Philosophy, Politics and Economics

European Parliament facade in Strasbourg, France

PPE allows students to combine various conceptual tools from the academic disciplines of Philosophy, Politics and Economics to understand how the world works – or doesn’t!

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).

Admissions criteria

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 / colleges. Separate registration for this test is required and prospective applicants should refer to the test website for further information.

Conditional offers: normally AAA at A-level (or equivalent).


For more information contact the admissions office:

Telephone: +44 (0)1865 276522