University of Oxford Undergraduate Prospectus 2015 entry

Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)

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Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)

A BA in 3 years

UCAS code: L0V0

Course statistics for 2013 entry

Interviewed: 46%

Successful: 16%

Intake: 232

Entrance requirements

A-levels: AAA

Advanced Highers: AA

IB: 39 (including core points) with 766 at HL

Or any other equivalent

You may apply for PPE having done any combination of subjects at school; it is not necessary to have studied Politics, Philosophy or Economics. History and Mathematics are useful backgrounds, but are not essential.

How to apply (see page 118) [Transcriber's Note: page number of the printed edition. End of note]

Tests: TSA on 5 November 2014

Written Work: None required

Tuition Fees for 2014

Home/EU: £9,000/year

No upfront costs: you can get a loan for the full amount

Grants, bursaries and scholarships available

More on student finance: p 120 [Transcriber's Note: page number of the printed edition. End of note]

More Information

+44 (0) 1865 288564


+44 (0) 1865 276926


+44 (0) 1865 278706


+44 (0) 1865 271098

Oxford Open days

2 and 3 July, and 19 September 2014

What is PPE?

PPE brings together some of the most important approaches to understanding the social and human world around us, developing skills useful for a whole range of future careers and activities.

Studying Philosophy, you will develop analytical rigour and the ability to criticise and reason logically, and be able to apply these skills to questions concerning how we acquire knowledge or how we make ethical judgements.

The study of Politics provides a thorough understanding of the impact of political institutions on modern societies. It helps you to evaluate the choices that political systems must regularly make, to explain the processes that maintain or change those systems, and to examine the concepts and values used in political analysis. Politics at Oxford also encompasses the study of Sociology and International Relations.

Economics is the study of how consumers, firms and government make decisions that together determine how resources are allocated. An appreciation of economics and the general workings of the economy has become increasingly necessary to make sense of governmental policy-making, the conduct of businesses and the enormous changes in economic systems occurring throughout the world.

PPE at Oxford

All three branches of PPE at Oxford have an international reputation, supported by more than 200 tutors and scholars of the highest calibre. You will also be able to attend lectures given by the many distinguished visitors to Oxford each year.

PPE at Oxford is a very flexible course which allows you to study all three branches, or to specialise in two of the branches after the first year. Although there is no reference to Sociology or International Relations in the title of the course, you may specialise in either of these subjects by choosing relevant options.

A typical weekly timetable

Your work is divided between lectures (six to eight a week), tutorials and classes (typically two tutorials or one tutorial and one class a week), and private study mainly spent preparing essays for tutorials and classes.

What are tutors looking for?

Tutors will want to find out if you can think clearly and analytically. They are not so much concerned with what you know as how you think about it and how you use it. They will seek evidence of your interest in social and political concerns and your ability to discuss them critically. In addition to reading a good-quality daily newspaper applicants may enjoy reading one or more of the following introductory texts.

There are many introductions to philosophy: Thomas Nagel’s What Does It All Mean? is a useful introduction. Martin Hollis’s An Invitation to Philosophy and Simon Blackburn’s Think are also recommended. If you have trouble finding these, or would like more suggestions, please feel free to contact the Faculty of Philosophy by email.

Politics is a very wide-ranging subject, encompassing both theoretical approaches and the study of real world institutions and processes. Jonathan Wolff’s An Introduction to Political Philosophy, Gillian Peele’s Developments in British Politics series and Adrian Leftwich’s edited collection, What Is Politics? The Activity and Its Study, are useful introductions.

The best introduction to the use of economic analysis, whether or not you have studied Economics at school, is to read the economics and business pages of newspapers, particularly The Economist. Tim Harford’s Undercover Economist and Paul Krugman’s The Accidental Theorist are also recommended.

Related courses

Students interested in this course might also like to consider Classics, Economics and Management, History and Economics, History and Politics, Human Sciences, Philosophy and Modern Languages, or Philosophy and Theology.


The careers most commonly chosen by PPE graduates are in banking and


finance, politics, journalism and broadcasting, law, industry, teaching, social work, accountancy, business management, management consultancy, advertising and the many branches of the public services, including the civil and diplomatic services and local government.

Recent Philosophy, Politics and Economics graduates include a hedge fund analyst, a primary school teacher and a fundraising officer for a disease research foundation. Amit, who graduated in 1996, is currently Head of Corporate Partnerships at the British Heart Foundation. He says: ‘PPE encouraged me to be inquisitive, open-minded and analytical, preparing me for a career that has spanned the private, public and charity sectors.’

Jan, who graduated in 2009 now works for OC&C Strategy Consultants in London. He says: As a strategy consultant, I have to break down and analyse companies’ complex problems in a team environment and communicate the solution clearly to the client. Preparing and discussing essays in weekly tutorials in Oxford helped developing these skills, as well as the ability to think outside the box.

Maša, who graduated in 2007, is now a reporter at the Financial Times. She says: ‘After university I went into banking, then moved to journalism. I found the skills I learnt reading PPE invaluable in both of these very different fields. Most importantly, the course teaches you to think in a very rigorous way. Your tutors are constantly challenging you and won’t let you get away with woolly arguments. While this can initially be difficult to get to grips with, it has been a source of great personal satisfaction and incredibly useful in my career so far.’

For more information about careers after Oxford, please see p 122 [Transcriber's Note: page number of the printed edition. End of note].

1st year


All three branches of PPE are studied equally


  • Moral philosophy

  • Elementary logic


  • Theorising the democratic state

  • Analysis of democratic institutions in the United Kingdom, France, Germany and the United States


  • Microeconomics: the functioning of the market economy

  • Macroeconomics: dealing with national output and employment, exchange rates and policy issues

  • Mathematical techniques used in economics


First University examinations: Three written papers

2nd and 3rd years


Students choose to continue with all three branches or concentrate on any two, taking compulsory courses in the chosen branches along with optional courses:

Compulsory core courses

Philosophy: Ethics, and either Early modern philosophy; or Knowledge and reality; or Plato’s Republic; or Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics

Politics (any two of these): Comparative government; British politics and government since 1900; Theory of politics; International relations; Political sociology

Economics: Microeconomics; Macroeconomics; Quantitative economics

Optional courses

  • More than 50 choices, including: Post-Kantian philosophy; Later Wittgenstein; Politics in Sub-Saharan Africa; Politics of modern China; International economics; Economics of developing countries; Philosophy and economics of the environment (see for the full list of optional PPE papers)


Final University examinations: Eight written papers, one of which can be replaced by a thesis

Student statement

Intellectually, it’s less about having gained new knowledge and more about having gained a new way of looking at things. It’s more about the methods, the mindsets, and the techniques you’re taught. Simone

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