Programmes

BSc Philosophy and Economics

  • Undergraduate
  • Department of Philosophy, Logic & Scientific Method
  • UCAS code LV15
  • Starting 2017

This unique joint degree, administered by some of the world’s top departments in philosophy and economics, allows you to study foundational and philosophical questions alongside your core courses in economics. If you’re interested in an economics degree, but would like to take your thinking to a deeper philosophical level, then this may be the degree for you. 

Philosophy addresses challenging foundational questions in many fields, including ethics, politics and scientific methodology. It also involves training in rigorous argumentation, including formal logic and essay writing. Here are some examples of the kinds of questions addressed by different philosophical fields:

Ethics: What is the nature of the good, and how should we act?

Metaphysics: What is the nature of reality? Does God exist, or free will, or a mind-independent world?

Epistemology: What is knowledge, and what distinguishes it from mere belief or opinion?

Politics and law: How should society be organised? What is the nature and aim of law?

Philosophy of Science: What is science, and what makes it successful? What concepts and methods make science work?

Many of these questions find their origins in ancient Greece. But unmistakable progress has been made in understanding many of them, and active new contributions are happening all the time. Studying philosophy gives you the chance to be a part of that progress.

Economics tackles a broad range of problems, from barriers to economic development to international financial crises. What caused the great economic crisis of 2008 and which policies were the right reaction? Why is there still a gender pay gap and one for ethnic minorities? Why, as economies grow richer, are people often not any happier? Economics considers broad-ranging real world issues such as these. In this programme, you will take an open-minded and scientific approach to such issues, using formal modelling of economic relationships, and testing hypotheses against data.

Programme details

Key facts

BSc Philosophy and Economics
Start date 21 September 2017
Application deadline 15 January 2017
Duration Three years full-time
Applications 2016 165
First year students 2016 29
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, with A in Mathematics
International Baccalaureate: Diploma with 38 points including 7 6 6 at Higher level, including Mathematics
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

This joint degree involves studying courses to the value of 12 units over three years, plus LSE100. It allows you to study some of the central questions of philosophy alongside core courses in economics. The Philosophy of Economics course, taken in the third year, links the two subjects.   

First year 

(* denotes a half unit course)

In your first year, you take a compulsory course in economics and a compulsory course in philosophy. You can then take either two half course units of mathematics and statistics (in order to master the basic skills that you will need for core second and third year economics courses), or a full unit of mathematics and a full unit of statistics (in order to provide yourself with a more comprehensive basis for advanced economics courses in your later years). If you choose to take the two half unit courses of mathematics and statistics, you complete your first year by taking Logic (or the more demanding Formal Methods of Philosophical Argumentation). You will also take LSE100 in the Lent term.

Either
Economics A
Provides a foundation in economics, primarily to those without significant background in the subject.
Or
Economics B
An introductory course in microeconomics and macroeconomics.

The Big Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy
Provides an introduction to analytical philosophy by using classic and contemporary texts to study a selection of philosophical problems.

Either
Quantitative Methods (Mathematics)*
Provides the basic mathematical knowledge and develops the elementary statistical tools necessary for further study in economics.
And
Quantitative Methods (Statistics)*
Provides the elementary statistical tools necessary for further study in management and economics with an emphasis on the applicability of the methods to management and economic problems.
Along with either
Logic
Introduces the basic system of modern formal logic, including propositional logic, predicate logic and the theory of identity
Or
Formal Methods of Philosophical Argumentation 
Combines the logic with probability theory and makes these formal methods relevant to the analysis of arguments and the study of scientific reasoning. This course is offered as a more demanding alternative to Logic.
Or 
Mathematical Methods
An introductory-level course for those who wish to use mathematics extensively in social science.
And 
Elementary Statistical Theory
Provides a precise treatment of introductory probability theory, statistical ideas, methods and techniques.

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.

Second year

In the second year you take either Formal Methods of Philosophical Argumentation (if not already taken in your first year) or an approved philosophy option. You then have the choice of either Microeconomic Principles I or Microeconomics Principles II as well as Macroeconomic Principles. You also study an approved philosophy option and take LSE100 in the Michaelmas term. 

Macroeconomic Principles
Examines economic growth, consumption, investment, unemployment, inflation, monetary and fiscal policy, financial markets and international macroeconomics.

Either
Formal Methods of Philosophical Argumentation 
Combines the logic with probability theory and makes these formal methods relevant to argumentation analysis and the study of scientific reasoning
Or 
One approved philosophy option 

Either
Microeconomic Principles I
studies the economic behaviour of individuals and firms
Or
Microeconomic Principles II
studies the same topics employing more formal methods. 

One approved philosophy 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.

Third year

In the third year, you take the compulsory course, Philosophy of Economics as well as one approved economics option, one approved philosophy option and one further approved outside option.

Philosophy of Economics
Covers topics in the philosophical and economic analysis of public policy, including fair distribution, cost-benefit analysis, individual rights and the moral limits of markets. It also addresses questions about the methodology of economics and its status as a science. 

Either one approved outside option 
Or
One approved economics or philosophy option
 

One approved economics option 

One approved philosophy 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

You will have at least a one-hour lecture and a one-hour related class for each course each week, as well as LSE100 teaching. Hours vary according to courses and you can view indicative details in the Calendar within the Teaching section of each course guide. We are committed to giving undergraduates a good deal of face-to-face time with faculty. All teachers have weekly office hours in which you can further discuss material from the lectures and classes. 

You are also expected to complete independent study outside of class time. This varies depending on the programme, but requires you to manage the majority of your study time yourself, by engaging in activities such as reading, note-taking, thinking and research.

LSE is internationally recognised for its teaching and research and therefore employs a rich variety of teaching staff with a range of experience and status. Courses may be taught by individual members of faculty, such as lecturers, senior lecturers, readers, associate professors and professors. Many departments now also employ guest teachers and visiting members of staff, LSE teaching fellows and graduate teaching assistants who are usually doctoral research students. You can view indicative details for the teacher responsible for each course in the relevant course guide.

Your attendance at classes and performance will be carefully monitored, and you will have a personal academic adviser to provide assistance and guidance. 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.

There is some variation in the forms of summative assessment for different courses, but in general, you will have an examination for each course in June of the year in which you have taken it, as well as an essay due at the beginning of May. For each course, you will have to complete several essays and/or exercises as part of your class work. 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

Philosophy

You can read about recent research and events involving Faculty members on the  LSE Philosophy Blog.

Listed below are texts that serve as good introductions to the various areas of philosophy. 

Classics

R Descartes Meditations (any edition)

D Hume An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding and An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (any editions)

J S Mill On Liberty (any edition)

Plato The Republic, translated and edited by Robin Waterfield (Oxford Paperbacks)

K Popper Conjectures and Refutations: the growth of scientific knowledge (Routledge, 2003)

A Smith The Theory of Moral Sentiments (any edition)

General philosophy and philosophical tools

T Nagel What Does It All Mean? (Oxford University Press, 1987)

R M Sainsbury Paradoxes (Cambridge University Press, 2009)

B Skyrms Choice and Chance: an introduction to inductive logic (Wadsworth, 2000)

Moral philosophy

T Nagel Mortal Questions (Canto, 1991)

B Williams Morality: an introduction to ethics (Canto, 1993)

J Wolff An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 2006)

A Voorhoeve Conversations on Ethics (Oxford University Press, 2011)

Philosophy of science

A Chalmers What is this thing called Science? (Oxford University Press, 2006) 

S Okasha Philosophy of Science: a very short introduction (Oxford Paperbacks, 2002)

Preliminary listening

- The lecture 'Science and Pseudoscience' by the late LSE philosopher Imre Lakatos
- An interview 'Is Inequality Bad' on Philosophy Bites with Alex Voorhoeve 
- The lecture 'Free Will in a Deterministic Universe?' by Christian List
- An interview on 'Scientific Method' on BBC’s 'In Our Time' with speakers John Worrall, Michela Massimi and Simon Schaffer
- An interview on 'Game Theory' with Melvyn Bragg on BBC’s 'In Our Time' with speakers Richard Bradley, Ian Stewart and Andrew Colman
- An interview on 'Catholicism and HIV'  on Philosophy Bites with Luc Bovens
- An interview, 'Understanding Decisions' on Philosophy Bites with Richard Bradley
- An interview, 'Trolleys, killing and the doctrine of double effect', on OpenLearn 'Ethics Bites' with Mike Otsuka  

Economics

For those wishing to gain further insight into what economists study, we suggest looking at one or more of the following popular books or others like them:

A V Banerjee and E Duflo Poor Economics: barefoot hedge-fund managers, DIY doctors and the surprising truth about life on less than $1 a day (Penguin, 2012)

T Harford The Undercover Economist (Abacus, 2007)

T Harford The Logic of Life (Little Brown, 2009)

P Krugman End This Depression Now! (W W Norton, 2012)

S D Levitt and S J Dubner Freakonomics (Penguin, 2007)

S D Levitt and S J Dubner Superfreakonomics (Penguin, 2010)

Careers

Our graduates have excellent job prospects. Recent graduates have gone on to work in banking and financial services, government, management consultancy, media and education, and have also proved very successful in gaining entry to graduate programmes.

Further information on graduate destinations for this programme 

Rushabh Ranavat

BSc Philosophy and Economics, 2010
Associate, McKinsey & Company

Rushabh-Ranavat170x230

I wanted a role working around the world, in different industries on unique problems with very cool people. That’s exactly what McKinsey’s graduate programme offered. In my role, I’ve had the opportunity to support one of the UK’s most innovative and successful educational charities to create a ten-year strategy to change the lives of one million underprivileged young people. At LSE, I gained the ability to look at something, quickly deconstruct it, structure my thoughts and then coherently argue for or against it, which is crucial to this job.

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.

Student stories

Michelle Chiu

BSc Philosophy and Economics
Hong Kong

Michelle-Young-Ming-Chiu170x230

I chose this programme because it is very unique. Both philosophy and economics at LSE grapple with current, real and practical issues that affect our daily lives and policymaking.

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 Philosophy and Economics

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, with an A in Mathematics (or 38 and above International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB) points, with 7 6 6 in Higher level subjects, including Mathematics). In addition, the selectors are looking for applicants who have achieved a strong set of GCSE grades including a significant number at A and A*. In terms of GCSE grades, the selectors consider not just the number of top GCSE grades that you have obtained, but also your overall GCSE subject profile.

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.

It is essential that you have studied, or are studying, Mathematics to A level (or equivalent). This is to ensure you are able to complete the core economics courses at LSE. An additional qualification in Further Mathematics (at any level) is not required but is an indication of mathematical ability and a helpful preparation for the programme.

Beyond the mathematics requirements, there is no ideal subject combination, however selectors like to see that you possess both analytical and writing abilities. Students offering Mathematics, Further Mathematics and one other subject will be considered, however we have a very strong preference for the third subject to be in the arts or humanities and will look for evidence of your understanding of and commitment to the study of social sciences in your personal statement.

Other subjects commonly studied at A level include Economics; English; Government and Politics; History; Languages; Mathematics; Philosophy; Sociology and Religious Studies. There is no requirement for students to have formally studied Philosophy or Economics before. Subjects where the content is deemed to overlap, such as Economics and Business Studies, or English and Media Studies, should not be taken together. Critical Thinking A-level will not be included in our standard offer, but success in this subject can be an indicator of your aptitude for following lines of reasoning and argument.

Personal characteristics, skills and attributes

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

- interest in both philosophy and economics and their areas of overlap
- ability to think logically and independently
- ability to read extensively and evaluate and challenge conventional views
- ability to follow complex lines of reasoning
- 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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