If you have enjoyed A level Mathematics and are interested in the applications of statistics to the social sciences, business and finance, you should consider one of the three programmes offered in this area.
BSc Actuarial Science applies mathematical skills to a range of applied subjects, and helps to solve important problems for insurance, government, commerce, industry and academic researchers. Recent graduates have gone on to work in the areas of insurance (life and general), as well as banking, finance and statistics.
BSc Business Mathematics and Statistics allows a much broader choice of courses applying statistics to the social sciences, as well as a choice of specialisation in social science fields such as economics, finance, demographics, information science or sociology. BSc Statistics with Finance was launched in 2011 following demand from the industry. Combining mathematics, statistics and finance it forms an excellent preparation for work in the field of finance and elsewhere, as well as for graduate studies.
Features of LSE courses
Applicants should apply for no more than one of these programmes. They have exactly the same first-year courses and, subject to satisfactory progress, students may move between these three degrees, should they wish to, in their second year.
All three programmes make heavy demands on mathematical and statistical abilities.
Of the three programmes, the BSc Actuarial Science programme has the heaviest mathematical and statistical component. Courses taken as part of the degree can lead to exemptions from subjects of the core technical stage of the examinations of the Institute of Actuaries. Applicants are strongly advised to visit the Institute of Actuaries website for further information.
The programme is accredited by the Institute of Actuaries and therefore there are two ways to get exemptions. For details please look at the current students exemptions section of our website.
The BSc Business Mathematics and Statistics programme offers a much broader choice of optional courses. After the first year, you will be able to choose which aspects of the application of mathematics and statistics suit your interests and career aspirations best.
The main pathways available are:
actuarial science (where courses followed are identical to those in the Actuarial Science degree)
The BSc Statistics with Finance aims to give a thorough grounding in mathematics and statistics applicable to finance, as well as finance itself. Around 75 per cent of the programme consists of mathematics and statistics courses, and 25 per cent of finance courses. The programme in the first and second year is largely fixed, while a wider variety of options are available in the third year.
Several courses on either BSc Business Mathematics and Statistics or BSc Statistics with Finance may give entitlement to exemptions from the Institute of Actuaries examinations.
In addition, all three undergraduate degrees are accredited by The Royal Statistical Society, subject to students successfully completing a set number of statistics courses in their second and third year. Accreditation provides graduates with the status of Graduate Statistician, a grade of professional membership of the Society. Due to the degree structure accreditation is guaranteed for Actuarial Science students and is possible for Statistics with Finance and Business Mathematics and Statistics students depending on course choices. There are usually opportunities for internships in actuarial and financial firms which students from all three programmes can arrange for themselves with help from the Careers Service or with placement companies that cooperate with the Department of Statistics directly.
Each degree involves studying 12 courses over three years, plus LSE100.
What the selectors are looking for in an application
The selectors for all three programmes are looking for students who are outstanding mathematicians.
For all three programmes, your personal statement should outline your enthusiasm and passion for statistics, and explain your motivation for studying your chosen programme. You should mention whether there are any aspects of particular interest to you, how it relates to your current academic programme and what additional reading or similar experiences you have had which have led you to apply. You could also include information on any relevant work experience and extra-curricular activities. If you have participated in any relevant activities outside the taught curriculum, such as maths competitions or Olympiads you should make reference to it in your personal statement.
Personal characteristics and skills that will be useful to students in their study of these degrees include the abilities to ask pertinent questions, think independently, apply logic, communicate clearly and effectively, manipulate data and adopt a creative and flexible approach. In addition you should possess intellectual curiosity and have the motivation and capacity for hard work.
Teaching and assessment
You will usually attend a mixture of lectures and related classes, seminars or workshops totalling between 10 and 15 hours per week. Your academic adviser will be available to offer general guidance and assistance with both academic and personal concerns, and you will be expected to meet him or her every term.
Most courses are assessed by a three-hour examination in June. A small number of courses are assessed by project work. The class of degree you will attain is based on the assessment over all three years, with the emphasis on marks gained in the second and third years.
Preliminary reading and video
The following documentary gives insight into the exciting world of statistics:
The Joy of Stats: www.gapminder.org/videos/the-joy-of-stats (approx. 1 hour). A DVD is available to order from Wingspan Productions. Director & Producer; Dan Hillman, Executive Producer: Archie Baron. © Wingspan Productions for the BBC, 2010.
General books related to mathematics and statistics are:
D Hand Statistics: a very short introduction (Oxford University Press, 2008)
K J Devlin The Millennium Problems: the seven greatest unsolved mathematical puzzles of our time (Granta Books, 2005)
J S Rosenthal Struck by Lightning: the curious world of probabilities (HarperCollins, 2005)
J A Paulos Innumeracy: mathematical illiteracy and its consequences (Fsg Adult, 2001)
P J Davis and R Hersh The Mathematical Experience (Houghton Mifflin, 2000)
For more serious preparatory study, we recommend:
V Bryant Yet Another Introduction to Analysis (Cambridge University Press, 1990)
P Eccles An Introduction to Mathematical Reasoning (Cambridge University Press, 1998)
T H Wonnacott and R J Wonnacott Introductory Statistics (Wiley, 1990)
N L Biggs Discrete Mathematics (Oxford University Press, 2003)
Graduates will be able to go on to work in the areas of insurance, banking, accounting, statistics, civil service, graduate studies and business consultancy.