Last Updated on August 28, 2023
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lSE international relations and history
International relations is the study of an international system composed of territorial states which acknowledge no superior authority over matters which they consider of vital interest. This degree studies the functioning, theory and history of this system, and the nature of the changing relations between states and non-state actors.
Questions of central interest to the programme are: Why, on the one hand, do states go to war and what impact does this have on the international system? Why, on the other hand, do they often cooperate and obey international law? What is meant by “governance” and how do we explain regional developments like the European Union, or the re-emergence of the United Nations?
We will also investigate the widely different character and circumstances of states, examining the implications of the highly uneven distribution of power, money, welfare and knowledge in the international system for the foreign policies of states towards each other, and for the maintenance of international order.
BSc International Relations
|Academic year (2022/23)||26 September 2022 – 16 June 2023|
|Application deadline||26 January 2022|
|Duration||Three years full-time|
lSE international relations entry requirements
For information about tuition fees, usual standard offers and entry requirements, see the sections below.
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.
A strong set of GCSE grades including the majority at A (or 7) and A* (or 8-9)
GCSE English Language and Mathematics grades should be no lower than B (or 6)
We also consider your overall GCSE subject profile
We also consider your AS grades, if available.
Contextual admissions A-level grades*
38 points overall, including 766 at higher level
*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.
- 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.
- We are looking for academic students with a genuine interest in and enthusiasm for the social sciences. There is no one ideal subject combination, however, as with all degree programmes at LSE, at least two traditional academic subjects are preferred. Common sixth form subject choices include a combination of History, English, Economics, Government and Politics, Sociology, Geography, languages, Psychology and Philosophy.
- If you have taken Mathematics, Further Mathematics and one other subject at A-level, this may be considered less competitive for this programme.
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 requirementsinformation.
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)
- 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:
- genuine interest in international society, its institutions, governance, rules and relationships
- views and opinions on current and public affairs
- an ability to read extensively
- an ability to evaluate and challenge conventional views
- good communication skills
- creativity, flexibility and initiative
- capacity to work independently
- attention to detail
- intellectual curiosity
- motivation and capacity for hard work
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.
lSE international relations undergraduate fees
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.
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
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.
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.
- Take a note of the UK qualifications we require for your programme of interest (found in the ‘Entry requirements’ section of this page.
- Go to the International Students section of our website.
- Select your country.
- 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.
Students who have taken and passed at least one language course in each year of their degree (ie, 25 per cent of their overall programme of study) will be offered the opportunity to receive a language specialism attached to their degree certificate and transcript. Students must take all courses in the same language (French, Spanish, German, Mandarin or Russian) in order to qualify for the specialism. The three courses must also be consecutively harder in level, for example: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Students who choose to take language courses are not obligated to receive a specialism, but have the option if they wish. Degree certificates which include a language specialism will state the language in the title, for example: BSc International Relations with French.
In the first year you will take two compulsory courses: International Relations: Theories, Concepts and Debates and Contemporary Issues in International Relations. You will choose between two history courses and will take an approved outside option from another department at LSE. In addition, you will take LSE100, and the non-assessed course Thinking Globally: Studying International Relations.
(* denotes a half unit course)
International Relations: Theories, Concepts and Debates
Examines the theories and concepts designed to explain the nature of contemporary international relations.
Contemporary Issues in International Relations
Critically analyses some of the political, economic, military and social issues that confront international relations and which have influenced and shaped the development of the contemporary international order.
International Politics since 1914: Peace and War
Offers an overview of international politics since 1914, providing a factual grounding and surveying the main historiographical debates.
From Empire to Independence: The Extra-European World in the Twentieth Century
An introductory survey of events outside Europe in the twentieth century, with a particular emphasis on the collapse of the Western colonial empires, the development of relations between the West and the new states within Asia and Africa, revolutionary developments in Latin America, and the rise of non-Western models of political development.
Thinking Globally: Studying International Relations (un-assessed)
Helps students to acquire and develop the key skills needed to study international relations.
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.
In the second year you will choose three from five international relations options. You will also choose options to the value of one unit from an approved list, which includes language courses and courses from other departments.
International Political Theory
Offers an introduction to the history of international political thought (IPT). The course deals with debates and themes prompted by classical thinkers and considers their location within the existing IR canon including realism, liberalism, constructivism, and critical theory.
Examines major theoretical and empirical aspects of the role of international organisations in international politics.
Foreign Policy Analysis I
Analyses various theoretical perspectives on foreign policy, and the means of conduct of the main actors in the international system towards each other.
Tackles questions of war, peace and security from an analytical perspective, by highlighting changes and continuities in international security.
International Political Economy
Examines the role of power and politics in international economic relations. Besides international structural factors, it emphasises the role of domestic political interests and their influence over foreign economic policies.
Further courses to the value of one unit from the above, or an approved list, including language options
You will take a further three units worth of options from an approved list of international relations options. Your will then take further courses to the value of one unit from a range of approved options relevant to the study of international relations options, or language options.
Three approved international relations options
One option from an outside approved list, a language course or an additional approved international relations option
For the most up-to-date list of optional courses please visit the relevant School Calendar page.
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.Examines the role of power and politics in international economic relations. Besides international structural factors, it emphasises the role of domestic political interests and their influence over foreign economic policies.Teaching and assessment
Format: In the first and second year, courses are taught through a combination of lectures, and classes. The lectures provide a broad overview of a topic. The classes are small group discussions and provide an opportunity to explore a topic in greater depth. These are usually taught by Graduate Teaching Assistants. In the third year you will choose from a selection of courses on specialised topics. The majority of these are half unit options and are taught by a full-time member of staff. You can view indicative details for the teacher responsible for each course in the relevant course guide.
Contact hours and independent study: The total teaching time amounts to around 10 contact hours per week, not including LSE100 teaching. In addition to this, you should expect to be doing eight hours of guided independent work per course per week. Hours vary according to courses and you can view indicative details in the Calendar within the Teaching section of each course guide.
Academic mentor: You will be assigned an academic mentor who will meet with you to discuss your academic progress and any problems which you might have.
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.
- 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 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.
Formative unassessed coursework: All taught courses are required to include formative coursework which is unassessed. It is designed to help prepare you for summative assessment which counts towards the course mark and to the degree award. LSE uses a range of formative assessment, such as essays, problem sets, case studies, reports, quizzes, mock exams and many others. Feedback on coursework is an essential part of the teaching and learning experience at the School. Class teachers must mark formative coursework and return it with feedback to you normally within two weeks of submission (when the work is submitted on time).
Summative assessment (assessment that counts towards your final course mark and degree award): Summative assessment over the course of the three years will be assessed through a variety of means. In the first and second year, the majority of our courses rely on examinations at the end of the year. In the third year courses are assessed through a variety of means: some through end of year examinations; some through a piece of assessed coursework; and some through a combination of the two. You will also receive feedback on any summative coursework you are required to submit as part of the assessment for individual courses. You will normally receive this feedback before the examination period.
Please note that assessment on individual courses can change year to year. An indication of the current formative coursework and summative assessment for each course can be found in the relevant course guide.
lSE international relations staff
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.
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.
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.
If you wish to gain further insight into the subject we suggest that you look at one or more of the following books:
C Alden and A Aron Foreign Policy Analysis: new approaches (Routledge, 2011)
J Baylis, S Smith and P Owens (eds) The Globalization of World Politics: an introduction to international relations (7th edition, Oxford University Press, 2016)
C Brown, with K Ainley Understanding International Relations (Macmillan, 2009)
B Buzan and G Lawson The Global Transformation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015)
B Buzan and R Little International Systems in World History: remaking the study of international relations (Oxford University Press, 2000)
R Shilliam International Relations and Non-Western Thought: imperialism, colonialism and investigations of global modernity (Routledge, 2010)
J Steans Gender & International Relations (Polity Press, 2013)
T G Weiss and R Wilkinson (eds) International Organization and Global Governance (Routledge, 2014)
Quick Careers Facts for the Department of International Relations
Median salary of our UG students six months after graduating: £30,000
Top 5 sectors our students work in:
- Public administration and defence
- Financial service activities
- Legal and accounting activities
- Social work 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.
The degree programme does not prepare you for a specific career. It develops a range of intellectual and practical skills that are relevant across a wide range of career opportunities. Our graduates have found work with a wide range of employers including multilateral and intergovernmental organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), banking and accounting services, local and national governments, educational establishments, and media and publishing companies. Others have opted to continue studying international relations, or have transferred the skills they developed at LSE to other disciplines, such as law.