Help me decide between University Choice for IB (UCL vs LSE)

Hi all,

Just a quick one.


Target is to break into IB (but really want to explore other finance sectors too - like ER, S&T, Quant Trading/Research) - so I ask this question as I want to cover all my bases by assuming I'm applying for the most competitive field (Quant) and best preparing with that in mind.


My main of interest is Economics, but not applying for pure Economics courses as 1) highly competitive 2) don't have prerequisite subject of A-Level Maths (I took A-Level Statistics instead). This is quite a barrier to many target STEM degrees too, which want A-Level Maths.

Though to mititgate this, I tend to ask universities if they would accept me with Statistics instead of Maths (some tend to allow, most target universities don't though), or I can apply to double major undergraduates - as you'll see below.


I'm wanting to learn which of the two courses I should prioritise (should I get offers). The courses are:

  • UCL - Social Sciences with Data Science (Bsc.)

  • LSE - Economic History (Bsc.)


Brief summary of what I'm thinking so far:

  • LSE finance societies & culture are well renowned; internal culture surrounding internships, job prospects etc. I feel works well for me (I know some don't like this). UCL's culture doesn't seem as well-known as the LSE's - so I assume it slightly more laidback (A dislike of mine). Unsure on UCL's finance societies comparatively either. Feel free to correct / educate me on this though.

  • However, taking an Economic History degree is likely nowhere near as attractive to the STEM nature of a Data Science degree. Assuming I will be laughed out if I applied to a prop shop with this degree. This means a STEM degree provides an advantage when applying to highly rigorous roles (like Quant), and I would like to experience Quant before I know if I want to pursue this over IB.

  • Data Science degree allows me to simultaneously pursue my interest in an interdisciplinary fashion. Allows me to explore how Data Science can mix in with Economics - have checked course modules here so can largely focus on Economics across degree. Means I can enjoy the STEM benefits (and get a more worthwhile degree) while still being relatively interesting & not being a 'drag'.


Would love to hear thoughts.

Thanks.

 

LSE is my two cents. Better uni, better degree imo.

Trading/Quant isn’t my area, so can’t comment, but for buy side ER, economic history would have no issues breaking in, assuming you do extracurriculars, get good grades, etc.

Good luck!

 

Thanks for the insight about buy-side ER & your comments about my question. Much appreciated.

Out of interest, can you talk to me about why you think it is a better degree? (I presume it is more directly relevant to Economics).

 

It's not the only factor though + was an assumption - hence why I asked. If you don't want to help then why waste energy commenting?

 

How is giving a simple answer not helping? Both unis are respectable and you wouldn’t struggle with IB prospects. There is a marginal difference between the 2 unis with LSE having a slight edge due to reputation. You reiterated that your main priority is not going to a university where the culture is slightly laid back so the answer was kinda clear.

 

Did STEM at Oxbridge and at one point considered Quant. Neither of the choices you listed would be competitive enough to land a role in a top prop shop - most of these seats are filled with Cambridge mathmos, oxford maths/physics with Warwick and imperial plugging the gaps. As far as quant on the sell side, they’d still want you have studied something much more quantitative compared to ‘socials sciences with data science’. If I were you, I’d take the LSE econ with history and target IB/ER etc.

 

Understood, thanks for letting me know your thoughts. In terms of pure Data Science at UCL - would that stand out anymore for recruitment as there's no element of social sciences to dampen the couse?

I know MORSE at Warwick is well-regarded - and I did look into it. I have heard it is probably one of the 'easier' Maths degrees given it is so easy to specialise in Economics after Y1.

 
Most Helpful

UCL.

For full disclosure, I graduated from UCL (albeit ~10 years ago).

University Prestige: LSE is the winner in terms of ranking and prestige, at least for investment banking recruitment, but that typically applies to the more STEM / Finance / Econs courses. Candidly, course selection doesn't count too highly in HR recruitment, at least for passing the screenings (you're on your own in the interviews).

Course: This is everything. You sound much more excited by and interested by the data science and statistics course. This is 3 years of your life - please, for your own sake, don't spend it studying something you don't enjoy for the sake of a marginal edge in investment banking recruitment. Most university courses are very academic with little real-world application (I studied pure Economics and can speak to this, and pure Finance is equally culpable), but what helped me, especially in junior years, was a good understanding of statistics - for example being able to call out a silly obsession with R^2 in those scatter charts MDs love to show ("Why is it so low?").

Societies: Everything is relative I suppose, but your point about laid back sounds a little premature (and you fully disclaimed the opinion as an assumption, with italics even). Remember that every university has a normal curve of students, and while it might be true (given the course selection at UCL being far more broad) that UCL has a greater number or even skew towards more "laid back" students, it's a huge university and there are a lot of highly motivated and IB-focused students. Typically those running the societies are in the top 0.5% (made up number but you get the point) at any university, and those folks tend to be not very laid back. You can make the argument that the top 0.5% at UCL are more laid back than the top 0.5% at LSE, but that's probably not true (even if Asian individuals are on average shorter than Caucasians, the top 0.5% of Asian individuals are still really damn tall). By the way, if I'm wrong, then you should stand for President of the societies, change them, and you'll have one hell of a good CV.

By the way LSE is so close that I think (TBC as this was true 10 years ago as University of London perks but maybe not today) you can attend a bunch of their events

To wrap it up, this comes down to course for me. You shouldn't be put off by any conception of being laid back at UCL - I don't think that's entirely true. Study what you love. Enjoy the experience.

 

Thanks for your really detailed response - means the world you have taken this much time to help answer. I do have some concerns, and want to clarify some things below:

- LSE and UCL as is are both amazing target IB universities regardless - I'd probably choose LSE for the atmosphere, concentration & societies for IB. My concern is that there is course discrimination in Quant - a field I'd like to explore - meaning it may not be fit to necessarily pursue Econ History. I might not even like Quant (still reading into it currently), in which case I'll fall back onto IB - and both LSE and UCL are amazing for this. Regardless of liking Quant or not, I feel a STEM degree may also bring me more of a challenge than Econ History, and therefore, some larger form of accomplishment (which might sound stupid).

- Course: I agree I would need to select something of interest, but honestly both are of interest - LSE more so, even,

I've taken a lot of time to understand what I want to study and what my passion is (Economics). But, recently I've had to consider the possibility of Quant - hence why I am intrigued by this UCL course.

In terms of societies - I agree and it was a bit stupid to say so that early - and you've put it into context with your example using heights. Means there are more people fighting for the same so I can understand it may even be of a higher quality than that of LSE's. I will have to look into seeing if UCL students can attend LSE events; I've previously heard of open-events for London universities; just unsure on if it applies to Finance-related societies though. Will be looking into this for sure - appreciate you giving me this idea.

I'm still undecided - but I have reached out to some current UCL/LSE students in order to better develop an answer.

I do really appreciate your help - thank you!

 

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