The LSE Course: Understanding the causes of things

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Jessica Templeton KSW4.06

Academics from a range of LSE departments contribute to the course.


Compulsory course on all undergraduate programmes: students complete Term 1 in Lent Term of their first year and Term 2 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 ask ‘big’ questions, such as: ‘How should we address poverty and inequality?’ and ‘Should markets be constrained or unleashed?’ 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 aim 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.


15 hours of classes and 5 hours of specialized online lectures, plus four optional workshops, in the MT. 15 hours of classes and 5 hours of specialized online lectures, plus four optional workshops, 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 persuasive academic argument and work with a group of their peers on a project and presentation related to one of the modules. Students will also complete a portfolio of work including weekly questions designed to support students’ reading, as well as a piece of reflective writing. 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 group project will be completed in Weeks 4 and 5, the portfolio will be due in Week 10, and the written work will be due in Week 11. The written work and group projects are each worth 20% of the student’s final mark and the portfolio exercises are worth 10% per term. Students receive a numeric mark and overall grade for the course of Distinction, Merit, Credit or Fail.

Key facts

Department: LSE

Total students 2016/17: Unavailable

Average class size 2016/17: Unavailable

Capped 2016/17: No

Value: Non-credit bearing

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

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