Programmes

BSc Politics and Data Science

  • Undergraduate
  • Department of Government
  • UCAS code L2G3
  • Starting 2022
  • Home full-time: Open from September
  • Overseas full-time: Open from September
  • Location: Houghton Street, London

Politics, as other sectors of society, is undergoing a rapid digital transformation. An increasing proportion of our lives is spent online, using digital and social media platforms, where politics is discussed, and information is shared. Data about citizens and organisations are produced in real-time, stored and linked on an ever-larger scale; digital algorithms are created that increasingly affect citizens’ social, political and economics lives, and big data are analysed to better understand attitudinal and behavioural patterns. New powerful actors such as digital media companies are shaping this space, and regulators are trying to catch-up with digital innovations and their potential impacts on democratic processes such as elections and referendums. The development of cutting-edge data science methods and statistical programming languages that allow governments, businesses and researchers to turn information included in speech, text, video and movements into data, and efficiently analyse these large datasets have emerged alongside these transformations. Data science can be used for good, allowing governments, political organisations, and other actors to make better and more efficient policy decisions, but it can also be used for authoritarian purposes, such as surveillance and interference in democratic decision-making.

The new joint honours BSc programme in Politics and Data Science combines rigorous training in political science with a good understanding of applied data science methods, and an acquisition of the statistical and programming skills necessary to apply these methods to political data. The programme also allows students to study the politics of big data, social media and data science. How does the use of data transform politics? How do campaigns and governments use data? Should digital media companies be regulated, and if so, how? Which institutions are best placed to do so? Which are the ethical and privacy concerns associated with big data collection and analysis? How have different countries addressed these challenges?

Part of the curriculum is a unique third year capstone project in data science and civic engagement, where students work with civic partner organisations to apply data science methodologies to a question of practical importance in the political or social world. Capstone partner organisations include advocacy groups, NGOs, thinktanks, public sector bodies, local governments, international organisations, or private companies where projects involve the social good.

BSc Politics and Data Science graduates will embark on a variety of careers. These include careers in the civil service, government and international organisations, with digital media firms, both on the data science and the political side of the operation, with regulators such as Ofcom, and organisations in the growing field of data journalism (e.g. FiveThirtyEight, Vox, Upshot, Guardian Data). Students oriented toward careers in political data analytics (political parties, campaigns, and NGOs) and in the private sector (e.g. political risk analysis and forecasting) will also find this programme appealing. Due to LSE’s location in the heart of London, BSc students will be surrounded by government, digital media companies, journalism, and the business sector.

Visit the Department of Government Virtual Undergraduate Open Day page to find out more about studying in the department, access virtual resources and watch event recordings from our Virtual Undergraduate Open Day. 

Programme details

Key facts

 
Academic year (2022/23) 26 September 2022 - 16 June 2023
Application deadline 26 January 2022
Duration Three years full-time
Applications/offers/intake 2020 New programme for 2022 entry

For information about tuition fees, usual standard offers and entry requirements, see the sections below.

Entry requirements

Below we list our entry requirements in terms of GCSEs, A-Levels and the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma. We accept a wide range of other qualifications from the UK and from overseas.

GCSEs
A strong set of GCSE grades including the majority at A (or 7) and A* (or 8-9)
Your GCSE (or equivalent) English Language and Mathematics grades should be no lower than B (or 6)
We also consider your overall GCSE subject profile

A-levels
AAA, with an A in Mathematics
We also consider your AS grades, if available

Contextual admissions A-level grades*
AAB, with an A in Mathematics

IB Diploma 
38 points overall, with 766 at higher level, including higher level Mathematics

Contextual admissions IB grades*
37 points overall, with 666 at higher level, including higher level Mathematics

*Read our UG Admissions Information to learn more about contextual admissions.

Competition for places at the School is high. This means that even if you are predicted or if you achieve the grades that meet our usual standard offer, this will not guarantee you an offer of admission. Usual standard offers are intended only as a guide, and in some cases applicants will be asked for grades which differ from this.

We express our standard offers and where applicable, programme requirement, in terms of A-levels and the IB, but we consider applications from students with a range of qualifications including BTECs, Foundation Courses and Access to HE Diplomas as well as a wide range of international qualifications. 

Information about other accepted UK qualifications

Information about accepted international qualifications

Subject combinations

  • We consider the combination of subjects you have taken, as well as the individual scores.
  • We believe a broad mix of traditional academic subjects to be the best preparation for studying at LSE and expect applicants to have at least two full A-levels or equivalent in these subjects.
  • For the BSc Politics and Data Science we are looking for students with a strong mathematical ability, and A-level Mathematics or equivalent is therefore required.
  • We are looking for academic students with a genuine interest in and enthusiasm for politics and data science. 
  • There is no one ideal subject combination, but common sixth form subject choices include Government and Politics, History, English, Economics, Sociology, Philosophy, Languages and Mathematics. 
  • If you have taken Mathematics, Further Mathematics and one other subject at A-level, this may be considered less competitive for this programme.

Find out more about subject combinations.

Assessing your application

We welcome applications from all suitably qualified prospective students and want to recruit students with the very best academic merit, potential and motivation, irrespective of their background. The programme guidance below should be read alongside our general entrance requirements information.

We carefully consider each application on an individual basis, taking into account all the information presented on the UCAS application form, including your:

- academic achievement including predicted and achieved grades (see 'Entry requirements' for programme specific information)
- subjects and subject combinations  (see 'Entry requirements' for programme specific information)
- personal statement (see below for programme specific information)
- teacher’s reference 
- educational circumstances

You may also have to provide evidence of your English proficiency, although you do not need to provide this at the time of your application to LSE. See our English language requirements page.

Personal characteristics, skills and attributes

For this programme, we are looking for students who demonstrate the following characteristics, skills and attributes:

- strong mathematical ability and quantitative skills
- awareness of and genuine interest in current political issues
- an ability to read extensively
- an ability to analyse data
- an ability to evaluate and challenge conventional views
- initiative
- good communication skills
- excellent time management skills
- intellectual curiosity
- motivation and capacity for hard work
- an equal interest in both subjects

Personal statement

In addition to demonstrating the above personal characteristics, skills and attributes, your statement should be original, interesting and well-written and should outline your enthusiasm and motivation for the programme. 

You should explain 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. We are interested to hear your own thoughts or ideas on the topics you have encountered through your exploration of the subject at school or through other activities. Some suggestions for preliminary reading can be found above in the preliminary reading section, but there is no set list of activities we look for; instead we look for students who have made the most of the opportunities available to them to deepen their knowledge and understanding of their intended programme of study.

You can also mention extra-curricular activities such as sport, the arts or volunteering or any work experience you have undertaken. However, the main focus of an undergraduate degree at LSE is the in-depth academic study of a subject and we expect the majority of your personal statement to be spent discussing your academic interests.

Please also see our general guidance about writing personal statements. 

Fees and funding

Every undergraduate student is charged a fee for each year of their programme.

The fee covers registration and examination fees payable to the School, lectures, classes and individual supervision, lectures given at other colleges under intercollegiate arrangements and, under current arrangements, membership of the Students' Union. It does not cover living costs or travel or fieldwork.

Tuition fees

Home students:

The 2022 tuition fee for new Home students has not yet been set. As a guide the 2021 fee for Home students is £9,250 per year. The Home student undergraduate fee may rise in line with inflation in subsequent years.

Overseas students:

The 2022 tuition fee for international students has not yet been set. As a guide the 2021 fee for overseas students is £22,430 per year. Once announced, the overseas tuition fee will remain at the same amount for each subsequent year of your full-time study regardless of the length of your programme. This information applies to new overseas undergraduate entrants starting their studies from 2022 onwards.

Table of fees 

Fee status:

The amount of tuition fees you will need to pay, and any financial support you are eligible for, will depend on whether you are classified as a home or overseas student, otherwise known as your fee status. LSE assesses your fee status based on guidelines provided by the Department of Education.

Further information about fee status classification

Scholarships, bursaries and loans

The School recognises that the cost of living in London may be higher than in your home town or country. LSE provides generous financial support, in the form of bursaries and scholarships to UK, EU and overseas students. 

In addition, UK Government support, in the form of loans, is available to UK and some EU students. Some overseas governments also offer funding.

Further information on tuition fees, cost of living, loans and scholarships.

Information for international students

LSE is an international community, with over 140 nationalities represented amongst its student body in 2019. We celebrate this diversity through everything we do. 

If you are applying to LSE from outside of the UK then take a look at our Information for International students.

1) Take a note of the UK qualifications we require for your programme of interest (found in the ‘Entry requirements’ section of this page.

2) Go to the International Students section of our website.

3) Select your country.

4) Select ‘Undergraduate entry requirements’ and scroll until you arrive at the information about your local/national qualification. Compare the stated UK entry requirements listed on this page with the local/national entry requirement listed on your country specific page.

Programme structure and courses

The degree involves studying courses to the value of 12 units over three years, plus LSE100. 

You will take courses offered by the Department's of Government, Methodology, Statistics and Mathematics and the Data Science Institute that integrate political science and data science, whether in terms of content, applications to examples, or both. There will be a clear progression in teaching formats, and in the mix of core/elective programme content from year one, to years two and three. Year one aims to build the foundations in both political science and data science through larger introductory lectures and smaller classes and lab; year two is concerned with the politics of data science via a programme-specific core module and smaller elective modules; year three will allow students a lot of choice in electives focusing on learning more advanced data science methods, and applying them to political science questions and political data. You will also engage in collaborative group-based learning and the application of data science to real-world problems in their final capstone project. The civic engagement activities in this project will also foster the development of self-awareness regarding civic responsibility and of communicative skills. 

First year 

(* denotes a half unit course)

In the first year you will take five compulsory courses. In addition, you will also take LSE100.

Introduction to Political Science
Examines the comparative analysis of a range of political phenomena, including the forms of states and regimes, theories of elections and voting, political ideologies, the causes and consequences of democracy, and the management of the economy.

Introduction to Political Theory
Examines the foundations of Western political thought, followed by modern political theory.

Elementary Statistical Theory  
This is a theoretical statistics course which is appropriate whether or not your A level Mathematics course included statistics. It forms the basis for later statistics options.

Programming for Data Science*
Covers the principles of computer programming with a focus on data science applications.

Data for Data Science*

LSE100*
A half unit, running across Michaelmas and Lent Term in the first year, LSE100 is compulsory for all LSE undergraduate students, and is designed to build your capacity to tackle multidimensional problems through research-rich education.

Second year 

In the second year you will take three compulsory courses, choose a government course and one and a half units from an approved list of courses.  

Research Design in Political Science
Introduces students to the design, conduct and analysis of research in empirical Political Science spanning different subfields.

The Politics and Policy of Data Science*

Data Science for Social Scientists*

One government half unit course

Courses to the value of one and a half units from an approved list

Third year 

In the third year, you will take three compulsory courses and choose courses from a range of options. 

Data Science Applications to Politics Research*

Capstone Data Science and Civic Engagement* 

Government courses to the value of one unit

Either 

Machine Learning*
Focuses on the core machine learning techniques in the context of high-dimensional or large datasets (i.e. big data). 

Or

Artificial Intelligence*
Introduces the basic principles of artificial intelligence systems.

Courses to the value of one and a half units from an approved list

The regulations for this programme will be available on the School Calendar page shortly.   

Where regulations permit, you may also be able to take a language, literature or linguistics option as part of your degree. Information can be found on the Language Centre webpages.

You must note however that while care has been taken to ensure that this information is up-to-date and correct, a change of circumstances since publication may cause the School to change, suspend or withdraw a course or programme of study, or change the fees that apply to it. The School will always notify the affected parties as early as practicably possible and propose any viable and relevant alternative options. Note that the School will neither be liable for information that after publication becomes inaccurate or irrelevant, nor for changing, suspending or withdrawing a course or programme of study due to events outside of its control, which includes but is not limited to a lack of demand for a course or programme of study, industrial action, fire, flood or other environmental or physical damage to premises.

You must also note that places are limited on some courses and/or subject to specific entry requirements. The School cannot therefore guarantee you a place. Please note that changes to programmes and courses can sometimes occur after you have accepted your offer of a place. These changes are normally made in light of developments in the discipline or path-breaking research, or on the basis of student feedback. Changes can take the form of altered course content, teaching formats or assessment modes. Any such changes are intended to enhance the student learning experience. You should visit the School’s Calendar, or contact the relevant academic department, for information on the availability and/or content of courses and programmes of study. Certain substantive changes will be listed on the updated undergraduate course and programme information page.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching

Format and contact hours: Teaching involves a mixture of live lectures and related classes, as well as computer labs, totalling between ten and fifteen hours per week. Lectures are given by full-time members of staff. Classes are led by teaching fellows, who may either be recent doctoral degree recipients or PhD students. You can view indicative details for the teacher responsible for each course in the relevant course guide. Classes are held in small groups of at most 15 students. 

Hours vary according to courses and you can view indicative details in the Calendar within the Teaching section of each course guide.

The remaining hours will be spent on non-synchronous learning activities, including recorded short videos, formative and summative course work and independent study. 

Academic support

Academic mentor: You will have an academic mentor who will meet you at regular intervals to discuss your work and offer guidance and assistance with both academic and, where appropriate, personal concerns.

Other academic support: There are many opportunities to extend your learning outside the classroom and complement your academic studies at LSE. LSE LIFE is the School’s centre for academic, personal and professional development. Some of the services on offer include: guidance and hands-on practice of the key skills you will need to do well at LSE: effective reading, academic writing and critical thinking; workshops related to how to adapt to new or difficult situations, including development of skills for leadership, study/work/life balance and preparing for the world of work; and advice and practice on working in study groups and on cross-cultural communication and teamwork.

Disability and Wellbeing Service: LSE is committed to enabling all students to achieve their full potential and the School’s Disability and Wellbeing Service provides a free, confidential service to all LSE students and is a first point of contact for all disabled students.

Your timetable

  • The standard teaching day runs from 09:00-18:00; Monday to Friday. Teaching for undergraduate students will not usually be scheduled after 12:00 on Wednesdays to allow for sports, volunteering and other extra-curricular events. 
  • The lecture and seminar timetable is published in mid-August and the full academic timetable (lectures/seminars and undergraduate classes) is published by mid-September and is accessible via the LSE Timetables webpages.
  • Undergraduate student personal timetables are published in LSE for You (LFY). For personal timetables to appear, students must be registered at LSE, have successfully signed up for courses in LFY and ensured that their course selection does not contain unauthorised clashes. Every effort is made to minimise changes after publication, once personal timetables have been published any changes are notified via email.

Assessment

The BSc in Politics and Data Science employs a diverse range of formative assessment methods to help students develop their knowledge and skills to meet the programme and course level learning outcomes, and diverse summative assessment to gauge the extent of their doing so. These will include problem sets, research design exercises, essays, exams, individual and group presentations and a team-based capstone project. The class of degree attained is based on the assessment of students' work over all three years, with the emphasis on marks gained in the second and third years. 

An indication of the current formative coursework and summative assessment for each course can be found in the relevant course guide.

Find out more about LSE’s teaching and assessment methods

Student support and resources

We’re here to help and support you throughout your time at LSE, whether you need help with your academic studies, support with your welfare and wellbeing or simply to develop on a personal and professional level.

Whatever your query, big or small there are a range of people you can speak to and who will be happy to help.

Academic mentors – an academic member of staff who you will meet with at least once a term and who can help with any academic, administrative or personal questions you have. (See Teaching and assessment).

Academic support librarians – they will be able to help you navigate the library and maximise its resources during your studies.

Accommodation service  - they can offer advice on living in halls and offer guidance on private accommodation related queries.

Class teachers and seminar leaders – they will be able to assist with queries relating to a specific course you are taking.

Disability and Wellbeing Service – the staff are experts in long term health conditions, sensory impairments, mental health and specific learning difficulties. They offer confidential and free services such as student counselling, a peer support scheme, arranging exam adjustments and run groups and workshops.

IT help – support available 24 hours a day to assist with all of your technology queries.

LSE Faith Centre – home to LSE's diverse religious activities and transformational interfaith leadership programmes, as well as a space for worship, prayer and quiet reflection. It includes Islamic prayer rooms and a main space for worship. It is also a space for wellbeing classes on campus and is open to all students and staff from all faiths and none.  

Language Centre – the centre specialises in offering language courses targeted to the needs of students and practitioners in the social sciences. We offer pre-course English for Academic Purposes programmes; English language support during your studies; modern language courses in 9 languages; proofreading, translation and document authentication and language learning community activities.

LSE Careers ­- with the help of LSE Careers, you can make the most of the opportunities that London has to offer. Whatever your future career plans, LSE Careers will work with you, connecting you to opportunities and experiences from internships and volunteering to networking events and employer and alumni insights.

LSE Library - Founded in 1896, the British Library of Political and Economic Science is the major international library of the social sciences. It stays open late, has lots of excellent resources and it’s a great place to study. As an LSE student, you’ll have access to a number of other academic libraries in Greater London and nationwide.

LSE LIFE – this is where you should go to develop skills you’ll use as a student and beyond. The centre runs talks and workshops on skills you’ll find useful in the classroom, offer one-to-one sessions with study advisers who can help you with reading, making notes, writing, research and exam revision, and provide drop-in sessions for academic and personal support. (See ‘Teaching and assessment).

LSE Students’ Union (LSESU) – they offer academic, personal and financial advice and funding.

Sardinia House Dental Practice - offers discounted private dental services to LSE students.

St Philips Medical Centre - based in Pethwick-Lawrence House the centre provides NHS Primary Care services to registered patients.

Student Services Centre – our staff here can answer general queries and can point you in the direction of other LSE services.

Student advocates and advisers – we have a School Senior Advocate for Students and an Adviser to Women Students who can help with academic and pastoral matters.

 

Student life

As a student at LSE you’ll be based at our central London campus. Find out what our campus and London have to offer you on academic, social and career perspective.

Student societies and activities 

Your time at LSE is not just about studying, there are plenty of ways to get involved in extracurricular activities. From joining one of over 200 societies, or starting your own society, to volunteering for a local charity, or attending a public lecture by a world-leading figure, there is a lot to choose from.

The campus

LSE is based on one campus in the centre of London. Despite the busy feel of the surrounding area, many of the streets around campus are pedestrianised, meaning the campus feels like a real community.

Life in London

London is an exciting, vibrant and colourful city. It's also an academic city, with more than 400,000 university students. Whatever your interests or appetite you will find something to suit your palate and pocket in this truly international capital. Make the most of career opportunities and social activities, theatre, museums, music and more.

Want to find out more? Read why we think London is a fantastic student city, find out about key sights, places and experiences for new Londoners. Don't fear, London doesn't have to be super expensive: hear about London on a budget.

Preliminary reading

Garrett Grolemund and Hadley Wickham R for Data Science (O'Reilly Media, 2016) Note: Online version is available from the authors' page here

John V. Guttag Introduction to Computation and Programming using Python (Second Edition, The MIT Press, 2017)

Hersh, Eitan D Hacking the electorate: How campaigns perceive voters (Cambridge University Press, 2015)

James et al An Introduction to Statistical Learning: With applications in R, (Springer, 2013) Note: The book is available from the authors' page here

Jungherr, Andreas, Gonzalo Rivero, and Daniel Gayo-Avello Retooling politics: How digital media are shaping democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2020)

Margetts, Helen, Peter John, Scott Hale, and Taha Yasseri Political Turbulence: How Social Media Shape Collective Action (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015)

Silver, Nate The signal and the noise: the art and science of prediction (Penguin UK, 2012)

Titiunik, Rocío "Can big data solve the fundamental problem of causal inference?" (PS: Political Science & Politics 48 (1), 2015, pp. 75-79)

Careers

Quick Careers Facts for the Department of Government

Median salary of our UG students six months after graduating: £30,000

Top 5 sectors our students work in:

  • Public administration and defence
  • Education
  • Management consultancy activities
  • Legal and accounting activities
  • Financial service activities

The data was collected as part of the Graduate Outcomes survey, which is administered by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). Graduates from 2017-18 were the first group to be asked to respond to Graduate Outcomes. Median salaries are calculated for respondents who are paid in UK pounds sterling.

Politics graduates have a range of skills and can fit into a variety of positions in modern life. Our former students have followed careers in business and banking, in law, in central and local government, in teaching and research, in public and university administration, and in journalism and television.

Further information on graduate destinations for this programme

Support for your career

Many leading organisations give careers presentations at the School during the year, and LSE Careers has a wide range of resources available to assist students in their job search.

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