, to find out how your work might fit with their priorities, and to avoid replicating existing work in the department. 

Some other projects are not specific to one department, or are open to investigations of different programmes and years. To make your project more focused, and thus make the recommendations more useful, you might wish to propose: 

  • researching one department or a small selection of departments
  • investigating one particular level of study (e.g. a specific year of undergraduate study)
  • looking at one programme (or a small selection)

For many of the projects you might also want to ask a more specific question than the broad topic title (for example, looking at one possible aspect or variable). For example, if a project asks about student experience with food, you could propose to look specifically at use of the 4th floor restaurant. If a project asks about student assessment stress, you could specify that you will investigate the impact of Lent Term week 0 exams. 

Or your focus could be conceptual: you might have a particular concept or framework through which you want to investigate the issue. 

You can contact lse.changemakers@lse.ac.uk to discuss whether the focus you’re planning is productive, or too narrow! 

Including all our students

Change Makers is a chance to amplify the voices and experiences of students at LSE. In 2021/22 we would be particularly interested in projects in these areas:

Postgraduate Students and the Students’ Union

Proposed by: Morgan Fairless, 2020-21 LSESU Postgraduate Students’ Officer

The Students’ Union has adopted a strategic objective to focus on its engagement with Postgraduate Students. The Union has an image of being solely focused on Undergrads and being led mostly by Undergrads. A report has been written on the broad topic, but questions remain unaddressed:

  • What do Postgraduate Students wish to get from being involved with the Student Union?
  • How do PhD students view the Union? 
  • Why do Postgraduate Students (research/taught) get involved in sports/societies?

 

Students should feel free to propose alternative research avenues to the ones above; the broad topic is understanding how PG students engage with the Union with a view to improving the Union’s capacity to provide that space to PG students.

Experiences of teaching, learning and assessment

In 2021/22 Change Makers would be particularly interested in projects in these areas:

Understanding academic integrity

Proposed by: Pete Evanson, School Senior Advocate for Students

How do students understand academic integrity? This project encourages applicants to devise their own project to explore an aspect of this topic. This could include investigating: What does integrity mean, for students’ own work? How do they understand it applying to the work of staff? Why and when is it important or meaningful to students? How can the school communicate and support academic integrity? One particular interest for the School is how integrity and ‘cheating’ are understood in qualitative and/or quantitative disciplines; projects could research either, or attempt a comparative study.

Power in the classroom for postgraduate (taught) students 

Proposed by: Lee Edwards and Wendy Willems, Professor and Associate Professor, Media and Communications

This project would be an exploration of the nature of power in the classroom, for students at Postgraduate Taught level. It should explore the variety of ways in which power travels along vectors of existing inequality, as well as pathways that we might not fully understand, particularly post-Covid. How might the classroom act as a porous space, with permeable boundaries for power, where power ebbs and flows, recedes and returns?

Decolonising work in the department of Media and Communications

Proposed by: Lee Edwards and Wendy Willems, Professor and Associate Professor, Media and Communications

The department would like to build on previous decolonising work to find out how much progress has been made over the past two years, and consider where efforts need to be focused. Data benchmarking the different courses is available, as a starting point. The previous Change Makers project Decolonising Praxis at the LSE (Bhat, Higgins and Stupart) would inform the research questions and help to evaluate the significance of the findings we identify (full report available on request from lse.changemakers@lse.ac.uk)). Other data collection and methods – such as focus groups, or interviews – can be proposed by applicants.

Diversification and decolonisation of its taught postgraduate curriculum, European Institute

Proposed by: Jennifer Jackson-Preece, Associate Professor & chair of departmental EDI committee, European Institute, 

Understanding Europe requires going beyond Eurocentrism. And yet studies of Europe may still retain the traces of Eurocentric assumptions and prejudices. The European Institute wishes to examine the potential for diversification and decolonisation of its taught postgraduate curriculum, starting with the MSc Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe. We envisage 3 key objectives: (i) Reviewing the existing MSc programme, including reading lists, teaching materials, and examples; (ii) examining experiences, challenges and perspectives of teachers within the EI and other LSE departments who have diversified  their curricula, and to a lesser extent, that of students who have learned from such curricula; (iii) Reviewing and proposing alternative and additional topics, materials and readings.  

The primary data available for this project is the Department Moodle pages and their contents (including syllabi, reading lists, datasets, etc). Researchers could, if they wished, gather original new interview data with European Institute teachers and students.

Courses outside your department

Proposed by: Ellen Austin, Planning Division 

What motivates students to choose to take a course outside their programme department, and what is the experience of taking an ‘outside’ course like for them? This project would be specifically about student experience where they have chosen to take a course outside their home department, not where their programme regulations mean they must take a course outside their home department. How did they choose the course? What was the experience of taking it like? What did it add to their overall experience of the programme? What were the challenges? Changemakers could explore one or more undergraduate or taught postgraduate programmes.

The school could provide data on how many students on a programme had to take courses in an ‘outside’ department, and how many chose to do so (whether or not they were also required to do so). Contact Ellen Austin for an initial discussion about programmes that could be included. Projects may also wish to collect interview or survey data to understand more about student motivations and experiences.

What affects student experience of assessment at LSE? 

Proposed by: Ellen Austin, Planning Division 

This project could take a comparative and mixed-methods approach across two departments or two (sets of) programmes. It could do qualitative and/or survey-based data collection to explore student experiences of assessment on those programmes – for example, load, mix of assessments, balance of formative and summative assessment, factors that influence how students experience assessment at LSE. Changemakers could explore programmes and/or departments at undergraduate and/or taught postgraduate level.

The school could provide headline data on number and type of assessments on courses/programmes over time.  Contact Ellen Austin for an initial discussion about programmes/departments that could be included. Projects may also wish to collect interview or survey data to understand more about student experiences.

Students’ experiences of off-campus learning 

Proposed by: Mark Hoffman, Dean of the General Course (as part of LSE Student Futures working group)

This project would look at students’ experiences of, and views on, 'off-campus learning' learning as part of a course. This covers everything from organised visits around London, to week-long study visits to other countries, to weekends away at Cumberland Lodge.

Understanding LSE's services and systems

Are the current systems and services at LSE reaching the right people, and doing the right things? In 2021/22 Change Makers is interested in the following projects:

Why do some students choose not to use LSE LIFE?

Proposed by: Claudine Provencher, Head of LSE LIFE

In LSE LIFE we are always aiming to reach more students and encourage them to use our provision. We get good feedback from students who use our provision on what we do well and what we could improve, but we are quite interested in why students who don’t use LSE LIFE do not do so. It would be useful if someone could do a qualitative project investigating this so that we can find ways to help more students.

Course selection and timetabling: the student experience in 2021/22

Proposed by: Nikki Hill, Programme Manager, Course Selection and Timetabling, Business Improvement Unit

LSE is in the early stages of a major change programme to transform its course selection and timetabling systems and processes.  The project will run over multiple years and the changes it delivers will be most visible at the start of each academic year. Our first tranche of changes, both technical and in terms of new business processes, launched at the start of academic year 2021/22 and we are keen to learn from what worked and, particularly, what didn’t work.  That learning will inform our approach in subsequent years.  We have carried out internal surveys and incident reviews but would welcome a student perspective on the issues and suggested solutions.

The school can provide details of the system and process changes carried out for the start of academic year 2021/22, incident reviews, access to Helpdesk logs, emails and social media reports in relation to incidents and the results of a staff survey carried out after the main course selection period to evaluate some of the changes made.

Course selection and timetabling: defining success

Proposed by: Nikki Hill, Programme Manager, Course Selection and Timetabling, Business Improvement Unit

LSE is in the early stages of a major change programme to transform its course selection and timetabling systems and processes.  The programme seeks to ensure that access to all LSE’s academic programmes (including extended education) through course selection and timetabling is fair, efficient, consistent and reliable.  

We welcome input from Change Makers as we work out how best to measure the success of such a programme.  This could include the identification of programme benefits and benefit profiles, the identification of quantitative and qualitative measures and the setting of performance data baselines for the current state.  We are interested in measures we can use now, based on existing data, and measures that might require development or other work to realise.

The school can share work already undertaken on KPIs and baselines. Depending on the approach and focus of the project, it may be helpful for researchers to interview LSE data analysts, system owners and technical specialists to understand the availability and quality of data, the work required to measure KPIs using existing data, and what would be required to deliver KPIs that cannot easily be delivered using existing data or processes.

Assistive technology at LSE: current service users 

Proposed by: Sebastiaan Eldritch-Böersen, Student Wellbeing Service / Data & Technology Services

Assistive technologies are devices or software which makes information (whether online or on paper) more accessible for individuals with disabilities. LSE makes assistive technologies available to students who can benefit from them. What are the experiences of students currently using this service? 

Assistive technology at LSE: publicity and awareness 

Proposed by: Sebastiaan Eldritch-Böersen, Student Wellbeing Service / Data & Technology Services

Assistive technologies are devices or software which makes information (whether online or on paper) more accessible for individuals with disabilities. LSE makes Assistive Technology available to students who can benefit from them. Who knows about the assistive technology available at LSE? How did they find out about it? Who needs to know, and doesn’t get the information? What communication and publicity routes would reach potential users?

Support with transitions, progression and decision-making

Does LSE give its students what they need to move into the next stage of their life with confidence?  In 2021/22 Change Makers is interested in the following projects:

Peer-to-peer support networks 

Proposed by: Jack Winterton, Student Adviser, LSE LIFE

This project would investigate the role (present and future) of peer-to-peer support networks (Peer Supporters and Student Academic Mentors) in providing disadvantaged students with (1) a sense of community in an elite university setting (2) a network of peers who have similar life experiences from which they can draw confidence and support. 

The research will explore the extent to which LSE's peer-to-peer networks achieve these aims and will also offer concrete next steps improving the way that the two schemes serve this important section of the student body.

Data is available on mentor profiles, past mentors' reflections on their role. Researchers may wish to gather new data from focus groups, from SITs (in collaboration with Widening Participation), and from academic literature on university culture.

The role of peer supporters 

Proposed by: Susie Ward, Peer Support Co-ordinator and Student Counsellor, Student Wellbeing Service / ARD.

For many students, their first networks are built in halls, and LSE Peer Supporters can offer a valuable source of support to residents. This project would research how peer supporters engage with warden teams and hall committees to ensure that students are aware of all the support available to them, providing varied spaces (virtual or physical) that students can use to seek help or a listening ear.

Some data is available, from Residential Life surveys, and Focus groups and interviews conducted during 2021. Researchers may wish to gather new data through focus groups with peer supporters, students in hall and warden teams, and potentially surveys done on a wider scale across residences. 

The wider student experience

 In 2021/22 Change Makers is interested in the following projects:

Study abroad

Proposed by: Mark Hoffman, Dean of the General Course and Global Mobility

What does study abroad offer to LSE students? The school is considering whether and how to expand its provision for students to study in other countries. This project would explore perceived benefits and drawbacks. Researchers could potentially focus on students who have experienced study abroad, or gather data from the student body more widely.

How do non-teaching (professional services / PSS) staff in departments affect student experience on their programme? 

Main contact: Zoë Adams, Department of International Relations. Secondary contact: Sandra Ma, Department of Accounting.

For large numbers of students across the School, interactions with members of Professional Services staff (e.g. Programme Administrators, Programme Managers, Student Engagement Officers, etc.) in their departments play a key role in shaping students’ relationships with their departments. This project would explore the frequency, nature and impact of these relationships on students’ sense of community and belonging in their Departments.

Identifying and recognising the contribution of students who volunteer to enhance the student experience at LSE  

Proposed by: Lydia Halls, Student Partnership Coordinator

Together, students and staff are collaborating across the School to enhance the student experience at LSE. In departments accrss the School, students are given opportunities to volunteer as mentors to their peers, take an active role in community building, provide feedback about their (and their cohort's) experiences, represent their department at open days and other events, and much more. 

This project would seek to map the types of roles students volunteer to fulfil and identify the main motivations of students who engage in such opportunities. It would draw on these findings to make recommendations for how the School can “add value” to the experience of students who participate, and provide meaningful recognition of their contributions to the LSE community.  

What does a happy and healthy department look like? Improving student and staff wellbeing by strengthening the department of Social Policy community. 

Proposed by: Damian Roberts, Department Manager, Department of Social Policy 

The project will review current practice in the Department as regards ‘community building’ and ‘student and staff wellbeing (mental and physical)’. It will consider what the relationship is between the two areas and propose initiatives to help the Department improve in both areas.

How effective and/or representative is LSE’s Student Academic Representative System?

Proposed by: Lydia Halls, Student Partnership Coordinator, on behalf of the LSE & LSESU SSLC Working Group

More than 400 Student Academic Representatives are elected to represent their peers every academic year. Student Academic Representatives ensure student concerns are addressed and students have a say in the running of their programme by liaising with LSE and LSESU staff in department-level Staff Student Liaison Committees (SSLCs) and School-level Consultative Fora.

This project could investigate how effective and/or representative LSE’s Student Academic Representation system is in practice using quantitative, qualitative or mixed method approaches. Researchers could analyse data about elected student representatives to find out the extent to which they represent LSE’s diverse student body. They could conduct interviews with elected student representatives to find out what motivates them to volunteer for these roles and how they experience their term. They could find out what challenges/obstacles prevent some groups of students from running for a position, or how the wider student body views the academic representation system in general. Other research questions could also be identified and proposed by applicants.

There is potentially anonymised demographic data available from the Students’ Union about previous years’ representatives and then can also help put researchers in touch with this year’s student representatives. 

Contact us

Contact lse.changemakers@lse.ac.uk if you have any questions about Change Makers or the application process.

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