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The undergraduate experience

Daisy O'Brien

  • Graduated 2008

Why did you choose this BSc Economic History?

 I really enjoyed both Economic and History A level so the course seemed like a perfect fit for me. I was also attracted to it because I love economics and its application but wasn't necessarily interested in doing very complicated maths. It was great because it gave me a good grounding in economic theory and showed me how to apply it to real world situations.

 How would you describe the course to someone thinking of applying, in terms of content, teaching, and also the in terms of the skill set you need to develop to meet its demands?

The course is very international and varied. There is a large range of courses and the chance to do several outside options which are unusual and added to my degree. I did international history, anthropology and English literature but you can do all kinds of things! In terms of skill sets I think that an A level in Economics is a bit help but you don't necessarily need to have done any history before. You need to be able to take large amounts of quantitative and qualitative evidence and turn it into something that makes sense. A large part of the course is making twice-termly presentation, handing in essays and having weekly seminar debate based on the reading. The seminars can vary widely and it's best to ask around to find out who are the good teachers/ topics.

 What was your next step and what role did your degree play in this?

 I found my time at LSE to be both inspirational and essential to my future career. A BSc in Economic History has given me a fantastic combination of quantitative and qualitative analytical skills which I have found very applicable to the job market. It has given me a broad understanding of the world from an economic perspective which I have found relevant to everything from job interviews to chats in the pub. Everyone has heard of LSE and its prestige in the job market continues to grow. I have recently completed an MSc in Economic and Social History at Linacre College, Oxford and am going on to a career as a Management Consultant. A word of warning though: LSE is not for the faint hearted, it's what you make of it. If you want to succeed to opportunities are there. 

Dingwen (David) Wangstudent photo

  • Graduated 2009

My name is David and I am currently an Economic History Masters student. I was born in Beijing, came to this country at the age of 13 and did my A-levels at Rugby School.

What made you decide to study the BSc Economic History?

Economics and History were my favourite subjects at A level. While I have always been interested in stories from Chinese history, economic history just sounded more concerned with the important current issues of the modern world: economics, politics and finance. London was a deciding factor when choosing institutions. However, looking back, I would study economic history with the LSE faculty anywhere in the world.

Could you give a brief overview of the course to someone who is thinking of applying?

One thing to bear in mind is that economic history, at the end of day, is the study of history, not economics. It is the study of the past. Although half of the faculty are economists; if someone is looking for economic models and deep statistical knowledge, that's not what the course is about.

In Year 1 there is only one compulsory course. You are pretty much free to choose from other departments and make the most of your fresher year. There are more compulsory (and tougher) courses in year two and three, but they all provide good tools for studying further economic history courses. One of the highlights of the degree for me was the final dissertation. For any Chinese person, the question of why China did not industrialise first despite being one of the world's oldest civilizations is an interesting one, so this became my dissertation topic. I spent a lot of time on this module in Year Three and at the end, I got a first class degree for investigating something I am interested in.

What have your found most interesting, surprising and/or challenging about the course itself?

The most challenging aspect of this course would be the amount of reading. I think what surprised me the most about this course is the quality of the faculty as well as of the teaching. They are all specialists, you can ask them virtually any question about their field, from British cotton; to medieval Europe, imperial China, Latin America and India.

How would you describe the LSE for someone who is thinking of applying?

Apart from being the best place to study economic history, the LSE has a dynamic, intellectual and international environment.

What was the next step for you after completing your degree?

I decided to stay on at the LSE to do the one-year MSc Economic History program, which demonstrates how much I enjoyed the undergraduate course. As I complete my MSc I have got an offer from a global investment bank for this summer, and prior to this, offers of internships from various other major investment companies and banks. What I am saying is that studying economic history will certainly not harm your chances of getting into the City and finance, quite the opposite.

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