Introduction

PPE began at Oxford in 1920, and was known as Modern Greats. It was born of the conviction that study of the great modern works of social, political and philosophical thought could have a transformative effect on students’ intellectual lives, and thereby on society at large. This conviction remains as firm today as it was then. As the world has evolved, so has PPE.

PPE students have the opportunity to study a curriculum with a balance of breadth and depth, which is consciously kept at the cutting-edge. It encompasses specialist and technical training in economics, philosophy and politics, together with in-depth study of increasingly diverse social and political ideas and history.

The degree requires and develops in students an ability to grasp, analyse, and evaluate essential information rapidly and thoroughly. This ability is honed within Oxford’s tutorial system, which offers students the opportunity to discuss their ideas with scholars of the highest calibre.

The Economics element of the degree begins with Introductory Economics in the first year. This is a compulsory course and introduces students to micro and macroeconomic theory. In the second year, students continuing with Economics are required to take three core courses: microeconomics, macroeconomics and quantitative economics. These cover more advanced and more formal material and also introduce statistical methods. In the third year students may choose from a range of optional courses. Students thinking of pursuing a demanding higher degree in pure Economics (for example the MPhil in Economics at Oxford) normally take Econometrics and either Game Theory and/or Microeconomic Analysis.

The degree is divided into two parts: ‘Prelims’ and Finals. The first year (Prelims) is designed to give you a foundation in all three branches. Students will take three introductory courses in each of the PPE subjects: Introduction to Philosophy, Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Politics and Introductory Economics. You will then sit examinations in all three elements at the end of your first year. Prelims don’t count towards your final degree but will help you to decide what you would like to study for Finals.

Finals courses are spread over the second and third years. There are no second-year examinations. In your second and third years, you may continue with all three subjects or concentrate on just two. Whether or not your choice of subjects includes any of the specially designed bridge papers, such as Theory of Politics or Labour Economics, your study in each subject will benefit from what you have learned and the skills you have acquired in other parts of the degree.  First you must decide whether to select two branches from Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, which will make you ‘bipartite’, or to keep going with the third as well, making you ‘tripartite’. A few subjects are available under more than one branch, and bipartite Politics and Economics candidates are allowed to include one Philosophy subject: similarly bipartite Philosophy and Economics candidates are allowed to include one Politics subject.

One of your eight Finals subjects may be a thesis. A Philosophy thesis must be combined with at least three other subjects in Philosophy. Bipartite candidates who offer a Politics or Economics thesis must combine it with at least three other subjects in the same branch.

 

courses

Year 1
Year 2
Year 3

Philosophy

Politics

Economics

Philosophy

Politics

Economics

Philosophy

Politics

Economics

General Philosophy

Theory of Politics

Micro-economics

Ethics plus one of:

Any two of:

If bipartite, all three of:

A wide variety of optional courses is available to PPE students. More than 40 options were offered to students entering their second year in October 2016. Some of these options remain the same from year to year, whilst others are withdrawn or replaced, according to the availability of academics with the relevant specialisms. 

Moral Philosophy

Practice of Politics

Macro-economics

Early Modern Philosophy

Comparative Government

Micro-economics

Logic

Political Analysis

Knowledge and Reality

British Politics and Government since 1900

Macro-economics

Plato: Republic

Theory of Politics

Quantitative Economics

Aristotle: Nicomachean Ethics

International Relations

Political Sociology

 

THE COURSE OUTLINE SPECIFIC TO ECONOMICS IS AS FOLLOWS:

YEAR 1
YEAR 2
YEAR 3
  • Microeconomics
  • Macroeconomics
  • Microeconomics
  • Macroeconomics
  • Quantitative Economics

Typical options:

  • Microeconomic Analysis
  • Money & Banking
  • Public Economics
  • Economics of Industry
  • Labour Economics and Industrial Relations
  • International Economics
  • Economics of Developing Countries
  • Development of the World Economy since 1800
  • Behavioural and Experimental Economics
  • Econometrics
  • Finance
  • Game Theory
  • International Economics
  • Thesis

Admission Criteria

  • A-levels: AAA
  • Advanced Highers: AA
  • IB: a total score of at least 39 points including core points, with 7-6-6 in subjects taken at HL
  • Or equivalent (see www.ox.ac.uk/intquals)

 

PPE tutors are looking for evidence of the following qualities in applicants:

  • Application and interest: capacity for sustained study, motivation and interest, an independent and reflective approach to learning;
  • Reasoning ability: ability to analyse and solve problems using logical and critical approaches, ability to assess relevance, capacity to construct and critically assess arguments, flexibility and willingness to consider alternative views;
  • Communication: willingness and ability to express ideas clearly and effectively on paper and orally; ability to listen; ability to give considered responses.
    Throughout the admissions process, tutors will be seeking to detect the candidate's future potential as a PPE student. Existing achievement (as revealed in official examinations, predicted examination results, and school reports), as well as performance in the pre-interview TSA admissions test and interview, is relied upon mainly as evidence of future potential.
    Candidates are not expected to have studied any philosophy, politics or economics at school, but should be interested and be prepared to put their minds to problems of philosophy, politics and economics presented to them. In the case of candidates whose first language is not English, competence in the English language is also a criterion of admission.
    All applicants must sit the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA), normally at their own school or college, in early November. It is your responsibility to register for the test. The registration deadline is normally 18.00 UK time on 15 October every year. For the exact test date in the year of your application, along with further information, details of how to register, and a specimen paper, see www.tsaoxford.org.uk.
    Final decisions about offers of places will use the full range of evidence available, including past and predicted exam results, the school report, the personal statement, the TSA admissions test and the interviews. Entry is competitive, which means that not all candidates who satisfy the admissions criteria will receive offers.

Fees and Funding

The tuition fee you will be charged and the support available is determined by your fee status, which will be Home (UK), EU (rest of European Union), Overseas (outside the European Union) or Islands (Channel Islands or Isle of Man).

Details of fees and funding for the academic year in question can be found on the University of Oxford Admissions website:
https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/fees-and-funding/tuition-fees?wssl=1

Reading Suggestions

Applicants are not expected to have studied any philosophy, politics, or economics at school, but should be interested in the three subjects and be prepared to put their minds to problems of philosophy, politics, and economics presented to them.

We recommend that applicants read widely around the three subjects to help prepare for applying. PPE tutors will look for commitment and motivation to the course, as well as evidence of academic potential. They will want to know that a student has really engaged with the three subjects and has a passion for studying them.

We also recommend that applicants obtain a reasonable grasp of the workings of the social and political world in which we live. Reading a good quality daily newspaper is crucial to a successful application, along with watching and listening to news and current affairs programmes.

You can find plenty of coverage of Economic questions in good quality newspapers, magazines, blogs and articles online, and television and radio programmes. For example, try the Financial Times, The Economist, and Prospect, which frequently include articles on economic matters; and the blogs and commentaries of economists and economic journalists.

For online resources the Economics Network website, Why Study Economics? has useful information for students considering a university course in economics, and a selection of interesting Economics blogs include:

There are several good “popular” introductions to economics, and other relevant books written for a general audience, that are accessible and interesting:

  • Tim Harford, The Undercover Economist (Little, Brown, 2005)
  • David Smith, Free Lunch: Easily Digestible Economics (Profile Books, 2003)
  • Paul Krugman, The Accidental Theorist (Norton, 1998)
  • K. Binmore, A Very Short Introduction to Game Theory (OUP, 2007)
  • P. Dasgupta, Economics: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2007)
  • Michael Blastland and Andrew Dilnot, The Tiger that Isn’t: Seeing through a World of Numbers (Profile Books, 2007)
  • Roger E. Backhouse, The Penguin History of Economics (Penguin, 2002)
  • Andrew Mell and Oliver Walker, The Rough Guide to Economics (Penguin, 2014)

Some useful introductory texts for Philosophy and Politics are available on the admissions pages for the course: https://www.ppe.ox.ac.uk/how-to-prepare-for-ppe .

FAQs

 No. Oxford does not offer a single honours undergraduate degree in Economics.

To a large extent, mathematics is the language in which much of university-level Economics is written and expressed. Introductory Economics in the first year uses elementary real analysis and differential calculus. Some subsequent options courses use more advanced mathematics and statistics while others use very little. 

No, though you will find it helpful. If you are admitted without A-Level maths, or the equivalent, the Economics Department runs a top-up course called Elementary Mathematical Methods which will bring you up to the level you will need.

Yes. Provided you select some of the more technical options papers in the third year (for example Econometrics, Game Theory. Microeconomic Analysis) you will have no problem at all accessing the very best Masters programs.