As the majority of our applicants apply with A levels, this guidance is written primarily towards that audience. However, the information contained is relevant to students offering any qualification. If you are unsure how this guidance applies to your qualification, please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office.
Note that where specific guidance regarding the suitability of a particular subject/subject combination is given on the entry requirements pages of Information for international students, that guidance supersedes the more general guidance given below.
Subject combinations and non-preferred subjects
The School considers not only the individual qualifications offered by applicants but also the combination of subjects offered. Individual degree programmes may have specific subject requirements or preferences which are listed in the admissions criteria for each individual programme. We also have a number of general policies, listed below.
We consider traditional academic subjects to be the best preparation for studying at LSE. We expect applicants to offer at least two full A levels or IBDP Higher Levels in these subjects (although typically, applicants will apply with three or four); please see the list below for guidance.
Some subjects provide a less effective preparation for study at LSE. We refer to these as non-preferred subjects; please see the list below for guidance. These subjects should only be offered in combination with two traditional academic subjects.
Finally, there are a small number of A levels which are normally excluded from our standard offer; please see the list below. Applicants should offer three full A levels or equivalent alongside these subjects.
Common traditional academic/'generally preferred' subjects:
- Ancient History
- Classical Civilisation
- English (English Language, English Literature and English Language and Literature)
- Further Mathematics*
- Government and Politics
- Languages: Modern Foreign, Classic and Community**
- Religious Studies
Common "non-preferred" subjects:
- Any Applied A level
- Art and Design
- Business Studies
- Citizenship Studies
- Communication and Culture
- Creative Writing
- Design and Technology
- Drama/Theatre Studies***
- Film Studies
- Health and Social Care
- Home Economics
- Information and Communication Technology
- Leisure Studies
- Media Studies
- Music Technology
- Physical Education/Sports Studies
- Travel and Tourism
Normally excluded subjects:
- General Studies
- Critical Thinking
- Thinking Skills
- Knowledge and Enquiry
- Project Work
If you would like information about the suitability of a subject which does not appear on these lists, please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office.
* See the Mathematics and Further Mathematics section below.
** See Language Qualifications section
*** The Departments of Anthropology, International History, International Relations, Social Policy and Sociology consider Drama and Theatre Studies equally with other generally preferred subjects. Therefore, they will consider Drama and Theatre Studies alongside one other subject from the non-preferred list. However, the majority of departments continue to regard Drama and Theatre Studies as a non-preferred subject.
Many of the undergraduate programmes at LSE are multi-disciplinary and for this reason we consider a broad mix of traditional subjects to be the best preparation for study. A broad academic background will provide the skills to perform well in any of the challenging programmes at LSE. Students offering a narrow range of subjects may be at a disadvantage compared to those offering a broader combination. Examples of narrow subject combinations might be Economics, Business Studies and one other or English Language, English Literature and one other. See also, the programme pages and the Mathematics and and Further Mathematics section below.
Mathematics and Further Mathematics
Some degree programmes at the School are highly mathematical in content and therefore Mathematics A level or equivalent is a requirement. A number of programmes also require a qualification in Further Mathematics (where available), or consider one helpful. However, the combination of Mathematics, Further Mathematics plus one other subject is considered insufficiently broad for many of our programmes. Please refer to the degree programme pages for details on Further Mathematics and its acceptability for each programme.
We are aware that not everyone has the opportunity to follow a Further Mathematics programme and find it helpful if applicants and/or their referees can indicate whether or not the applicant’s school or college offers Further Mathematics classes.
For programmes requiring A* in Mathematics A level, an A* in Further Mathematics in addition to an A grade in Mathematics is an acceptable alternative.
LSE recognises that the skills and experience gained by students who choose to undertake the Core Mathematics Qualification may be very useful as preparation for the study of social sciences at undergraduate level.
Whilst we do not include the grades gained from Core Mathematics in our standard offers, and there is no requirement to do one, successful completion of the Core Mathematics qualification can help you demonstrate your readiness to study the rigorously academic undergraduate programmes at LSE.
Applicants to LSE are expected to have at least a grade B (or a grade 5 under the new grading system) in GCSE Mathematics. We would be likely to consider a pass in Core Mathematics to be an alternative way to meet this requirement.