Programmes

BSc Politics and International Relations

  • Undergraduate
  • Department of Government
  • UCAS code L290
  • Starting 2020
  • UK/EU full-time: Open
  • Overseas full-time: Open
  • Location: Houghton Street, London

The study of politics involves analysis of the ways in which individuals and groups define and interpret political issues and seek to shape government decisions. It encompasses a broad spectrum of activities relating to public affairs, from elections and bureaucracies to wars and terrorism.

International relations deals with the nature of the changing relations between states and with non-state actors. It studies the functioning of the international system – the forces, factors and interests, the customs, rules, norms, institutions and organisations from which the theory and history of its development are formed. 

This programme combines the two complementary fields of politics and international relations in a joint honours programme, with around half of the programme in each field. You will learn political concepts and theories, will compare political phenomena in a variety of cultures and countries, and answer broad theoretical questions about the political world. You will also gain insight into how the international community works, studying alongside students from a wide range of countries.

Programme details

Key facts

 BSc Politics and International Relations
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 1,001/97/43
Tuition fee UK/EU fee: £9,250 for the first year
Overseas fee: £21,570 per year
Usual standard offer

A-level: grades A A A
International Baccalaureate: Diploma with 38 points including 7 6 6 at Higher level

Please see the ‘Assessing your application’ section below for detailed information and guidance on entry requirements.

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 Politics and 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 (or 7) and A* (or 8-9), or equivalent. Your GCSE (or equivalent) English Language and Mathematics grades should be 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 A-levels or equivalent in these subjects.

For the BSc Politics and International Relations we are looking for academic students with a genuine interest in and enthusiasm for the social and political sciences. There is no one ideal subject combination, but common sixth form subject choices include Government and Politics, History, English, Economics, Sociology, Philosophy, Languages 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:

- strong mathematical ability and quantitative skills
- awareness of and genuine interest in current political issues
- an ability to read extensively
- an ability to analyse data
- an ability to evaluate and challenge conventional views
- initiative
- good communication skills
- excellent time management skills
- intellectual curiosity
- motivation and capacity for hard work
- an equal interest in both subjects

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

The degree involves studying courses to the value of 12 units over three years, plus LSE100. Please note that the LSE100 course is under review. 

First year 

(* denotes a half unit course)

In the first year you will take two compulsory courses in politics and one in international relations. You will then choose one course from a range of options both within international relations and in other departments. You will take LSE100, which is taught in the Lent term only. Please note that the LSE100 course is under review.

Introduction to Political Science
Examines the comparative analysis of a range of political phenomena, including the forms of states and regimes, theories of elections and voting, political ideologies, the causes and consequences of democracy, and the management of the economy.

Introduction to Political Theory
Examines the foundations of Western political thought, followed by modern political theory.

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

One course from a range of options

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. Please note that the LSE100 course is under review.

Second year 

In the second year you will choose two international relations course from a choice of five, and choose a total of two government options from a specific options list. You will continue to take LSE100 in the Michaelmas Term only. Please note that the LSE100 course is under review.

Two government options from an approved list

One from:
International Political Theory
Combines classical theory with modern ways of explaining and understanding international relations.
Foreign Policy Analysis I
Analyses various theoretical perspectives on foreign policy, and the means of conduct of the main actors in the international system towards each other
International Organisations
Examines major theoretical and empirical aspects of the role of international organisations in international politics.
International Security
Gives students a thorough introduction to the literature on international security, both theoretical and policy-oriented.
International Political Economy
Examines the role of power and politics in international economic relations. 

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. Please note that the LSE100 course is under review.

Third year 

In the third year, you will choose a range of courses from government and international relations options. You will also either choose to complete a dissertation in government or international relations, or take further courses. One of your courses can be chosen from outside the departments.

One government option

One international relations option

Either
One international relations option
Or
One outside option

Either
Dissertation in Government
Or
Dissertation in International Relations
Or
One government option to the value of one unit
Or
One international relations option to the value of one unit
Or
One outside option to the value of one unit

For the most up-to-date list of optional courses please visit the relevant School Calendar page.  

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 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

Teaching involves lectures and classes. Lectures are given by full-time members of staff. Classes are led by teaching fellows, who may either be recent doctoral degree recipients or PhD students. You can view indicative details for the teacher responsible for each course in the relevant course guide. Classes usually focus on more detailed discussion of the issues arising from lectures, and learning how to present and critique arguments. Classes are held in small groups of at most 15 students. 

Below is an idea of the amount of time you should allocate to your degree programme study:

Formal contact hours:
- four one-hour lectures per week during the Michaelmas and Lent Terms
- four hours of classes per week
Hours vary according to courses and you can view indicative details in the Calendar within the Teaching section of each course guide.

Independent study:
- aim to do approximately four hours of study (reading preparation and writing) for every formal contact hour
- this equates to around 30 hours of independent study per week

You will have an academic mentor who will meet you at regular intervals to discuss your work and offer guidance and assistance with both academic and, where appropriate, personal concerns. 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 will vary from course to course but may involve a written examination, assessed essays, a dissertation or in-class assessment. 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 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 politics we suggest that you look at one or more of the following books:

The general character of politics

J Colomer The Science of Politics: an introduction (Oxford University Press, 2011)

R Goodin The Oxford Handbook of Political Science (Oxford University Press, 2009)

I Katznelson and H Milner (eds.) Political Science: state of the discipline (New York: Wiley, 2002)

Political thought

Many classic texts of political thought are readily available in a variety of editions:

Machiavelli The Prince

J S Mill Considerations on Representative Government

M Wollstonecraft A Vindication of the Rights of Women

Political analysis and political institutions

W R Clark, M Golder and S Nadenichek Golder Principles of Comparative Politics (CQ Press, 2009)

P Dunleavy and J Dryzek Theories of the Democratic State (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)

R Morton Analyzing Elections (Norton, 2006)

E Ostrom, Governing the Commons: the evolution of institutions for collective action (Cambridge University Press, 1990/2015)

International relations

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

Politics graduates have a range of skills and can fit into a variety of positions in modern life. Our former students have followed careers in business and banking, in law, in central and local government, in teaching and research, in public and university administration, and in journalism and television.

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.

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 is £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 gov.uk 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.

UNISTATS data

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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