How To Prepare
See below for reading suggestions, advice on preparing for the TSA, and guidance on writing a PPE personal statement. For advice on which subjects to take at A-Level or equivalent, refer to the admissions requirements table and the course webpage (admissions requirements tab) on the University website.
Applicants are not expected to have studied any philosophy, politics, or economics at school, but should be interested in the three subjects and be prepared to put their minds to problems of philosophy, politics, and economics presented to them. We recommend that applicants read widely around the three subjects to help prepare for applying. PPE tutors will look for commitment and motivation to the course, as well as evidence of academic potential. They will want to know that a student has really engaged with the three subjects and has a passion for studying them. We also recommend that applicants obtain a reasonable grasp of the workings of the social and political world in which we live. Reading a good quality daily newspaper is crucial to a successful application, along with watching and listening to news and current affairs programmes. Below are some useful introductory texts for the three PPE disciplines.
- Thomas Nagel, What does it all mean?
- Jennifer Nagel, Knowledge: A Very Short Introduction
- Further reading suggestions are in the undergraduate FAQs section of the Philosophy Faculty website.
- Jonathan Wolff, An Introduction to Political Philosophy
- Various authors, Developments in British (French, German, East European etc.) Politics
- Adrian Leftwich, What is Politics?
- Paul Krugman’s books
- Tim Harford's books
- Further suggestions are on the PPE course page (reading suggestions tab) of the Economics Department website.
The TSA is a test of verbal, spatial and numerical reasoning, and also asks you to write an essay in order to demonstrate that you can construct a cogent and clear argument. Whilst no particular knowledge assumed, it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the format of the test and try to do some practice. Further information about how to prepare for the test is in the TSA section of the University website.
Personal statements should show evidence of interest in PPE but not necessarily knowledge of the three subjects. PPE applicants are not required to have studied politics, economics or philosophy at school, and so we do not expect you to know about these subjects before applying. We would like to see interest in one or two of the three subjects and evidence of engagement with those, e.g. through extra-curricular reading. If it appears from your personal statement that you are applying for different but related courses elsewhere, this would not disadvantage your application. We are also pleased to see evidence of hard work, time management and persistence in learning (in any area). The personal statement is just one part of the overall picture, and for PPE applicants is of lower importance in shortlisting decisions compared to your TSA result, your qualifications, and the academic reference.