The PPE Guide: Economics

If you are applying to study PPE at university, it is important that you understand the three subjects that make up the course. In this guide, we will look at Economics.

Last Updated: 18th April 2022

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With three subjects making up a PPE course, you will likely have a preference for one of them. 

Studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) is a great opportunity for you to apply a wider variety of knowledge and academic skills to your studies. 

We look at the Economics aspect of a PPE course, and how it differs from university to university. 

How Much Of PPE Is About Economics?

Each university that offers PPE has a different approach, and therefore give a different weight to each subject.

In general, the weighting for subjects is split evenly between the three. However, there are some anomalies such as the University of Winchester which has placed a 25% weighting on Economics with Philosophy being the main focus of the course.

On the other end of the scale, the University of Manchester is weighted roughly 50% towards Economics with Philosophy and Politics sharing the remaining 50%.

However, keep in mind that this information is only true for the first year of undergraduate and will likely be different in the subsequent years.

Some universities, such as Oxford, offer students the option to drop one of the three subjects from second year and allow a greater focus on the other two subjects. You do not have to do this though and can carry on with all three if you so wish.

The table below shows how every PPE course in the UK has each subject weighted, to give you an idea of what each is like.

Subject Weight
Durham University33%33%33%
Goldsmith's, University of London40%20%40%
King's College London33%33%33%
Lancaster University33%33%33%
Loughborough University50%25%25%
New College of the Humanities50%25%25%
Open University50%0%50%
Queen's University Belfast25%25%50%
Royal Holloway, University of London20%40%40%
Swansea University33%33%33%
The University of Liverpool33%33%33%
The University of Manchester25%25%50%
University of Aberdeen33%33%33%
University of Buckingham33%33%33%
University of Essex33%33%33%
University of Exeter30%30%40%
University of Highlands and Islands33%33%33%
University of Hull33%33%33%
University of Leeds50%0%50%
University of Nottingham40%30%30%
University of Reading33%33%33%
University of Southampton30%30%30%
University of Stirling33%33%33%
University of Sussex33%33%33%
University of Warwick33%33%33%
University of Winchester25%50%25%
University of York33%33%33%

Our expert tutors are on hand to help guide you to a successful Oxford PPE application. 

We help you craft the perfect Personal Statement, achieve a highly competitive TSA score and teach you how to Interview effectively.

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What Will I Learn About Economics?

Economics impacts key considerations in many political decisions: will higher taxes for the rich really leave us worse off? Are privatised public utilities likely to be more or less efficient than state-run utilities?

In Economics, you will develop your understanding of economic models to explain and predict economic behaviour and impact and acquire data analysis skill to measure economic activity.

Looking at the PPE course at Oxford, for example, in the first-year students will cover ‘Microeconomics’, ‘Macroeconomics’ and ‘Mathematical and statistical techniques used in Economics’ to get an idea of the content you will have to study.

This is the case for the overwhelming majority of PPE courses in the UK, to ensure that students have the basic understanding of Economics.

Ultimately, Economics is the study of how consumers, firms and government make decisions that collectively determine how resources are allocated. An appreciation of Economics has become increasingly necessary to make sense of governmental policymaking, the conduct of business and the enormous economic transformations throughout the world.

Which Universities Place A Greater Emphasis On Economics?

Loughborough, New College of Humanities and Winchester offer the least weighting on Economics in the first year. Both Loughborough and NCH focus on Politics making up 50% of the course content, whilst Winchester has a 50% focus on Philosophy.

But what universities prioritise Economics?

Some of these universities spend as much as 50% of the first year of the course focusing on Economics. So, if Economics is the subject that you are most interested in out of the three these might be the courses for you.

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Should I Apply To PPE?

If what you have read in this article appeals to you then yes. PPE is exciting and broad, and you will have the flexibility to choose optional modules, which means you will be able to tailor the course to suit your interests and career ambitions.

It is definitely not an easy course since you will be studying three subjects simultaneously – for the first year at least – but if you have a genuine interest for any of the subjects it is worth considering.

Make sure to do your research as the course differs from university to university and it is important that you find the course that is suited to what you are wanting to get out of your studies.

One such determining factor might be a heavier focus on Economics.

Should I Study PPE If I Don’t Want To Go Into Politics?

A common misconception about PPE is that it means a career in Politics. Whilst it is true that many graduates have gone onto career in Politics the degree offers a variety of career paths.

The careers most commonly chosen by PPE graduates are in:

PPE was born out of the conviction that studying the great modern works of economics, social, political, and philosophical thought would have a transformative effect on students’ intellectual lives and thereby on society.

As the world has evolved, so has PPE. The course brings together some of the most important approaches to understanding the world around us, developing skills useful for a wide range of careers. 

One such determining factor might be a heavier focus on Economics.


We hope this article gives you an overview of the Economics side of PPE and helps give you a more solid understanding of what is in store.

PPE is a rewarding course, but you must be prepared to put the work in. You may find yourself enjoying the subject that was your least favourite – there are countless opportunities.

With the ability to tailor the degree to your interests, PPE offers great flexibility that many other degrees do not.

Secure your dream place at Oxford to study PPE, with the guidance of our expert tutors. 

Applying to Oxford is immensely competitive and it is crucial that you give yourself the best chance of success. We help you craft the perfect Personal Statement, achieve a highly competitive TSA score and teach you how to Interview effectively – covering all areas of your Oxford application.

Discover our Oxford PPE Premium Programme. 

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