Preparing for PPE Admissions
PPE is a very challenging course that only about 30 universities in the UK offer. The admission process for the course is equally challenging but it will vary depending on the university you apply for. Entry requirements can vary significantly from A*AA for admission at universities such as UCL, LSE, and King’s College, to a lower BCC -BBB at the University of Winchester.
As such, you must know everything about the process so that you can play into your strengths and have the best chance of getting in.
What are the elements of a PPE application?
Before we dive into the important details and tips, it is important to know exactly what goes into a PPE application. Like any other course in the UK, you will have to apply for it via UCAS. If you want to get an idea of the application process will look like you can click here, but here’s a recap of the sections you will have to complete:
Start completing these as soon as possible. Some details might take you some time to find, and the last thing you would want is to be unable to complete your application due to poor time management.
Is the admission process for PPE different across universities?
Luckily, the admission process is very similar across universities so there is not much to worry about in that regard. However, if you are applying to the University of Oxford you will have to complete two other elements as part of your application. In addition to your UCAS application (which includes the dreaded personal statement), you will have to sit an admission test – the TSA – and go through the Oxford interview process.
Due to the number of applicants it receives, Oxford has these two extra steps to help distinguish between candidates. As you might imagine, every candidate at Oxford is essentially a perfect student on paper so the university needs extra tools to help them decide.
If you are applying to Oxford do not worry, this article will also cover advice on the admission test and interview so keep on reading!
Choose your university for PPE and start planning
The first thing you need to consider once you have chosen to study PPE is the university you will attend. This is not easy since so many factors will determine which universities you can apply to.
Consider your predicted grades and be realistic. Create a list of the universities in which you can easily get in (strictly based on your grades) and forget about other universities. You can, of course, include universities that do not necessarily match your predicted grades but be careful how you go about it.
For example, if you have three predicted A-levels (AAA) and are keen on applying to UCL, where the entry requirements are A*AA, there is a possibility that you might get a conditional offer. However, if you have three A-levels (ABB) it’s very likely that UCL will not accept you. The table below has the entry requirements for all the universities in the UK that offer PPE.
|University||A-Levels||IB (International Baccalaureate)|
|University of Oxford||AAA||39|
|King's College London||A*AA||35|
|University of Lancaster||AAB||35|
|The Open University||-||-|
|Queen's University Belfast||AAA||36|
|Royal Holloway||AAB - ABB||32|
|University of Swansea||BBB||32|
|University of Aberdeen||BBB||32|
|University of Buckingham||BBB - BBC||31-32|
|New College of the Humanities||AAB||35|
|University of Essex||BBB||30|
|University of Exeter||AAA||36|
|University of Highlands and Islands||BC||-|
|University of Hull||BBC||28|
|University of Leeds||AAA||35|
|University of Loughborough||AAB||-|
|University of Liverpool||ABB||33|
|University of Manchester||AAA||36|
|University of Nottingham||A*AA||38|
|University of Reading||ABB||32|
|University of Southampton||ABB||32|
|University of Stirling||BBB||30|
|University of Sussex||AAB - ABB||32-34|
|University of Warwick||A*AA||38|
|University of Winchester||BCC - BBB||38|
|University of York||AAA||36|
Do not apply to universities if you don’t have the minimum grades; you might find yourself with only one offer (or none!). Have two universities as your hard choices (the ones you are most likely to get in) and use the other 3 choices for universities that you would like to attend but don’t quite have the grades for (yet).
Personal Statement for PPE
The personal statement is one of the hardest elements for many students. Writing about yourself can seem quite daunting, especially when you are so young. The main thing you need to remember is to keep it simple yet informative. Here are the main things to avoid:
Less sometimes is more. On the UCAS application, you will have a maximum of 47 lines to write your personal statement (which is about 5000 characters). There is no minimum per se, so do not feel obliged to write a long essay. Keep it relevant, personal, and simple. Here’s a good example.
Admission test preparation for PPE
If you are not thinking of applying to Oxford, then you are in luck – this section does not apply to you.
To get an offer from the University of Oxford, you will need to work a bit harder. You need to sit the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) and complete both sections. The test takes place in November after you have submitted your UCAS application so, unfortunately, you will not get your marks before applying.
We have written comprehensive articles that cover the TSA in detail and each one of the parts. You can find these here:
During your interview at Oxford, the TSA might be part of the topics discussed (including your essay) so make sure to work hard to get a high score. The last thing you would want is to discuss an essay that you are not particularly proud of having written.
Interview preparation for PPE
Once again, this section only applies to you if you are applying to Oxford.
Interviewing at Oxford can be overwhelming, so you must be prepared. For a PPE interview, they will give you some material (anything from a graph to an article) which you will have to “study”. What they are trying to do is see how you react to new information and how you process it. This will form the basis of your interview discussion but be prepared to quickly assimilate more information and change your argument.
Make sure to demonstrate a genuine interest in the subjects of economics, politics, and philosophy. The interviewers want a keen student who will excel during the three years and it is hard to do that if you are not remotely interested in the course.
The PPE faculty recommends that you get a good grasp of the contemporary social and political climate before your interview. Topics such as vaccine distribution, Brexit, and institutionalised racism are all complex and extremely relevant topics of today’s society. An interest in political and social issues is vital.
You are Now Ready to Apply to PPE
There are quite a few elements that go into a university application, but these are all manageable if you start preparing early! Create a list, or just print this article, and keep it in your room – preferably somewhere you will see it often. It is never too early to start your PPE preparation!
Remember: PPE is a challenging course and getting an offer is not easy. Play to your strengths, prepare early, and you will get a place in your dream university!
Applying to PPE?
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