Philosophy, Politics and Economics

Wadham admits about eight students a year to read PPE. Because PPE bridges social studies and the humanities, the College welcomes applicants for PPE with either arts A-Levels, science A-Levels, a mixture of both, or equivalent qualifications.

  • Painting by Claude Monet via Wikimedia Commons

    Houses of Parliament, London, by Claude Monet via Wikimedia Commons

Course Offered: BA (Hons) Philosophy, Politics and Economics

Undergraduate Prospectus PPE at Oxford

PPE is a very broad course. In the first year you study all three branches of the school, but in the second and third years you may drop any one of them. The Politics and Economics course is probably the broadest social studies course available in the United Kingdom, while the Philosophy and Politics course and Philosophy and Economics course each offer many combinations of subjects in these branches of the school. Sociology may be studied within Politics. You do not need to decide which branches you wish to specialise in before you start PPE.

We particularly want to encourage applications from students who read widely, who are capable of writing and thinking clearly, who are self-motivated, and who are enthusiastic about finding solutions to problems that are new to them.

Whilst you do not need to have Mathematics A-level to apply for PPE, you should have sufficient interest in and aptitude for Mathematics to cope with the mathematical elements of the course. Mathematics is a particular advantage for the Economics component of the course, as well as for the first year logic course in Philosophy, and for understanding theories and data in Politics. It is useful to have learnt the basics of differentiation before starting your university course in PPE. You may like to consider taking Mathematics to AS-level, or an equivalent qualification such as IB Standard Level, even if you do not pursue it further. Extra tuition will be available to students who require any assistance.

The Course

The PPE degree is split into two parts: the introductory Prelims course, which lasts for the first year; and the advanced Final Honours course, which lasts for the second and third years.

In the first-year Prelims course, you study all three subjects.  For Philosophy, you study introductory logic, moral philosophy (focusing on J.S. Mill’s classic text Utilitarianism), and a further four topics in metaphysics, epistemology, and the philosophy of mind. For Politics, you study introductory political theory, introductory comparative government and politics, and introductory political analysis. For economics, you study introductory Macroeconomics and Microeconomics and you learn key mathematical techniques. The Prelims course trains you in the degree-level basics of the three disciplines in order to prepare you for the Final Honours course, and is examined by means of three unseen written examinations in June.

In the Final Honours course, you may pursue studies in all three disciplines or in only two. You spend the six terms of your second and third years preparing for eight unseen written exams (or seven exams and a thesis) in eight different subjects. One or two of these subjects are typically compulsory (if you study Philosophy, for example, you must study Ethics), and a further one or two are from a restricted range. Beyond that, you may choose from a vast and more or less unrestricted range of subjects.

In the first year, students are largely taught in College, but for many of the more specialised options from the Final Honours course the College arranges teaching by experts from other colleges. In the first year you may have three tutorials or classes a week; in the second and third years you will normally have only two.  In addition, you will have seminars and lectures to attend every week in all three years. The course is challenging, but the tutors and the College more generally work hard to provide a supportive and friendly environment in which to develop the required skills.

The Tutors

Alan Beggs has research interests in economic theory, industrial organisation and applied econometrics. Paul Martin works on judicial politics, especially in the United States. He is currently working on books on the US Supreme Court's desegregation cases, and on the impact of technological change on judicial governance. Alexander Paseau has research interests in the philosophy of mathematics, logic, metaphysics and epistemology. Tom Sinclair works on political and moral philosophy—especially that of Hume, Kant, and Rawls, and concerning questions of justice and the legitimacy of states. Francesco Zanetti has research interests in macroeconomics, economic policies and applied econometrics.


A wide variety of careers is open to PPE graduates, irrespective of specialisation within the school. Recent graduates can be found working in journalism, the civil service, the voluntary sector, industry and the City, as well as in further study both in the UK and abroad.

Further Information

For more information on the course and applying please see the Undergraduate Prospectus. Further information can also be found on the PPE website.


A student's perspective

Current Fellows and Lecturers

Dr Alan Beggs (Tutorial Fellow in Economics)

Dr Paul Martin (Tutorial Fellow in Politics)

Dr Alexander Paseau (Tutorial Fellow in Philosophy)

Dr Tom Sinclair (Tutorial Fellow in Philosophy)

Dr Francesco Zanetti (Tutorial Fellow in Economics)