The LSE Course: Understanding the causes of things

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof George Gaskell KSW4.08

The LSE100 lectures are given by lecturers from a range of departments.


Compulsory course on all undergraduate programmes: students complete term one in Lent Term of their first year and term two in Michaelmas Term of their second year. The course is not available to General Course students or to second-year direct-entry students.

Course content

The course introduces students to the fundamental elements of thinking like a social scientist. As no complex issue can be fully understood through the lens of a single discipline, LSE100 explores pressing social issues from the perspective of different fields of social science. The goal of the course is to enable students to complement intellectual grounding in their discipline with a broad understanding of different ways of thinking. In four five-week modules, the course will examine 'big' questions, such as: ‘How should we address poverty and inequality?’, ‘Is nationalism a source of cohesion or conflict?’ and ‘Is punishment the answer to crime?’ Using such questions as guides, students will explore different types of evidence, forms of explanation and strategies for abstraction and modelling that are used across the social sciences. The intention is not only to broaden students' intellectual experience, but also to deepen their critical understanding of their own disciplines. LSE100’s focus on the core elements of social scientific reasoning will be accompanied by a strong emphasis on critical thinking, research and communication skills.


20 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 20 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT.

Formative coursework

Formative activities will be completed in class and may include writing assignments or data analysis tasks.

Indicative reading

Readings are module-specific. Class reading packs are provided in hard copy and are all available from the LSE100 Moodle site, along with additional reading and resource recommendations.


In both terms, students will write a summatively-assessed essay and work with a group of their peers on a project and presentation related to one of the modules. While the order of assessments is subject to change, one assessment will be completed in Week 5, and the other will be completed in Week 11. Students will also complete short portfolio exercises each week, along with a brief piece of reflective writing, both of which will be submitted for assessment the end of each term. These portfolio exercises are designed to support continuous learning throughout the term, and support students’ engagement with key theories and critical analysis of arguments or evidence. The essays and group projects are each worth 20% of the student’s final mark and the portfolio exercises are worth 10% per term. Students receive an overall mark for the course of Distinction, Merit, Credit or Fail.

Key facts

Department: LSE

Total students 2015/16: Unavailable

Average class size 2015/16: Unavailable

Capped 2015/16: No

Value: Non-assessed

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills