Supporting taught postgraduate students

LSE masters programmes are inspiring and intense. Students will be working in a vibrant and demanding academic community, enhancing the specialist knowledge and academic skills they started building during previous studies.

Students are under pressure to hit the ground running and succeed from the start, as well as manage their plans for further study or paid work. 

As their Academic Mentor and/or Dissertation Supervisor, you will be one of their main sources of support and advice as they navigate the challenges of postgraduate study and the complexities of their specialist field.

Below is further information and resources on areas that students may need specific support with.

Course choice

Most postgraduate taught students will have the ability to choose some of their courses. As their Academic Mentor, students may come to you for advice on what to take.

Therefore, it is important that you have a good knowledge of the content of courses available to your students.

This can help students make informed decisions and increase their likelihood of a successful and enjoyable academic year. Students will make their decisions through LSE for You.

Here is how the course selection process usually looks:

1. You discuss course choice with your students and take note of their preferences.

2. You advise your student to enter the choices into LSE for You as soon as possible.

3. Approval is then done by a member of your departmental staff, such as the Programme Administrator or Programme Director.

4. Students can make further changes until the system closes.

5. A timetable will be automatically generated in LSE for You by the advertised date.

First session

Here are some questions you could ask your postgraduate taught students during their first mentoring meeting:

  • Where are you living? Are you happy there?
  • Have you looked at the Public Lecture series for this term?
  • Are there any new activities you would like to try out? 
  • Are you interested in joining any SU societies? Which ones?
  • Have you registered with the NHS and/or a GP surgery?
  • Do you know about all the services that the Student Services Centre offers?
  • What interested you about studying on this particular programme at LSE?
  • What do you hope to learn / get out of your programme?
  • What are you hoping to research as part of your dissertation?
  • What do you hope to achieve over this academic year?
  • What are the first steps you plan to take?


During the first couple of weeks, students may be sorting out their housing, be it in Halls or in private rented accommodation. For support with Halls, contact Accommodation and LSE Residences.

For help with Private rented accommodation, students can contact the LSESU Advice team or the University of London Housing Service for information, advice and casework.

Beyond LSE, students in rented accommodation can seek information and advice from organisations such as:

Shelter: a national housing and homelessness charity who can advise on rental rights

The UK Government: on local services and renting, as well as Council and Housing Association housing

Citizens Advice: further information on all areas of housing 

International students

International students face a variety of extra challenges to their LSE experiences beyond adapting to a new educational system that may focus on different kinds of learning.

This includes potential Visa complications, registering for the NHS, navigating the different support services across the school, and adapting to life in London.

It is worth checking in with international students to ask them:

  •  How are you adjusting to LSE?
  • How are you adjusting to life in the UK?
  • Have you been able to find everything you need?

If students are having any Visa issues at all, please refer to the ISVAT page. The team are up to date with all current regulations and run drop in sessions in Michaelmas and Lent term at the Student Services Centre from 1.30pm to 2.30pm on Mondays to Fridays.

During the Summer Term and Vacations, the drop-ins are from 1.30pm to 2.30pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Alternatively, you can call them at 020 7955 6853 with specific questions or complete this form with any queries.

International students planning to work need to understand Visa restrictions, including those that apply through Summer Term.

ISVAT can help with guidance on this. 

International students may also not know how to register for the NHS, as in many countries, health services on campus are provided by the university for students. There's more information for students, including links to search for GPs here.

Finally, if your international students are interested in learning more about London, but are uncomfortable discovering the city on their own, you can refer them to LIFE in London – a programme of events where students can engage with different London based activities.


Students may find it hard at first to feel like they are fitting in at University, and making friends can be challenging, especially for those that have left home for the first time.

As an Academic Mentor, you may want to reassure your students that homesickness, loneliness, and feeling out of place are perfectly normal, and that LSE has support to help them through it.

If students need to talk, support is available through LSE Counselling, Disability and Wellbeing Service and the LSESU Advice team.

You may want to recommend that student get involved with the LSESU activities and societies as they are a great place to meet people with similar interests and learn new things.

They can find out more on their website.

There are some great tips for dealing with culture shock here.

Study skills

There are a wide range of study skills that students will be expected to use during their postgraduate degrees.

Therefore, it may be helpful to think about what to focus on with students during each term / stage of the programme.

Michaelmas Term

Students may have feel uneasy about the expectations of postgraduate study when they first begin their programmes, especially if they have been away from study for several years or if they are international students.

They also may struggle in terms of their reading load across all their different courses.

Therefore, much of your early contact with students could be focused on helping them adapt to their postgraduate studies.

To get a sense of how they are doing, you may want to ask them:

  • How much studying are you doing outside of class time?
  • How are you managing your reading load?
  • How do you tackle an academic text?
  • Are you enjoying seminar discussions?
  • How are you managing your time to help you stay on top of your studies?
  • In what ways are you balancing your studies with the rest of your life?

Offer advice based on study techniques that have worked for you. Also, show students examples of how you take notes from readings while describing expectations of engaging in seminars and connecting ideas from seminars, lectures and readings.

If students are looking for more support on specific aspects of university study, refer them to LSE LIFE, which has a large suite of workshops on a variety of different study skills from learning independently and critical thinking, to writing and conducting research.

Lent Term

In Lent Term, students will have a greater sense of what LSE and postgraduate study is about. However, students might become more aware of their struggles with assessment criteria and expectations.

In most cases, they will have had their first summative assessments and will be receiving their first results.

Therefore, Academic Mentoring meetings in Lent Term could focus heavily on assessments.

Questions you may pose to your students as a means of holding discussions on assessment could be:

  • How did you do on your assessment? Is this what you expected? (Why / why not?)
  • What kind of feedback have you received on your assessment?
  • What were the strengths of your work?
  • What areas of improvement were mentioned?
  • Do you know what you need to do to better next time?

If students are looking for additional support on specific aspects of preparing for assessments, refer them to LSE LIFE, which has a large suite of workshops to support a variety of different assessment forms, from essays to take-home exams.

They can also meet with a Study Adviser for specific advice on how to improve their own work.

Studying for Exams

Often, lecturers and seminar leaders for courses will no longer have office hours during the Summer Term, so the students you mentor may turn to you for help.

You may want to give students advice on the following:

  • How to manage study time: students may want to know how to set up a study schedule, and how to break up their study time. Consider helping them create a plan, and remind them to include study breaks. Also encourage them to consider balancing their study time across each module.
  • What to study: students will want to know what specifically to study. You may want to refer them to the past exam papers bank. This will give them a sense of the type of questions that are asked and offer them a direction for what to study.
  • Referencing in exams: for essay exams, some students worry about referencing requirements. Let them know what you expect within your department.
  • Drawing connections: for most exams at LSE, students may not know how to integrate readings and their learning. Remind them to draw connections across the weeks within a course and even to draw connections across their different modules. This will help them study and understand the wider field.

If students would like more help on how to set up a study plan or how to use past papers to prepare, refer them to LSE LIFE where they can attend workshops or meeting with a one-to-one Study Adviser about their exam schedule.

Unless they studied at LSE for their undergraduate degrees, postgraduate students will also need to learn about exam procedures. You should refer to LSE Exam Procedures for any questions students may have.


In many departments, the academic mentors and supervisors are two different individuals.

However, even if you don’t supervise your academic mentees’ dissertations, they may want to bounce ideas off of you regarding their work.

During your mentoring sessions, you may want to ask students about their dissertations, their managing of this longer project, and how they are tackling it.

For example, you could ask:

  • How is your work on your dissertation going?
  • How are you managing the different stages?
  • What is your research question? How are you trying to answer it?
  • What are you time management techniques?

Life after LSE

Postgraduate taught students will be struggling with planning for their lives after LSE as the same time that they are embarking on their studies. This is one of the hallmarks of full-time master’s study. Therefore, students may want to talk to you about their potential plans, including both future study and career aspirations.

Some questions you may want to ask your students include:

  • Have you got plans for after you graduate? What would you like to do?
  • Are you considering further study? In what and where?
  • What would be your ideal career?
  • Have you approached relevant staff or alumni of the School for further advice?


Career aspirations

For many students, they will be planning to enter the work force full time upon graduation. This means that during their studies, they will also be considering what their options might be and applying for jobs in that area.

While you are not expected to be an expert in career opportunities, it may be worthwhile talking to students simply to pose questions that they may want to consider for themselves.

This includes what they would like to be doing in five years’ time, what kind of career would they like, and what career path do people have who work in those fields.

LSE Careers is a wealth of support for students, and it is highly recommended that you suggest students contact them.

They offer workshops and bookable one-to-ones that students can sign up for on CareerHub, and they also offer CV drop-ins at LSE LIFE once a week.


Students will need references for work after university or for applications for future study. Most will approach their Academic Mentor for a reference first. Others may ask well as course lecturers and departmental tutors.

Students should give you ample warning if their need a reference from you, and should make their CVs available to you to help you with the reference writing process.

Much of the information that is useful for reference writing can also be accessed from LSE for You – class reports, student grades, and other miscellaneous information.

You should only give references when the student has given his or her consent or when the organisation making the request has provided proof that the student has consented.

If an employer requires proof of student attendance, this is handled by the Registry team in the Student Services Centre – forward the request to

If you do not feel you can provide an appropriate reference, discuss the reasons why with the student and see if you can help them identify and contact somebody more apt.

Stress and anxiety

It is normal that students may feel stressed and anxious during their postgraduate degrees, especially during one year masters degrees.

It is important to remind them to maintain healthy habits during their studies, dissertation writing period, and exam time to ensure that they do well.

Check in on their sleep habits, and verify that they are creating study schedules that include breaks.

Remind them that you can only do so much work in one day. These small things can help.

However, if their stress and anxiety is interfering with their ability to study or apply for jobs / new degree programmes, they may need more specialised help. If students are struggling with high levels of stress and anxiety that are interfering with their ability to study, please refer them to Wellbeing or LSE Counselling for support.