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BA History

Students doing a degree in History at the LSE study the full range of modern international history available at the LSE. Courses span from the fifteenth century to the twenty-first century, giving students an understanding of the forces that have shaped the past and those that are shaping the world we live in today.

During their time at the LSE, students can pursue their own intellectual interests, whether they be in the rise and fall of early modern empires in Asia and Latin America; the rise of China, Japan and Korea since the nineteenth century; nationalism in Southeast Europe; or the international conflicts that still affect our world today. For a full list of the courses offered in the Department, please see Undergraduate Course Guides.

Over the course of the degree, students move from broad, survey courses in their first year, to specialised courses that analyse primary documents in their third year. Final year students write a 10,000 word dissertation using archival materials. For full details on what courses students can take at each stage of their degree, please see the LSE Calendar.

The degree places a strong emphasis on developing analytical skills, with a focus on discerning historiographical opinions, interrogating sources, and developing arguments.

First year

Among other courses, you will take at least two broad history survey courses:

1) From Empire to Independence: the Extra-European World in the Twentieth Century is an introductory survey of events outside Europe in the twentieth century.

2) Faith, Power and Revolution: Europe and the Wider World, c.1500-c.1800 provides a broad, thematic study of war and society from the early sixteenth century to the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

3) International History since 1890 covers the history of international relations from the 1890s through the 1990s.

4) The Internationalisation of Economic Growth examines the inter-relationships between the development of the international economy and the growth of national economies since the late nineteenth century.

You may choose your outside options from any of the courses made available by other departments at LSE.

Second and third years

You take one course from a wide range of options before the twentieth century, ranging from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century. For your second and third courses you can pick from a range of subjects covering both the history of a specific country and the international history of a region. There is also an optional course on historiographical debates and methods of the historian. Choices cover major European countries and non-European countries, including the US, India and East Asia, as well as relations between powers both within Europe and outside. Your final course is another approved outside option.

In the second year you study, among other courses, either:

What is History? Methods and Debates provides an introduction to the important issues of What is History? How and for what purposes do we study the past? What kinds of debates and controversies result from historical study?


One history option.

You study also, either:

Latin America and the International Economy examines the development trajectory of Latin America and its relation with the international economy from the Early Modern period (c. 1700) to the present.


The Making of an Economic Superpower: China since 1850 provides a survey of long-term economic change in China from the mid-nineteenth century to the present.

You also choose one option from the following:

1) Towns, Society and Economy in England and Europe 1450-1750 examines in outline the social and economic history of European towns between the mid-15th and the mid-18th centuries.

2) The Industrial Revolution examines the Industrial Revolution in Britain, the turning point into modern economic growth.

3) The History of Russia 1682-1825 provides an introduction to the history of Russia in all its major aspects from the reign of Peter I to the accession of Nicholas I.

4)Empire and Nation: Britain and India since 1750 examines the history of South Asia from the eighteenth century to the present day focusing on the imperial relationship between Britain and India.

5) Modernity and the State in East Asia: China, Japan and Korea since 1840 is concerned with providing a comparative political history of the major East Asian countries, China, Japan and Korea, in the period from the Opium War to the 1990s.

6) The European Enlightenment, c.1680-1799 sets out to explore the new ideas generated in these areas as a result of a fresh understanding of man's place in the physical world.

7) Napoleon and Europe covers  the impact of the empire on the European international system, as well as on law, constitutionalism, the economy, religion and culture.

8) Four Reichs: Austria, Prussia and Contest for Germany since 1618 demonstrate how Austria (The Habsburg Monarchy, subsequently the Republic of Austria) tackled the German Problem.

9) The Islamic World in the Era of the Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal Empires, ca 1400 – ca 1800 examines the Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal empires, and the larger world of which they were part, from their origins in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries to their ‘decline’ in the eighteenth century. In addition you also study one outside option from a wide range of LSE departments.

10) Travel, Pleasure and Politics: The European Grand Tour, 1670-1825 explores the identity of those young British men and women who embarked on extensive journeys to continental Europe – an activity known as the Grand. It examines where they went, and the reasons for their expeditions.

In your third year you will take at least another two history of a country or international history courses. At least one of these will be a document-based course from a wide range of options which allows you to specialise in one particular area which interests you (if not already taken in the second year). You will also research and write a dissertation of 10,000 words on a topic which you choose. Because of the wide range of options we offer, you can choose to follow one of several specialised paths: to take mainly European or non-European courses, early or modern courses, or a mixture of periods and areas.

Click here for a full explanation of the Programme Regulations and full list of courses available.

You will have a combination of weekly lectures and small classes, amounting to about eight contact hours per week. In addition, you will need to read extensively and write between three to five essays and/or class papers per course. You will have an academic adviser who will offer support if any problems should arise.You will have a written three hour examination for each course. A 10,000 word dissertation is compulsory in the final year of the BA History.