LSE's Mission

LSE was founded in 1895 to create and share knowledge addressing major social challenges and to shape a better world. The School works through research, education, creative intellectual debate and public engagement. Our mission is to advance knowledge in social science and a range of related fields so as to inform public policy, economic decision-making, and social welfare both nationally and globally. This means nurturing creative thought and intellectual exploration and educating students from all backgrounds and around the world to be critical thinkers and skilled professionals who work for the betterment of society.


The London School of Economics and Political Science has a proud and illustrious history. In 120 years has grown to be one of the world’s foremost institutions for social science and related fields. LSE alumni and faculty members have been awarded 16 Nobel Prizes in economics, peace and literature. At least 37 past or present Prime Ministers, Presidents and Premiers have come from the School. Our graduates continue to lead in business, law, and other fields. Our professors continue to reshape knowledge of fundamental academic and ‘real-world’ importance.

This rich heritage, our extraordinary global character, and our emphasis on social science knowledge that addresses major contemporary challenges, all set us apart. LSE enjoys global fame and respect. But the environment in which we operate is changing rapidly and both our financial basis and our intellectual and educational work must change with it.

The LSE seeks to maintain the highest standards of quality in all we do. But in addition, we seek to be strategic in ensuring both the vitality and the public impact of the School. Our Strategy thus orients the School to the next stage in its continuing development. It builds on the strong foundations laid by all our staff, students and alumni and sets out specific foci for our work as we seek both to keep advancing our quality and to address basic challenges:

Sharp decline in proportion of the School’s budget provided by direct UK government funding, with direct grants falling from nearly 80 per cent to less than 10 per cent and consequent transformation into a university supported mainly by student fees.

Intensified competition from both UK and international universities (and research and educational provision in other organisations), many of which have improved performance and are continuing to innovate in technology, educational programmes, and their global reach.

Educational performance and productivity inconsistent with our high aspirations and impressive performance in research.

We will meet these challenges and as we do, we will build a better LSE and enhance our public contributions.

Prioritising education

LSE’s mission charges the School with making a positive difference to the world through bringing research-based knowledge to public problems and educating students with the capacity to lead in solving those problems. Our ambition is to excel in every aspect of this mission. Through our teaching, our research, and the work of our alumni we will make the effort ‘to know the causes of things’ a force for good.

Right now, in the midst of rapid change in higher education, a crucial priority is to ensure that our students have the benefit of great teaching and a rewarding educational experience. We are at work on this in all we do, from building new state of the art classrooms to improving student support systems and making sure excellence in teaching is rewarded. Outstanding education must be as central to LSE as brilliant research and exciting public engagement.

The LSE’s future depends on enhancing our quality, our innovation, and our intellectual distinctiveness as a leading institution for social science. At LSE social science is central to education and research in public policy and law; in management, accounting and finance; in international development and social policy. It is also the focus of pathbreaking research. To sustain this in the midst of change and challenges, we pursue a strategy that builds on the School’s core identity: the public mission and openness inaugurated by its founders, its remarkably global character, and its commitment to making knowledge matter in practical affairs.


Our strategy guides action in a context we cannot completely control. We can see that new technologies matter, but it is not yet clear exactly how they will change higher education. We know that students need confidence that their education prepares them for future jobs, but careers are changing rapidly. To perform well amid these changes we need to redouble our commitment to quality throughout the School – in the faculty we recruit, in our research and teaching, in the delivery of basic services like IT, the Estate, the Library, job placement, and student life. We need to renew our commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. We also need to innovate, improving the rooms in which we teach, redesigning courses, advancing research methodology, developing new centres of excellence like the International Institute on Inequalities or the Marshall Institute on Philanthropy and Social Entrepreneurship.

To do all of this, we are exploring all avenues for enhancing and diversifying the School’s revenue stream. For the sake of widening student participation but also for the sake of excellence, we need to complement student fees with other funds. Raising philanthropic revenue is crucial.


What does success look like? It looks like the LSE – but with ever more dynamic educational programmes, an improved campus, and the funding to support pathbreaking research. Our base will still be in the centre of London, one of the world’s most global and exciting cities, but we will offer more and better student housing; we will undertake more international collaboration, and we will have an even larger impact. LSE is ambitious, but not just for rankings. We are ambitious to advance social science and with our students and alumni to make this knowledge effective in the world.

Craig Calhoun
Director, 2015


The School has made a number of strategic choices in the past which have underpinned the success of our institution.

Council has recently reaffirmed their commitment to:
• Building a core faculty committed to both education and research and not accepting a zero-sum trade-off between the two.

• Focusing on social science and closely related fields that contribute knowledge to understanding and changing society, collaborating with but not seeking to expand into other major dimensions of academic work (such as science, engineering or medicine).

• Strengthening face-to-face education and the intellectual community at our central London campus and developing thriving educational, research, and public engagement at this campus; this may be complemented by programmes overseas or benefit from technological innovation.

Strategic Priorities

To pursue our distinctive mission and continue our leadership, LSE will both build and focus on six key strategic priorities.

We will:
• Substantially improve the quality of our educational programmes including the overall student experience, and develop opportunities for the brightest students regardless of their background.

• Continually improve faculty quality, research performance and intellectual innovation and enhance the quality of our professional support staff.

• Strengthen our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion and take relevant action throughout the institution.

• Lead (and continue to be recognised as leading) in international, interdisciplinary, and issue-oriented social science.

• Enhance and diversify our revenue streams.

• Secure an estate and other facilities commensurate with our standing and aspirations.


WE WILL make major improvements in the quality of our educational programmes and the overall student experience at LSE, and develop opportunities for all of our talented students regardless of their background.

LSE aspires to create a culture where excellence in teaching is valued and rewarded on a level with excellence in research. The School aims to be positioned as an international leader in enhancing the student experience; we have not performed at the exceptional level we aspire to and will take substantial action to address our shortcomings over the next five years.

Actions in detail:
• We will ensure that educational provision by academic departments is guided by strong academic leadership as programmes are reviewed and renewed and that the School will provide resources, but also a culture and infrastructure of aspiration and support in terms of the development, enhancement and administration of education.

• We will recognise and reward excellence
and innovation in teaching and offer opportunities for academic staff to develop themselves as educators and to create an educational offer for students that is ambitious, challenging and rewarding.

• We will ensure that our education is of the highest quality and latest currency.

• We will foster a learning community that creates opportunities for faculty, students, alumni and other stakeholders to interact and build effective networks that sustain and enhance LSE’s mission and values.

• Departments will have an educational culture that is intellectually vibrant and ambitious and the School will support initiatives that celebrate educational development and discovery both at our campus and in collaboration with our international partners across the globe.

What does success look like?
• We are ranked in the top quartile of key national student experience surveys

• We are regarded as a university of choice
for employers

• We recognise and reward staff for excellence in teaching commensurate with research

Excellence in Teaching

Excellence in Research

Strengthening and Supporting Faculty and Staff

WE WILL continually improve faculty quality, research performance and intellectual innovation and enhance the quality of our professional service staff.

The School has excellent faculty who pioneer understanding and action on global issues through their research which seeks to define and respond to contemporary issues and influence public policy. The School’s outstanding performance in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) in 2014 confirmed our position as a world-leading research university. The School benefits from the professional service staff who support and foster academic excellence and enhance the student experience. The School wants to continue to attract and retain the best staff into our professional services, as well as providing the training to develop the effectiveness of all staff.

Actions in detail
• We will support Heads of Departments, other senior academic managers and leaders of our professional service staff to excel in leadership and develop tools to empower them to manage their faculty and divisions.

• We recognise that attracting, recruiting and retaining the best staff will enable the School to achieve its aspirations for research, teaching and professional service support.

• We will assess how the School values and rewards excellence in teaching, research and citizenship; effectively integrating the incentive schemes to reward all three areas.

• We will continue to place a high value on the training of research students who make an important contribution to the intellectual life of the School and will form the next generation of academics.

• We will develop our newly-established PhD Academy to bring research students together from different disciplinary backgrounds to improve the quality and quantity of excellent LSE PhD candidates.

• We will strengthen the collaborations between academic and professional services staff to pursue the School’s strategy.

What does success look like?
• All of our research active staff are judged as world leading or internationally excellent by peer review.

• We are viewed as a destination of choice for the very best social science postgraduate research students and ensure that they go on to excellent placement in academia or in the public or private sectors.

• Our professional services staff feel integrated into the School community and are championed for their excellence in administrative support.

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

WE WILL Strengthen our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion and take relevant action throughout the institution.

We are one of the leading international universities in the world: our students come from 140 countries and nearly half of our staff are drawn from countries outside the UK. We aim to draw on this vitality to make studying and working in the School such a unique and enriching experience.

Our mission for the next five years is to build on the dynamic mix of diverse people, ideas and ways of seeing the world. We will use this resource in becoming a truly world-leading diversity champion. Fostering diversity will be recognised as being at the core of LSE’s institutional viability and vitality, a core value of the academic mission, and as a priority of
the institution.

Actions in Detail
• We will promote inclusivity for staff and students by reviewing structures and policies, improving procedures for consultation and complaints, and increasing the representation of students and staff with protected characteristics across the institution.

• We will develop and implement a comprehensive Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Strategy that will direct and inform activities and decisions regarding all academic bodies and Professional Service Divisions.

• We will ensure that all faculty and professional service staff in management roles undertake EDI training.

• We will enhance and adapt our widening participation (WP) programmes to ensure that we continue to attract the most capable students from a wide range of backgrounds.

• We will ensure that mechanisms are in place to support students from under-represented backgrounds throughout their time with the School so that they realise their potential.

What does success look like?
• We are recognised externally as an employer of choice and as an international leader in providing a learning and working environment based on the principles of excellence, equity, diversity and inclusion.

• LSE staff and students will report a strong sense of belonging and satisfaction and embrace the diversity of people and worldviews on campus.

• We continue to exceed government set targets for the recruitment of students from underrepresented backgrounds.

• The School and our departments will be accredited with awards, such as the Athena Swan Charter Mark, that recognise our efforts to improve equity, diversity and inclusion at
the School.

Leading Globally in Social Science

WE WILL lead (and continue to be recognised in leading) in innovative, international, interdisciplinary, and issue-oriented social science.

Advancing social science in order to better address major public issues is at the core of LSE’s work. We protect and encourage theoretical and “blue sky” research while promoting engagement with wider society.

• The School has put in place new structures to facilitate and foster innovative, interdisciplinary, international and issue-oriented research and exchange of learning. The School is committed to developing innovative structures and mechanisms that will enhance the global reach and communication of LSE research and increase its influence in global social science.

Actions in Detail
• We will actively pursue opportunities for innovative, interdisciplinary and interdepartmental academic work, for example, in global health, climate change, migration and in data science.

• We will continually assess ourselves against peer universities in the UK and overseas
to ensure we are leading in social science
and impact.

• We will engage with diverse communities to the reach, influence and impact of our research on public understanding and debate.

• We will apply the social science expertise of LSE academics to researching and resolving issues across a wide range of policy, social and business areas, and track student placement in public policy and the private sector, nationally and globally.

• We will continue to develop multi-departmental teaching programmes which reflect the interdisciplinary research at LSE, such as our Philosophy Politics Economics (PPE) and a BSc Social Sciences.

What does success look like?
• Our research impacts on national and global debates, it shapes strategies to address critical challenges in society.

• Our influence and impact is evident in
the increasing number of citations for our research outputs.

• Organisations and individuals invest/donate resources and expertise to take forward our pioneering research programmes.

Diversifying Our Revenue Streams

WE WILL enhance and diversify our revenue streams.

The LSE has maintained substantial surpluses in recent years due to strong student recruitment, a significant and sustained contribution from other teaching activities and prudent financial management.

There is the potential for the School to grow steadily over time without compromising academic standards. It is essential, however, that revenue streams are diversified to meet major investment commitments and to ensure that we are not over-reliant on tuition fee income.

Actions in Detail
• We will increase the profile of LSE Advancement within the School and support for activity that will enhance the potential for new income streams and the enlargement of endowment funding, while ensuring that core costs to the School are met.

• We will connect faculty and professional services staff to business, government and the third sector, creating opportunities to further research, to deliver insight and impact and to develop new and enhanced commercial revenue sources.

• We will grow student numbers steadily over time, without compromising high academic standards and review what mixture of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes and student places would best provide revenue to support the academic profile of the School.

• We will expand our ancillary activities to generate higher levels of income and in particular to identify and develop markets for executive education.

• We will use our internal resource allocation model to incentivise activities across the School that support income generation and control costs.

What does success look like?
• We retain an operating surplus of between
3-5 per cent of annual turnover.

• Our financial position allows the School to make investment decisions to maximise opportunities in education and in research, regardless of the external environment.

• Philanthropy makes a significantly higher contribution to our annual budget.

Developing Our Campus

WE WILL secure an estate and other facilities commensurate with our standing and aspirations.

The LSE is well on the way to redeveloping the campus to a level commensurate with our global aspirations and the Estates Strategy is driven by the requirement to provide buildings and facilities to achieve first-rate teaching and research. We have acquired property, renovated existing buildings and built the award-winning Saw Swee Hock Student Centre, but there is still much to be done in developing the campus.

The School is also committed to developing support facilities commensurate with our aspirations, and ensuring that Professional Service Divisions meet our strategic needs. The provision of Information Management and Technology (IMT) services, Communications, Data Management, Library Services and Human Resource Management must keep pace with the demands of students, academic departments, institutes, centres and professional service divisions while ensuring value for money and the best use of existing resources.

Actions in Detail:
• We will develop functional and innovative teaching and study space that improves the student experience. The School has begun work on new teaching space and social/learning space in the Centre Buildings development and this will be a primary focus in all new developments.

• We will develop space to enable our research activities to grow and in particular to facilitate interdisciplinary and interdepartmental research.

• We will provide an outstanding working environment that will aid the recruitment and retention of the best staff and students.

• We will better utilise the campus which will increasingly become a hub of activity for longer periods in the day.

• We will look to provide more student and faculty residences and more sports, leisure, and well-being amenities, as well as a centre to support conferences, executive education and knowledge exchange.

• We will ensure that the use and development of campus facilities is sustainable and has a minimal impact on the environment.

• We will shift the orientation of the campus towards Lincoln’s Inn Fields while creating a high quality public realm which prioritises pedestrian movement, interaction and enjoyment.

What does success look like?
• The vast majority of our estate is judged to be in good condition and functionally suitable.

• We continue to make attractive offers to students that include the provision of high quality accommodation.

• We will continue to win awards for the design and construction of public buildings and for having a minimal impact on the environment.

Contact Us
The information in this handbook can be made available in alternative formats, on request. Please contact

The London School of Economics and Political Science of the University of London is a charity and is incorporated in England as a company limited by guarantee under the Companies Act (Registration Number 70527).

The London School of Economics and Political Science Inland Revenue Number issued by HMRC is x2401.

The School seeks to ensure that people are treated equitably, regardless of age, disability, race, nationality, ethnic or national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation or personal circumstances.

Freedom of thought and expression is essential to the pursuit, advancement and dissemination of knowledge. LSE seeks to ensure that intellectual freedom and freedom of expression within the law is secured for all our members and those we invite to the School.

LSE Directorate
The London School of Economics and Political Science
Houghton Street

Published by LSE Directorate, September 2015

Photography by Nigel Stead, LSE School Photographer
Design by Jonathan Ing, LSE Design Unit