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FAQs for prospective BSc International Relations applicants


1. Could you please tell me about your BSc IR programme?


You can find out full details on the programme page: BSc IR programme.

2. How do I apply?

For information, see how to apply.

3. Does the School or IR Department hold an Open Day for prospective BSc IR applicants?

The School holds an Open Day twice a year, normally in the middle of March and the end of June, for those thinking of applying for undergraduate study.

This year, because of COVID-19, we are having a virtual open day instead. Full details at Virtual Open Day.

Find out more information at Meet, Visit and Discover LSE.

4. Will I be expected to attend an interview?

No. Decisions are normally made on the basis of the UCAS application form. Every part of the form is considered and it should therefore be completed as fully and thoughtfully as possible, especially the personal statement and the details of all your qualifications, both those already earned and those you intend to complete before entering the School.

There is no need to submit additional material with the form, although in some cases the School may ask you to send a specific additional item such as a transcript of courses taken.

5. Do I need to submit a writing sample with my application?

No, that won't be necessary.

6. What are the residency requirements for the course?

For queries regarding School regulations, please see Information for international students.

7. What qualifications are required for admission to the BSc IR?

For full details please visit: BSc IR Programme page

Information about which international qualifications we accept.

8 . Where can I find information about subjects available to study on the BSc IR programme?

You will find a short description of each subject on the BSc IR Programme page.

You can also look at the relevant IR-prefixed undergraduate course guides.

9. Are all courses that are listed in the Undergraduate Prospectus and online course guides offered each year?

No. Some optional courses are 'Not Available' due to staff absences on sabbatical leave. You will be notified of those courses affected when you come to make your online course selection.

10. I applied last year and was rejected. What is the likelihood of succeeding with a second application?

Provided that you meet or exceed the minimum entry requirements, you are welcome to re-apply. However no guarantee of an offer can be given, as much will depend on the overall quality (including Personal Statements) of all other applicants. Every year many well qualified applicants are not made an offer due to the intense competition for places.

11. I would like to know more about how the IR Department and BSc IR programme operate. Where can I find such information?

You may find the FAQs for Offer Holders and Current Students of interest.

Also, please visit our subsite for current IR students to get a flavour of the department and its student activities.

12. How much are the tuition fees?

Please see the Fees and Funding section of the BSc IR Programme page and the Financial Support Office website for details.

13. Are there any scholarships available for those applying for the BSc IR?

Please see the School's Financial Support Office webpages for details.

14. I would like to meet the selector or another member of the academic staff to find out more about the BSc IR programme. Can this be arranged?

The School's Open Days (see Qn 3 above) provide an opportunity for prospective applicants to hear a talk by a member of the IR academic staff. This year, we are holding a Virtual Open Day.

Full details of the programme and admissions process can be found in the Undergraduate Prospectus, and Undergraduate Course Guides.  Please also read all the relevant IR Department FAQs in this section. 

 

15. What is the deadline for BSc IR applicants?

Please see the Deadlines for applying via UCAS.

16. Can I apply to take the BSc IR part-time?

No. The BSc IR is a full-time course.

17. What is the difference between the BSc IR and the BSc IR and History?

The BSc IR is a 'single-subject' degree, for which the Department of International Relations is wholly responsible. The BSc IR and History (IR&H) is a 'joint' degree. It is constructed to ensure that students study an approximately equal number of courses from International History and International Relations. Admissions, tutorial and administrative aspects of the IR&H degree are run by the Department of International History.

Over the three years of the degree, IR&H students take many of the same IR courses that are compulsory for BSc IR students, including ‘International Relations: Theories and Debates', 'Contemporary Issues in International Relations', ‘International Political Theory’, ‘Foreign Policy Analysis’, ‘International Organisations’, ‘International Security’, and ‘International Political Economy’. 

The main difference between the two programmes is the amount of history to be studied. On the BSc IR, students take a compulsory History course (either HY113 or HY116) and may take one other history course in their first year; and they may, but do not have to, take a history course as their outside option in each of the following two years.

So for BSc IR students, there is a maximum of four history courses, and a minimum of one, over their three years of study. In contrast, IR&H students have to take HY116 and may take two more history courses in their first year; have to take two history courses (chosen from a range of options) in their second year; and have to take one, and may take two, history courses in their third year.

So for IR&H students, history is studied to a minimum of four courses and a maximum of seven courses, with IR courses making up most of the balance of the curriculum. There is correspondingly less opportunity to study subjects other than history and IR. In the BSc IR, on the other hand, beyond the IR core curriculum there are a number of specialist options in the third year that allow you to study a wide range of topics or focus on a particular issue-area.

Students on both programmes choose a range of modules in their third years, although IR&H students take a maximum of two full IR courses (or the equivalent in half-units). The dissertation for IR&H students is conducted through the International History department.

Please note that IR&H students do not have an automatic right of transfer into the BSc IR degree programme (but please see FAQ Qn 21 below).

18. What is the difference between the BSc IR and the BSc Politics and IR?

The BSc IR is a 'single-subject' degree, for which the Department of International Relations is wholly responsible. The BSc Politics and International Relations (P&IR) is a 'joint' degree. It is constructed to ensure that students study an approximately equal number of courses from Government and International Relations. Admissions, tutorial and administrative aspects of the degree are run by the Department of Government.
 
Over the three years of the degree, P&IR students take many of the same IR courses that are compulsory for BSc IR students, including ‘International Relations: Theories, Concepts and Debates ', 'Contemporary Issues in International Relations', ‘International Political Theory’, ‘Foreign Policy Analysis’, ‘International Organisations’, ‘International Security’, and ‘International Political Economy’. P&IR students also take compulsory Government courses in political science, political theory and comparative politics. 

In their third year they are able to choose optional courses in either department. P&IR students have the option to take a 10,000 word dissertation in the third year, which can be done in either department.

Please note that P&IR students do not have an automatic right of transfer into the BSc IR degree programme (but please see FAQ Qn 21 below).

19. What is the difference between the BSc IR and the BSc IR and Chinese?

The BSc IR is a 'single-subject' degree, for which the Department of International Relations is wholly responsible. The BSc International Relations and Chinese (IR&C) is a 'joint' degree. It is constructed to ensure that students study an approximately equal number of courses from International Relations and the Language Centre. Admissions, academic mentoring and administrative aspects of the degree are run by the Language Centre.

The main difference between the two programmes is the length of the degree and the language courses available. The BSc IR is a three year programme taking place at the LSE. Students can take language courses as part of their degree and will be offered the opportunity to receive a language specialism attached to their degree certificate (e.g. BSc IR with French) if they pass at least one course in the same language each year at increasingly difficult levels. In contrast, the BSc IR&C is a four year programme with a one year abroad element at Fudan University the end of year two. Students spend years one, two and four at the LSE. In addition, Mandarin is compulsory in the BSc IR&C programme. 

IR&C students take many of the same IR courses that are compulsory for BSc IR students, including ‘International Relations: Theories, Concepts and Debates ', ‘International Political Theory’, ‘Foreign Policy Analysis’, ‘International Organisations’, ‘International Security’, and ‘International Political Economy’. IR&C students also take compulsory courses in Mandarin and communication.

In their fourth year they are able to choose optional courses in either department. IR&C students have the option to take a 10,000 word dissertation in IR in their fourth year.

Please note that IR&C students do not have an automatic right of transfer into the BSc IR degree programme (but please see FAQ Qn 21 below).

20. If I am accepted for the BSc IR and then decide I would like to switch to another degree programme at LSE, will this be possible?

Yes, but only if the Department responsible for the degree programme into which you wish to transfer agrees. It is not an automatic right and you would need to gain the consent of its Department Tutor, and the consent of the IR Department Tutor. Final approval is given by the Chair of the School's Undergraduate Studies Sub-Committee after you have taken the necessary form with both signatures to the Student Services Centre. The IR Department Tutor is unlikely to withhold consent if satisfied that you have given the implications of the proposed transfer thorough and informed consideration.

The earlier in your first term that you ask to transfer the better, because then if the transfer is approved it will be easier to make up the work for any lectures or classes you have missed in your new department.

Transfer at the end of the first year is also occasionally possible, if the same three approvals are obtained. But in that event the department into which you wish to transfer for your second and third years will have set conditions for you to meet in your first-year examinations. It will also need to be satisfied that you have taken, or will take, courses appropriate to your new degree programme. 

It is not usually possible to switch to another degree programme on receipt of your offer, as each offer is only valid for the programme for which it was made. 

Transfers can only be authorised once you are a registered LSE undergraduate student.

21. If I am rejected for the BSc IR but accepted for an alternative LSE degree programme, will I be able to transfer to the BSc IR on arrival at the School?

No: not as of right. Demand for places in the BSc IR degree is intense, and usually each year all places are easily filled. But if you are very keen to transfer in, you should express your interest to the IR Department Tutor as early as possible in your first year.

It is never advisable to accept a place on another degree programme, which your heart is not in, in the hope of being able to change to ours, as you run a high risk of disappointment.

22. Is it possible to defer an offer of a place on the BSc IR to the following year?

Students who hold an offer may request a deferral, but no guarantee can be given that it will be approved. Applicants who receive offers for a specific start-date are selected in the context of other applicants competing for entry in the same cohort. 

Very occasionally, however, if an offer-holder makes a strong individual case explaining the circumstances that necessitate deferral, the department will take a sympathetic view.

It is generally better to submit a deferred (Gap-Year) application at the start of the Admissions cycle. (See FAQ 24 below). 

23. If I have a query about the application process, can I raise this with the Department instead of the School's Undergraduate Admissions Office?

No, I'm afraid not. Applications are dealt with centrally and queries should be directed to the Undergraduate Admissions Office.

24. Does LSE welcome applications from candidates who wish to take a "gap year" between School and university?

Yes, especially if applicants devote their gap year to activities that enhance their ability to benefit from and contribute to the School. However, the department strongly prefers to consider such applications not in advance but early in the gap year itself. At that stage, details of all the candidate's actual examination results and other qualifications will be available. See FAQ 25 below.

25. I plan to take a gap year between school and university so that I can apply for admission in the autumn after completing my academic qualifications. I hope to do something with my gap year that will strengthen my chances of gaining an offer. What does the LSE International Relations Department recommend?

How you spend a gap year is up to you and the department has no specific advice to offer. We consider each application on its merits and do not give extra weight for a gap year as such. 

However, the selectors do look for characteristics that make an application stronger, which for a gap year means any experience that promotes the personal and academic development of the candidate. 

Travel broadens the mind, but extended volunteer work is likely to broaden it more than simply being a tourist. Taking a gap year for financial reasons also makes sense because of the discipline and stimulation that often comes from holding down a regular job.

Finally, time can usually be found in a working life to undertake background reading in preparation for a return to full-time study.

26. Can I apply to enter the second year directly, on the basis I have already studied equivalent material?

No. The department does not accept applications for direct entry into the second year.