Programmes

BSc International Relations

  • Undergraduate
  • International Relations
  • UCAS code L250
  • Starting 2017

International relations is the study of an international system composed of territorial states which acknowledge no superior authority over matters which they consider of vital interest. This degree studies the functioning, theory and history of this system, and the nature of the changing relations between states and non-state actors.

Questions of central interest to the programme are: Why, on the one hand, do states go to war and what impact does this have on the international system? Why, on the other hand, do they often cooperate and obey international law? What is meant by "governance" and how do we explain regional developments like the European Union, or the re-emergence of the United Nations?

We will also investigate the widely different character and circumstances of states, examining the implications of the highly uneven distribution of power, money, welfare and knowledge in the international system for the foreign policies of states towards each other, and for the maintenance of international order.

Programme details

Key facts


 BSc International Relations
Start date 21 September 2017
Application deadline 15 January 2017
Duration Three years full-time
Applications 2016 942
First year students 2016 66
Availability Closed
Tuition fee UK/EU fee: £9,250 for the first year (provisional)
Overseas fee: £18,408 for the first year
Usual standard offer A level: grades A A A
International Baccalaureate: Diploma with 38 points including 7 6 6 at Higher level
English language requirements Proof of your English language proficiency may be required
Location  Houghton Street, London

For more information about tuition fees, usual standard offers and entry requirements, see the fees and funding and assessing your application sections below.

Programme structure and courses

The degree involves studying courses to the value of 12 units over three years, plus LSE100. 

First year

(* denotes a half unit course) 

In the first year you will take two compulsory courses: Theories and Concepts of International Relations and International History since 1890. You will also take one outside option from another department at LSE; LSE100 during the Lent term; and either Introduction to Political Theory; Reason, Knowledge and Value: An Introduction to Philosophy; or Key Concepts in Sociology: An Introduction to Sociological theory. 

Theories and Concepts of International Relations
Examines the theories and concepts designed to explain the nature of contemporary international relations 

International History Since 1890
Explores the history of international relations from the 1890s through the 1990s.

One outside option 

LSE100
Beginning in the Lent term of the first year and running through the Michaelmas term of the second year, LSE100 is compulsory for all LSE undergraduate students, and introduces you to the fundamental elements of thinking like a social scientist.

One from:
Introduction to Political Theory
Examines the foundations of Western political thought, followed by modern political theory.
Reason, Knowledge and Value: An Introduction to Philosophy
Provides an introduction to analytical philosophy by using classic and contemporary texts to study a selection of philosophical problems. 
Key Concepts in Sociology: An Introduction to Sociological Theory
Aims to introduce students to sociological theory by examining the work and ideas of six key thinkers in social thought.

Second year

In the second year you will take International Political Theory; International Organisations, and Foreign Policy Analysis; plus LSE100 in the Michaelmas term. You will also take one from an approved list of international relations courses, or an approved language course. 

International Political Theory
Combines classical theory with modern ways of explaining and understanding international relations. 

International Organisations
Examines major theoretical and empirical aspects of the role of international organisations in international politics. 

Foreign Policy Analysis
Analyses various theoretical perspectives on foreign policy, and the means of conduct of the main actors in the international system towards each other. 

One international relations or language course option from an approved list 

LSE100
Beginning in the Lent term of the first year and running through the Michaelmas term of the second year, LSE100 is compulsory for all LSE undergraduate students, and introduces you to the fundamental elements of thinking like a social scientist.

Third year  

You will take three courses from an approved list, and an outside option offered by another department that is relevant to the study of international relations.

Three approved international relations options 

One outside option 

You can find the most up-to-date list of optional courses in the Programme Regulations section of the current School Calendar.

You must note however that while care has been taken to ensure that this information is up-to-date and correct, a change of circumstances since publication may cause the School to change, suspend or withdraw a course or programme of study, or change the fees that apply to it. The School will always notify the affected parties as early as practicably possible and propose any viable and relevant alternative options.  Note that that the School will neither be liable for information that after publication becomes inaccurate or irrelevant, nor for changing, suspending or withdrawing a course or programme of study due to events outside of its control, which includes but is not limited to a lack of demand for a course or programme of study, industrial action, fire, flood or other environmental or physical damage to premises.

You must also note that places are limited on some courses and/or subject to specific entry requirements. The School cannot therefore guarantee you a place. Please note that changes to programmes and courses can sometimes occur after you have accepted your offer of a place.  These changes are normally made in light of developments in the discipline or path-breaking research, or on the basis of student feedback.  Changes can take the form of altered course content, teaching formats or assessment modes. Any such changes are intended to enhance the student learning experience. You should visit the School’s Calendar, or contact the relevant academic department, for information on the availability and/or content of courses and programmes of study. Certain substantive changes will be listed on the updated undergraduate course and programme information page.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching

In the first and second year, courses are taught through a combination of lectures, and classes. The lectures provide a broad overview of a topic. The classes are small group discussions and provide an opportunity to explore a topic in greater depth.  These are usually taught by Graduate Teaching Assistants. In the third year you will choose from a selection of courses on specialised topics.  The majority of these are half unit options and are taught by a full-time member of staff. You can view indicative details for the teacher responsible for each course in the relevant course guide.

The total teaching time amounts to around 10 contact hours per week, not including LSE100 teaching. In addition to this, you should expect to be doing eight hours of guided independent work per course per week. Hours vary according to courses and you can view indicative details in the Calendar within the Teaching section of each course guide.

You will be assigned an academic adviser who will meet with you to discuss your academic progress and any problems which you might have. There are many opportunities to extend your learning outside the classroom and complement your academic studies at LSE. LSE LIFE is the School’s centre for academic, personal and professional development. Some of the services on offer include: guidance and hands-on practice of the key skills you will need to do well at LSE: effective reading, academic writing and critical thinking; workshops related to how to adapt to new or difficult situations, including development of skills for leadership, study/work/life balance and preparing for the world of work; and advice and practice on working in study groups and on cross-cultural communication and teamwork.

LSE is committed to enabling all students to achieve their full potential and the School’s Disability and Wellbeing Service provides a free, confidential service to all LSE students and is a first point of contact for all disabled students.

Your timetable

The lecture and seminar timetable is published in mid-August and the full academic timetable (lectures/seminars and undergraduate classes) is published by mid-September and is accessible via the LSE Timetables webpages.

Undergraduate student personal timetables are published in LSE for You (LFY). For personal timetables to appear, students must be registered at LSE, have successfully signed up for courses in LFY and ensured that their course selection does not contain unauthorised clashes.

Every effort is made to minimise changes after publication, once personal timetables have been published any changes are notified via email.

The standard teaching day runs from 09:00-18:00; Monday to Friday. Teaching for undergraduate students will not usually be scheduled after 12:00 on Wednesdays to allow for sports, volunteering and other extra-curricular events. 

Assessment

All taught courses are required to include formative coursework which is unassessed. It is designed to help prepare you for summative assessment which counts towards the course mark and to the degree award. LSE uses a range of formative assessment, such as essays, problem sets, case studies, reports, quizzes, mock exams and many others. Summative assessment over the course of the three years will be assessed through a variety of means. In the first and second year, the majority of our courses rely on examinations at the end of the year. In the third year courses are assessed through a variety of means: some through end of year examinations; some through a piece of assessed coursework; and some through a combination of the two.  An indication of the formative coursework and summative assessment for each course can be found in the relevant course guide.

Feedback on coursework is an essential part of the teaching and learning experience at the School. Class teachers must mark formative coursework and return it with feedback to you normally within two weeks of submission (when the work is submitted on time). You will also receive feedback on any summative coursework you are required to submit as part of the assessment for individual courses (except on the final version of submitted dissertations). You will normally receive this feedback before the examination period. 

Find out more about LSE’s teaching and assessment methods

Preliminary reading

If you wish to gain further insight into the subject we suggest that you look at one or more of the following books:

C Alden and A Aron Foreign Policy Analysis: new approaches (Routledge, 2011)

J Baylis, S Smith and P Owens (eds) The Globalization of World Politics: an introduction to international relations (6th edition, Oxford University Press, 2013)

C Brown, with K Ainley Understanding International Relations (Macmillan, 2009)

B Buzan and R Little International Systems in World History: remaking the study of international relations (Oxford University Press, 2000)

R Jackson and G Sorensen An Introduction to International Relations: theories and approaches (5th edition, Oxford University Press, 2012)

R Shilliam International Relations and Non-Western Thought: imperialism, colonialism and investigations of global modernity (Routledge, 2010)

J Steans Gender & International Relations (Polity Press, 2013)

T G Weiss and R Wilkinson (eds) International Organization and Global Governance (Routledge, 2014)

J Young and J Kent International Relations since 1945: a global history (2nd ed, Oxford University Press, 2013)

Careers

The degree programme does not prepare you for a specific career. It develops a range of intellectual and practical skills that are relevant across a wide range of career opportunities. Our graduates have found work with a wide range of employers including multilateral and intergovernmental organisations; non-governmental organisations (NGOs); banking and accounting services; local and national governments; educational establishments; and media and publishing companies. Others have opted to continue studying international relations, or have transferred the skills they developed at LSE to other disciplines, such as law. 

Further information on graduate destinations for this programme

Support for your career

Many leading organisations give careers presentations at the School during the year, and LSE Careers has a wide range of resources available to assist students in their job search. Find out more about the support available to students through LSE Careers.

Student stories

Laura Wright

BSc International Relations
Durham, UK

Laura-Wright170x230

LSE is renowned for its academic prestige and the teaching staff live up to this reputation. For an international relations student, being based in the centre of London allows you to feel closer to global affairs. Most diplomatic visits and conferences are held in the capital, and having Parliament and the House of Commons just along the river fosters a real political atmosphere on campus.

Studying in the city also prepares you for the real world of work. This was something that I really valued over the artificiality of campus life. LSE is also relatively small in comparison to other universities, and it has a real community feel.

Freya Nowell

BSc International Relations
London, UK

Watch Freya's video

Assessing your application

We welcome applications from all suitably qualified prospective students and want to recruit students with the very best academic merit, potential and motivation, irrespective of their background. The programme guidance below should be read alongside our general entrance requirements information.

We carefully consider each application on an individual basis, taking into account all the information presented on the UCAS application form, including your:

- academic achievement (including predicted and achieved grades)
- subject combinations
- personal statement
- teacher’s reference
- educational circumstances

You may also have to provide evidence of your English proficiency, although you do not need to provide this at the time of your application to LSE. See our English language requirements.

What we are looking for in an application for BSc International Relations

Academic achievement

Successful applicants for this programme are usually predicted to achieve or have already achieved a minimum of A A A in their A levels (or 38 and above International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB) points, including 7 6 6 at Higher level). 

Applicants should also have already achieved a strong set of GCSE grades including the majority at A and A*, or equivalent. Your GCSE (or equivalent) English Language and Mathematics grades should be no lower than B. We also consider your overall GCSE subject profile, and your AS grades, if available.

Competition for places at the School is high. This means that even if you are predicted or if you achieve the grades that meet our usual standard offer, this will not guarantee you an offer of admission. Usual standard offers are intended only as a guide, and in some cases applicants will be asked for grades which differ from this.

We express our standard offers and where applicable, programme requirement, in terms of A levels and the IB, but we consider applications from students with a range of qualifications including BTECs, Foundation Courses and Access to HE Diplomas as well as a wide range of international qualifications.
Information about accepted international qualifications
Information about other accepted UK qualifications

Subject combinations

We consider the combination of subjects you have taken, as well as the individual scores. We believe a broad mix of traditional academic subjects to be the best preparation for studying at LSE and expect applicants to have at least two full A levels or equivalent in these subjects.

We are looking for academic students with a genuine interest in and enthusiasm for the social sciences. There is no one 'ideal' subject combination, however, as with all degree programmes at LSE, at least two traditional academic subjects are preferred. Common sixth form subject choices include a combination of History, English, Economics, Government and Politics, Sociology, Geography, Languages, Psychology and Philosophy. 

If you have taken Mathematics, Further Mathematics and one other subject at A level, this may be considered less competitive for this programme.

Personal characteristics, skills and attributes

For this programme, we are looking for students who demonstrate the following characteristics, skills and attributes:

- genuine interest in international society, its institutions, governance, rules and relationships
- your views and opinions on current and public affairs
- ability to read extensively
- ability to evaluate and challenge conventional views
- good communication skills
- creativity, flexibility and initiative
- capacity to work independently
- attention to detail
- intellectual curiosity
- motivation and capacity for hard work

Personal statement

In addition to demonstrating the above personal characteristics, skills and attributes, your statement should be original, interesting and well-written and should outline your enthusiasm and motivation for the programme.

You should explain whether there are any aspects of particular interest to you, how this relates to your current academic studies and what additional reading or relevant experiences you have had which have led you to apply. We are interested to hear your own thoughts or ideas on the topics you have encountered through your exploration of the subject at school or through other activities. Some suggestions for preliminary reading can be found below, but there is no set list of activities we look for; instead we look for students who have made the most of the opportunities available to them to deepen their knowledge and understanding of their intended programme of study.

You can also mention extra-curricular activities such as sport, the arts or volunteering or any work experience you have undertaken. However, the main focus of an undergraduate degree at LSE is the in-depth academic study of a subject and we expect the majority of your personal statement to be spent discussing your academic interests.

Please also see our general guidance about writing personal statements.

Fees and funding

Every undergraduate student is charged a fee for each year of their programme.

The fee covers registration and examination fees payable to the School, lectures, classes and individual supervision, lectures given at other colleges under intercollegiate arrangements and, under current arrangements, membership of the Students' Union. It does not cover living costs or travel or fieldwork.

Tuition fees 2017/18

UK/EU* students: £9,250 for the first year (provisional pending final approval by Parliament)
Overseas students £18,408 for the first year

UK/EU undergraduate fees may rise in line with inflation in subsequent years and the overseas fee usually rises by between 2.5 per cent and 4 per cent each year.

*The UK Government confirmed in October 2016 that the fee level listed for EU undergraduate new entrants in 2017/18 will be the same as Home UK for the subsequent years of their undergraduate degree programme.

The amount of tuition fees you will need to pay, and any financial support you are eligible for, will depend on whether you are classified as a home (UK/EU) or overseas student, otherwise known as your fee status. LSE assesses your fee status based on guidelines provided by the Department of Education. 

Further information about fee status classification
Further information about tuition fees

Scholarships, bursaries and loans

The School recognises that the cost of living in London may be higher than in your home town or country. LSE provides generous financial support, in the form of bursaries and scholarships to UK, EU and overseas students. 

In addition, Government support, in the form of loans, is available to UK and some EU students.

Find out more about tuition fee loans.

Key Information Set

From September 2012, every undergraduate programme of more than one year's duration will have a Key Information Set (KIS). The KIS allows you to compare 17 pieces of information about individual programmes at different higher education institutions.

Please note that programmes offered by different institutions with similar names can vary quite significantly. We recommend researching the programmes you are interested in and taking into account the programme structure, teaching and assessment methods, and support services available.

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