London School of Economics

The London School of Economics and Political Science, more commonly referred to as The London School of Economics or LSE, is a specialist college of the University of London in London, England. It was founded in 1895, and officially joined the federal University in 1900 as the Faculty of Economics, beginning to issue its degrees from 1902. Today it is regarded as one of the world's leading academic institutions and remains a specialist single-faculty constituent college of the University, the only such institution in Britain. Located on Clare Market in Westminster, off the Aldwych and next to the Royal Courts of Justice and Temple Bar, it describes itself as "the world‘s leading social science institution for teaching and research". LSE also has the most international student body of any university in the world today.

The School is a member of the elite Russell Group, the European University Association, Association of Commonwealth Universities, the Community of European Management Schools and International Companies, The Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs and Universities UK as well as the Golden Triangle of British Universities, and most recently the prestigious 'G5 Group' of Britain's five leading universities.


The London School of Economics was founded in 1895 by Fabian Society members Sidney and Beatrice Webb, Graham Wallas, and George Bernard Shaw, with funding provided by private philanthropy, including a bequest of £20,000 from Henry Hunt Hutchinson to the Fabian Society. Supposedly the decision was made at a breakfast party on 4 August 1894. All believed in advancing socialist causes by reformist rather than revolutionary means, and the LSE was established to further the Fabian aim of bettering society, focusing on research on issues of poverty, inequality and related issues. This led the Fabians, and the LSE, to be one of the main influences on the UK Labour Party.

The school was founded with the initial intention of renewing the training of Britain's political and business elite, which seemed to be faltering due to inadequate teaching and research - the number of postgraduate students was dwarfed by those in other countries. A year before the founding, the British Association for the Advancement of Science pushed for the need to advance the systematic study of social sciences as well. In fact, Sidney and Beatrice Webb used the curriculum of the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris (best known as Sciences Po), which covered the full-range of the social sciences, as part of their inspiration for molding the LSE's educational purpose. LSE was opened in October 1895 at No. 9 John Street, Adelphi, originally as a night-school to bring higher education to the working classes.

The school expanded rapidly and was moved along with its newly established library, the British Library of Political and Economic Science to No. 10 Adelphi Terrace in September 1896, continuing to expand through the next couple of years thanks to Shaw. In 1902, The Coefficients dining club was regularly meeting in the Library, and they effected the development of LSE along with the Fabians and the Suffragettes movement (who also first met at LSE). In 1900, the School became officially recognised as a Faculty of Economics within the much larger University of London in Bloomsbury, and began enrolling students for bachelor degrees and doctorates in the same year. At the same time, the LSE began expanding into other areas of social sciences, including, initially, geography (in 1902) and philosophy (in 1903), pioneering the study of international relations, as well as teaching history, law, psychology and sociology. By 1902, it was apparent the School had and would continue to outgrow its Adelphi Terrace location, and moved to its present campus in Clare Market off the Aldwych and aside Kingsway - not far from Whitehall, in 1902. The Old Building, which remains a significant office and classroom building, was opened on Houghton Street in 1922.

During these years and under the directorship of William Beveridge, future father of the welfare state and the National Health Service, LSE redefined the study of economics and the new conception of the study of economics as "a science which studies human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses" is looked to as the norm. LSE in this sense must be looked at as the father of modern economics studies. Under Beveridge, Friedrich Hayek was appointed as a professor and he brought about the ascendancy of the LSE through his famous debates with John Maynard Keynes. The famed Keynes-Hayek debates which occurred between Cambridge and the LSE still shapes the two major schools of economic thought today as nations still debate the merits of the welfare state versus an economy solely controlled by the market. LSE's influence upon modern economics is undeniable since it both formed the very basis for economic thought as well as shaped modern perception of free market economics. Hayek's works continue to influence the study of economics across the globe. At the other extreme, during these years Harold Joseph Laski, a professor of political science at the LSE was influential in British politics as an advocate of far left policies. Many renowned world leaders including John F. Kennedy (and his brother Robert F. Kennedy) studied under his guidance at the LSE.

While the LSE's initial reputation was that of a socialist-leaning institution, this had changed by the 1960s, with LSE Director Walter Adams fighting hard to remove LSE from its Fabian roots. This led to many student protests, which also involved Lionel Robbins, who had returned to LSE as chairman of governors, having been a member of staff for many years.

Anthony Giddens, the former director of the LSE, stands as the creator of the 'Third Way' followed by both Tony Blair (who unveiled the Fabian Window at LSE in 2005) and Bill Clinton. His policy created a balance between the traditional welfare state and the belief in total free market economics. This policy is being put into effect by governments all across the world as free market economies continue to deal with wealth inequalities and bettering the welfare of the general population.

Current activity

The LSE continues to have a major impact upon international society, especially with its close relationships and influence in politics, business and law. The Guardian describes such influence when it stated:

"Once again the political clout of the school, which seems to be closely wired into parliament, Whitehall and the Bank of England, is being felt by ministers... The strength of the LSE is that it is close to the political process: Mervyn King, was a former LSE professor. The chairman of the House of Commons education committee, Barry Sheerman, sits on its board of governors, along with Labour peer Lord (Frank) Judd. Also on the board are Tory MPs Virginia Bottomley and Richard Shepherd, as well as Lord Saatchi and Lady Howe."

Recently, the School has been active in British government proposals to introduce compulsory ID cards, researching into the associated costs of the scheme, and shifting public and government opinion the issue. Also, whilst it affects its own students, the LSE was influential in bringing about the introduction of tuition fees for UK universities in 2006, and continues to campaign for higher funding through its membership of the G5 Group. In 2008, it also came under fire, along with the University of Cambridge, for its publishing of a list of 'soft' subjects which it considered inappropriate for entry to its undergraduate courses,. The institution is also popular with politicians and MPs to launch new policy, legislation and manifesto pledges, prominently with the launch of the Liberal Democrats Manifesto Conference under Nick Clegg on 12 January 2008.

The Sunday Times' recent profile of LSE for the 2008 Sunday Times University Guide, commented:

There are many who have achieved in the world of politics, business or academia who can trace their success to the years they spent at the LSE. Inspired by tuition from academics who are often familiar faces, if not household names, LSE students take their first steps to greatness in the debating chambers, cafes, bars – and even occasionally in their seminar groups – during three or four years of studying.

Additionally, the top 10 employers of LSE graduates are principally accounting, investment banking, consultancy and law firms. Indeed, LSE is often known as the 'investment bank nursery' due to over 50% of graduates going into investment banking. LSE is often the most preferred university for employers in the private sector, financial services abroad and the City of London.

Over the years the LSE has continued to expand around Houghton Street. A recent fund-raising scheme, called the "Campaign for the LSE", which sought to raise £100 million, the LSE has purchased the former Public Trustee building at 24 Kingsway. This has been redeveloped into an ultra-modern educational building, to be known as the "New Academic Building" at a total cost of over £45 million, and has increased the campus space by 120,000 square feet. The £100 million was raised in November 2007.

The current Director of the school, Sir Howard Davies, was formerly Chairman of the Financial Services Authority, Controller of the Audit Commission, Director General of the Confederation of British Industry and Deputy Governor of the Bank of England. Following his first term in office, he has been reappointed as of June 2007, and will serve until 2013.

The endowment of LSE is now estimated to be over £200 million, with the School having its own investment fund.

Programmes and admission

The LSE is a single faculty institution, dedicated solely to the study and research of social sciences, and is the only university in the United Kingdom to do so. The School offers over 120 MSc programmes, 2 MPA programmes, an LLM, 30 BSc programmes, an LLB and 4 BA programmes (including International History and Geography). LSE is only one of two British universities to teach BSc Economic History (the other being Cambridge). Other subjects pioneered by LSE include anthropology, criminology, international relations, social psychology and sociology. Courses are taught in over thirty research centres and nineteen departments, plus the Language Centre. Among the many research institutes are the Asia Research Centre, Mannheim Centre for Criminology & Criminal Justice, Darwin@LSE, Financial Markets Group (FMG) founded by Mervyn King, Centre for Economic Performance, European Institute, Gender Institute and Migration Studies Unit (MSU).

Since these programmes are all within the social sciences they closely resemble each other, and undergraduate students are made to take at least one course module in a subject outside of their degree for their first and second years of study, promoting a broader education of the social sciences. Many also engage in a practice known as "auditing", where students attend lectures by professors whose classes they are not formally enrolled in for pleasure or wider learning. At undergraduate level, certain departments are very small (90 students across three years of study), ensuring small lecture sizes, allowing a more hands-on approach than other institutions.

There is fierce competition for entry to the LSE, indeed it is the most competitive university in the UK for undergraduate admissions, more so than Oxbridge, with approximately 17 applicants for every place. Some courses, including law, management and economics are significantly higher than this still, with 20+ applicants per place. In 2007, the approximate UCAS points score for undergraduate entry was 476 (equivalent to AAAA at A-level). The LSE is one of only three university institutions in Britain who never enter the UCAS clearing system each August, the other two being Oxford and Cambridge. LSE is also one of the few universities that still don't employ an interview system, with candidates selected on purely academic merit. Like MIT, LSE does not hand out honorary degrees or sports scholarships. LSE also has one of the highest fee charges in the world for international and postgraduate students, with some courses costing in excess of £20,000.

In recent years, the LSE has been one of many top British universities which has come under fire for its supposedly high acceptance and intake of students from public (private) schools. Whilst such claims continue to be pressed in the media, a report published by the Independent Schools Council in 2006, the governing organisation of all British independent schools, claims that students from private schools have only a 29.69% chance of gaining a place at the LSE - the lowest acceptance rate of any Russell Group institution.

Entrance standards are also high for postgraduate students (particularly for those seeking external funding), who are normally required to have (for taught Master's courses) a First Class or (at the very least) Upper Second Class UK honours degree, or its overseas equivalent.

The process of postgraduate admissions to the LSE is conducted on a rolling basis, as opposed to a deadline system. Applications are accepted from mid-October and the evaluation process begins in mid-November. Applications are considered as they "roll in" and the candidate can receive one of three outcomes; successful (acceptance), unsuccessful (rejection), or conditional (placement on a waiting-list/interim decision). The admissions process continues without any set deadline until all available places have been allocated. This process does give a higher probability of acceptance for early applications over late ones. The consideration process ends once the places have been allocated, meaning that all applications in queue for consideration are returned with the notification that since the programme is full, neither an acceptance nor rejection can be given. The applications success rate for programmes vary by their size, although most of the major courses have an intake of approximately 5%-10% of applicants. As part of the admissions process, LSE admissions officers often meet with prospective candidates at university fairs. Plans are afoot to increase the number of places offered, by expansion allowed by the purchase of additional faculty buildings.

LSE also offers the TRIUM Global Executive MBA programme jointly with Stern School of Business of New York University and HEC School of Management, Paris. It is divided into six modules held in five international business locations over a 16-month period. Whitefield Consulting Worldwide, a global MBA consultancy, has ranked the TRIUM Executive MBA programme as second worldwide. The Financial Times' most recent rankings (2007) of executive MBA programmes also placed TRIUM as second worldwide.

The LSE Summer School was established in 1989 and has expanded extensively with more than 3,000 participants in 2006, a similar number to the university's full-time undergraduate programme. The Summer School offers over 50 subjects based on regular undergraduate courses at the LSE from the Accounting, Finance, Law, International Relations and Management departments, and takes place over two sessions of three weeks each, in July and August each year. LSE also offers the LSE-PKU Summer School in collaboration with Peking University. Courses from both Summer Schools can be used as credit against other qualifications, and some courses can be taken as part of a conditional offer for LSE Masters programmes. In 2007 the Summer School accepted students from over 100 countries, including from some of the top colleges and universities in the world, as well as professionals from several national banks and major financial institutions. As well as the courses, accommodation in LSE halls of residence is available, and the Summer School provides a full social programme including guest lectures, receptions and the Crush! nightclub. The Summer School expects to expand further in the future, particularly with the LSE's acquisition of the New Academic Building.

Academic year

The academic year is divided into three terms. Michaelmas Term lasts ten weeks from October to December; Lent Term lasting ten weeks from January to March; and Summer Term lasting ten weeks from April to July. Within Michaelmas Term, the School officially commences on a Thursday, but with academic studies commencing the following Monday, usually around the 6-10 October each year. All other terms begin their academic week on a Monday. Freshers Week is held in the first week of October each year, though in recent years this has spilled over into the first week of academic teaching, creating Freshers' Fortnight.

Unlike the majority of British universities, the School has not introduced semesters into its timetabling, instead continuing to use terms to denote splits in courses.

Student body

There are nearly 7,800 full-time students and around 800 part-time students at the university. Of these, 25% come from the United Kingdom, 18% from other European Union countries, and 57% from more than 150 other countries making it the most international academic institution in the world. At one time, LSE had more countries represented by students than the UN.

The LSE is rare in British universities in that almost 58% of students are postgraduates, an unusually high proportion in comparison with other British institutions, meaning that undergraduates are in the minority. Postgraduates are divided between Taught-Masters (MSc, MPA, LLM) and Research students (MPhil, PhD). There is approximately an equal split between genders with 51% male and 49% female students.

Students' union

The LSE has its own Students' Union, the LSESU, which is affiliated with the National Union of Students and the National Postgraduate Committee as well as University of London Union. The SU is often regarded as the most politically active in Britain - a reputation it has held since the well documented LSE student riots in 1966-67 and 1968-69, which made international headlines, and its links with the political, economic and business world give it great influence to debate and rally on major issues, both campus related and internationally.

The Union is responsible for the organisation and undertaking of entertainment events and student societies, as well as student welfare and issues regarding accommodation and other matters. Recently, the Union has been responsible for the hosting of the inaugural Freshers’ Ball in Leicester Square, raising funds for RAG (Raising and Giving), which aims to raise an annual fund to support charities and organisations across the world. In various forms the RAG Week has been operating since 1980, when it was started by then Student Union Entertainments Officer and now New Zealand MP Tim Barnett, RAG Week held every Lent Term involves a host of events from hikes to Paris, abseiling off the Old Building and skydiving all to raise money, whilst the Global Week – the biggest event of its kind in Europe, celebrates the diversity of LSE’s students every Summer Term.

The Media Group, consists of the weekly student newspaper, The Beaver, Pulse! radio station (relaunched in October 2007), LooSE Television, which was incorporated in 2005, the LSE’s own television station, (responsible for filming and streaming public lectures, as well as publicity films and election results,) and the Clare Market Review a journal which is currently in the process of reinvention. Students also get access the The London Student, the largest student publication in Europe, which is published by the University of London.

Affiliated with the LSESU, the LSE Athletics Union is the body responsible for all sporting activity within the university. It is a member of the British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS). In distinction to the 'blues' awarded for sporting excellence at Oxford and Cambridge, London's outstanding athletes are awarded 'purples'.

The LSE is the only university in the country which retains a weekly Union General Meeting, as opposed to an annual gathering, where motions are discussed and debated. As part of the University of London, students at the LSE are also affiliated with the University of London Union (ULU) which is situated on Malet Street in Bloomsbury.

The current Union General Secretary for the 2008-09 academic session is Aled Dilwyn Fisher, following in the footsteps of Martin Lewis and other notable personalities.

Campus life

The LSE moved to its present day central London campus at Clare Market and Houghton Street in 1902 . In 1920, King George V laid the foundation stone of the Old Building, the principal building of the LSE. The School has gradually increased its ownership of adjacent buildings, creating an almost continuous campus between Kingsway and the Royal Courts of Justice. Today, the campus consists approximately thirty buildings, connections between which have been established on an ad-hoc basis with often confusing results. The floor levels of buildings do not always equate, leading to an individual being on a different "floor" after passing through a hallway. The campus also has a series of extension bridges between buildings created high on the upper floors to connect several buildings. The campus has often been referred to as an M.C. Escher maze. The school is also noted by its numerous statues, either animals or surrealist, often donated by alumni.

The LSE campus went through a renewal under former Director Anthony Giddens (1996-2003), with the redevelopment of Connaught and Clement Houses on the Aldwych, and the purchase of buildings including the George IV public house, which had been nestled amongst the campus for decades, but is now owned by the LSE. Recent projects have included the £35 million renovation of the Lionel Robbins Building, which houses the British Library of Political and Economic Science, LSE's Library and a brand new Student Services Centre in the Old Building as well as the LSE Garrick on the junction of Houghton Street and Aldwych.

Currently, the School is about to complete work on the former Public Trust Building on Kingsway, which was purchased by the LSE in 2005. Opening in June 2008, the Lincoln's Inn Fields Building, will become one of the most environmentally friendly university buildings in the UK. With an entrance overlooking Lincoln's Fields, the new space will dramatically increase the size of the campus, incorporating four new lecture theatres, the Departments of Management and Law, computer and study facilities, meeting places and a huge glass atrium in the centre of the building, as well as a roof terrace with spectacular views over Covent Garden and the Aldwych, and The City of London.

The British Library of Political and Economic Science (BLPES) is currently the world's largest library solely dedicated to the social sciences, containing over 4.7 million volumes on its shelves. This also makes it the second largest single entity library in Britain, after the British Library at King's Cross. Other buildings of note include the Peacock Theatre, the School's main lecture theatre, seating 999 persons, which by night serves as the West End base of Sadler's Wells. The venue is a member of the Society of London Theatre, and has hosted many dance, musical and dramatic productions, as well as serving as the base for many of the LSE' public lectures and discussions.

The LSE is famous for its public lectures programme, organised by the LSE Events office which is open to students, alumni and the general public. These weekly lectures are regularly given by prominent national and international speakers including ambassadors, authors, CEOs, Members of Parliament, leading professors and heads of state. Recent speakers have included George Osborne MP, Jacqui Smith MP, Alan Greenspan, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Archbishop Rowan Williams, John Major, Paul Kennedy, Joseph Meegan, Desmond Tutu, Maggie Thatcher, Jens Lehmann, Kevin Rudd, Gianluca Vialli, Michelle Bachelet, Kofi Annan, Gerhard Schroeder, Ben Bernanke, John Lewis Gaddis, Costas Simitis, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Lee Hsien Loong, Nicholas Stern, Milton Friedman, Jeffrey Sachs, Vicente Fox and Nelson Mandela.

The LSE also hosts many concerts and plays, with We Are Scientists, Dr. Karl Kennedy and Tim Westwood performing along with numerous lunchtime classical music recitals.


Accommodation for students is centred in and around central London, consisting ten residential facilities owned and operated by the LSE (with both dormitories and apartments) and Lilian Knowles, operated by Shaftesbury Student Housing. Together, these residences accommodate over 3,400 students. In addition, there are also eight intercollegiate halls shared with other constituent colleges of the University of London, accommodating approximately 25% of the School's first year intake.

The LSE guarantees housing to all first-year undergraduate students, regardless of where their present address may be (i.e. - already living in London). Many postgraduates are also catered for, with specific accommodation set aside for their needs. None of the residences are at the Houghton Street campus - the closest is at Grosvenor House, within a five minute walk, while the farthest residences (Nutford and Butler's Wharf) are forty-five minutes away by Tube or bus. Accommodation is offered on a random basis within quotas set out for each hall, but in each residence there will be a mixture of students; home and overseas, male and female, undergraduate and postgraduate. New undergraduate students (including General Course students) will occupy about 36% of all spaces. Postgraduates take approximately 56% of spaces in LSE halls and continuing students about 8%. Accommodation is offered according to two letting periods - 31 weeks and 40 weeks, the latter including Christmas and Easter breaks at the end of Michaelmas and Lent Terms.

The largest residence, Bankside opened in 1996 and accommodates 617 students across eight floors overlooking the River Thames and located behind the popular Tate Modern art gallery on the south bank of the River. High Holborn, approximately 10 minutes from campus was opened in 1995 and remains the second largest residence. Other accommodation is located well for London's attractions and facilities - Butler's Wharf is situated next to Tower Bridge, Rosebery in the bustling borough of Islington and near Salder's Wells and Carr-Saunders Hall, named after the LSE professor is approximately 5 minutes from Telecom Tower in the heart of Fitzrovia.

Since 2005, the School has opened three new residences to provide accommodation for all first year students. Lilian Knowles, independently operated, is home for approximately 360 students and opened in 2006. Planning permission was sought to convert Nortumberland House, on Northumberland Avenue into a new residence on 2 June 2005, and the accommodation opened to students in October 2006.

Located in the heart of London, one minute walk from Trafalgar Square, and between the Strand and Thames Embankment, Northumberland House is a Grade II listed building, (formerly a Victorian grand hotel and lately government offices). It is close to the main strip of the West End theatres and five minutes from Picadilly Circus, Leicster Square, Covent Garden and Oxford Circus.

The closest residence to the Houghton Street campus (not more than 5 minutes walk) is reserved for postgraduate students and is located on the eastern side of Drury Lane at the crossroads of Great Queen Street and Long Acre. Grosvenor House, converted from a Victorian office building, opened in September 2005. The residence is unique in that all of its 169 rooms are small, self-contained studios, with private toilet and shower facilities and a mini-kitchen. Its central West End location, two minutes from Covent Garden Piazza makes it popular for London's Theatreland. Oxford Street, Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square are only a short walk away. Further postgraduate accommodation is provided by Sidney Webb House accommodating almost 450 students (with some undergraduates), which is located near Borough Market, approximately a 35-minute walk from the School.

There are also eight intercollegiate halls.

The British Library of Political and Economic Science

The British Library of Political and Economic Science (BLPES) is the LSE's main library, and the world's largest social science library. Since its foundation in 1896, it has been the national social sciences library of the United Kingdom and all its collections have been recognised for their outstanding national and international importance and awarded 'Designation' status by the Museums Libraries and Archives Council (MLA). With the longest opening hours of any university library in Britain (24 hours), the BLPES responds to around 6,500 visits from students and staff each day. In addition, it provides a specialist international research collection, serving over 12,000 registered external users each year.

The Library collects material on a worldwide basis, in all major European languages. The extensive collections range from a European Documentation Centre to 90,000 historical pamphlets, with over 95% of Library stock available on open access. Over 50 km of shelving, enough to stretch the length of the Channel Tunnel, houses over four and a half million items including 31,000 past and present journal titles. The Library subscribes to approximately 15,000 e-journals, just part of its electronic information provision.

Unusually for an academic library, all materials are housed in a single site, the Lionel Robbins Building, named after the prestigious economist who studied, taught and later served as Chair of the Court of Governors of LSE.

The library underwent a £35 million building redevelopment in 2000, overseen by Foster and Partners. The building was officially reopened on 27 November 2001 by HRH The Princess Royal and was commended in the 2002 Civic Trust Awards - given to outstanding examples of architecture and environmental design in major city areas of the UK, taking into account the benefit each project brings to its local area as well as the quality of its design. A further redevelopment in summer 2007, saw the expansion of the Course Collection by 60%, a new help desk, more study spaces and an increase in automated loans procedures.

The Lionel Robbins Building covers 20,000 square metres, and offers 1,700 study places, including 450 networked PCs and 226 laptop drop-in points. A light-filled atrium, named after Michael Peacock and impressive spiral stepped ramp culminate at the top in a partially glazed dome which has been precisely angled to maximise daylight with minimal solar glare. A reflecting panel on the roof also helps to direct sunlight to the floors below. The dome and other windows respond automatically according to the temperature in the building; ventilating it naturally. The fourth and fifth floors are home to the LSE Research Lab, an internationally funded resource, bringing together scientists from across the world with the School’s leading research centres.

The building was commended in the 2002 Civic Trust Awards - given to outstanding examples of architecture and environmental design in major city areas of the UK, taking into account the benefit each project brings to its local area as well as the quality of its design. Despite this the design has various problems. Many students claim that the main circular stairwell is inefficient and cumbersome to use; that the overall design that does not make full use of all the available space and that the open plan environment is prone to noise. Nevertheless, the library remains the most popular place to study on campus. This is good, as LSE students are also unusually heavy users of their campus library with borrowing rates four times the national average (approx. 350 books per year).

The Library is also home to a number of national and regional initiatives, including the International Bibliography of the Social Sciences which has been indexing social science literature since the 1950s. Since 1946 the Library has been a United Nations depository library, providing a comprehensive collection of UN publications and documents. Many other organisations are also significantly represented, including OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), ILO (International Labour Organization), OAS (Organization of American States) and GATT/WTO (General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade / World Trade Organization). As a European Documentation Centre, the Library has received publications from the European Community since 1964.

The Shaw Library contains the university's collection of general fiction and other readings for leisure and entertainment. It is housed in an impressive room in the Old Building, where the Fabian Window is also on display. Additionally, students are permitted to use the libraries of any other University of London college, and the extensive facilities at Senate House Library, situated in Russell Square.

Academic reputation

In the latest national Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2001), all of LSE's academic departments earned the top three ratings for research, with scores of 4, 5 and 5*, with over 75% being awarded the highest, a 5*. In two of the three major league tables for British universities (The Times and Sunday Times), the LSE is ranked second in the strength of its research ratings, behind only Cambridge. Additionally, the LSE submitted 97% of academic staff for assessment, more than any other university. In addition, LSE is ranked 1st amongst the colleges of the University of London federation.

The LSE has been ranked the third best university in the country by both the 2006 and 2007 Sunday Times Good University Guide as well as in 2008 by The Independent's The Complete University Guide. Additionally, it was ranked 3rd overall in the Sunday Times University Guide's cumulative table over ten years of study (1997-2007). LSE has an 'international reputation that in this country only Oxbridge can beat' though in many Asian countries it is indeed favoured above Oxbridge..

In the 2009 Good University Guide, LSE was ranked third overall. For individual subjects, it came 1st in the UK for Accounting and Finance, Business Studies, Economics and Social Policy; 2nd for Geography, Anthropology and Politics; 4th for History and Philosophy; 5th for Law; 7th for Sociology and 8th for Mathematics.

In the 2007 THES - QS World University Rankings, LSE was ranked "3rd in the world" after Harvard and Berkeley for the social sciences (3rd in 2006, 2nd in 2005 and 2004), "26th in the world" for arts and humanities (19th in 2006, 9th in 2005, 10th in 2004). The study of social, economic and political problems covers not only the UK and European Union, but also countries of every continent. From its foundation LSE has aimed to be a laboratory of the social sciences, a place where ideas are developed, analysed, evaluated and disseminated around the globe... LSE has an outstanding reputation for academic excellence.

In 2007, the MSc Management programme was ranked 2nd in the world by the Financial Times' European Masters Ranking (8th in 2006, 4th in 2005) and the TRIUM Executive MBA offered in conjunction with New York University's Stern School of Business and HEC Paris was ranked 2nd in the world by the 2007 Financial Times EMBA Ranking.

Furthermore, the LSE's Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method is highly renowned, which is mirrored in the rankings of Blackwell's Philosophical Gourmet Report. It is ranked 1st in the world for philosophy of social science and joint 2nd in the world for philosophy of science, as well as joint 3rd for 'Decision, Rational Choice, and Game Theory'. Other celebrated bachelor degrees include Economic History, International Relations (both first to be introduced as degrees by LSE), Economics (ranked 1st in the world), Actuarial Science (ranked 1st in the world), International History, Business Mathematics and Statistics, Management, Management Sciences, and Social Psychology.

Economic contribution and history

LSE vs. Cambridge

The 1930s economic debate between LSE and Cambridge is well-known in academic circles. Rivalry between academic opinion at LSE and Cambridge goes back to the School's roots when LSE's Edwin Cannan (1861-1935), Professor of Economics, and Cambridge's Professor of Political Economy, Alfred Marshall (1842-1924), the leading economist of the day, argued about the bedrock matter of economics and whether the subject should be considered as an organic whole. (Marshall disapproved of LSE's separate listing of pure theory and its insistence on economic history.)

The dispute also concerned the question of the economist's role, and whether this should be as a detached expert or a practical adviser. For LSE and the historical economists, economic theory's application was of greater significance than economic theory itself. LSE and Cambridge economists worked jointly in the 1920s - for example, the London and Cambridge Economic Service - but the 1930s brought a return to the dispute as LSE and Cambridge argued over the solution to the economic depression.

LSE's Robbins and Hayek, and Cambridge's Keynes were chief figures in the intellectual disagreement between the institutions. The controversy widened from deflation versus demand management as a solution to the economic problems of the day, to broader conceptions of economics and macroeconomics. Robbins and Hayek's views were based on the Austrian School of Economics with its emphasis on free trade and anti-interventionism, an approach Robbins (but not Hayek) later acknowledged as inappropriate to the timing and circumstances of the 1930s economic depression.

Within the context of increased protectionism and "beggar thy neighbour" devaluation policies being implemented by all major economies, inevitable recovery was delayed with the early implementation of more Keynesian-like policies.

LSE vs. Chicago

Keynes and Cambridge's policies became standard practice in the 1930s onwards. With the growth of the influence of Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of Economics, however, it could be said that many of the LSE's liberal ideas have influenced much of modern liberal economics. This is in large part due to the common influence on both Schools of Friedrich Hayek, who moved to the Chicago School of Economics after he left LSE.

The measure of the validity of Hayek's argument is the growth of international free trade organisations and agreements such as those achieved in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) rounds (later to become the World Trade Organisation), which have as their goal the promotion of these policies in order to avoid the repetition of the globally sub-optimal reaction that took place in the 1930s, as advocated by Cambridge at the time.

Impact on economics

LSE was the first styled School of Economics in the world. Some of the most specific and important contributions to our understanding of economics made by the LSE can be found in the individuals and their work listed below, who lectured, researched or studied at the LSE. While most of these economists were eventual recipients of the Nobel Prize in Economics for particular theories or works, listed below are the works which had the most impact on modern economic modeling and thought:

  1. John Hicks, whose most famous contribution was the development of the Hicks-Hansen IS-LM model, now a standard macroeconomic Keynesian starting point for all University economists.
  2. Friedrich Hayek, the Nobel Prize winner for Economic Sciences in 1974, is one of the most eminent advocates of economic liberalism, his literature came to define much of economic policy in the UK and US following the ostensible influence of Hayek's economic philosophy on Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. Implementation of his philosophy led to key economic developments, such as the reduction in unionisation, observed by Bean and Crafts as the primary cause of stagnation during the previous 25 years which for all other European nations had been a period of prosperity. He also famously influenced the climate of free-market thinking behind the Iron-curtain that stimulated the collapse of communist Eastern Europe.
  3. James Meade won the prize for his groundbreaking work on trade theory.
  4. William Arthur Lewis, developed the important Dual Model of the economy that would eventually prove the foundation of much of economic industrialisation theory, and formed the basis for Heywood's "revisionist" view on French industrialisation in comparison with Britain. Lewis also pioneered work into the importance of "terms of trade" in trade theory.
  5. Merton Miller received the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences (jointly) in 1990 for pioneering work in the theory of financial economics.
  6. Ronald Coase received the Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences in 1991 for his discovery and clarification of the significance of transaction costs and property rights for the institutional structure and functioning of the economy.
  7. Amartya Sen received the Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences in 1998 for many contributions to development economics, including pioneering studies of gender inequality, and he always takes care to write "her" rather than "his" when referring to an abstract person. Sen chose to leave the LSE for Oxford; he was not permitted to teach his famous course on poverty within the Economics department.
  8. Robert Mundell, the Nobel Prize winner for Economic Sciences in 1999, has mainly researched in the field of optimum currency area, and his work remains one of the pillars of analysis in the assessment of the effectiveness of a single currency. While political tests, such as those in place in the UK for the decision to join the Euro, bare little to no resemblance to the key OCA criteria contributed to by Mundell, economic theorists use the OCA criteria in literature as the most effective method of analysis for the success of a single currency.
  9. The Mundell-Fleming model was also an effective extension of the IS-LM analysis to factor in the impact of international equilibrium, and is the basis of analysis over the relative merits of fixed or floating exchange rates.
  10. George Akerlof, the Nobel Prize winner for Economic Sciences in 2001, is perhaps best known for his article, "The Market for Lemons: Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism", published in Quarterly Journal of Economics in 1970, in which he identified the severe problems that may afflict markets characterized by asymmetrical information.
  11. Also of note is the LSE economist A.W. Phillips, who, while never receiving a Nobel Prize for his work, made his most well-known contribution in the Phillips curve, which he first described in 1958. The Phillips Curve has proved instrumental in the further understanding of government economic policy regarding employment and inflation.

Beyond the great academic contributions, the general work of the university and its graduates continues to have a large impact on the field of economics.

  • The IDEAS Economic Research Assessment January 2006 placed the London School of Economics and Political Science as the 3rd best University Economics research department in the world, and the best outside the US.
  • Yale University's 1999 analysis on the impact of Econometrics research, analysing the work of the best 100 Economics Ph. D graduates, from institutions across the globe, placed the LSE as 1st in the world, and as the only institution with over 2000 pages of published research to its graduates' names.
  • The UK Research Assessment Exercise has rated the LSE Economics department as 5*A (the top grade) in the last two audits (1996 and 2001). Many other non-governmental rankings exist, generally placing LSE economic research labs and departments amongst the top 20 in the world, and mostly in the top position outside the US. Where concentration areas within economics are considered, the LSE is ranked generally amongst the top 12 research institutions in the world.

Notable alumni and staff

LSE has a long list of alumni and former staff spanning many walks of life from international politics, business, law and finance to authors, musicians, actors and internationally recognised academics. Among them are fifteen Nobel Prize winners in Economics, Peace and Literature. Most recently, this list was boosted in 2007 by the awarding of the Nobel Prize for Economics to Leonid Hurwicz.

Nobel Laureates

Year Recipient Prize
1925 George Bernard Shaw Literature
1950 Ralph Bunche Peace
1950 Bertrand Russell Literature
1959 Philip Noel-Baker Peace
1972 Sir John Hicks Economics
1974 Friedrich Hayek Economics
1977 James Meade Economics

Year Recipient Prize
1979 Sir William Arthur Lewis Economics
1987 Óscar Arias Peace
1990 Merton Miller Economics
1991 Ronald Coase Economics
1998 Amartya Sen Economics
1999 Robert Mundell Economics
2001 George Akerlof Economics
2007 Leonid Hurwicz Economics

Heads of state or government

LSE alumni include forty-two international heads of state or heads of government, including six current heads of state or government: Taro Aso of Japan, Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, Anote Tong of Kiribati, Sergei Stanishev of Bulgaria and Óscar Arias of Costa Rica, as well as Crown Prince Haakon of Norway.

Other notable former heads of state or government include Romano Prodi of Italy who recently resigned his position, Marek Belka (Prime Minister of Poland, 2004-2005), Sher Bahadur Deuba (Prime Minister of Nepal, 1995-1997, 2001-2002, 2004-2005), Heinrich Brüning (Chancellor of Germany, 1930-1932), Sri K. R. Narayanan (President of India, 1997-2002), Percival Patterson (Prime Minister of Jamaica, 1992-2006), Constantine Simitis (Prime Minister of Greece, 1996-2004) and Pierre Trudeau and Kim Campbell, former Prime Ministers of Canada, 1968-1979/1980-1984 and 1993 respectively, Moshe Sharett, Lee Kuan Yew and Jomo Kenyatta also attended the LSE. Additionally, former heads of state or government in a further twenty-three countries, including Jamaica, Poland, Estonia, Nepal, Fiji, Peru, India, Mauritius and Greece have studied at the LSE.

In addition, John F. Kennedy, President of the United States (1961-1963) attended with his brothers Joseph and Bobby, whilst Lord Clement Attlee, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1945-1951) taught at the School.

Government and politics

Twenty-nine current British Members of Parliament, including Ruth Kelly, Ed Miliband and Yvette Cooper, all members of the current Cabinet are alumni of the LSE. In addition, forty-three current peers of the House of Lords also attended the School, including Lord Stern who is current IG Patel Chair. Notable British MPs who were educated at LSE include Margaret Hodge, Edwina Currie, Baronness Virginia Bottomley and Frank Dobson. The present Foreign Minister of China Mr. Yang Jie Chi is a LSE Alumnus. The Ministers for Foreign Affairs for both Norway and Finland are former PhD students of LSE. Secretary of Defense of Indonesia, Juwono Soedarsono is also a LSE PhD graduate.

Business and finance

Often cited as the breeding ground for The City, the LSE has produced many businessmen and financiers over the years.

The current Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, and a further five graduates of the LSE (Andrew Sentance, Tim Besley, Chief Economist Charles Bean, Deputy Governor Rachel Lomax and external member David Blanchflower) now sit on the Monetary Policy Committee which determines interest rates, manages inflation.

Several billionaires including Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the founder of easygroup, .Lord Saatchi, George Soros, Robert Kaplan, Michael S. Jeffries, Sir Gordon Brunton, Richard Nesbitt all studied at the LSE. Nick Varney, CEO of Merlin Entertainments, the world's second largest attractions group and the current Chief Executive of the London Stock Exchange Clara Furse are both graduates of the School. The first Governor of Australia's central bank Nugget Coombs, Syed Ali Raza, President and Chairman of the Bank of Pakistan and the international banker and statesman David Rockefeller (whose family, along with the Rockefeller Foundation, financially supported the institution in the postwar period) also attended and finally one of the biggest investors in the Indian stock market, Anirudh Rao presently managing the Shah International mutual funds, ranked among the top 10 Indian mutual funds.

Arts and media

Sir Mick Jagger, frontman of The Rolling Stones, naturalist Sir David Attenborough, Academy Award nominated producer Frederick M. Zollo, Icelandic singer and actress Felicia Jensen, UK hiphop, grime artist and actor in Adulthood and Kidulthood Femi Oyeniran and British actress Jaime Murray all attended the School. Other alumni include Edward R. Pressman, renowned historian David Starkey, Jules O'Riordan, Loyd Grossman, Robert Kilroy-Silk, Kirsty Lang, Barbara Serra, Martin Lewis, Robert Elms, Rod Liddle, Val Venis, Josh Chetwynd, Keith Murdoch, BBC Chief Washington Correspondent Justin Webb, James Floyd and Mark Urban. Monica Lewinsky graduated from the School in 2006, whilst British actor Andrew Simpson and former Big Brother contestant Michael Cheshire both currently attend the School.

Law and judiciary

Cherie Booth QC, the wife of former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, received her LLB from the LSE, whilst Baron Grabiner stepped down as Chair of the Court in December 2007. Sir Charles Webster the founder of the United Nations is also an LSE graduate, as are Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Chief architect of Indian constitution, Makhdoom Ali Khan Barrister Lincoln's Inn, former Attorney General of Pakistan and ex-offico Chairman Pakistan Bar Council, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Anthony Kennedy, International Court of Justice president Rosalyn Higgins, and International Court of Justice judge Manfred Lachs.

Shami Chakrabarti, the current Director of Liberty and the renowned barrister and former Indian cabinet minister A.K.Sen were also scholars at the school.

Philosophy of science

The Philosophy Department was founded by Sir Karl Popper and has served as a place of study and teaching for well-known philosophers of science such as Paul Feyerabend and Imre Lakatos. Nancy Cartwright, one of the most eminent philosophers of science, is currently a professor in the Department. Two of the top 100 richest billionaires in the world, George Soros and Spiro Latsis, studied philosophy under Popper and Lakatos respectively.


Fictional Prime Minister of Great Britain and Minister for Administrative Affairs, James Hacker, studied economics at the LSE in the critically acclaimed Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister television series, as did fictional US president Jed Bartlett from NBC's acclaimed television series The West Wing. . The updated biography of literary superspy James Bond following the release of Casino Royale (2006) states that his father, Andrew Bond, attended LSE also.

A new lobby

Recent press reports have identified the LSE as part of a new group of universities which has started to act as a self-conscious elite lobby and pressure group: known commonly as the 'G5'. According to the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES), the five are the LSE, Imperial College London, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge and University College London, and it describes them as the "super-elite" (as all five are already members of the elite Russell Group).

The 'G5' have begun to meet regularly and formally to plan their own path through the upheavals that are currently transforming British higher education, and to lobby for their own particular interests in maintaining the standards at the sharp end of tertiary education in the UK.

It has been reported in the THES that, "The group, which calls itself the G5, warns that without more money to support its high-quality teaching, its members will turn away British undergraduates and focus instead on overseas and postgraduate students, whose fees cover most of the full cost of their courses. The new group has been meeting in secret for a few months. Few vice-chancellors know of its existence as a fully fledged grouping. The G5's goal is to secure extra state cash above the £3,000 student top-up fees likely from 2006 to cover the full costs of home and European Union undergraduates on their courses. The G5 group will make a case for special treatment for its members."

Sir Richard Sykes, rector of Imperial, said: "Imperial does not have any cheap courses. We will press the government to recognise this or lift the [£3,000] cap [on fees]. If they say our courses are too high quality and too expensive, we will not reduce our quality. We will have to look at expanding the number of postgraduates and overseas undergraduates we take.

These five colleges have been noted to share the following attributes which appear to have been the common binding factors: strong research outputs, high teaching ratings, many famous names in public life, a major impact on global affairs and policy, and big international standing in academia. They also have some of the most influential and active student unions, with the overall University of London Student Union standing out for notable activism against successive governments, ranging from the 1968 storming of Downing Street, to recent protests over the War on Iraq and student "top-up" fees.

The LSE is also member of a new group known as the Golden Triangle, made up of Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, LSE, UCL and KCL. The last three are each notable colleges of the University of London (with Imperial gaining independence from the University of London in 2007), and are often regarded as universities in their own right. All have made progress towards gaining the right to award their own degrees.


Unlike other British universities and institutions, the LSE does not follow the model of having a ceremonial Chancellor and a 'chief executive' figure of a Vice-Chancellor responsible for the overall running of the university. Instead, there is a single Director, responsible solely for the running of the School with a Board of Trustees and the Court of Governors, which is more similar to a corporation.

The present Chairman of the Court of Governors is Irishman Peter Sutherland, the former Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, who replaced Lord Grabiner of Aldwych in December 2007. Sir Anthony Battishill is Vice-Chair. Amongst the Court of Governors, there are many internationally recognised figures including Cherie Booth, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and Lord Saatchi.

As a specialist college of the University of London, the ceremonial Chancellor of the University of London, The Princess Royal, is also linked with the School.


The LSE awards academic degrees spanning bachelor's and master's degrees as well as junior doctorates and higher doctorates. The postnominals awarded are the degree abbreviations used commonly among British universities.

From 1902, following its inception to the University of London, and up until 2007, degrees were awarded by the federal university, that is from Lond. (Londiniensis) as common with all other colleges of the University, for example BSc London. This system was changed in 2007 in order to enable some colleges to award their own degrees. The LSE was granted the power, for the first time to begin awarding its own degrees from June 2008. Students graduating from 2008 onwards may choose instead receive a degree from the LSE, rather than London, e.g. - BSc London School of Economics and Political Science believed to be solely abbreviated to BSc LSE for ease of use.

In a statement from Director Sir Howard Davies, it was announced that while the LSE, UCL and KCL have decided to remain within the University of London for the time-being, students entering from September 2007 onwards would receive these new degrees. Those graduating in 2008 will be offered the chance to receive either a University of London degree or an LSE degree. The regulations of the University of London were amended to allow the colleges to award degrees in their own right.

As part of the decision, the LSE will begin to use its own formal academic wear (gowns etc.) and issue its own certificates.

There has been a mixed debate on the new format for awarding degrees, especially within the LSE's Students' Union. Whilst some agree that it undermines the membership and clout of London degrees, especially for other constituent institutions of the University of London, the decision for the LSE to award its own degrees has been met with great praise from students.

Location and transport

The LSE is well situated in City of Westminster, between Covent Garden, Aldwych and Temple Bar, bordering the City of London. It resides adjacent to the Royal Courts of Justice, Lincoln’s Fields and Kingsway, in what used to be Clare Market. The School is inside the central London Congestion Charging zone, and in common with all of central London, parking is virtually impossible.

Its location means it is often at the centre of many national celebrations, notably the annual Lord Mayor's Parade where access to Houghton Street and the south part of the campus is restricted by Police and floats preparing for the return journey from the Royal Courts. On 6 April 2008, the London leg of the Olympic Torch Relay directly passed the campus and LSE's buildings.

The nearest London Underground stations are Holborn, Temple and Covent Garden, with Aldwych having closed in 1994. Charing Cross, at the other end of Strand is the nearest mainline station, whilst London Waterloo is ten minutes walk across the River Thames, offering access to south England and the west country. For nearly 15 years, Waterloo International was situated across the River from campus, providing easy access to continental Europe, however, as of 14 November 2007, Eurostar services have moved to St Pancras International, which is approximately 25 minutes walk from campus. Buses to Aldwych and Kingsway will stop right outside the School at Houghton Street.

In popular culture

In the English edition of the Asterix comic book Obelix and Co., the character Caius Preposturous is said to have attended the Latin School of Economics, the L,S,and E in bold to show that it is a parody on LSE.

In the popular and critically-acclaimed American tv show "The West Wing," President Josiah Edward "Jed" Bartlet - portrayed by Martin Sheen - earned his Master's and PhD in Economics from the London School of Economics.


  1. "LSE: A History of the London School of Economics and Political Science, 1895-1995", Oxford University Press, June 1 1995.
  2. "Determined Challengers Keep Heat On The Elite", The Times Higher Education Supplement, October 28 2005
  3. " Outstanding library and archive collections receive national recognition", MLA News, October 28 2005
  4. " 1969: LSE closes over student clashes", BBC News
  5. " JEEA Published Ranking", "Source: Table 3 of Pantelis Kalaitzidakis, Theofanis P. Mamuneas, and Thanasis Stengos (2003)"
  6. " Top 200 universities: evolution over time", "ULB 6/17/02"
  7. " EconPh.D Net Dec 1, 2005", "EconPh. D Net"
  8. " Cowles, Yale", "Francisco Cribari-Neto, Mark J. Jensen and Álvaro A. Novo, "Research in Econometric Theory: Quantitative and Qualitative Productivity Rankings," Econometric Theory, 1999"
  9. " HERO 1996", "UK Research Assessment Exercise 1996"
  10. " HERO 2001", "UK Research Assessment Exercise 2001"
  11. " IDEAS Research Assessment UK top 20% of Departments & World top 5% of Departments", "IDEAS, University of Connecticut, Top 20% UK institutions"


External links

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