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International history


History is a wide ranging and challenging subject to study. It seeks to understand the past and to make sense of the present, adding an important dimension to the understanding of many aspects of human society.

The International History Department is world renowned in its field, offering a unique perspective on the history of relations between states, peoples and cultures. The Department prides itself on giving students the benefit of ground-breaking research throughout its teaching programme.

The departmental environment is collegial and supportive. Students and staff attend a number of informal social events during the course of the year. Students are also invited to attend a weekend retreat at Cumberland Lodge in Windsor Great Park during the Michaelmas term.

We also encourage our students to pursue their personal development outside the confines of their degree programme by, for example, subsidising part of the cost of additional language certificate courses.

Features of LSE courses

Our degrees will give you a broad international perspective on the past. We give attention both to domestic and international issues and many of the courses we offer deal with major events in the history of international relations.

Since the behaviour of countries in the international arena cannot be understood without a knowledge of their distinct social, political, economic and cultural characteristics, we provide courses covering major aspects of the history of ideas and mentalities.

Through studying history you will learn how to analyse complex evidence from a variety of sources, to develop your analytical powers and to present your findings effectively. These skills and a broad knowledge of the development of the world around us are valued by many employers.

Degree structure

You can take history as a single honours degree in BA History or in a joint honours degree with either international relations in the BSc International Relations and History or with government in the BSc Government and History. There is a separate section on economic history. In all degrees you will study 12 courses over three years, plus LSE100.

What the selectors are looking for in an application

Selectors are looking for academic students with a genuine interest in and enthusiasm for the social sciences, with a particular emphasis on international history. There is no one ideal subject combination, however, as with all degree programmes at LSE, at least two traditional academic subjects are preferred.

Your personal statement should provide evidence of your genuine interest in history or in international relations and history, together with an understanding of what studying these subjects at LSE involves. We are also interested in your views and opinions. 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 extra-curricular activities.

For the combined degree, you should demonstrate your balanced interest in both disciplines.

Personal characteristics and skills that will be useful to students in their study of History and International Relations at LSE (as a single or combined programme) include the abilities to read extensively; evaluate and challenge conventional views; communicate effectively; show initiative and enthusiasm and demonstrate attention to detail. In addition you should possess intellectual curiosity and have the motivation and capacity for hard work.

Please visit lse.ac.uk/ug/apply/inh for further information on admissions criteria.

Teaching and assessment

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 most courses. Some courses contain elements of continuous summative assessment. A 10,000 word dissertation is compulsory in the final year of the BA History, and is an option in the final year of the BSc International Relations and History.

Preliminary reading

If you wish to gain further insight into the subject we suggest that you look at one or more of the following books:

  • D Cannadine What is History Now? (Palgrave 2002)
  • R Evans In Defence of History (Granta, 1997)
  • A Best et al An International History of the Twentieth Century and Beyond  (Routledge, 2008)
  • D Reynolds One World Divisible  (Norton, 2000)
  • D Stevenson 1914-1918: the history of the First World War (Allen Lane, 2004)
  • O A Westad The Global Cold War: Third World interventions and the making of our times (Cambridge University Press, 2007)

Graduate destinations

Past students have followed a range of careers in politics, journalism, media and publishing, advertising, marketing, and public relations, public administration, the foreign service, industry, the charity and development sector, finance, consulting and the legal profession, as well as in research, teaching, libraries and archives.