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Admissions information

Each application we receive is carefully considered on an individual basis, taking into account the full range of information presented on the UCAS application form. The information below is designed to help our prospective applicants who may have queries ranging from preferred subject combinations, our stance on retakes, and the manner in which we assess the information presented in your application. As you will see from the individual programme information, there is a great deal of competition for places at the School. In 2018, we received over 20,000 applications for 1,600 places. This fierce competition for places means that every year we unfortunately have to disappoint many applicants.

Subject combinations

Introduction

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
  • Biology
  • Classical Civilisation
  • Chemistry
  • Computing
  • Economics
  • Electronics
  • English (English Language, English Literature and English Language and Literature)
  • Further Mathematics*
  • Geography
  • Government and Politics
  • History
  • Languages: Modern Foreign, Classic and Community**
  • Law
  • Mathematics
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Religious Studies
  • Sociology

Common "non-preferred" subjects:

  • Any Applied A level
  • Accounting
  • 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
  • Global Perspectives and Research
  • 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.

Overlapping subjects

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.

Core Mathematics

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 6 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. 

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 and/or the table below 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.

 Combination Degree Programme

 Group 1: Programmes which require either:
1) A level Maths, A level Further Maths
and one other subject
OR
2) A level Maths, two other subjects 
and AS level Further Maths

BSc Mathematics and Economics (GL11)
BSc Mathematics with Economics (G1L1)
BSc Financial Mathematics and Statistics (GN13)

 Group 2: Programmes which are happy
to consider applicants offering A level Maths, 
A level Further Maths and one other subject

BSc Actuarial Science (N321)
BSc Mathematics, Statistics and Business (G0N0)
BSc Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method (V503)
BSc Psychological and Behavioural Science (C801)

 Group 3: Programmes which are happy
to consider applicants offering A level Maths and 
A level Further Maths in combination with an 
essay writing subject

BA Anthropology and Law (ML16)
(L601/3)

BSc Econometrics and Mathematical Economics (L140)
BSc Economic History (V300)
BSc Economic History with Economics (V3L1)
BSc Economics (L101)
BSc Economics and Economic History (VL31)
BSc Economics with Economic History (L1V3)
BA International History (V146)
BSc Management (N200) *
BSc Philosophy and Economics (LV15)
BSc Philosophy, Politics and Economics (L0V0)
BA/BSc Social Anthropology

BSc Finance (N300)

LLB Laws (M100)

Group 4: Programmes where a combination 
of A level Maths, A level Further Maths and one other subject
may be considered less competitive
BSc Accounting and Finance (NN34)
BSc Criminology (M900)
BSc Economic History and Geography (V3L7)
BSc Environment and Development (FK84)
BSc Environmental Policy with Economics (F9L1)
BA Geography (L702)
BSc Geography and Economics (L7L1)
BSc International Relations (L250)
BSc International Relations and History (VL12)
BSc International Relations and Mandarin (L2T1)
BSc International Social and Public Policy (L400)
BSc International Social and Public Policy and Economics (LLK1)
BSc International Social and Public Policy with Government (LL42)
BSc Language, Culture and Society (L3R9)
BSc Politics (L230)
BSc Politics and Economics (LL12)
BSc Politics and History (LV21)
BSc Politics and Philosophy (LV25)
BSc Politics and International Relations (L290)
BSc Sociology (L301)

* BSc Management prefer an essay writing subject but will consider other combinations.

Cambridge Assessment - Test of Mathematics for University Admission

If you are applying to study Mathematics programmes at LSE then you are encouraged to take this test as part of your application. The test is not compulsory, however a good performance on the test may help in securing an offer.

Changes to International Baccalaureate Diploma Mathematics Courses from September 2019

We have been notified by the IBO that they have completely revised their Mathematics curriculum. They will be introducing two new subjects; Mathematics: analysis and approaches and Mathematics: applications and interpretation from September 2019.

  • For programmes requiring Further Maths A level (for example BSc Financial Mathematics and Statistics, BSc Mathematics and Economics) Mathematics: analysis and approaches at Higher Level will be a requirement.
  • For programmes where Further Maths is strongly preferred (for example, BSc Economics, BSc Finance) we would strongly prefer Mathematics: analysis and approaches at Higher Level however we would still consider both streams for admissions purposes.
  • For other programmes where A level Maths is a requirement (for example, BSc Management) then either stream at Higher Level would be acceptable.

Retakes

Given the competition for places and the nature of assessment at LSE, we prefer students who have achieved high grades in their first attempt (and in one sitting) at relevant examinations. If extenuating circumstances have impacted your exam performance, you should include details of these in your application.

Mature applicants

LSE welcomes applications from older students and values the contribution they make to the School community.

LSE also has a large proportion of postgraduate students. This means that the student population at LSE is rather older on average than at many other universities; older undergraduates should not feel out of place.

Information for mature applicants.

Contextual Admissions

For applicants from the UK that are eligible for Home tuition fees, contextual information is used to gain a more complete picture of the educational and individual context of an applicant. This allows our admissions selectors to assess achievement and potential whilst recognising the challenges an applicant may have faced in their educational or individual circumstances.

What contextual information is used?

The following six pieces of contextual information,supplied by UCAS will be flagged for the attention of the admissions selector:

1. Time spent in local authority care. This information is self-declared on the UCAS form and verified at a later stage.

2. The performance of the school/college where the applicant took their GCSEs (or equivalent qualification). Specifically, where the school’s or college’s performance is below the national average.

3. The performance of the school/college where the applicant took their A levels (or equivalent qualification). Specifically, where the school’s or college’s performance is below the national average.

4. The home postcode of the applicant is compared against the POLAR 3 dataset. The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) assess how likely young people from different postcodes are to progress to Higher Education. We will flag applicants with postcodes in quintiles 1 and 2 (the 40 per cent least likely to attend university). The Office for Students has a POLAR 3 postcode checker on their website.

5. Participation in an LSE Widening Participation (WP) programme. Applicants who have completed an LSE WP programme, including LSE CHOICE, LSE Pathways to Law, LSE Pathways to Banking and Finance or LSE Year 11 Summer School.

6. Other individual circumstances that may have disrupted or adversely affected an applicant’s education and achievement, as outlined in an Extenuating Circumstances Form.

How is contextual information used?

Applicants who have been flagged for the attention of the admissions selector will receive additional consideration.The selector may use this information in the following ways:

- to make an applicant a standard offer where the applicant’s academic record (eg, GCSEs/AS levels or equivalent) or personal statement may be marginally less competitive than the cohort overall

- to make an applicant a standard offer where the applicant is predicted marginally below the usual entry requirements

- to make an applicant a “contextual offer” (which may be marginally lower than the standard offer for the programme).

- when making confirmation decisions for offer holders that have marginally failed to meet the entry criteria (usually this means one grade below the standard entry requirements).

Contextual information is used as part of the holistic admissions assessment and applicants are assessed alongside all other similar applicants, therefore having a contextual flag does not guarantee that an offer will be made.

A level reform

A levels are currently being reformed in England with a move to linear qualifications. The AS level is being de-coupled from the A level and will become a stand alone qualification.

LSE is of the opinion that AS levels offer significant benefits, both for the student and for universities. Our evidence indicates that AS levels are an effective indicator of performance at undergraduate level and for this reason we will continue to use AS grades in our admissions assessments. For students due to sit A levels we would recommend that, whenever possible, they sit AS level examinations at the end of Year 12. These AS results will help our admissions selectors assess the application in a fair, consistent and transparent manner and will ensure that more subjective indicators of academic potential such as predicted grades are less important factors in the decision-making process. LSE understands that there will be some schools and colleges that are unable to offer AS levels alongside the new linear A levels.

LSE will not disadvantage students who submit an application without AS level grades as a result. In these circumstances we will use the information presented on the application form to make our decision (possibly in conjunction with some form of additional assessment).

Unit grades

AS unit grades already attained are used as part of our decision-making process for some of our programmes. As competition for places at LSE is intense, it is important that applicants achieve consistently high grades throughout both years of their A level study. For the majority of our programmes, admissions selectors will continue to make decisions based on predicted A level grades, as well as previous academic qualifications, the personal statement and academic reference.

Information regarding use of GCSE and equivalent qualifications

If you have taken GCSEs or equivalent qualifications, these will be taken into account when we assess your application.

All applicants are expected to have at least grade B/grade 6 in GCSE English Language and Mathematics or the equivalent, although exceptions are made for applicants with extenuating circumstances.

As competition for places at LSE is intense, we look for applicants who have achieved highly at GCSE (multiple A or A* grades), particularly within the context of their school.

Some programmes require grades higher than grade B/grade 6 in GCSE Mathematics and these are outlined in the individual programme pages.

GCSE reform

How are GCSEs Changing?            

A new grading scale of 1 to 9 will be used, with 9 being the top grade and assessment will be mainly by exam. The reformed GCSEs will be linear qualifications; they will be designed for two years of study and will no longer be divided into different modules. Students will take all their exams in one period at the end of their course.

We appreciate that implementing curriculum and qualification reform may pose a challenge to schools and that there will be some volatility as a result of the introduction of new specifications and examinations. For applicants offering new GCSEs we expect a minimum grade 6 in English and Maths. We will continue to review this requirement as the qualifications become more established. 

Undergraduate Admissions Assessment (UGAA)

LSE requires students who study certain qualifications to complete the Undergraduate Admissions Assessment (UGAA) before a final decision can be made on their application.

Only the most competitive applicants with these qualifications are invited to sit the assessment. Applicants cannot request to sit the assessment and invitations will be sent on a rolling basis from January.

Qualifications which require the UGAA
Further information about the UGAA