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Mathematics and economics


Mathematics is essential for an understanding of modern economics. A degree combining these two strongly related disciplines gives you the opportunity to study both economics and mathematics in depth and enables you to acquire the technical aptitude and analytical skills to proceed to a successful career in finance, business and many other fields or to proceed to further study. Although specific techniques may become out of date, the ability to think analytically is something that remains with you for the rest of your life, enabling you to adapt to new developments in your chosen career. Both our degrees are carefully structured so that the mathematical and statistical topics you study are those of greatest relevance to economics and finance.

Features of LSE courses

The Department of Mathematics at LSE is internationally renowned for its teaching and research in mathematics related to the social sciences, particularly the mathematics necessary for understanding economics. Both our degrees are taught jointly with LSE's world class Department of Economics and enable you to build a strong quantitative knowledge base – increasingly important for a successful career in economics and finance. This degree will be of interest if you have a mathematical/scientific background, regardless of whether you have previously studied economics.

The BSc Mathematics and Economics is a joint degree where students study roughly equal amounts of both subjects over their three years. The BSc Mathematics with Economics has mathematics as its major subject and economics as its minor subject, and study of mathematics will make up approximately 75 per cent of the degree. Both degrees have exactly the same first year courses and students may move between these two degrees, should they wish to, in their second year.

Graduates will be able to combine a good understanding of modern economics with a high degree of mathematical expertise. This combination is an excellent foundation for careers in many walks of life.

Degree structure

The degree involves studying 12 courses over three years, plus LSE100.

What the selectors are looking for in an application

The selectors for both degrees are looking for excellent mathematicians and it is a requirement that A level Mathematics (or equivalent) is taken and the maximum grade is achieved. Where it is offered by your school or college, AS or A Level Further Mathematics is expected to be taken.  

Applicants are expected to submit an original and interesting personal statement which outlines your enthusiasm and motivation for the study of both subjects. In addition to your ability to produce clear and concise text, the selectors want to see evidence of your understanding of the links between the two disciplines. Similarly, if you have participated in any relevant activities outside the taught curriculum, such as mathematics competitions or Olympiads you should make reference to it in your personal statement.

The selectors are keen to know why you wish to study either of these programmes, whether there are any aspects of particular interest to you, how this relates to your current academic studies and what additional reading or relevant experiences you have had which have led you to apply.

Personal characteristics and skills that will be useful to students on these programmes are those such as the abilities to apply logic and follow complex lines of mathematical reasoning; to be creative and flexible in approaching problems; to ask questions, to be well organised and to think and work independently. In addition you should possess good communication skills, intellectual curiosity and have the motivation and capacity for hard work.

Please visit  lse.ac.uk/ug/apply/mth for further information about admissions criteria.

Teaching and assessment

You will usually attend two lectures and one related class for each course per week (eight lectures and four classes). The first year courses additionally have extra, optional, sessions. In addition you will study and work on exercises in your own time. These are then discussed in the weekly classes of 15 students. You will have an academic adviser who will be available to offer general guidance and advice on your studies, and you will be expected to meet him or her at least twice a term.

You will have examinations in all courses you have taken at the end of each year (May or early June).

Preliminary reading

For an introduction to mathematics as it is applied in economics and finance, we recommend:

  • M Anthony and N Biggs Mathematics for Economics and Finance (Cambridge University Press, 1996)

If you wish to gain further insight into what economists study we suggest that you first look at the following popular book:

  • T Harford The Undercover Economist (Oxford University Press, 2007)

Much of university level mathematics is concerned with formal proofs and rigorous mathematical argument, and this is necessary for some of the advanced mathematics required in finance, economics, and other fields of application. For an introduction, we recommend: 

  • L Alcock How to Study for a Mathematics Degree (Oxford University Press, 2013)
  • R Allenby Numbers and Proofs (Butterworth-Heinemann, 1997)
  • P Eccles An Introduction to Mathematical Reasoning (Cambridge University Press, 1997)
  • T Gowers Mathematics: a very short introduction (Oxford University Press, 2002)
  • M Liebeck A Concise Introduction to Pure Mathematics (Chapman & Hall/CRC Mathematics, 2005)

Graduate destinations

Recent graduates have gone on to work in the areas of corporate finance, accountancy, management, and banking. Many have pursued graduate study in areas related to mathematics, economics, or both.