The Radcliffe Camera viewed from Exeter College gardens
The Radcliffe Camera viewed from Exeter College gardens

Foundation Year in PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics)

UCAS codeL0VFDuration4 years (BA)
Entrance requirements


Subject requirements  Maths 
Application deadline31 January 2024


Written Work

March 2024

You may be asked to submit a piece of written work

Admissions statistics

Places for Astrophoria Foundation Year: Up to 50

Places for PPE Foundation: Up to 8


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

About the course

Are you a student from the UK interested in studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)? Have your personal or educational circumstances meant you are unlikely to achieve the grades typically required for Oxford courses? If so, then choosing to apply for PPE with a Foundation Year might be the course for you. 

The Astrophoria Foundation Year is completely free for students. It is designed to be a one-year intensive academic course which will bridge any gaps between school and our academically challenging undergraduate courses.

The programme is carefully designed to build and develop your study skills, subject knowledge and academic confidence. Students that pass the course will be awarded a nationally recognised Certificate in Higher Education (CertHE) qualification.

If you pass the course at the required level, you will be automatically admitted into Oxford as an undergraduate student if you wish to be, without the need to re-apply.

The Foundation Year in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) course is designed to offer students an introduction to the three courses of Philosophy, Politics and Economics. You will take a 'Foundations in PPE' module, two modules in each of the constituent subjects and a mathematics for PPE module that runs throughout the three terms.

The course will build fundamental writing, reasoning, critical thinking, critical discussion, and communication skills. With a carefully curated syllabus, you will be guided through problems and arguments and given the opportunity to deploy the concepts and skills you have learned.

Alongside your academic subject programme, students will complete the Preparation for Undergraduate Studies course. This will help you to develop the core skills that will enable you to thrive at undergraduate level, whether at Oxford or another university.

These modules will provide support in:

  • general academic skills and academic writing
  • communication skills to build verbal discussion alongside written discussion
  • and broader personal development through a society and culture course and academic mentoring.

Visit the Astrophoria Foundation Year website for further insights into this course and the programme.

Visit the course page for PPE to find out more about the undergraduate course you'll study after your foundation year.

A typical week

During your foundation year you will be expected to attend around five hours of classes per week, participate in regular meetings with tutors to discuss work, carry out independent research and you are likely to write at least one essay every two weeks.

Your time will be spent both on academic work for your PPE programme and work related to the Preparation for Undergraduate Studies course. In each term you will study two of the constituent subjects of PPE (Philosophy, Politics, Economics) as well as a mathematics for PPE module. Each module should deepen your subject interest and build your skills in independent study.

Tutorials are usually for around two students and a tutor. Classes are slightly bigger, and class sizes may vary depending on the modules you are taking. There are likely to be around four students in a class, however when the whole PPE cohort is together, this may include up to 8 students. Lectures are a larger format again, and are likely to be delivered to the foundation year cohort (up to 50 students) as a whole.

Most tutorials, classes, and lectures are delivered by staff who are tutors in their subject. Some teaching may also be delivered by postgraduate students.

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

Course structure

Term 1



Four courses are taken:

  • Foundations in PPE
  • Economics: Economic development, inequality and the environment
  • Philosophy: Introduction to philosophical analysis
  • Mathematics for PPE

Coursework: four essays

Examination: Written papers

Term 2



Three courses are taken:

  • Politics: Theory of politics
  • Economics: Economics of society and public policy
  • Mathematics for PPE

Examination: Written papers

Coursework: Portfolio of submitted essays

Term 3



Three courses are taken:                                                          

  • Philosophy: Problems of philosophy
  • Politics: Practice of politics
  • Mathematics for PPE

Examination: Written papers

Coursework: Portfolio of submitted essays

Academic requirements



Advanced Highers:


International Baccalaureate (IB):

35 (including core points) with 555 at Higher Level


BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma: MMM

BTEC Level 3 National Diploma: MM plus B at A level.

BTEC Level 3 National Subsidiary Diploma: M plus BB at A level.

Access to HE Diploma:

Completion of Access to Higher Education (HE) Diploma with all the level 3 credits taken at Merit, and B grades in any A levels taken.

Any other equivalent qualification:

 View information on other UK qualifications, and international qualifications.

Wherever possible, your grades are considered in the context in which they have been achieved.

Read further information on how we use contextual data.

Please note that if you meet the academic entry requirements for the undergraduate course at Oxford in your chosen subject, then we strongly recommend that you apply for the undergraduate course instead of the foundation year.

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.*


You may apply for PPE with Foundation Year 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, it is recommended, and PPE with Foundation Year 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 and Philosophy components of the course, and for understanding theories and data in Politics. 


All candidates for the foundation year must apply via UCAS. The deadline for applications for the foundation year is in January 2024.

Please note this is different from the undergraduate course deadline of 16 October. The following  information gives specific details for students applying for this course.

Written work

Candidates may be required to submit a recent example of writing. Normally we’d prefer to read an analytical discussion of a topic or topics related to the subject you wish to study.

Further details on this will be provided before applications for 2024 entry open in September 2023.

Admissions steps




Check you are on track to meet the academic entry requirements above

September 2023

Check you are eligible to apply

Jan 2024

Submit your UCAS application - apply for your chosen degree course with a foundation year (e.g. PPE with Foundation Year)

February 2024

Submit the Foundation Year Additional Application Questionnaire (FYAAQ)

March 2024

Shortlisted applicants will be invited for interview

April 2024

Offers sent to candidates

May 2024

Respond to offers

Eligibility criteria

Offers for Oxford's Astrophoria Foundation Year courses are awarded on academic suitability, and applicants must also meet the eligibility criteria relating to socio-economic and educational disadvantage.

The foundation year is designed to address the education attainment gap associated with factors relating to socio-economic and educational disadvantage experienced by eligible applicants.

The Astrophoria Foundation Year will make academic offers specific to this one year of intensive study, and the offers will take into account the educational disruption experienced by these students. The courses aim to provide a year of academic study that will help support successful students transition to their chosen undergraduate course.

Currently the programme is open to UK state school students who are ordinarily resident in the UK (home fees status) and meet the academic and eligibility criteria.

Evidence of meeting the eligibility criteria is required during the application process and can be supplied by applicants via the Foundation Year Additional Application Questionnaire. This will be accessible through the foundation year webpages in due course. There will also be a full guide to assist in the completion of the questionnaire.

Checking your eligibility

Applicants should be a state school educated student who is ordinarily resident in the UK (with home fees status) and would usually:

  • meet either the criteria outlined in categories 1,2 and 3
  • or meet the criterion of category 4

Category 1: Socio-Economic indicators

You must meet at least one of the criteria in Category 1.

  • Your home postcode (where you live the majority of the time) should fall into POLAR4 Quintile 1
  • Your home postcode (where you live the majority of the time) should fall into ACORN category 4 or 5
  • Being eligible for Free School Meals (FSM) at any point in the last six years (also known as Ever 6 FSM)

Category 2: School/College Characteristics

You must meet the criterion in Category 2.

  • You will have attended, normally for all compulsory education (usually between the ages of 11-18), non-selective state-funded UK secondary schools/colleges.

Category 3: Individual experience

You must meet at least one of the criteria in Category 3.

A verified individual level measure of socio-economic disadvantaged background and/or experienced a disrupted education which may include:

  • being eligible for FSM any point in the last six years (also known as Ever 6 FSM)
  • having refugee status or humanitarian protection
  • being a child in need
  • having care responsibilities for a sustained period of time
  • being pregnant or having parental responsibilities whilst in education
  • having a medical or health issue that has resulted in long absences from school or college (more than six months)
  • being from a Gypsy, Traveller, Roma, Showman or Boater background
  • being a child of a military family
  • being a service leaver or veteran
  • being from a household with an income of less than £25,000
  • experiencing bereavement of a close family member during secondary education
  • being an estranged student
  • becoming homeless whilst in education
  • having experienced time out of secondary school or college education (over one year)
  • having a late diagnosis of Special Educational Needs (within the past two years).

Category 4: Care Experience

If you meet this criterion in category 4 you are automatically eligible.

  • You have spent any length of time in local authority care and have been at UK state schools

State educated applicants with experience of being in care are automatically eligible. You do not need to meet the criteria in categories 1, 2 or 3, but you may wish to provide us with information in those other categories so that we have a comprehensive understanding of your educational experiences.

Further details

View the 2024 Eligibility Guide for Applicants for further details about the eligibility criteria for 2024 entry and how it is verified.

Fees and Funding for the Foundation Year

Our Foundation Year courses are free of charge and there are no course fees. All tuition and accommodation are provided free of charge. Students admitted to the Foundation Year courses will also receive a bursary for other living costs.

Fees and Funding for your undergraduate course

If you continue to study at Oxford by progressing to a degree course you will need to pay the course fees and cover your living costs. Visit your undergraduate course pages or the fees and funding webpages for more information about undergraduate fees and funding.

The bursary will mean that you do not need to take out student finance for the Foundation Year, but if you do continue to an undergraduate degree course you may need to apply for student finance. 

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 foundation year and 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.
  • Astrophoria Foundation Year students are currently allocated to a college. They do not apply for a specific one.