What is the London School of Economics REALLY like?

This article is about what the LSE is REALLY like.
PC: Shadowssettle

This article was published by the Great British Mag content team on 8 September 2021

Looking to study in the UK and think the London School of Economics might be up your street? There are lots to consider – from student culture to accommodation options and cost – so don’t make any decisions until you’ve read our honest and impartial review of this well-known London uni, informed by real students and their experiences.   

GB Mag Survival Service creative - 2021

What are the best things about studying at LSE?

If you want to experience Britain at its most vibrant and diverse, and are after a city that’s full of culture and activity, London might just be the place for you. As the UK’s capital, this sprawling city is one of the most desirable destinations for students and tourists – and the London School of Economics is located right in its centre.

Its specialism as a school of social science coupled with the varied offering of subjects means that it offers niche courses that you might not find at other institutions and attracts students interested in similar areas. So, if you’re keen to study a field that sits within the social sciences, are really interested in your subject and want to be challenged academically, this is a good place to learn and meet like-minded people.

There’s an active students’ union here, which focuses on bringing students together by way of a full programme of events for both undergrads and postgrads.

London has a world-class food scene – the choice of food and restaurants here is the best in the country. And there are plenty of parks and green spaces around the city too, despite it being such an urban hub. As the university itself is so central, there are loads to do in the immediate vicinity of the campus – you’re surrounded by shops, restaurants, theatres, galleries and loads more.

And the not-so-great things?

Generally speaking, London is the most expensive place to live in the UK, so if you move here you’ll be spending more on living costs like rent, travel and social activities than you would if you were living in a city in the north of the country, say.

It’s also a really busy, fast-paced and sometimes crowded city – so if you prefer a slower pace and more chilled-out lifestyle then London might not be the perfect fit.

Being in central London means that LSE’s campus is limited in terms of space, and there aren’t that many communal areas within it for socialising and hanging out with friends. While there are loads of students here, you may find the community feel is lacking because people tend to go home to one of the many nearby off-campus venues to study and socialise.

Is London multicultural?

London is one of the most multicultural cities in the world. More than 200 languages are spoken here and it’s estimated that one in three residents were born overseas.

The cities many neighbourhoods are home to diverse communities. Chinatown – which is full to bursting with Chinese supermarkets, shops and restaurants – has a history stretching back to the 18th century, when Chinese immigrants first started pitching up in London, while Brixton is known for its Jamaican community, Camden for its concentration of Latin American residents and culture and Tooting for its booming Indian community.

No matter where you’re from in the world, you’ll be able to find the food and experience the culture that you crave if ever you’re feeling homesick.

In terms of students, there are around 125,000 international students in the city, studying at various universities across the area. LSE itself has a really diverse student body too, with 72% of its students here having come from overseas.

Where does the London School of Economics rank?

LSE was rated first in Europe and second globally for social sciences and management in the QS World University Rankings by Subject for 2021. Time Higher Education placed it at 27th in the world, and fifth in the UK in its latest rankings, too.

It’s a highly respected uni, and counts 16 Nobel Prize winners among its alumni, as well 37 world leaders.

How much does it cost to study at LSE?

All undergraduate courses starting in 2021 will cost £22,430 per year for international students, while postgrad masters courses vary in terms of fees, ranging from £23,520 to £38,448.

When it comes to accommodation, if you’re planning to stay in university halls, prices start at around £150 per week for a shared room (which equates to just under £6,000 for the full 39-week academic year) and go up to about £430 per week (£21,558 for the year) for a private studio.

As we mentioned, London isn’t the cheapest city to live in, so it’s well worth doing some research to calculate what your living costs might be. LSE estimates that an average student would need to budget roughly £1,100-£1,300 per month.

Does it offer funding or scholarships to international students?

Yes – every year LSE chooses international students to award bursaries and scholarships to.

For instance, the LSE Undergraduate Support Scheme is intended specifically for overseas students who don’t have the funds needed. The amount students are given depends on circumstances, but is usually somewhere between £6,000 and £15,000.

There are LSE scholarships too, awarded with financial need and academic merit in mind. Some of these cover all tuition and living costs.

What’s the campus like?

LSE has one campus and it’s located right in the heart of London, near Covent Garden and the Houses of Parliament.

It’s not too big and the buildings are all pretty near to each other, so it doesn’t take long to get around. That is if you have your bearings – there’s lots in a relatively compact space so it might take you a little while to get used to navigating around the campus.

There are several places to eat and drink – the George IV pub and SU bar The Three Tuns. The latter is housed in the Saw See Hock Student centre, a modern building that launched in 2014 and has won awards for its design. As well as the Students’ Union, it’s also home to cafés, study spaces and a gym, and is where a few student services are based, too.

The main library is a large multi-storey building and specialises in the social sciences – there are more than 4 million printed recourses here, 600 computers and space for 2,000 students to study. Still, it can get full at peak times, like at the end of term, when everyone is knuckling down to revise and finish off coursework.

There are around 11,000 students here, and as space comes at a premium in central London, the campus can feel pretty busy at times, and you may struggle to find space to hang out in any of the communal or study areas.

What’s the student accommodation like?

LSE has 17 halls of residents and space for around 4,500 students. Most are within walking distance of the campus and in really desirable neighbourhoods like Bloomsbury, Clerkenwell or Westminster.

There are shared rooms and private rooms to choose from, and some halls have catered options too, meaning your meals could be included.

Because this central London accommodation is so attractive to students, halls can get booked quite quickly. So if that’s where you’re planning to live in the first year, it’s worth moving fast to snap up your room.

Other students find it easier to find somewhere to live through private management companies – many let you view properties virtually and organise your rental online.

In terms of location, you’ll find that rents are cheaper further away from the city centre. There’s also less tourism in these non-central neighbourhoods and more of a community feel. Just remember to take into account your commute into uni.

What is the transport like?

London has an intricate underground system that’s mostly fast and efficient for travelling across the city. It tends to get very crowded at peak times though – early mornings and early evenings during the week – as people travel to and from work.

A London travel card is around £100 a month for students and includes most underground and overground tubes and trains within a specified area. It’s a considerable cost but a worthwhile investment if you’ll be needing to travel lots. Bus cards are cheaper, at just under £60 a month.

Some bus services run 24 hours a day, and select tube lines run through the night on Fridays and Saturdays, meaning there is decent public transport at night, too.

What is the local nightlife like?

On campus, George IV and Ye Olde White Horse are traditional British pubs that are both really popular with students, as is the Students’ Union bar – The Three Tuns – in the Saw See Hock centre.

Being in central London means you have endless options when it comes to off-campus hangouts – you can reach loads of neighbourhoods really easily. From cosy pubs and edgy bars to night club, gay bars and all-night party venues, you literally have more choice in this city than anywhere else in the UK.

Given that there are around 400,000 students in London, student bars aren’t hard to come by. These places will promise more affordable prices than regular pubs and clubs, so it’s worth seeking them out for discounted drinks and entry fees.

Will I be able to find a part-time job in London?

Given that this is the biggest and busiest city in the country, you won’t be hard stretched to find a job that can work around your studies. Hospitality is a really popular industry for students – bars, restaurants and hotels are often looking for staff.

That said, there is a lot of competition for jobs, so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and remember that being rejected is very normal – don’t take it personally.

You may also like to read

Guide to London

How should I choose which UK university to study at?

What is the University of Edinburgh REALLY like?