Student and Tutor Profiles
Sam, Somerville College
I came from a school that didn't even know what PPE was, but as soon as I heard about it I knew it was what I wanted to do. The best thing about PPE is that you can really make it your own. You are not really picking your course when you apply; the modules you choose means that no two people's degrees are ever the same! I personally chose to study PPE because I loved the interdisciplinary aspect of it – very few degrees give you the opportunity to study three subjects, let alone ones which are effectively the foundations of modern society. I often say that you would always be busy at Oxford, even without a degree to do! I have only been here six weeks, but have already seen some incredible speakers (Nigel Lawson, Tim Harford, Billy Joel), acted in a drama competition, stood for JCR elections and led workshops and tours for Oxford's extensive access programme. I would highly recommend applying to Oxford (and of course Somerville) for PPE, as here you will encounter some of the best tutors, most interesting work and nicest friends.
Blessing, Corpus Christi College
It sounds a bit embarrassing saying it, but PPE was the only course I ever really wanted to study. I was attracted by all the choice it could offer me. I wasn't too interested in the traditional subjects I'd done at school; I just wanted to sit around talking about current affairs: What does the Labour party really mean when it says x, y, or z? Why is China such a big deal now? Why are far-right parties making a come-back all of a sudden? Why is there so much political violence in Latin America? I haven't been disappointed studying PPE at Oxford. In my second year, I remember excitedly pouring over course options with friends, expressing nerdy excitement about getting the chance to study the Politics of China, Latin America, and Sub-Saharan Africa. I've really enjoyed all the papers I'd chosen to do, and I've loved the fact that I had the ability to skew my degree towards Politics and developing regions.
Victor, St Peter's College
My decision to study PPE was influenced not only by the remarkable reputation of the course but also because it manages to combine qualitative as well as quantitative approaches into a truly interdisciplinary degree. I had a passion for Philosophy since high school and also enjoyed Politics, however Economics was something new and I wanted to give it a try. Being an international student and not having prior academic experience in any of the subjects made me think that it would be very hard at the beginning. Although it definitely wasn't easy, it was interesting, stimulating and very rewarding. Besides that, the learning curve is steep and you also get the opportunity to experience your degree hands on through the different events organised by student run societies like the PPE Society or the Oxford Union. I am very confident that the challenges and opportunities encountered whilst studying PPE will be of great help to my future career, be it consulting, foreign affairs or academia.
Sandy, Corpus Christi College
I was so interested in the content of the PPE course that I decided to apply despite my lack of Maths A-level. I couldn't be happier about that decision. The workload is tough but extremely rewarding, and the tutors choose students who they think will work well together so you end up with a huge support network to help you through any hurdles you may encounter. The welfare system both in college and at a uni-wide level is impressively strong, and if you're ever struggling with academic work the tutors are friendly and understanding. Whilst many of the stories about Oxford make it seem daunting, the colleges and societies make it an extremely friendly and comfortable place to live and study. One of the most important things to learn in Oxford is how to manage your time efficiently in order to get a good balance between your studies, your social life, and your relaxation time. I'm running in the Corpus Christi JCR elections as Equal Opportunities Officer, and am a member of both the Spectrum and the Union society, giving me access to a wide range of exciting and interesting speakers and debates. PPE at Oxford has opened the door to so many opportunities for me. I'd recommend that anybody who's interested should definitely apply.
Sian, The Queen's College
I've always been a bit indecisive and so studying PPE has provided the perfect solution for me, allowing me to combine my two favourite A-level subjects with an interest I had gained in Economics through wider reading. Despite the hard work and challenging environment Oxford provided, I've not once regretted the decision and am especially enjoying being able to choose my own modules and study the issues I care most about this year. Beyond my studies, I've been able to make the most of the opportunities in Oxford through getting involved in local volunteering and the Oxford Union (where I've been able to shake hands with the Afghan President and discuss linguistics with Peter Singer) as well as a start-up company based in Oxford. I also spent the summer doing a paid internship in Singapore organized by the careers service as well as bringing my study of International Relations to life through a trip volunteering in Bosnia with other Oxford students. The only problem now is that I don't really want to leave!
Youlin, Somerville College
I come from Shanghai, China and had spent all my previous life in China. I was a science student in my high school, and have not had formal studies in any of the three subjects before coming to Oxford. I am attracted to the study of PPE because of its breadth of study and interdisciplinary nature. Also, interested in the public policies of China, I believe that each of the subjects is vital in forming a critical and impartial view on public policy analysis.As an international student, I believe that the support system in Oxford is superb. I was struggling with essay writing in the first term of my studies, but the tutors were quick to pinpoint my problems and provide concrete advice for me to hone my essay writing skills. As anyone would testify the tutorial system affords a nice opportunity for PPEists to debate and view issues critically. Outside studies, I was Vice President of Oxford University Chinese Society, started up a charity eShine, and organised Oxford China Forum. After Oxford, I am thinking of going to U.S. law schools for Juris Doctor studies. PPE basically opens up any kind of opportunity, and the skills you gain from a PPE course will be helpful to whatever career you want to pursue in the future.
Rebecca, St Hugh's College
I chose to study PPE because I've never been good at narrowing myself down to one subject area. Before coming to Oxford I studied a mix of sciences, arts and humanities, and I was keen to continue to study a wide range of disciplines using a variety of different methods. The list of options once you reach second year is huge, and this is a good demonstration of how the university trusts and supports you in moulding the degree into what you want it to be. Initially this seemed a little daunting, as choosing what areas to focus my reading on, and being entirely in charge of my work timetable took some time to get used to. But, since Oxford terms are very intense, it didn't take me long to get settled in, and quickly I started to appreciate the freedom the course offers, as it let me always focus on my interests. Discussing these with some of the world's leading academics has been incredibly stimulating, and I really do feel like I'm learning depth as well as breadth. Whilst studying here I have taken part in college rowing and netball, and joined a student think-tank researching policy, with people who are also passionate about similar topics to me - for example this term we are researching policy regarding human trafficking. There is so much to get involved with here, as there is such a wealth of opportunities - in two weeks I will even be going to Hamburg for an international PPE conference, which is very exciting!
Siew, St Catherine's College
My home, Malaysia and her neighbours, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and others, had taught me that development is not something to be taken for granted. I have always been passionate to advocate for better development for those who need it most – those under the poverty line in an underdeveloped country. However, I realised that understanding development requires me to understand the philosophy that our society rests on, the intertwined political structures and the overriding economic concepts. Hence, this is why I believe that PPE is what's right for me. Now that I am here in Oxford, I have been taking advantage of the exciting speaker events and debates organised by the Oxford Debating Union, especially listening to President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan. Apart from that, realising how fortunate I am to be here in Oxford, I have also been involved in the Oxford Pathways Access Programmes to help bright young minds know more about Oxford and their future options. In the future, I hope to work in international development organisations to advocate for more holistic development in underdeveloped countries.
Further Student Profiles
Anita Avramides, Philosophy Tutor, St Hilda's College
Studying PPE is a terrific way to approach philosophy. In the first year you study moral philosophy, with an emphasis on Utilitarianism. In the second and third years you can choose from a huge range of options. You can choose to complement your courses in politics and economics – or you can choose to indulge your intellectual curiosity in philosophy and study anything from Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics to the Later Philosophy of Wittgenstein. The tutorial system gives you the opportunity to develop your ideas in collaboration with your peers, and your tutors.
Chris Bowdler, Economics Tutor, Oriel College
I give undergraduate lectures for the core second year course Macroeconomics and the optional third year course Money and Banking. I also give tutorials for those courses, as well as for the courses Introductory Economics and Quantitative Economics. Each of these courses incorporates a strong focus on real world events and in particular the problems facing policy-makers, whether they be how best central banks can stimulate private sector demand at the interest rate lower bound, or how governments can stabilise the national debt without undermining economic performance. PPE students excel in the exploration of these problems in Economics given their keen interest in current affairs. I also find that, given their training in Philosophy and Politics, PPE students are relentless in their questioning of conventional thinking on macroeconomic policy problems, and this certainly makes for fascinating and in depth discussions that I greatly enjoy. The tutorial system provides the perfect platform for debate concerning these issues because it allows students to set the agenda through introducing the material that they find most relevant.
Lesley Smith, Politics Tutor, Harris Manchester College
One of the best things about the PPE degree is the range and quality of the students it attracts to Oxford. The opportunity to combine the three subjects brings us interesting applicants from all over the world. Their wide interests and variety of backgrounds help make the course what it is. Last year, for instance, I gave a tutorial on nationalism to three students from three different continents: we all learned from one another! After the first year, when everyone does all three subjects, students can choose from a fantastic list of optional papers, so no two people end up with exactly the same PPE degree.
Further Tutor Profiles
Further profiles can be found on college websites.