Philosophy, Politics and Economics
The first institution to offer degrees in PPE was the University of Oxford in the 1920s. This particular course has produced a significant number of notable graduates such as Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States (who left before completing his degree); Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese politician, State Counsellor of Myanmar, Nobel Peace Prize winner; Christopher Hitchens, the British–American author, polemicist, debater, and journalist; Harold Wilson, Edward Heath and David Cameron, former Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom; Hugh Gaitskell and Ed Miliband, former Leaders of the Opposition; William Hague, the former Leader of the Opposition and former Foreign Secretary; Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister of Pakistan; and Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke and Tony Abbott, former Prime Ministers of Australia.
In the 1980s, the University of York went on to establish its own PPE degree based upon the Oxford model; King's College London, 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). It is now offered at several other leading colleges and universities around the world.
- 1 History
- 2 Course material
- 3 Academic opinions
- 4 List of offering universities
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Philosophy, Politics and Economics was established as a degree course at the University of Oxford in the 1920s, as a modern alternative to classics (known as "literae humaniores" or "greats" at Oxford) because it was thought as a more modern alternative for those entering the civil service. It was thus initially known as "modern greats". The first PPE students commenced their course in the autumn of 1921. 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." Initially it was compulsory to study all three subjects for all three years of the course, but in 1970 this requirement was relaxed, and since then students have been able to drop one subject after the first year – most do this, but a minority continue with all three.
During the 1960s some students started to critique the course from a left-wing perspective, culminating in the publication of a pamphlet, The Poverty of PPE, in 1968, written by Trevor Pateman, who argued that it "gives no training in scholarship, only refining to a high degree of perfection the ability to write short dilettantish essays on the basis of very little knowledge: ideal training for the social engineer". The pamphlet advocated incorporating the study of sociology, anthropology and art, and to take on the aim of "assist(ing) the radicalisation and mobilisation of political opinion outside the university". In response, some minor changes were made, with influential leftist writers such as Frantz Fanon and Régis Debray being added to politics reading lists, but the core of the programme remained the same.
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.
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.
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.
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". Academic and Labour peer Maurice Glasman noted that "PPE combines the status of an elite university degree – PPE is the ultimate form of being good at school – with the stamp of a vocational course. It is perfect training for cabinet membership, and it gives you a view of life". However he also noted that it had an orientation towards consensus politics and technocracy.
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.
Stewart Wood, a former adviser to Ed Miliband who studied PPE at Oxford in the 1980s and taught politics there in the 1990s and 2000s, acknowledged that the programme has been slow to catch up with contemporary political developments, saying that "it does still feel like a course for people who are going to run the Raj in 1936... In the politics part of PPE, you can go three years without discussing a single contemporary public policy issue". He also stated that the structure of the course gave it a centrist bias, due to the range of material covered: "...most students think, mistakenly, that the only way to do it justice is to take a centre position".
List of offering universities
- Durham University
- Goldsmiths, University of London
- Keele University
- King's College London 
- Kingston University
- Lancaster University
- London School of Economics
- The Open University
- Queen's University Belfast
- Royal Holloway, University of London
- Swansea University
- University College London
- University of East Anglia
- University of Essex
- University of Exeter
- University of Hull
- University of Leeds
- University of Manchester
- University of Oxford
- University of Reading
- University of Stirling
- University of Sussex
- University of Warwick
- University of Winchester
- University of York
- National University of Ireland, Maynooth
- University of Dublin (under the designation PPES with sociology)
- Mount Allison University
- University of British Columbia Okanagan
- University of Regina
- University of Western Ontario
- Wilfrid Laurier University
- Carroll University
- Carnegie Mellon University (under the designation "ethics, history, and public policy")
- Claremont McKenna College
- Criswell College
- Denison University
- Duke University (certificate)
- Eastern Oregon University
- Emory & Henry College
- George Mason University
- Juniata College
- The King's College (New York)
- La Salle University (as Political Science, Philosophy, and Economics)
- Mercer University
- Minnesota State University, Mankato
- Murphy Institute (Tulane University, under the designation "political economy")
- Northeastern University
- Pomona College
- Rutgers University, New Brunswick
- Suffolk University
- Transylvania University
- University of Alabama at Birmingham
- University of Akron
- University of Arizona (under the designation "PPEL" - with law)
- University of Iowa (under the designation "ethics and public policy")
- The University of Michigan (honors program)
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (minor)
- University of Notre Dame (minor)
- University of Pennsylvania
- University of Pittsburgh
- University of Richmond (under the designation "PPEL" - with law)
- Taylor University
- University of Virginia (under the designation "PPL" - replacing economics with law)
- University of Washington Tacoma
- Virginia Tech
- Wesleyan University
- Western Washington University
- Wheeling Jesuit University (under the designation "political and economic philosophy")
- Xavier University (under the designation "Philosophy, Politics, and the Public", abbreviated "PPP")
- Yale University (under the designation "ethics, politics and economics", abbreviated "EP&E")
South Africa and Nigeria
- Stellenbosch University
- Obafemi Awolowo University
- University of Cape Town
- University of KwaZulu-Natal
- University of South Africa
- University of Johannesburg
- University of Otago
- University of Witwatersrand 
- Afe Babalola University
- University of Pretoria
Australia and New Zealand
- Australian National University
- University of Queensland
- University of Technology, Sydney
- University of Wollongong
- La Trobe University
- University of Otago
- American University of Paris
- Institutes for Political Studies also known as "Sciences Po"
- Bifröst University
- Free University of Bolzano
- Ca' Foscari University of Venice (under the designation of "Philosophy, International Studies and Economics" abbreviated "PISE")
- Charles University in Prague
- Alliance 4 Universities (Charles III University of Madrid, Autonomous University of Madrid, Autonomous University of Barcelona and Pompeu Fabra University)
- Erasmus University College
- Istanbul Bilgi University (political economy and social philosophy)
- Karlshochschule International University
- Leiden University
- Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali Guido Carli, Rome (Italy)
- Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
- Lund University
- Universitat Pompeu Fabra 
- University of Amsterdam
- University of Bayreuth
- University of Bern (under the designation of MA "political, legal and economic philosophy" abbreviated "PLEP")
- University of Zurich (under the designation of MA "economic and political philosophy")
- University of Graz (under the designation of MA "political, economic and legal philosophy" abbreviated "PELP")
- University of Hamburg (under the designation of M.Sc. "politics, economics and philosophy" abbreviated "PEP")
- University of Lucerne
- University of Milano, Italy ("Politics and economics", with a base in humanities common to the Political sciences Ba programme)
- University of Saarland, Germany
- University of Tromsø
- VU University Amsterdam
- Witten/Herdecke University (bachelor and master), Germany
- Karlshochschule International University (bachelor), Germany
- CEVRO Institute, Prague, Czech Republic
Middle East and Asia
- Sogang University, S.Korea
- Birla Institute of Technology and Science, India
- Tel Aviv University (under the designation "PPEL" - with law), Israel
- Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
- Peking University
- Renmin University of China
- Hanyang University (under the designation "PPEL" - with law), South Korea
- Rangsit University, Thailand
- Thammasat University, Thailand
- Waseda University
- Yale-NUS, Singapore
- Amity University, India
- Asian University for Women, Bangladesh
- Ashoka University, India
- Universidad Torcuato Di Tella (under the designation "Ciencia Sociales, Orientación en Política y Economía"), Argentina
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