Social Sciences

Table of Contents


Politics, Economics and Philosophy - PPE


Christ Church Library, Bodleian, Social Sciences Library (Manor Road), Philosophy and Theology Faculty Library (Woodstock Road).  

Course Structure:

The first year is designed to give you a foundation in Politics, Economics and Philosophy, through your participation three compulsory papers: Introduction to Philosophy, Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Politics, and Introductory Economics.

In Philosophy you have to answer at least one question from each of the three sections into which the paper is divided: that is, Logic, General Philosophy, and Moral Philosophy. In Politics, you are required to answer questions both on the empirical practice of Politics and Political Theory. The Economics paper has a range of questions covering Microeconomics, Macroeconomics and Quantitative Methods, and students are required to answer at least one question from each of those three areas.

After the first year the choices are greater. First you must decide whether to select two branches from Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, which will make you ‘bipartite’, or to keep going with the third as well, making you ‘tripartite’.

You will nearly always have more than one tutorial a week, but you won’t be expected to write more than twelve tutorial essays a term. In your tutorial, you will discuss the set reading (or a variant if the reading was very difficult to locate) and a set piece of written work.


  • Plato Stanford: This is Sandford’s resource on philosophy (and political theory) and has many articles about different topics and philosophers. The content is written by academics and it may be useful to look at this before you write your essay, to give you an initial overview of the topic!
  • As part of the course, you are expected to develop your numerical, statistical and computing skills. In economics, you will have a Quantitative Methods paper and in Politics, you will have a quantitative methods component in your first year where you will learn more about data manipulation, data handling and data analysis. In your first year, data labs will be a core part of your course. The labs will introduce you to statistical software like STATA and R.

Planning and writing:

  • Give yourself a few days to write your essays- there is always a lot of searching, reading, thinking and writing involved to meet the demands of a tutorial.
  • Read attentively- click the link here to learn more about active reading.
  • Be realistic about how much you can do in a few days and plan your essay accordingly- you might have an elaborate structure, for example, that looks good on paper but think about whether you will be able to meet your deadline
  • Expressing an argument is the main purpose of your essay, so make sure you are organising your thoughts in a logical way
  • In tutorials, you will develop your ideas by sharing them with other students, so use the tutorial as an opportunity to test ideas, develop your own arguments and think through more difficult or tricky topics
  • Click this link to learn more about key study skills you will be using as part of the PPE course:
  • Click this link to learn more about how to write a Philosophy essay