What Is A PPE Course?

What is a PPE course? Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) is an ambitious and quite popular course offered by only a few universities in the UK. To study PPE is to become aware of all social, economic, political and philosophical factors. In this article are the important points to remember before applying for PPE. You have the questions, we have the answers.

Author: Rob Needleman

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What Is A PPE Course?

The Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) course is an ambitious and quite popular course that only a few universities in the United Kingdom offer. Depending on the university, each subject will be given a different level of attention so it’s important you choose a school that aligns with your interests. Further down the article we give you a table with the exact weight given to each subject by different universities (you can click here to skip straight to the table). 

 

Studying PPE is about becoming aware of all the social, economic, political and philosophical factors that shape society as we know it. This is why you’ll find that high-ranking members of society, such as David Cameron, Rish Sunak, and Bob Hawke, have usually pursued an education in PPE and commonly at Oxford University. 

 

However, don’t get worried if you don’t have the grades for Oxford, there are more universities that offer the course! Similarly, if you don’t have the ambition to get into politics, PPE is still a valid choice because you can focus on the other subjects.

 

But don’t worry! This article will cover all the important points to remember before applying to PPE. You have the questions; we have the answers. 

The Philosophy of a PPE course

When people think about philosophers, they usually picture a group of old grey man questioning anything and everything; but philosophy is so much more than that. Studying philosophy encompasses the study of the underlying natures of reality, existence, and (obviously) knowledge.

 

You have most likely heard people saying something along the lines of “that’s my philosophy”. Essentially, philosophy explains why we act the way we do. What’s the rationale for certain behaviours. What motivates us to act in a particular way from a moral standpoint. Philosophy acts as a guiding principle. But don’t confuse Philosophy with Psychology – psychology is about understanding the mind and its behaviour.

 

When you study Philosophy, you are developing your analytical and critical mindset. You will be questioning the rationale behind human behaviour and mature your logical rigour. This will ultimately lead to start answering more complex and puzzling questions. Some of the modules you might take are Moral Philosophy and Elementary Logic.

From left to right: Sokrates, Antisthenes, Chrysippos, Epikouros

The Politics of a pPE course

The study of politics is closely intertwined with philosophy.  In essence, politics is associated with the governance of a country or area, and the distribution of power within the government. Philosophy plays a big part of ensuring the decisions taken by politicians are considered morally right, as such, you cannot have one without the other.

 

In an increasingly globalised world, communication between nations is fragile and more important than ever. Whilst studying PPE, you will learn how to approach delicate situations and be ‘politically correct’.

 

This will involve analysing how individuals and groups define and interpret political issues which ultimately impact governmental decisions. You will graduate with a thorough understanding of how impactful politics can be on modern societies, from public affairs to terrorism-related issues. Some of the modules you might have are Introduction to political methodology and political philosophy. 

Nick Clegg, Theresa May, Nigel Farage, David Cameron, Jeremy Corbyn, Gordon Brown, Boris Johnson
From left to right: Nick Clegg, Theresa May, Nigel Farage,
David Cameron, Jeremy Corbyn, Gordon Brown, Boris Johnson

The Economics of a PPE Course

Economics addresses a hefty range of problems from financial crises to barriers for economic development. It is expected that you will discuss contemporary issues such as the impacts of Brexit on the economy – a more local problem – or the effects of the pandemic on the global economy.

Understanding economics is essential to comprehend how the government operates. Policies are created to tackle various issues but these need to be justified. Accordingly, you are expected to have an appreciation of economics and all its career prospects. Some of the modules you might have are Microeconomics I and Macroeconomics I.

Source: UCAS

What are the Career prospects for PPE?

A degree in PPE can lead to many different avenues. Often, people associate the course with a career in politics, and although that can be the case, we don’t want you to think that you’re limited to pursuing politics.

House of Commons
House of Commons, London

Because you study three different subjects, you are also able to branch out into more careers. But before we get into what type of careers you can have after studying PPE, let’s talk about the most obvious option for any student graduating: further education.

 

Similarly to any degree, after studying PPE you can decide to specialise in a subject and pursue a masters and/or PhD. You can do this for a multitude of reasons: you enjoyed studying a particular topic so you want to know more about it, or the career you want requires you to have a master for entry level jobs. Whatever the reason may be, make sure it’s a good one! Masters are hard work and choosing the right one is vital.

 

However, if you choose not to pursue further education you will have plenty of career choices to pick from. The ones below are just a few choices that we have compiled:

Which Universities offer a pPE course?

There are about 30 universities in the United Kingdom that offer a PPE course. The way the course is taught and how much emphasis is given to each subject might vary, so it’s important you do your research. Both the course and the university should closely align to what you intend on doing in the future. Don’t settle for a course/university you are not 100% sold on as you will have a miserable time for 3-years!

 

The university most commonly associated with PPE is Oxford, however as we mentioned above, there are 29 other universities offering the course. In any case way, we have compiled all the information you need on the table below:

  Subject Weight
PoliticsPhilosophyEconomics
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%
LSE33%33%33%
New College of the Humanities50%25%25%
Open University50%0%50%
Oxford33%33%33%
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%
UCL33%33%33%
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%

Notes:

  1. The information presented above is for the first year of your undergraduate course.
  2. The percentages are not set in stone. Due to the high degree of personalisation you can have in a PPE course, some of these percentages can be changed if you want to focus more on politics for example.

What are the entry requirements for PPE?

The table below shows the entry requirements for all the UK universities that offer PPE. Keep in mind that Oxford, LSE, UCL, Liverpool, Southampton, and York will require one of the A-levels to be in Mathematics. As such, you should always check the website of the university you are applying to, in order to get the most accurate and up to date information about entry requirements. 

UniversityA-LevelsIB (International Baccalaureate)
University of Oxford AAA39
Durham UniversityA*AA38
Goldsmiths UniversityBBB33
King's College LondonA*AA35
University of LancasterAAB35
LSEA*AA38
The Open University--
Queen's University BelfastAAA36
Royal HollowayAAB - ABB32
University of SwanseaBBB32
UCLA*AA39
University of AberdeenBBB32
University of BuckinghamBBB - BBC31-32
New College of the HumanitiesAAB35
University of EssexBBB30
University of ExeterAAA36
University of Highlands and IslandsBC-
University of HullBBC28
University of LeedsAAA35
University of LoughboroughAAB-
University of LiverpoolABB33
University of ManchesterAAA36
University of Nottingham A*AA38
University of ReadingABB32
University of SouthamptonABB32
University of StirlingBBB30
University of SussexAAB - ABB32-34
University of WarwickA*AA38
University of WinchesterBCC - BBB38
University of YorkAAA36

PPE at Oxford vS other universities

So, we know Oxford is usually associated with PPE, but what is the reason? Well, to put it in one word: prestige.

 

The university of Oxford itself is quite a prestigious institution that has produced many brilliant graduates. More specifically, the PPE course has seen its fair share of clever (and well-known) students. Because of this, the course has steadily increased in rank and is now one the most competitive courses to get in at Oxford. The course has “become a global status symbol of academic achievement and worldly potential”.

 

However, this doesn’t mean the course at Oxford is better than PPE at any other UK university. Like we reiterate many times, your choices are personal and should match your ambitions and goals.

Is PPE a difficult course?

Yes. You will be discussing issues that will make you question the ‘traditional’ and the ‘how things get done around here’, which will require you to evolve efficiently and rapidly as a student. Moreover, you will be studying three different subjects at the same time and this will require a great level of coordination and dedication.

Should I study PPE?

PPE is indeed a difficult course and as such, you should only apply for it if you truly are passioned about the subjects. You’ll cover three main subjects (philosophy, politics and economics) but how much is dedicated to each one varies from university to university. You are also able to choose from a wide range of optional modules so you can personalise the course to meet your interests.

 

Essentially, if you have a genuine interest in 2 out of the 3 subjects it’s worth considering PPE. If you only like philosophy for example, we would suggest pursuing a degree 100% focussed on it.

conclusion

We hope this article gave you a detailed look at what a PPE course entails. If you think PPE is the right course for you, don’t forget to contact us so we can help you with your application. Whether you want to attend Oxford or another UK university, we will be here every step of the way. 

Oxford City Centre, Oxford

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