LSE GROUPS

for undergraduate students

"An immersive, engaging and unique learning experience [for] students."

Want to find out how knowledge is created? Maybe understand the processes underpinning your degree subject? Perhaps build up your group and team working skills?  Even get a taste of the life of an academic researcher…

LSE GROUPS is an immersive, engaging and a unique learning experience. It offers undergraduates the chance to do original research and present it to their peers.

Groups will be running twice in 2017-18 –

  • in a weekly format in the Michaelmas-Lent Terms
  • as a full-time two-week project in in Summer Term 2018

Applications for the Michaelmas-Lent GROUPS are now CLOSED

 

‘Beveridge 2.0’

In 1942, the Beveridge Report scrutinised British society, and laid the foundation for the welfare state. The report identified five dangerous ‘giants’: Poverty, Squalor, Idleness, Ignorance and Disease. Seventy-five years later, are the giants still strong? Is the welfare state the best way to defeat them?

Participants in GROUPS will choose one ‘giant’ as their specific area of interest, and join a group focusing on that topic, made up of students from mixed years and disciplines. Groups will meet weekly, with the guidance of a supervisor. They will choose a research question and methodology, collect and analyse data, and present their findings at a final conference. GROUPS workshops will develop student skills in literature searching, research tools, data analysis and more.

This GROUPS project will run between Michaelmas Term week 8, and Lent Term week 7, with workshops every Tuesday (during term time) between 4-6pm. Please check your timetable to ensure you’re able to attend in both terms.

 

Please send any enquiries to tlc.groups@lse.ac.uk  

 

You can see information on GROUPS from previous years below.

LSE GROUPS 2017

We are living in uncertain times. How can social scientists study change and instability? How do individuals and communities live with uncertainty?

LSE GROUPS returned for its seventh year, offering LSE undergraduates an exciting end-of-year opportunity to conduct research under the topic of ‘Uncertainty’. You can read the 2017 Conference Programme here. Below are research questions from the twelve student groups

Group 1 - To Gamble or Not to Gamble:  An empirical research into LSE students’ risk-taking behaviour and their performance on negatively-marked MCQs in EC102 exam (WINNER - BEST PRESENTATION & POPULAR VOTE)

Group 2 - Too little too late, useless words? An Analysis of the Impact UK Threat Levels have on the Public Perception of their Safety

Group 3 -  Public perceptions amongst Londoners following terrorist attacks in the UK in early 2017

Group 4 -  Heuristics, Uncertainty and Terrorism; Estimations of the Likelihood of Fatality due to Terrorist Events -  Do people overestimate the likelihood of fatality due to terrorist events?

Group 5 - Fear and Anger: How does the emotionalisation of news reports affect perceptions of terrorism risk?

Group 6 -  Apprentices of automation: adapting career paths to ever-smarter machines  (WINNER - BEST RESEARCH PAPER)

Group 7 -  To Vote or not to Vote: Does uncertainty in public opinion affect political engagement in US Presidential elections?

Group 8 -  Brexit matters? Different Brexit Scenarios’ Impact on Undergraduates’ Decision to Pursue Postgraduate Study in the UK

Group 9 - The Truth Behind Fake News: Insights into the perceived trustworthiness of news and its link to policy decisions

Group 10 -  Brick-and-Mortar Barriers:  The Impact of Uncertainty Avoidance on Purchase Probability under Personalized Pricing

Group 11 - #Hashtags and Bullets: Mapping Citizen Journalism and unarmed U.S. Police Shootings

Group 12 -  All lime and salt, no tequila: questioning the impact of Trumpian uncertainty on Mexico’s economy

 #groups2017

"LSE people provided very helpful analysis on causation and correlation .... Imperial people had a good grasp of the quantitative side of things and had more focus on scientific rigour. The diversity of students in the group also made for supporting sources and research in more diverse places." - GROUPS participant
"Freedom to choose what to study. Greater independence. Learning by doing. More contact time than undergraduate studies!" - GROUPS participant

 

GROUPS in previous years

‘LSE GROUPS was the key factor that drove me to pursue my own research with an undergraduate dissertation, so thank you very much for your work on that project and for providing me with my first opportunity to conduct academic research!’

LSE GROUPS past projects

LSE GROUPS 2016: Poverty and inequality in London

Great news!!! our LSE GROUPS project Hipsters and spikes: mapping gentrification and defensive architecture inTower Hamlets’ won the Booth prize at the LSE Research Festival. 

In its sixth year the theme for participants to research was ‘Poverty and Inequality in London’.

The cross-disciplinary, cross-year groups spent two weeks at the end of Summer Term working on a research project of their choice under the umbrella of ‘Poverty and Inequality in London’.  Students formulated their own research questions, carried out a literature review, designed their methodology, conducted their research and then wrote up their papers, culminating in a series of short presentations at the conference on the last day of the project.

Have a look at a film that we commissioned to document the experience of students who took part in GROUPS in 2016: insert film

The 2016 GROUPS carried out research projects on the following topics:

Groups 1 & 4: Inequality in elite places: The experience of routine workers at the LSE (combined project)

Bashir Ali, Nadim Choudhury, Laura Ehrich, Jinchong Ho, Haowei Li, Reyss Wheeler

This paper explores the experiences of non-academic support staff at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). There has been much research on low paid workers in London, but this research paper seeks to outline whether the working environment has an impact on one’s perspective of the inequality they face. The LSE is an interesting institution to study in this respect, as it exudes immense privilege, yet maintains a strong verbal commitment to equality and has in the past been held to account for falling short of this commitment. Since the work of front-line, manual labour staff is often rendered invisible, at a prestigious institution like the LSE, they often become the face of the inequality. Surveys and on-campus ethnographic observations of LSE’s cleaning, catering, security and other support staff were used to inform in-depth interviews. Our findings suggest that staff are generally satisfied in their working environment and with their pay. The majority do not express feelings of inequality - but there may be issues about work hierarchies and inclusion. Some suggestions for how the LSE can further improve the experience of its lowest-paid staff will be put forward.

Group 2: Displacement and disenchantment: a longitudinal analysis of social housing provision in Earl’s Court

Hari Chitnavis, Hanumanth Karri, Helen Broad

This paper proves that there has been a statistically significant decrease in social housing in Earl’s Court over the past 15 years, particularly in relation to the rest of London. Additionally, through qualitative analysis, this study finds considerable evidence of potential future displacement of social housing tenants due to the Earl’s Court Regeneration Scheme. We conclude that a reduction in social housing is due to a lack of availability not a lack of need with regards to social housing. Our results are indicative of a mismanaged social housing system, which has led to distrust and social tension between local authorities and community members. Under proposed regeneration schemes, the wait for new “affordable” housing to be completed would force current social housing tenants to leave due to lack of feasible interval housing. This leads to an increase in people looking toward private rented housing which only further lowers their income after rental payments, causing them to fall further into poverty. Earl’s Court is a present day example of such circumstances.

Group 3: Overcoming educational inequality: An examination of the perceptions of Teach First

Jessica Pandian, Rachel Lim Pei Yi, Mohamed Hidayat Al Rahman, Jivan Navani, Puneet Minocha, Yun Zhang

This paper explores third-party attempts to alleviate educational inequality in London by focusing on the Teach First scheme. To provide a background of the rationale behind Teach First, a review of the existing literature on the relationship between education and poverty was carried out. In addition, visual analysis of the scheme’s promotional material as well as in-depth semi-structured interviews with current applicants were conducted. This enables the critical analysis and comparison of the perceptions of the Teach First scheme and the realities experienced by those who have applied and/or have taught with the initiative. Our results suggest that potential teachers in the Teach First scheme perceive it as being conducive to achieving educational equality. However, the largely selfinterested and non-altruistic motivations of our participants illustrate the disparity between the aims and reality of Teach First. Moreover, the underlying factors that contribute to educational inequality tend not to be addressed by the scheme due to the multidimensional nature of poverty and inequality. Consequently, this paper suggests that the Teach First scheme needs to be modified in order to align the values of its participants and the organisation.

Group 5 - WINNER - BEST PRESENTATION and POPULAR PRIZE - Hipsters and spikes: mapping gentrification and defensive architecture inTower Hamlets

Tatiana Pazem, Sofia Lesur Kastelein, Sally Park, Robert Clark, Xinyang Li

Within the context of London’s extensive redevelopment and rising poverty rates, “gentrification”, debates around redevelopment and who it should serve have gained widespread attention. Existing literature considers the role of defensive architecture in the context of securitisation of urban space, positing gentrification as a possible driving force behind this phenomenon (Petty, 2016). Gentrification here is understood as the “production of urban space for progressively more affluent users” (Hackworth, 2002). Defensive architecture, such as ground-level metal studs, is an aspect of urban design intended to render public spaces “unusable in certain ways or by certain groups” (Petty, 2016). This paper offers a pioneering attempt to link these two phenomena and contributes new empirical evidence to the debate. This research investigates the relationship between gentrification and defensive architecture. Using ArcGIS, it maps defensive architecture and ‘indicators’ of gentrification in the borough of Tower Hamlets. It then looks for qualitative causal links using questionnaires to examine its community impact. The research then explores the ownership, usage and perceptions of the social space in which defensive architecture is located, to answer questions about how and why urban design can be used to perpetuate social exclusion. Early-stage analysis indicates some relationship between hostile urban design and gentrified areas, tentatively suggesting wealthier owners of public space seek to discourage its use by less-wealthy individuals.

Group 6 - WINNER - BEST RESEARCH PAPER (TIED) - Coming in from the cold: A case study of community engagement in tackling fuel poverty

Chenxu Fu, Vitaliy Komar, Rebecca Rose, Usama Shoaib, Lay Sheng Yap

Despite the government’s top-down policies to reduce fuel poverty, the number of households considered fuel poor remains persistently high. This paper aims to assess the potential of local intervention in reducing fuel poverty through community-centred initiatives such as the Winter Warmth and Healthy Home campaigns. These schemes have been put in place within Kensington and Chelsea so that policy trickles down to the fuel poor through community-specific networks. Qualitative data was collected from different stakeholders within the network. This ranged from the use of semi-structured interviews with a host of national and local charitable organisations to surveys with borough residents. Through analyzing the interactions and relationships between stakeholders, the strengths and shortcomings of the networks were identified. Our findings indicate that information dispersed via local organisations is more commonly trusted and acted upon by the fuel poor. The deeper connection between the community and these organisations also allows identification of households vulnerable to fuel poverty; many of whom would have otherwise been missed by government policies. However, we recognize that there are coordination obstacles between national and local groups which create disparities in the support available to the fuel poor in different regions. Overall, a model of community-led initiatives has to be complemented with the strengthening of local networks and national support.

Group 7 - Degrees: the key to social mobility? The role of credential inflation in reinforcing inequality through employment

Neethi David, Fahmi Farid, Zhaobin Guo, Andrew Ying Han Loh, Hanqing Zeng

The London Effect has seen increased equalisation of educational qualifications across income and ethnic groups, causing London to be perceived as an extremely socially mobile city. However, evidence shows that equalisation of education has not translated into real social mobility. We hypothesize that credential inflation exists in London. Therefore education is insufficient in ensuring social mobility through employment, proposing a multitude of alternative factors which reinforce inequality in employability. By conducting semi-structured interviews with Londoners and social organisations within two London Boroughs, and through quantitative analysis of the London job market and the qualifications of its workforce, our study confirms our initial hypothesis. To analyse our data, we have coded the interviews according to broad themes, and constructed the Credential Inflation Index (CII) as a measure of the level of credential inflation in London and the UK. We find that saturation of higher education and heightened job competition cause qualifications to be worth less when finding a job. This in turn causes social capital due to family background and soft skills to become more important in the job market, causing household inequality during one’s educational years during to become more noteworthy in determining an individual’s employability when entering the workforce.

Group 8 - Can money buy access? Intersectional analysis of income and disability in London transport

Tong Li, Nathan Gu, Mahnoor Mir, Yash Salunkhe, Selin Esen, Szabolcs Botond Perniczki Bozsing, Tom Breheny

Mobility impaired individuals typically face lower incomes and restricted access options, hindering socio-economic engagement. Previous studies mainly focused on the contrast between the travel experience of the abled and disabled community. This paper aims to examine whether income divergence results in intra-group differences in travel experiences of the mobility-impaired community in London. Both qualitative and quantitative studies were conducted employing indepth interviews, surveys and focus groups to explore the travel experiences of individuals with mobility impairments. This paper incorporates the views of the mobility impaired population and experts. The findings demonstrated that high income cannot enable individuals to mitigate transport access issues. In addition, the extent to which the mobility impaired community within London is constrained in their transport access depends on a variety of factors, especially the severity of disabilities. The above factors produce a complex and nuanced picture. This paper complements existing research by assessing the impact of household income on the transport experiences of the mobility-impaired community in London.

Group 9 - Inequality in elite places: The experience of routine workers at the LSE

Bashir Ali, Laura Ehrich, Reyss Wheeler, Haowei Li, Nadim Choudhury, Jinchong Ho

This paper explores the experiences of non-academic support staff at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). There has been much research on low paid workers in London, but this research paper seeks to outline whether the working environment has an impact on one’s perspective of the inequality they face. The LSE is an interesting institution to study in this respect, as it exudes immense privilege, yet maintains a strong verbal commitment to equality and has in the past been held to account for falling short of this commitment. Since the work of front-line, manual labour staff is often rendered invisible, at a prestigious institution like the LSE, they often become the face of the inequality. Surveys and on-campus ethnographic observations of LSE’s cleaning, catering, security and other support staff were used to inform in-depth interviews. Our findings suggest that staff are generally satisfied in their working environment and with their pay. The majority do not express feelings of inequality - but there may be issues about work hierarchies and inclusion. Some suggestions for how the LSE can further improve the experience of its lowest-paid staff will be put forward.

Group 10 - WINNER - BEST RESEARCH PAPER (TIED) “On the fringes of LSE society?” – The impact of socioeconomic factors on student experience at the LSE

Stefanos Argyros, Sian Brahach, Jimmy Ka Fung Lam, Asia Lawrance, Shirley Wang Jia Ying

This paper aims to assess the impact of students’ socioeconomic background on their experience at the LSE, focusing on sociocultural and economic barriers to achievement and integration. There is a wealth of literature on the impact of socioeconomic background in pre-university education and on post-university career progression. However, past research on inequality at the LSE has mainly centered on ethnic factors, without a commensurate analysis of the role of socioeconomic factors in the student experience. The purpose of this research project is twofold. Firstly, the research draws on surveys (155 responses) and aims to compare the experience of students from a plethora of different socioeconomic backgrounds. Secondly, the survey is complemented by semi-structured interviews (8) with students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds, to build a more in-depth understanding of this group’s subjective experiences at the LSE. The findings suggest that perceptions of the quality of teaching and support services at the LSE are similar across different socioeconomic backgrounds. However, students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds appear to be more susceptible to exclusion - i.e. to lie ‘on the fringes of LSE society’, as one respondent put it. These students face distinctive challenges in their efforts to integrate socially and academically at the LSE. The findings of the study indicate the need to develop practical institutional solutions to promote a more inclusive environment for LSE students, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Group 11 - Benefit or burden? How Londoners view immigration

Grace Natusch, Mriga Chowdhary and Jialu Li

In this article, we compare the social representations of immigrants in two London boroughs (Hackney and Kensington & Chelsea) differing in income and patterns of immigration. Immigration is currently a salient issue on the public agenda and national discourses on immigration are a prominent area in social science research. However, there is need for more research on the variations of discourse at the local community level. We use the methods of critical discourse analysis (CDA) to uncover what kinds of discursive frames are used in the local media outlets and the popular vernacular in both boroughs. Drawing on qualitative analysis of articles from two local newspapers (Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea Today and Hackney Gazette), we shed light on the variations in the discourse of immigrants and immigration between the two boroughs. We then augmented our findings by conducting semi-structured interviews with people from both boroughs. The social representations found in the popular vernaculars echoed the media discourse in each borough. Our research makes the contribution to conceptualising the link between demographic properties of communities and the discursive frames on immigration that these communities use.