Philosophy, Politics and Economics | University of Oxford
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Philosophy, Politics and Economics

UCAS codeL0V0Duration3 years (BA)
Entrance requirementsAAASubject requirements  Maths 
Admissions test(s) workNone
Admissions statistics*

Interviewed: 33%
Successful: 12%
Intake: 243
*3-year average 2017-19


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Email PPE Admissions

Subject requirements:       Essential       Recommended       Helpful – may be useful on course

Unistats information for this course can be found at the bottom of the page

Please note that there may be no data available if the number of course participants is very small.

PPE was born of the conviction that study of the great modern works of economic, social, political and philosophical thought would 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. The course brings together some of the most important approaches to understanding the world around us, developing skills useful for a wide range of careers and activities.

PPE is a highly flexible degree which allows you to shape your own path through it: you may choose to specialise in two branches at the end of the first year, or continue with all three. You can also explore a wide variety of disciplines under the overarching headings of Philosophy, Politics, and Economics - for example, you can specialise in Sociology or International Relations by choosing the relevant Politics options

Studying philosophy develops analytical, critical and logical rigour, enabling you to apply these skills to questions concerning how we acquire knowledge or make ethical judgements.

In turn, the study of politics provides a thorough understanding of the impact of political institutions on modern societies. It helps you to evaluate the choices that political systems must regularly make, to explain the processes that maintain or change those systems, and to examine the concepts and values used in political analysis.

Economics is the study of how consumers, firms and government make decisions that collectively determine how resources are allocated. An appreciation of economics has become increasingly necessary to make sense of governmental policy-making, the conduct of businesses and the enormous economic transformations throughout the world. All three branches of PPE at Oxford have an international reputation, supported by more than 200 renowned scholars. 

Library students socializing
“The first year course in PPE is mostly introductory courses in each of the three disciplines. This is important, as it means that it is not necessary to have studied any of the three areas before. After the first year the course is more varied, as you can choose to drop one of the three subjects (or continue with all three). There are a few core papers for each discipline, but then there is a huge choice of subjects to cater for all interests. I plan to take a variety including ethics, philosophy of religion, economics of industry and economics of developing countries to name a few.”
 “What I love best has changed over the three years of my course.  The best thing about PPE, is that you can specialise in two subjects after the first year, and that within that specialisation, there's such a wide range of courses to choose from, and so your degree can be wildly different from those of your classmates.  At first, I loved the structured logic classes, which were something 'solid' to cling to whilst grappling with economics for the first time, but over the second and third years I grew to love philosophy more and more, and so I've directed my degree more towards that.”

Philosophy, Politics and Economics

A typical week

Your weekly timetable will usually be divided between six to eight lectures and two meetings, which may be either tutorials or classes, supplemented by private study which will be mainly spent preparing essays or problem sets for tutorials and classes.

Tutorials are usually two-four students and a tutor. Class sizes may vary depending on the options you choose. Teaching in all three PPE subjects is normally done in tutorials rather than classes. Where classes do form part of the teaching for a paper, there would usually be no more than around 20 students though classes for some of the more popular papers may be up to 30 students. Most tutorials, classes, and lectures are delivered by staff who are tutors in their subject. Many are world-leading experts with years of experience in teaching and research. Some teaching may also be delivered by postgraduate students who are usually studying at doctorate level.

To find out more about how our teaching year is structured, visit our Academic Year page.

Course structure



All three branches of PPE are studied equally:
  • Philosophy
    • General philosophy
    • Moral philosophy
    • Elementary logic
  • Politics
    • The theory of politics (introductory political theory)
    • The practice of politics (introductory comparative government and politics)
    • Political analysis (introductory empirical and quantitative methods)
  • Economics
    • Microeconomics: the functioning of the market economy
    • Macroeconomics: dealing with national output and employment, exchange rates and policy issues
    • Mathematical techniques used in economics


First University examinations: three written papers


Students choose to continue with all three branches (tripartite) or concentrate on any two (bipartite), taking compulsory courses in the chosen branches along with optional courses:

  • Philosophy
    • Ethics
    • Either Early modern philosophy or Knowledge and reality or Plato’s Republic or Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics
  • Politics (any two of these)
    • Comparative government
    • British politics and government since 1900
    • Theory of politics
    • International relations
    • Political sociology
  • Economics
    • If bipartite at least one of Microeconomics, Macroeconomics and Quantitative economics
    • If tripartite, at least one of Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Quantitative economics and Development of the world economy since 1800
    • Option choices in Economics depend on having completed pre-requisite courses which are one of the courses listed above.
  • Optional courses
    • Usually more than 50 choices

Please note that the options offered may change. A full list of current options is available on the course website.


Final University examinations: eight papers, typically assessed by written examination, but in some cases by coursework. One of these eight papers may be a thesis/supervised dissertation. 

The content and format of this course may change in some circumstances. Read further information about potential course changes.

Academic requirements 

Advanced Highers:                    AA/AAB
IB: 39 (including core points) with 766 at HL                                                                          
Or any other equivalent (see other UK qualifications, and international qualifications

Wherever possible, your grades are considered in the context in which they have been achieved.  (See further information on how we use contextual data.) 

Subject requirements

 Recommended: It is recommended for candidates to have studied Mathematics to A-level, Advanced Higher, Higher Level in the IB or another equivalent.*
  Helpful: You may apply for PPE having done any combination of subjects at school; it is not necessary to have studied Politics, Philosophy or Economics. History can provide a useful background, but is not essential.

* Although a background in Mathematics is not an essential requirement 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. It is recommended to have learnt the basics of differentiation before starting your university course in PPE. Many successful applicants have studied Maths to at least AS-level, or another equivalent.

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. However, we do understand that these qualifications may not be available to all students. Extra tuition will be available to students that have not studied Maths A-Level who require any assistance. See PPE admission statistics for information on the success rates for applicants applying with different A-level subjects.

If, and only if, you have chosen to take any science A-levels, we expect you to take and pass the practical component in addition to meeting any overall grade requirement.

If English is not your first language you may also need to meet our English language requirements.

Admissions tests

Test: TSA
Test date:Thursday 5 November 2020
Registration deadline:                   6pm 15 October 2020                                                                                                    

All candidates must take the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) as part of the application. Separate registration for this test is required and it is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that they are registered. We strongly recommend making the arrangements in plenty of time before the deadline. Everything you need to know, including guidance on how to prepare, can be found on the TSA page

Written work

You do not need to submit any written work when you apply for this course.

What are tutors looking for?

Admissions tutors will want to find out if you can think clearly and analytically. They are less concerned with what you know than with how you think and use your knowledge. They will seek evidence of interest in all three subjects. For more detail on the selection criteria for this course, please see the PPE website.


The careers most commonly chosen by PPE graduates are in banking and finance, politics, journalism and broadcasting, the law, industry, teaching, social work, accountancy, business management, management consultancy, advertising and the many branches of the public services, including the Civil and Diplomatic Services and local government.

Amit was Head of Corporate Partnerships at the British Heart Foundation. He says: ‘PPE encouraged me to be inquisitive, open-minded and analytical, preparing me for a career that has spanned the private, public and charity sectors.’

Jan worked for OC&C Strategy Consultants in London. He says: ‘As a strategy consultant, I have to break down and analyse companies’ complex problems and communicate the solution clearly to the client. Preparing and discussing essays in weekly tutorials in Oxford helped develop these skills, as well as the ability to think outside the box.’

Masa was a reporter at the Financial Times. She says: ‘I found the skills I learnt reading PPE invaluable. Most importantly, the course teaches you to think in a very rigorous way. Your tutors are constantly challenging you and won’t let you get away with woolly arguments. While this can initially be difficult to get to grips with, it has been incredibly useful in my career.’

Oxford University is committed to recruiting the best and brightest students from all backgrounds. We offer a generous package of financial support to Home/Republic of Ireland students from lower-income households. (UK nationals living in the UK are usually Home students.)

Further information for EU students starting in 2021 is available here.


These annual fees are for full-time students who begin this undergraduate course here in 2021.

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home (UK, Republic of Ireland,
Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
Overseas (including EU)£28,370

For more information please refer to our course fees page. Fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s departure from the European Union.

Living costs

Living costs at Oxford might be less than you’d expect, as our world-class resources and college provision can help keep costs down.

Living costs for the academic year starting in 2021 are estimated to be between £1,175 and £1,710 for each month you are in Oxford. Our academic year is made up of three eight-week terms, so you would not usually need to be in Oxford for much more than six months of the year but may wish to budget over a nine-month period to ensure you also have sufficient funds during the holidays to meet essential costs. For further details please visit our living costs webpage.

Financial support

Home/Republic of Ireland

A tuition fee loan is available from the UK government to cover course fees in full for Home (UK) and Republic of Ireland students undertaking their first undergraduate degree*, so you don’t need to pay your course fees up front.

In 2021 Oxford is offering one of the most generous bursary packages of any UK university to UK/Republic of Ireland students with a family income of around £42,875 or less, with additional opportunities available to UK students from households with incomes of £27,500 or less. This support is available in addition to the government living costs support.  See further details.

(Channel Islands and Isle of Man)

Islands students are entitled to different support to that of students from the rest of the UK.

Please refer the links below for information on the support to you available from your funding agency:

States of Jersey
States of Guernsey
Isle of Man


Please refer to the "Other Scholarships" section of our Oxford Bursaries and Scholarships page.

*If you have studied at undergraduate level before and completed your course, you will be classed as an Equivalent or Lower Qualification student (ELQ) and won’t be eligible to receive government or Oxford funding

Fees, Funding and Scholarship search

Additional Fees and Charges Information for Philosophy, Politics and Economics

There are no compulsory costs for this course beyond the fees shown above and your living costs.

Contextual information

Course data from Discover Uni provides applicants with statistics about undergraduate life at Oxford. But there is so much more to an Oxford degree that the numbers can’t convey.

The Oxford tutorial

College tutorials are central to teaching at Oxford. Typically, they take place in your college and are led by your academic tutor(s) who teach as well as do their own research. Students will also receive teaching in a variety of other ways, depending on the course. This will include lectures and classes, and may include laboratory work and fieldwork. However, tutorials offer a level of personalised attention from academic experts unavailable at most universities.

During tutorials (normally lasting an hour), college subject tutors will give you and one or two tutorial partners feedback on prepared work and cover a topic in depth. The other student(s) in your college tutorials will be from your year group, doing the same course as you and will normally be at your college. Such regular and rigorous academic discussion develops and facilitates learning in a way that isn’t possible through lectures alone. Tutorials also allow for close progress monitoring so tutors can quickly provide additional support if necessary.

Read more about tutorials and an Oxford education

College life

Our colleges are at the heart of Oxford’s reputation as one of the best universities in the world.

  • At Oxford, everyone is a member of a college as well as their subject department(s) and the University. Students therefore have both the benefits of belonging to a large, renowned institution and to a small and friendly academic community. Each college or hall is made up of academic and support staff, and students. Colleges provide a safe, supportive environment leaving you free to focus on your studies, enjoy time with friends and make the most of the huge variety of opportunities.
  • Each college has a unique character, but generally their facilities are similar. Each one, large or small, will have the following essential facilities:
    • Porters’ lodge (a staffed entrance and reception)
    • Dining hall
    • Lending library (often open 24/7 in term time)
    • Student accommodation
    • Tutors’ teaching rooms
    • Chapel and/or music rooms
    • Laundry
    • Green spaces
    • Common room (known as the JCR).
  • All first year students are offered college accommodation either on the main site of their college or in a nearby college annexe. This means that your neighbours will also be ‘freshers’ and new to life at Oxford. This accommodation is guaranteed, so you don’t need to worry about finding somewhere to live after accepting a place here, all of this is organised for you before you arrive.
  • All colleges offer at least one further year of accommodation and some offer it for the entire duration of your degree. You may choose to take up the option to live in your college for the whole of your time at Oxford, or you might decide to arrange your own accommodation after your first year – perhaps because you want to live with friends from other colleges.
  • While college academic tutors primarily support your academic development, you can also ask their advice on other things. Lots of other college staff including welfare officers help students settle in and are available to offer guidance on practical or health matters. Current students also actively support students in earlier years, sometimes as part of a college ‘family’ or as peer supporters trained by the University’s Counselling Service.

More about Oxford colleges and how you choose