Philosophy, Politics and Economics

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Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) is a popular interdisciplinary undergraduate/post-graduate degree which combines study from three disciplines.

The first institution to offer degrees in PPE was the University of Oxford[when?] and this particular course has produced a significant number of notable graduates such as Christopher Hitchens, the British–American author, philosopher, polemicist, debater, and journalist;[1] David Cameron, the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Ed Miliband, the former Leader of the Opposition; and Tony Abbott, the former Prime Minister of Australia.[2]

In the 1980s, the University of York went on to establish its own PPE degree based upon the Oxford model; the University of Warwick, the University of Manchester, and other British universities later followed. According to the BBC, the Oxford PPE "dominate[s] public life" (in the UK).[3] It is now offered at several other leading colleges and universities around the world.

History

Philosophy, Politics and Economics was established as a degree course at the University of Oxford in the 1920s,[4] as a modern alternative to classics (known as "literae humaniores" or "greats" at Oxford) because it was thought that a course in philosophy and ancient history was no longer relevant for those entering the civil service. It was thus initially known as "modern greats".[3][5] The regulation by which it was established is Statt. Tit. VI. Sect. 1 C; "the subject of the Honour School of Philosophy, Politics, and Economics shall be the study of the structure, and the philosophical and economic principles, of Modern Society."[6]

Christopher Stray has pointed to the course as one reason for the gradual decline of the study of classics, as classicists in political life began to be edged out by those who had studied the modern greats.[7]

Dario Castiglione and Iain Hampsher-Monk have described the course as being fundamental to the development of political thought in the UK, since it established a connection between politics and philosophy. Previously at Oxford, and for some time subsequently at Cambridge, politics had been taught only as a branch of modern history.[8]

Course material

The programme is rooted in the view that to understand social phenomena one must approach them from several complementary disciplinary directions and analytical frameworks. In this regard, the study of philosophy is considered important because it both equips students with meta-tools such as the ability to reason rigorously and logically, and facilitates ethical reflection. The study of politics is considered necessary because it acquaints students with the institutions that govern society and help solve collective action problems. Finally, studying economics is seen as vital in the modern world because political decisions often concern economic matters, and government decisions are often influenced by economic events. The vast majority of students at Oxford drop one of the three subjects for the second and third years of their course. Oxford now has more than 600 undergraduates studying the subject, admitting over 200 each year.[9]

Academic opinions

Oxford PPE graduate Nick Cohen and former tutor Iain McLean consider the course's breadth important to its appeal, especially "because British society values generalists over specialists".

Geoffrey Evans, an Oxford fellow in politics and a senior tutor, critiques that the Oxford course's success and consequent over-demand is a self-perpetuating feature of those in front of and behind the scenes in national administration, in stating "all in all, it's how the class system works". In the current economic system he bemoans the unavoidable inequalities besetting admissions and thereby enviable recruitment prospects of successful graduates. The argument itself intended as a paternalistic ethical reflection on how governments and peoples can perpetuate social stratification.[3]

List of universities offering PPE

United Kingdom

Ireland

Canada

United States

South Africa, Nigeria, Australia and New Zealand

Continental Europe

Middle East and Asia

South America

See also

References

  1. 'Hitchens, Christopher Eric', Who's Who; 2012, A & C Black, 2012; online edn, Oxford University Press, December 2012 ; online edn, January 2012 accessed 5 December 2014
  2. Kenny, Mark (November 25, 2013). "Tony Abbott's Oxford transcript released". Sydney Morning Herald.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Kelly, Jon (2010-08-31). "Why does PPE rule Britain?". BBC News. Retrieved 2010-09-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. [1] "Balliol was the birthplace of the modern degree of PPE in the 1920s. A. D. Lindsay, who subsequently became the master of the college, played a key role in the establishment of the degree and Balliol has long remained a major college for the study of PPE, and PPE has long been a major subject within Balliol."
  5. "History of Philosophy at Oxford – Faculty of Philosophy". Philosophy.ox.ac.uk. 2009-11-19. Retrieved 2010-06-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. University of Oxford (1926) The Examination Statutes. together with the regulations of the boards of studies and boards of faculties for the academical year 1926-1927. Oxford: Clarendon Press; pp. 149=54
  7. Christopher Stray, Classics Transformed: Schools, Universities, and Society in England, 1830–1960. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998. Pp. xiv, 336. ISBN 0-19-815013-X.
  8. Dario Castiglione and Iain Hampsher-Monk, The History of Political Thought in National Context. Cambridge University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-521-78234-1
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External links