FAQs for prospective BSc International Relations applicants

1. Could you please send me information about your BSc IR programme?

Request a hard copy of the Undergraduate Prospectus.

More information

2. How do I apply?

For information, see how to apply.

3. Does the School or IR Department hold an Open Day for prospective BSc IR applicants?

The School holds an Open Day twice a year, normally in the middle of March and the end of June, for those thinking of applying for undergraduate study.

More information

4. Will I be expected to attend an interview?

No. Decisions are normally made on the basis of the UCAS application form. Every part of the form is considered and it should therefore be completed as fully and thoughtfully as possible, especially the personal statement and the details of all your qualifications, both those already earned and those you intend to complete before entering the School. There is no need to submit additional material with the form, although in some cases the School may ask you to send a specific additional item such as a transcript of courses taken.

5. Do I need to submit a writing sample with my application?


6. What are the residency requirements for the course?

For queries regarding School regulations, please see international students.

7. What qualifications are required for admission to the BSc IR?

8 . Where can I find information about subjects available to study on the BSc IR programme?

You will find a short description of each subject in indergraduate programme. You could also look at the relevant IR-prefixed Undergraduate Course Guides .

9. Are all courses that are listed in the Undergraduate Prospectus and Undergraduate Handbook offered each year?

No. Some optional courses are 'Not Available' due to staff absences on sabbatical leave. You will be notified of those courses affected when you come to make your online course selection.

10. I applied last year and was rejected. What is the likelihood of succeeding with a second application?

Provided that you meet or exceed the minimum entry requirements, you are welcome to re-apply. However no guarantee of an offer can be given, as much will depend on the overall quality (including Personal Statements) of all other applicants. Every year many well qualified applicants are not made an offer due to the intense competition for places.

11. I would like to know more about how the IR Department and BSc IR programme operate. Where can I find such information?

You may find the FAQs written for those accepted to the 2015/16 programme of interest, though please note that some details may be subject to change for 2017/18.

12. How much are the tuition fees?

13. Are there any scholarships available for those applying for the BSc IR?

Please see the School's Financial Support Office webpages for details.

14. I would like to meet the selector or another member of the academic staff to find out more about the BSc IR programme. Can this be arranged?

Unfortunately, the IR Department does not have the resources to meet prospective applicants.  However, full details of the programme and admissions process can be found in the Undergraduate Prospectus, and Undergraduate Course Guides.  Please also read all the relevant IR Department FAQs in this section. 

The School's Open Days (see Qn 3 above) also provide an opportunity for prospective applicants to hear a talk by a member of the IR academic staff and/or to chat with IR academic staff.

15. What is the deadline for BSc IR applicants?

16. Can I apply to take the BSc IR part-time?

No. The BSc IR is a full-time course.

17. What is the difference between the BSc IR and the BSc IR and History?

The BSc IR is a 'single-subject' degree, for which the Department of International Relations is wholly responsible. The BSc IR and History (IR&H) is a 'joint' degree, in curricular terms: it is so constructed as to ensure that students on this programme study an approximately equal number of courses from International History and from International Relations. But admissions, tutorial and administrative aspects of the IR&H degree are exclusively the responsibility of the Department of International History, on whose initiative this degree was established.

IR&H students take the same four IR courses that are compulsory for BSc IR students (Concepts of International Society, International Political Theory, Foreign Policy Analysis and International Organisations). They are also able to choose either one or two other IR courses (or half units to the value of) (but not the Dissertation) in their third year. They do not have an automatic right of transfer into the BSc IR degree programme (but please see FAQ Qn 20 below).

The main difference in academic content between the two degree programmes is the amount of history to be studied. On the BSc IR degree programme, students have to take the compulsory course HY116 and may take one other history course in their first year; and they may, but do not have to, take a history course as their outside option in each of the following two years. So for BSc IR students the maximum possible is four history courses, or one third of the whole curriculum, and the minimum is one.

In contrast, IR&H students have to take HY116 and may take two more history courses in their first year; have to take two history courses (chosen from a range of options) in their second year; and have to take one and may take two history courses in their third year. So for IR&H students, history is studied to a minimum of four courses and a maximum of seven courses, with IR courses making up most of the balance of the curriculum. There is correspondingly less opportunity to study any subjects other than history and IR.

In the BSc IR degree, on the other hand, beyond the IR core curriculum, there are a number of specialist options in the third year that allow you to study a wide range of topics or focus on a particular area, such as international political economy.  Alternatively, there is scope for you to pursue a foreign language - either a modern European language or Mandarin.  These can build on existing language skills or start from the beginning.

18. What is the difference between the BSc IR and the BSc Politics and IR?

The BSc IR is a 'single-subject' degree, for which the Department of International Relations is wholly responsible. The BSc Politics and International Relations  (P&IR) is a 'joint' degree, in curricular terms: it is so constructed as to ensure that students on this programme study an approximately equal number of courses from Government and from International Relations. But admissions, tutorial and administrative aspects of the degree are primarily the responsibility of the Government Department, on whose initiative this degree was established.
Over the three years of the degree, P&IR students take the same four IR core courses that are compulsory for BSc IR students (Concepts of International Society, International Political Theory, Foreign Policy Analysis and International Organisations) alongside compulsory Government courses in political science, political theory and comparative politics. In their third year they are also able to choose optional courses in either department.  There is a compulsory 10,000 word dissertation in the third year but students can opt to write on a topic in either subject area.  They do not have an automatic right of transfer into the BSc IR degree programme (but please see FAQ Qn 20 below).

19. If I am accepted for the BSc IR and then decide I would like to switch to another degree programme at LSE, will this be possible?

Yes, but only if the Department responsible for the degree programme into which you wish to transfer agrees. It is not an automatic right and you would need to gain the consent of its Departmental Tutor, and the consent of the IR Departmental Tutor. Final approval is given by the Chair of the Undergraduate Studies Sub Committee after you have taken the necessary form with both signatures to the Student Services Centre. The IR Departmental Tutor is unlikely to withhold consent if satisfied that you have given the implications of the proposed transfer thorough and informed consideration.

The earlier in your first term that you ask to transfer the better, because then if the transfer is approved it will be easier to make up the work for any lectures or classes you have missed in your new Department. Transfer at the end of the first year is also occasionally possible, if the same three approvals are obtained; but in that event the Department into which you wish to transfer for your second and third years will have set conditions for you to meet in your first-year examinations. It will also need to be satisfied that you have taken, or will take, courses appropriate to your new degree programme.  It is not usually possible to switch to another degree programme on receipt of your offer, as each offer is only valid for the programme for which it was made.  Transfers can only be authorised once you are a registered LSE undergraduate student.

20. If I am rejected for the BSc IR but am accepted for an alternative LSE degree programme, will I be able to transfer to the BSc IR on arrival at the School?

Not as of right, no. Demand for places in the BSc IR degree is intense, and usually each year all places are easily filled. But if you are very keen to transfer in, you should express your interest to the IR Departmental Tutor with the possibility of transferring to IR at the end of the first year if you have taken IR100 as an outside option in the degree that you are initially admitted to. This will be possible in most, but not all, LSE degree programmes. We keep the situation under regular review. However, it is never advisable to accept a place on another degree programme, which your heart is not in, in the hope of being able to change to ours; you run a high risk of disappointment.

21. Is it possible to defer an offer of a place on the BSc IR to the following year?

Students who hold an offer may request a deferral, but no guarantee can be given that it will be approved.  Applicants who receive offers for a specific start-date are selected in the context of other applicants competing for entry in the same cohort. Very occasionally, however, if an offer-holder makes a strong individual case explaining the circumstances that necessitate deferral, the Department would take a sympathetic view where possible. It is generally better to submit a deferred (Gap-Year) application at the start of the Admissions cycle. (see FAQ 24 below). 

22. If I have a query about the application process, can I raise this with the Department instead of the School's Undergraduate Admissions Office?


23. Does LSE welcome applications from candidates who wish to take a "Gap Year" between School and university?

Yes, especially if applicants devote their gap year to activities that enhance their ability to benefit from and contribute to the School. However, the Department strongly prefers to consider such applications not in advance but early in the gap year itself. At that stage, details of all the candidate's actual examination results and other qualifications will be available. See FAQ 24 below.

24. I plan to take a gap year between school and university so that I can apply for admission in the autumn after completing my academic qualifications. I hope to do something with my gap year that will strengthen my chances of gaining an offer. What does the LSE International Relations Department recommend?

How you spend a gap year is strictly a matter of personal choice and the Department gives no specific advice. We consider each application strictly on its merits and do not give extra weight for a gap year as such.  However, the selectors do look for any characteristic that makes an application stronger, which for a gap year means any experience that promotes the personal and academic development of the candidate.  Beyond that it is a matter of personal choice. 

For example, travel always broadens the mind but extended volunteer work in an exotic location is likely to broaden it more than simply being a tourist. Taking a gap year for financial reasons is also acceptable because doing any job disciplines the mind and a challenging job is likely to stimulate it as well.  Also time can usually be found in a working life to undertake background reading in preparation for a return to full-time study. In short, whatever you do it is advisable to keep your brain active.

25. Can I apply to enter the second year directly, on the basis I have already studied equivalent material?

No. The Department does not accept applications for direct entry into the second year.