BSc International Social and Public Policy

  • Undergraduate
  • Department of Social Policy
  • UCAS code L400
  • Starting 2020
  • UK/EU full-time: Open from September
  • Overseas full-time: Open from September
  • Location: London

International social and public policy analyses real world issues such as poverty, social exclusion and global population change. 

It centres on understanding and addressing social problems in society and examines the formation and implementation of policy, and how this affects people's wellbeing. As a multidisciplinary subject, it draws on theories and expertise from sociology, politics and economics.

The BSc International Social and Public Policy aims to provide a thorough understanding of how policies are formulated and implemented in industrialised societies, transition economies and the Global South. The Department takes a comparative, international and contemporary perspective: investigating the changing role of states, the non-profit sector, the market and informal providers like families and communities in producing social welfare.

You will study a broad range of fields from social, economic and political standpoints. These include citizenship, education, health and social care, international development and urbanisation as well as cross-cutting dimenations such as gender, ethnicity and the impact of globalisation. You will examine issues such as poverty and wellbeing, levels of social protection and their eligibility conditions, the nature of private-public partnerships in health service provision, or the mix of public and private schools.

You can also choose to take a specialism in Development, which focuses on middle and low-income countries and the way in which social and public policy are discussed, produced and implemented to deal with inequalities and to increase wellbeing.

Visit our YouTube channel to view Department of Social Policy videos


Programme details

Key facts

 BSc International Social and Public Policy
Academic year (2020/21) 28 September 2020 to 18 June 2021
Application deadline 15 January 2020
Duration Three years full-time
Applications/offers/intake 2018 82/35/11
Tuition fee UK/EU fee: The 2020 UK/EU tuition fee has not yet been set. As a guide, the 2019 fee was £9,250 for the first year.
Overseas fee: £21,570 per year
Usual standard offer A-level: grades A A B
International Baccalaureate: Diploma with 37 points including 6 6 6 at Higher level
English language requirements Proof of your English language proficiency may be required

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

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 page.

What we are looking for in an application for BSc International Social and Public Policy

Academic achievement

Successful applicants for this programme are usually predicted to achieve or have already achieved a minimum of A A B in their A-levels (or 37 and above International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB) points, with 6 6 6 at Higher level) and will have already achieved a strong set of GCSE grades including some at A (or 7) and A* (or 8-9), and GCSE (or equivalent) English Language and Mathematics no lower than B (or 6). 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 Alevels or equivalent in these subjects.

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 Sociology, Psychology, History, Government and Politics, Religious Studies, English, Economics and Mathematics. 

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

Find out more about subject combinations.

Personal characteristics, skills and attributes

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

- an interest in contemporary social problems and their alleviation
- an ability to ask incisive questions
- an ability to think and work independently
- an ability to read widely
- an ability to show initiative
- an ability to communicate with clarity 
- a creative and flexible approach to study
- 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 above in the preliminary reading section, 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. 

Programme structure and courses

This programme involves studying courses to the value of 12 units, plus LSE100. Please note that the LSE100 course is under review. The programme introduces you to social policy and then progresses to more advanced topics and more detailed examination of specialist areas within the respective disciplines. It culminates in the third year with a dissertation in which you use what you have learned through your first and second year courses and specialist options, to conduct independent research in a relevant area.

For students choosing to take the Development specialism, your dissertation will focus on an area of international development and you will take Development and Social Change in the second year. For other students, this course is optional.

First year

There are two compulsory courses in the first year. You will choose two courses from a range of options, and will take LSE100 in the Lent term. Please note that the LSE100 course is under review.

(* denotes a half unit course)

Understanding International Social and Public Policy
Gives you a framework for understanding how and why societies have developed a variety of institutional arrangements to promote people's wellbeing, focusing on key developments in different areas of social policy, such as social security, education, housing, health and social care.

Foundations of Social Policy Research
Examines the role research plays in social policy making and introduces the range of approaches used to understand social problems and policy responses.

Courses to the value of two units from:
Social Economics and Policy
Provides an introduction to theories and concepts of social economics; it considers how the market economy affects people’s lives and looks at the arguments for and against government intervention in different social policy areas. 
Sociology and Social Policy
Provides an introduction to sociology and applies sociological perspectives to social policy fields and issues. 
Politics of Social Policy Making
ntroduces students to the way in which social and public policies are developed.

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. Please note that the LSE100 course is under review.

Second year 

There are two compulsory courses in the second year. You will choose options from social policy and/or from another Department to the value of two units. You will also take LSE100 in the Michaelmas term. Please note that the LSE100 course is under review. If you choose to take the Development specialism, you will take the Development and Social Change course.

Comparative and International Social and Public Policy
Examines and compares the distinct challenges of welfare provision faced by industrialised states and those in the Global South. 

Social Research Methods for Policy Practice
Offers a comprehensive introduction to methods of social research in social policy.

Two options, one of which can be from another Department.

Development and Social Change^
Introduces the concept of development and explores its relationship to social policy.

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. Please note that the LSE100 course is under review.

Third year

In the third year, you complete a disseration and select three social policy options.

Students independently research a relevant topic of their own choice and design. 

Options from social policy or another Department to the value of three units

^ This course is compulsory for students taking the specialism in Development

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 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 exceptional circumstances or 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


Lectures provide a broad overview of a topic, while classes allow you to explore key themes in greater detail in a small group setting. You will have weekly lectures and classes for each course component which in total amounts to a minimum of eight contact hours per week. Hours vary according to courses and you can view indicative details in the Calendar within the Teaching section of each course guide

Learning independently through reading, preparing for classes and completing assignments is an important element of the programme. You will be expected to do four to six hours of independent study per course.

You will be taught by academic staff and Graduate Teaching Assistants. You can view indicative details for the teacher responsible for each course in the relevant course guide.

You will be allocated an academic mentor who will guide and assist your learning. They keep a record of progress and monitor your attendance. You are advised to meet your academic mentor at least once a term. 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. 


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. The summative assessment for our courses are examinations at the end of the year. The exception to this is your Long Essay (Dissertation). Additionally, some courses include an assessed coursework component. Please note that assessment on individual courses can change year to year. An indication of the current 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 in the form of written comments on the essays that you write. 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. You will also receive feedback in the form of written comments on the essays that you write. 

Find out more about LSE’s teaching and assessment methods

Preliminary reading

If you wish to gain further insight into social policy, you may be interested in some of the Department’s podcasts

You may also like to look at one or more of the following books: 

H Dean Social Policy (2nd edition, Polity, 2012)

D Garland The Welfare State: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2016)

M Daly Welfare (Polity, 2011) 

P Alcock, M May and S Wright (eds) The Student's Companion to Social Policy (4th edition, Oxford: Blackwell, 2012)

R Surender & R Walker (eds) Social Policy in a Developing World (Elgar, 2013)


The skills you will develop by studying social policy are attractive to a range of employers. Our graduates have found work in a variety of industries including; politics and government, education and teaching, banking and finance, NGOs, charities and international development, as well as journalism, media and publishing, advertising marketing and PR, and accounting and auditing. 

Further information on graduate destinations for this programme

Coco McKeever

BSc Social Policy,  2011
Policy Adviser,  HM Treasury


Studying at LSE definitely helped my career as employers are very aware of its status. LSE has a great work ethic and everyone who is there, wants to be there and knows how lucky they are to be studying at one of the UK’s best universities. As London offers so many exciting social opportunities, doing well on your degree course requires a lot of dedication and discipline to not get distracted and get on with your work

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.

Student stories

Richard Serunjogi

BSc Social Policy
Croydon, UK


Social policy as a discipline was born at the LSE. Indeed, many of the UK’s most important institutions such as the welfare state and the NHS were conceived here. Studying social policy at LSE means you debate real world issues with students from across the globe who each have insights into cultural nuances in the delivery of social policy. The variety of experiences people bring to discussions is quite amazing. 

Emily Jones

BSc Social Policy
Devon, UK


Social policy is so relevant to the social and political issues of everyday life. As well as studying theory, it has a real focus on policy solutions and outcomes. The lecturers are experts in their field yet remain approachable and supportive. Students on the programme share a passion for the subject and classes are often enlivened by debate and enhanced by the diverse experiences and outlooks of LSE students.

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

UK/EU* students:

The 2020 tuition fee for new UK/EU students has not yet been set. In 2019 the fee was £9,250 for the first year. The UK/EU undergraduate fee may rise in line with inflation in subsequent years.

*The UK Government confirmed in May 2019 that the fee level for EU undergraduate new entrants in 2020/21 will be the same as Home UK for the duration of their undergraduate degree programme. Further information can be found on website.

Overseas students:

The 2020 tuition fee for new overseas students is £21,570 per year.

The overseas tuition fee will remain at the same amount for each subsequent year of your full time study regardless of the length of your programme. This information applies to new overseas undergraduate entrants in 2020 only.

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.

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, UK Government support, in the form of loans, is available to UK and some EU students. Some overseas governments also offer funding.

Further information on tuition fees, cost of living, loans and scholarships.


Every undergraduate programme of more than one year duration will have UNISTATS data. The data allows you to compare 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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