Not available in 2020/21
The LSE Course: Understanding the causes of things

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Jessica Templeton KSW 4.06

 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 two ten-week modules, the course will ask ‘big’ questions, such as: ‘Is there a path to global food security?’  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, data visualisation, research and communication skills.


15 hours of classes and 5 hours of specialized online lectures, plus optional workshops, in the MT. 15 hours of classes and 5 hours of specialized online lectures, plus 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 available from the LSE100 Moodle site, along with additional reading and resource recommendations, and can be provided in hard copy on request.


In both terms, students will write a summatively-assessed persuasive academic argument and work with a group of their peers on a project related to the modules. The group project will be completed in the first half of each term, and the written work will be due at the end of term. The written work and group projects are each worth 25% of the student’s final mark. Students receive a numeric mark and overall grade for the course of Distinction, Merit, Pass or Fail.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: LSE

Total students 2019/20: Unavailable

Average class size 2019/20: Unavailable

Capped 2019/20: No

Value: Non-credit bearing

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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