London School of Economics

London School of Economics and Political Science
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Motto Rerum cognoscere causas
"To understand the causes of things"
Established 1895
Director Howard Davies
Location London, United Kingdom
Students 7,510 total (3,489 postgraduate)
Faculty 644
Member of University of London, Russell Group, 1994 Group

The London School of Economics and Political Science, it is often referred to as the London School of Economics or the LSE, is a specialist university based in London, regarded as the world's most prestigious social science institution. LSE degrees differ from many other university degrees in that the LSE requires its students to specialise in their chosen field of study, even at the undergraduate level, rather than pursue a more wide-ranging curriculum.


The School is regarded as a major centre of political debate. LSE alumni and former staff include thirteen Nobel Prize winners in Economics, Peace or Literature, around thirty-three heads of state or heads of government, including eight current heads of state or government, thirty current British Members of Parliament, and twenty-nine current peers of the House of Lords.

A quarter of all the Nobel Prizes in Economics have been connected with the London School of Economics in some way, and the School is also regarded as a pacemaker in the study of law, international relations, accounting and finance, social philosophy, anthropology, sociology, and social policy. The main library of the LSE is called the British Library of Political and Economic Science (BLPES)[1] (, and is the world's largest library dedicated to the social sciences.

The LSE, Old Building
The LSE, Old Building

The LSE is located on Houghton Street in London, off the Aldwych and next to the Royal Courts of Justice. The LSE is a constituent college of the federal University of London.

There are nearly 7,000 full-time students and around 750 part-time students at the university. Of these, 38% come from the United Kingdom, 18% from other European Union countries, and 44% from more than 130 other countries. Around 48% are women and 52% are postgraduates. Courses are taught in over thirty research departments and eighteen departments, including Accounting and Finance, Management, Anthropology, Economic History, Economics, The Development Studies Institute, Geography and Environment, Government, Industrial Relations, Information Systems, International History, International Relations, Law, Mathematics, Media and Communications, Operational Research, Philosophy Logic and Scientific Method, Social Policy, Social Psychology, Sociology, and Statistics.

The School also has a very active student newspaper, The Beaver, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, as well as other media outlets such as PuLSE Radio, The Script, and LooSE, a student-operated TV station. The LSE Student Union is one of the most active in Europe, and earned a global reputation for liberal activism in the 1950s and 1960s.

The LSE regularly attracts speakers of international distinction. In May 2005, for example, Jos Manuel Barroso (President of the European Commission) and John Edwards were amongst those who gave lectures. Past speakers have included Bill Clinton, Vicente Fox, and Nelson Mandela.

History of the School

The London School of Economics and Political Science was founded in 1895 after a bequest to the Fabian Society of some 20,000 by Henry Hunt Hutchinson in 1894. The decision to found the School was made at a breakfast party between four Fabians: Beatrice and Sidney Webb, George Wallas, and George Bernard Shaw on 4 August 1894.

The real driving force for the School was the Webbs, and in particular Sidney, for whom such a School had been an idea of long standing. The Hutchinson bequest coincided not just with the Webbs' ideas, but also with a wider movement in society. Politically and economically, people feared that Britain's international position in business and industry was at risk because of inadequate teaching and research. In August 1894 the British Association for the Advancement of Science spoke out for the need to advance the systematic study of economics. The timing was favourable, the idea found support, and the London School of Economics and Political Science held its first classes in October 1895 at rooms at No 9 John Street, Adelphi.

The School's academic purpose was clear: original lectures, the scientific and objective discovery of facts, research and the training of researchers. In 1905/6, there were 181 postgraduates in the whole of England and Wales: 27 at Oxford, 36 at Cambridge, 49 at other universities - and 69 at LSE. Within its first decade, the School had become established as a world-class centre of research.

LSE's expansion was rapid. The British Library of Political and Economic Science was created alongside the School, and in 1896 the institution moved from 9 John Street, Adelphi to 10 Adelphi Terrace. In 1900, LSE was recognised as a Faculty of Economics in the newly constituted University of London, and in 1901 the Faculty degrees were announced as the Bachelor of Science (Econ.) and Doctor of Science (Econ.). These were the first university degrees principally dedicated to the social sciences, and LSE became the institution where the social sciences were established in Britain. The LSE also formed the second oldest faculty Chair in International Relations in the world around this time in addition to faculty chairs in history, philosophy, sociology, and various other fields of the social sciences.

In 1902, the School moved to its first purpose-built site at Passmore Edwards Hall in Clare Market, near Aldwych and the Strand. The School's growth continued here, beginning in 1922 with the construction of Old Building in adjacent Houghton Street.

From the outset, the LSE was proud of its unique perspective, and pragmatic in its outlook on life and in its reactions to historical circumstances. It was the first such institution in England, and, as the Webbs hoped, it attracted gifted students and academics from both the United Kingdom and other countries worldwide. The LSE was never intended to be purely academic, but to use the higher study of economics and political science to educate and train people for careers in administration and business.

The LSE is located close to the BBC on the Aldwych, giving journalists easy access to LSE academics. Under the previous Directorship of Anthony Giddens, the LSE was heavily involved in public debate over Labour Party policy in Britain.

LSE & World Rankings

League tables published by British newspapers consistently rank the LSE inside the top four academic institutions in the country. In recent years, the LSE has become the second largest overall research university in the United Kingdom, second only to Cambridge, and the largest in the social sciences.

In November 2004, the LSE was ranked the 11th best university in the world by the Times Higher Education Supplement world league table of universities. In that same paper, the LSE was ranked the second best university for the study of the social sciences (behind only Harvard in the United States), as well as tenth best in the world for humanities. It was also reported that the LSE is the most international school in the world, with just over 70% of its student body coming from outside the United Kingdom, and well over 130 countries represented on campus in any given year. During the 1950s and 60s, the School had more countries represented on campus than the United Nations. In a 2003 profile of the School, The Guardian newspaper depicted the LSE as having had "more influence on the contemporary political world than any other university in the world."

LSE & Columbia Alliance

The LSE recently formalised a major institutional alliance with Columbia University, which has been burgeoning for years. The alliance developed as a result of the good working relationship between the two institutes built up through their partnership in establishing Fathom, a centre for online knowledge and learning from the world's leading universities, libraries, museums and research institutes. LSE and Columbia Business School are also collaborators in, a privately held company dedicated to the development and delivery of business education and training via the Internet.

So far, the alliance has achieved three joint Master's degree programs in public policy and environmental studies, including a Master of Public Administration, a Master of Public Policy, and Master of Science, two joint law degree programs, a joint Master of Laws (LLM) and Bachelor of Laws (LLB), at least five joint research projects, one joint research centre, and an endowment through joint fundraising to provide scholarships for students to enroll or participate in the research performed by the LSE and Columbia affiliation.

Noted Alumni or Faculty

Heads of State or Heads of Government

Other Prominent Alumni or Faculty

LSE in political drama

Certain fictional characters in popular political dramas and comedies have been depicted as LSE graduates. These include President Josiah Bartlet of The West Wing TV series, and Prime Minister Jim Hacker of the Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister BBC TV series.

External links

  • LSE website (
  • LSE & Columbia Alliance (

Recognized bodies of the University of London

Birkbeck | Goldsmiths | Heythrop | Imperial | Institute of Cancer Research | Institute of Education | King's | London Business School | LSE | London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine | Queen Mary | Royal Academy of Music | Royal Holloway | Royal Veterinary College | St George's | SOAS | School of Pharmacy | UCL

Listed bodies

British Institute in Paris | Courtauld Institute of Art | School of Advanced Study | University Marine Biological Station, Millport

de:London School of Economics and Political Science es:Escuela de Ciencias Econmicas y Polticas de Londres fi:London School of Economics fr:London School of Economics ja:ロンドン・スクール・オブ・エコノミクス pl:London School of Economics pt:London School of Economics sv:London School of Economics zh:倫敦政治經濟學院


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