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The ISBF Blog

The London School of Economics and Political Science

Posted on April 26, 2019 by Saumya Omer  | Academics | Blog

What is LSE?

The London School of Economics and Political Science, or LSE, is a globally leading public-funded academic institution affiliated to the University of London. Until 2008, LSE used to award University of London degrees. LSE has been a pioneer in terms of academic excellence and research in the areas of economics, management, finance, and the social sciences, the fields in which it is ranked in the top ten internationally.

Founded in 1895, LSE came under the umbrella of University of London in 1900. It offers both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, and a wide spectrum of opportunities for doctoral candidates as well. There are 40 bachelor degree courses and about 140 postgraduate degrees and diploma programmes at LSE spread across 25 departments and 23 research centres. It also offers executive master’s programmes and online certificate courses and has a renowned Summer School programme with over 100 short-term courses.

Ranked second in the world for social sciences and management according to QS World Rankings 2019, LSE boasts of an extremely cosmopolitan student body, comprising students from over 150 countries. With over 10,000 students, the London School of Economics, as it is also known, is thus the abode of international cultural amalgamation.

LSE’s global reputation was originally built around Economics, but both the institution and its name have grown to encompass other areas too, notable among them being political science, finance, management, international relations and law. Nevertheless, it remains among the top choices in the world even today for studying Economics, and so the rest of this article will focus on the study of this discipline at the London School of Economics.

Is LSE the best for economics?

For anyone aspiring to pursue a degree in economics and willing to challenge themselves by studying at a world-class institution with a curriculum par excellence, LSE is possibly the best destination to apply to.

Ranked first in the United Kingdom and sixth globally, according to the QS World Rankings 2019, the London School of Economics has a state-of-the-art economics department offering both undergraduate and graduate programmes in economics and econometrics. Ranked consistently in the top 20 economics departments globally, the Department of Economics at the London School of Economics is committed to producing pioneering research in the field and staying on its frontlines.

The school offers a cutting-edge pedagogy and has historically given to the world its most qualified and brilliant economists – the department boasts of 10 Nobel Prize winners among its present staff and alumni. According to the Research Assessment Exercise 2014 conclusions, LSE has world-leading research output, rating 56% of its work 4 stars, the highest grade awarded. The remaining 33% was graded 3 stars, which implies an overall impeccable research standing.

The motto of LSE is 'Rerum cognoscere causas' or 'to understand the causes of things’, a pragmatic message that guides the education and research at LSE. It aims to equip students with analytical and critical thinking abilities and prepare them to become social scientists who can apply their knowledge and training to solve complex real-world problems.

The London School of Economics is a world-leader when it comes to social sciences and has consistently been top-ranked by all grading and ranking consultancies. Considering the pedigree of graduates LSE produces, as gleaned from the remarkable things they go on to achieve, the institution can certainly be counted among the best centres in the world for economics.

Check out Notable LSE Alumni

Undergraduate Courses

Undergraduate economics at LSE combines intensive training in the conventional tools of economic analysis with innovations in course content and pedagogical approaches. The educators at LSE aim to nurture students by giving them an exposure to real-world problems through active learning.

The Department of Economics at LSE offers three undergraduate honours degrees programmes.

BSc Economics

A three-year full-time course, Bachelor of Science in Economics at LSE is overtly focused on teaching analytical modules of economics that can then be applied to real-world problems in all fields of economics. The programme is intensive in mathematics and, therefore, it is imperative for an aspiring student to be good at mathematics and be an analytical thinker.

The programme introduces students to the concepts of microeconomics and macroeconomics in the first year. In the second and third year, it teaches them core analytical skills and provides them with a grasp of econometrics and how to apply it to analyse solutions to various problems. Students can also decide to specialize in areas of their interest and they have an option to choose electives from among a host of options.

BSc Economics and Mathematical Economics
The Bachelor of Science in Economics and Mathematical Economics is primarily meant for a career in research and academia or for advancing to further education in the subject. The programme is mathematically rigorous and students get a thorough grounding in quantitative economics, understanding the application of mathematics in the social sciences. The course ends in the third year with a thesis in quantitative economics.

BSc Economics with Economics History
This programme blends the study of economics and econometrics with economic history. Apart from core economics subjects which are similar to the other Bachelor’s programmes, students also learn about the history of economics, the growth of economies since the late nineteenth century and complete a dissertation in economic history in their last year of study.

Undergraduate programmes with Economics as one of the core areas are also offered by other departments at LSE. For example, the Department of Economic History offers the popular BSc Economics and Economic History, the Department of Social Policy offers the BSc International Social and Public Policy and Economics, and the Department of Mathematics offers the BSc Mathematics and Economics.

Taught Master’s

The postgraduate programmes in economics offered by the Department of Economics at LSE focus on building advanced analytical abilities in the students and preparing them to tackle real-world challenges by applying those abilities. LSE offers two variations of Master's degrees in the area of Economics.

MSc Economics
The Master of Science in Economics programme at LSE prepares the students to become professional economists and work in diverse fields of applications of the subject, be it in the public sector or private sector multinational corporations. Since the programme is notably challenging and teaches advanced modules of economics, it also serves as an excellent foundation for research-based careers.

The MSc Economics programme is available for both durations - 1 year and 2 years. While the 1-year course is generally meant for those with a world-class undergraduate background in quantitative economics, the 2-year course is meant for students who have the analytical bent of mind but are not very well-versed with quantitative economics modules.

MSc Econometrics and Mathematical Economics
This 1-year full-time programme is ideal for students who aspire to build their careers in the field of econometrics and as economic analysts in different sectors or who want to pursue a PhD in Economics. The candidates are required to have an intensive quantitative background with the ability to understand technical concepts, and hence, the programme targets statisticians, mathematicians, engineers, physical science students, and those with a strong undergraduate background in quantitative economics.

Undergraduate programmes with Economics as one of the core areas are also offered by other departments at LSE. For example, the Department of Finance offers the popular MSc Finance and Economics, and the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method offers the MSc Economics and Philosophy, and the Department of Management offers the MSc Economics and Management.

How hard is it to get into the London School of Economics?

The London School of Economics is one of the most distinguished institutions in the world and has thousands of brilliant students competing with each other to get admission into its top-ranked academic programmes. It is more than just a brand; it’s a life-long watermark on its students’ personality and holds the power to shape their future, personally and professionally.

Naturally, therefore, it can get extremely tough to secure admission in the institution. The academic curriculum demands that the students are willing to challenge themselves and put in a large amount of labour to achieve excellence, hence the selection rate of one in about twelve applicants can seem daunting, and perhaps even discouraging.

However, excellent academic grades and an application that showcases the passion to study at LSE can go a long way to helping one secure a place to study at LSE. While grades are critical, there are other criteria that hold high value in the assessment of the application, such as consistency of motivation with regard to the chosen subject, coherence of reasons for studying it and co-curricular efforts to broaden one’s horizons apropos the subject, to name some.

How can one get into the London School of Economics on a scholarship?

There are a plethora of scholarship options available for aspiring students at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. LSE provides about £4 million each year as financial support in the form of scholarships and bursaries to undergraduate students. For graduate students, this amount is around £12.7 million each year.

All scholarships offered by LSE are funded by private or corporate donations and the value and the number of scholarships available are subject to changes every year. The criteria primarily focus on the financial need and then academic merit. The competition for each one of these scholarships is very high, with the best of the students rivalling to get accepted.

Apart from core LSE offered scholarships, there are multiple avenues available to the students in the form of external funding through international organizations and foundations, as well as through governments.

How is student life at LSE?

Located in the heart of London, in the close vicinity of prominent sights like Theatreland, Covent Garden, and River Thames, the London School of Economics boasts of vibrant and vivacious student life with multiple avenues for the scholars to nurture their passions and skills, apart from academics. From regular cultural and sports events to volunteering with non-profit clubs, LSE offers students an arra-y of platforms to engage in with respect to extracurricular activities.

LSE Students’ Union
The LSE Students’ Union, an autonomous charitable society by LSE students, offers plenty of interactive opportunities for the students to make the most of their time at LSE through sports clubs, over 200 cultural societies, employability training programmes, and media platforms like a radio station, weekly newspaper, a TV show and a film-making society. All students who enrol at LSE automatically become a member of the LSE Students’ Union. The union also guides students on financial, academic, and personal matters.

Public Events & Lectures
The institution hosts over 200 public every year, calling on eminent speakers and famous personalities. In the past, world-leaders like Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, David Cameron and Sheryl Sandberg have spoken at events conducted by the London School of Economics. These events are an excellent platform for students to gain exposure to cutting-edge developments in an array of fields and to interact with and learn from the domain leaders.

The LSE’s public lecture series hosts some of the most renowned and celebrated speakers in the world, delivering talks on their experiences. Free for students to attend, these lectures feature leaders across all industries, including politics and academia.

Cultural Events and Volunteering
The cultural environment at LSE is quite vivacious, owing to the multiplicity of ethnicities and countries that are a part of the student community. Therefore, student life is filled with arts and cultural activities, such as free weekly music concerts in the beautiful Shaw Library that hosts an impressive range of international musicians and instruments. There are regular art exhibitions on the campus itself, along with works of art being displayed all over the campus.

Additionally, LSE Volunteer Centre, a part of LSE Careers, provides students with a platform to actively contribute to a diverse range of social causes and make a difference in the local as well as a global community in various ways by volunteering with charities and nonprofits based in London as well as abroad. On campus itself, charitable societies like Amnesty International give students an opportunity to contribute to global development causes.
How is the London School of Economics for Indian students?
For Indian students, studying at LSE is a golden opportunity to immerse in cutting-edge global know-how and gain an appreciation of diverse world views. Academically, LSE is an exceptional value addition to their profile, the curriculum and innovative guidance followed by its teaching fraternity allowing them a pass into a successful career path.

In 2018, LSE welcomed 296 students from India, 80 at the undergraduate level and 216 at the postgraduate or graduate level.

Internal clubs like The India Society, the largest and the most active India-focused society on campus, help Indian students settle in seamlessly into LSE’s cosmopolitan environment. The society also promotes Indian culture on campus, celebrates major festivals, hosts Bollywood nights and organise social events regularly, providing a great platform for Indian students to locate and interact with other Indian students. The society also hosts an annual conference called LSE SU India Forum that brings together eminent personalities from India to deliver lectures on the big and contemporary issues in India.

What do LSE graduates do?

The London School of Economics graduates are some of the most noted professionals and are in perennial demand by organizations across sectors. While many opt for employment after graduating, there is a significant chunk that advances in research fields and contributes to solving the most complex of problems faced by the world today.

The majority of LSE graduates go on to work in the political sector with the government or in the social sector with NGOs and international development organizations. Other fields that LSE graduates find employment in are banking and finance, education and teaching, consultancy, information and digital technology, FMCG and manufacturing, marketing and communications, media management, and market research, among others.

In a recent survey conducted by the institution, it was found that LSE graduates found employment in 113 different countries with 52% of them working outside the United Kingdom. A significant percentage also go on to pursue their PhD after graduating, conducting cutting-edge research in diverse fields.

LSE Economics graduates, specifically, are some of the most sought-after professionals by organizations in both public as well as the private sector and are considered subject-matter experts. Their understanding of socio-political concepts and their ability to use their analytical and mathematical skills in consonance with those concepts is highly appreciated by employers near and far, including in the exciting areas of data science, data analytics and quantitative analysis.

Studying LSE’s curriculum outside London

While it can get considerably challenging to gain admission in LSE itself, the institute has made it possible for aspirants to study its outstanding curriculum in their home country through a network of international teaching institutions. These institutions offer the University of London International Programmes in Economics, Finance, Management, and Social Sciences (EMFSS) under the academic direction from the London School of Economics.

Spread across the world, LSE currently works with over 70 such global teaching institutions. These institutions are a platform for students to be a part of the global student community of LSE while living in their own country, availing the pioneering academic direction of LSE without changing geographies, making the LSE-based education more accessible for international students.

In India, the Indian School of Business & Finance (ISBF) offers these programmes and is one of the top featured teaching institutions of the London School of Economics. The institute receives regular visits from LSE faculty who train the ISBF faculty members and also deliver lectures for the students. For instance, Dr. James Abdey, Assistant Professorial Lecturer of Statistics at the London School of Economics is also a visiting faculty at ISBF for the newly launched Graduate Diploma in Data Science programme.

All students of international programmes studying at ISBF, and other global teaching institutions, are also the students of the University of London and are assessed according to the same internal standard followed by the university to ensure uniformity in the credentials, irrespective of mode or place of study or examination. Thus, all students who pursue and complete the programme are awarded their degrees by the University of London specifying the name of the lead college that imparted the academic direction for the programme.

Read about ISBF: An LSE Education in India

The students at these teaching institutions get access to the study material and online resources designed by the educators at LSE. Exam papers are set by the LSE faculty and the transcripts are sent to LSE for grading. The results are declared globally along with all other Affiliate Centres of the University of London across the world.

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