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Philosophy, Politics and Economics

Although it provides a basic grounding in all three disciplines in the first year, students are subsequently given increasing choice over the direction their work will take. Students can develop as much expertise in a single discipline as thosetaking a single honours degree at another university, or they can sustain a wide range of interests across all three subjects. It is very much a degree whose final form students design for themselves.

What makes a good PPEist? Given the choices available, any answer to this is going to be simplistic, but what all three disciplines demand from students is intellectual curiosity, sharp analytical thinking, a willingness to work out what is in the box and then think outside it – and a passion for argument and discussion. Because these are the characteristics we look for in students, we are less concerned about the subjects applicants take in their advanced work in school.

Oriel PPE graduates include a Nobel Prize winner in Economics, a Chancellor of the Exchequer, and a Secretary General of the TUC, but they also include academics, journalists, broadcasters, financial analysts, lawyers, accountants, politicians, political activists, business professionals, and those in a wide range of other careers. What employers value in PPE graduates is their capacity to absorb and process information and to come up with a series of arguments about how one should understand a situation. They regard this as a hugely valuable set of skills.

Although a background in Mathematics is not required for admission, PPE applicants 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.

You may like to consider taking Maths to AS-level, or an equivalent qualification such as IB Standard Level, even if you do not pursue it further. It is useful to have learnt the basics of differentiation before starting your university course in PPE.

Further Reading

Those interested in applying for PPE who wish to do some further reading on the subject can find a reading list here with titles recommended by our Tutors (this list is the one given to incoming Freshers for summer reading).

Admission Criteria

Conditional offers: normally AAA at A-level (or equivalent). Applicants are not required to submit written work. All candidates must take the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) in early November, normally at their own schools or colleges. Separate registration for this test is required and prospective applicants should refer to the test website for further information.

Number of places



Faculty of Philosophy

Department of Politics and International Relations

Department of Economics

Teaching Staff

Organising Tutor
Dr Luca Castagnoli

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Clarendon Fellow in Ancient Greek Philosophy | Tutor in Philosophy & Classics

Organising Tutor
Dr Oliver Pooley

Fellow & Tutor in Philosophy

Organising Tutor
Professor Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra

Colin Prestige Fellow & Tutor in Philosophy | Senior Tutor

Organising Tutor
Professor Teresa Bejan

Professor of Political Theory | Fellow in Politics

Dr Christopher Bowdler

Macpherson Fellow | Tutor in Economics

Dr Richard Coggins

College Lecturer in Politics

Dr Eloise Davies

Departmental Lecturer in Political Theory and Tutor in Politics

Dr Emily Qureshi-Hurst

College Lecturer in Philosophy

Dr Arhat Virdi

College Lecturer in Economics


Classics (Literae Humaniores)

Number of places 6 for Literae Humaniores (Classics), Classics, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Classical Archaeology and Ancient History. There are additionally 1 place for Classics and English and 1 (usually) for Classics and Modern Languages. Admission Criteria All candidates must take the Classics Admissions Test (CAT). Candidates will also be asked to submit two pieces of written work in English. The standard offer is AAA at A Level or equivalent. More information can be found on the Classics Faculty website.

Computer Science and Philosophy

Admission Criteria Candidates sit a written Mathematics test in schools before being shortlisted for interview. Conditional offers: usually A*AA at A-level (or equivalent), including Mathematics and Further Mathematics if taken, with the A* in Mathematics, Further Mathematics or Computing/Computer Science.

History and Politics

Number of places Usually 1 Admission Criteria Short-listing by History Aptitude Test and GCSE results (contextualized by school performance data). Admission by written work, interviews, and AAA at A-level or equivalent. There are no required subjects, and we consider applicants who do not have A-level History.

Mathematics and Philosophy

Number of places 1 or 2 Admission Criteria A-levels or equivalent: A*A*A with the A*s in Mathematics and Further Mathematics (if taken).

Philosophy (Joint Honours)

Admission Criteria The admissions criteria for each course involving philosophy can be found on the dedicated course page. For all courses, applicants invited to interview will be given a philosophy interview, or an interview with a philosophy component. At interview, we will not test whether you are already familiar with philosophical texts or arguments. Instead we are interested in your aptitude and potential for precise analytical thought, and in whether you enjoy abstract reasoning.

Philosophy and Modern Languages

Number of places 1 or 2, taken from the Modern Languages quota of 9 Admission Criteria All candidates must take the Modern Languages Admissions Tests (MLAT), normally at their own school or college, in November, in addition to the written work specified on the university's website. Separate registration for this test is required and it is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that they are registered for this test. Candidates will need to take two sections of the MLAT: one for their chosen language, and one for Philosophy. Conditional offers: AAA at A-level (or equivalent), with A grades required for any language to be studied (except ab initio languages).

Philosophy and Theology

Number of places 3 or 4 Admission Criteria Typical offer: AAA at A-level (or equivalent). Candidates are required to submit one piece of written work for Theology (no work is required for Philosophy). Applicants should also complete the Philosophy admissions test, which is usually taken in November each year.

Physics and Philosophy

Number of places 2 Admission Criteria Typical offers: A*AA at A-Level (or equivalent) including A*, A in Physics and Maths. Applying for Physics and Philosophy, rather than for Physics, will not reduce your chance of admission. Applicants for both degrees are considered as a gathered field and applicants to Oriel for Physics and Philosophy are automatically considered for a place to read straight Physics. All applicants must take the Physics Aptitude Test (PAT) in school or at a test centre in early November.  

Theology and Religion

Number of places 2 or 3 Admission Criteria Typical offer: AAA at A-level (or equivalent). Candidates for places in the Single Honours School of Theology are not required to have backgrounds in particular subjects. Candidates are required to submit one piece of written work.  

What next?

Applying to Oriel

Fees and funding

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