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BA Philosophy, Politics and Economics

Course code: L0V0
Location: Colchester Campus
Qualification: Bachelor of Arts
Mode of study: Full-time
Duration: 36 months
Tuition Fee: Home/EU, Overseas
Funding available: Find out using our scholarship finder Department: Government
Facebook: University of Essex
Further information: For more information, please e-mail us or see for yourself by booking a place at one of our open days.

About the course

Why do philosophical and economic ideas matter so much to politics? Why is the state of the economy so important for the outcome of elections? Why do governments try to regulate markets, and how? How should we respond to pressing global issues and trends? Economic and political events dominate domestic and international news. They have an impact upon our day-to-day lives, and they provoke people, governments, corporations, and other organisations, into shaping our future. PPE at Essex is designed to enable graduates to think critically about our responses to such events, and to tackle them soundly and confidently.

PPE covers the areas of philosophy, political science, and economics, including political theory and political behaviour, macro- and microeconomics, and major philosophical approaches. It provides you with a context in which to appreciate and develop insights into important national and global questions, and encourages you to reflect critically on these questions from a theoretical, practical, and normative point of view.

Your first year combines a thorough introduction to the fundamentals of philosophy, politics and economics, with a solid grounding in key methods of study and research. In your second and final years, we offer, through a range of options, a varied menu of area- and topic-oriented specialisms in these three disciplines. This will ensure you gain a secure grounding in at least two sub-fields of politics, philosophy and economics. The course gives you the flexibility to concentrate on those topics in which you have developed a particular interest, for example globalization and international relations, philosophy and political theory, democratic and comparative politics, or various aspects of political economy.

Why study BA Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Essex?

As a student of politics at Essex, you will experience a lively, informal environment with many possibilities to pursue your own interests. One such opportunity is provided by the students’ Politics Society, a forum for the exchange of ideas, for arranging talks by visiting speakers, for introducing you to various career pathways and for organising debates on topical subjects. There are a number of other societies related to Philosophy, Politics and Economics including; Conservative Future, Labour, Liberal Youth, Debating, PPE, Economics, Essex entrepreneurs, Liberty League and Philosophy society. This gives a politics student at Essex the opportunity to continue their interest beyond the classroom with other students.

In the most recent student satisfaction survey we received 93% overall satisfaction. Our Department of Government is one of the largest and most prestigious in Europe, with an outstanding record of teaching, research and publication. We are the only political science department to have achieved the highest rating in all six assessments for the UK Research Excellence Framework (REF), since national rankings began in 1986. More than three-quarters of our research is rated as ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ (REF 2014) making us top in the UK for research. Our staff distinguish themselves in various ways; by acting as media commentators, by writing textbooks used by students across the world and with involvement in practical training.

Why study this subject?

The Essex BA in PPE should interest you if you want to develop a critical and interdisciplinary perspective on what makes the world tick. It offers you a solid grounding in three foundational disciplines, and provides you with opportunities to gain the knowledge, experience, and skills needed to tackle a wide range of issues in the world of work, politics, and society more generally. Key skills in writing, oral presentation, research methods, and problem-solving, are developed in a knowledge- and experience-based learning environment.

Our facilities

As a student on this course you will be able to take advantage of our extensive learning resources, including laboratories of networked computers featuring extensive software for political and quantitative analysis, as well as our University library, which provides access to a variety of economics and politics databases as well as multiple copies of textbooks, e-books and materials to support your learning. Our School of Philosophy and Art History offers a well-organised student support system which will direct you to the best source of advice and support in the case of personal or academic difficulties.

Study abroad/placement opportunities

Here at Essex we recognise the importance of studying and living abroad, so offer many opportunities for you to spend a term or a full year studying in another country and have exchange partners in the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Latin America, the Middle East, Hong Kong and Japan.

Hear what our students have to say

Graduate profile

Rosalind Worsdale, BA Philosophy and Politics ’12, United Kingdom

“I began studying my BA Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Essex and, soon into my first-year, realised that my interests lay in political philosophy. In my second year, I changed to BA Philosophy and Politics, as that enabled me to focus my studies on what I really enjoyed.

“Taking modules in both the School of Philosophy and Art History and the Department of Government enabled me to explore the discipline of political philosophy from a number of different perspectives - from the abstract philosophical ideas and tools which it utilises, to the empirical political problems which it endeavours to solve. I was able to make use of the academic grounding which this broad spectrum of modules afforded me in the writing of my undergraduate dissertation, which sought to demonstrate that modern female beauty practices constitute a normative harm, and should therefore be the subject to the scrutiny of political theory.

“After graduating, I decided to stay at Essex to study my MA Ethics, Politics and Public Policy. I chose to stay here because I have found the quality of teaching in my School, and the level of support from staff, to be excellent. Additionally, the course is quite uniquely interdisciplinary, and so is well suited to allow me to pursue my interests.”


Our courses are characterised by choice and flexibility. Studying at Essex is about discovering yourself, so your course combines compulsory ('core') and optional modules to ensure you gain key knowledge in the discipline while having as much freedom as possible to explore your own interests. Our modules change from year to year in response to new developments and innovation, but our module directory can show you which modules are available to our current students.

Example structure

Because of our interdisciplinary approach, many of our courses offer a wide selection of available modules, often including options from departments other than your own. Your course content will therefore depend on your own unique interests, but the structure below gives an example of what’s available to you.

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3


As a new undergraduate, you may find university-level learning, assessment and studying differs to school or college. Here at Essex, we understand and recognise this by having support in place, particularly during your first year when you may notice the change more.

If you are studying a non-science subject, then your teaching mainly takes the form of lectures and classes, the latter involving about 20 students. A typical timetable includes a one-hour lecture and a one-hour class for each of your four modules every week. Any language classes involve language laboratory sessions.

First-year assessment is a combination of written coursework, end-of-term tests, practical and laboratory work (where appropriate) and end-of-year exams.

Teaching methods and styles

Within our Department of Government, teaching is arranged to allow a lot of freedom in how you organise your learning experience.

The modules you take employ a variety of teaching methods with lectures that inform you of the most important topics and classes, which allow you to consolidate your learning through discussion and problem solving. If you take any statistical modules you will have lab sessions that allow you to improve your technical skills.

In some final-year options, the distinction between your lectures and classes is less obvious because teaching often takes the form of seminars in which you are encouraged to participate directly. Modules taken in different departments may have a different structure and employ different teaching methods and styles.

Methods of assessment

Within our Department of Government, assessment is a combination of coursework (written coursework and class tests) and end-of-year exams. Some modules may also employ different methods of assessment such as grading participation in seminars and classes; you may also give a presentation. The weighting system of coursework and end-of-year examinations for both politics and philosophy is simply 50 percent coursework, 50 percent examinations. For economics modules the weighting system of coursework and end-of-year examinations is unique, while the balance can be the same taking 50 percent coursework, 50 percent examinations, we operate a max rule which means if you do better in your exam you just get the exam mark.

Career destinations

Your degree is designed to develop many of the skills that are highly valued by employers. Studying politics involves thinking about puzzles and questions, collecting and analysing relevant evidence, and thinking critically about your own and others’ suggested answers. These skills of critical reflection, of data collection and analysis, and of drawing evidence together into clear conclusions, are at the heart of what employers call ‘competence-based recruitment’.

You also develop a number of more practical skills: effective verbal and written communication (including presentation skills); using statistical techniques; working in teams and producing group projects; and time management skills in order to meet multiple deadlines.

All Essex politics graduates have the distinction of a qualification from one of the world’s leading politics departments. In turn, many of those graduates have distinguished themselves in a variety of ways and gone on to careers in politics, the civil service fast stream, management, journalism, police, armed forces, commerce, business, finance, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), teaching and graduate research. For example, some of our most recent graduates from BA Politics, Philosophy and Economics have found employment as a political lobbyist in Westminster, as a campaigns organiser for local government, as a campaign manager for the London Liberal Democrats and as a parliamentary research in the House of Lords.

Our notable alumni include the former President of Costa Rica and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Dr Oscar Arias, and the Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt Hon John Bercow MP. Reflecting the fact that politics opens rather than closes doors, more recent graduates have begun careers with such diverse employers as polling agency YouGov, Formula 1 magazine Red Bulletin, online bookmakers Betfair, and HM Chelmsford Young Offenders Institution.

As graduates from a leading department, our students are well placed to go on to further study, either at Essex – where we offer a wide range of Masters courses – or elsewhere.

Your employability

At Essex we take your employability seriously, helping you become a rounded individual with the ability to succeed, whatever your plans. You’ll find your department works with our Employability and Careers Centre to inform you about options to study or work overseas, your Faculty Employability Coordinator finds degree-related work placements, and our Students’ Unions ensures that, annually, over 700 students volunteer and more than 4,000 get involved in sports, clubs and societies.

At Essex you can gain new skills that look good on your CV, like paid placements through our frontrunners scheme, graduate-level paid internships, and opportunities to develop discipline-specific skills as part of your studies.

We help you understand your skills, and how to demonstrate these to an employer. You can get our extra-curricular employability award – the Big Essex Award – recorded on your transcript, receive one-to-one advice on careers, use our Essex CV guides on applying for work, learn from famous entrepreneurs and take part in workshops, and meet employers through on-campus events.

We develop your employability through fantastic opportunities, and give you the tools to explore the meaning of your unique experiences, so you are ready for your future.

Global employability

You may also study a four-year variant of this course, the third year of which is spent studying abroad at a partner institution, or on a placement year. The module structure for your first two years and your final year are the same as our three-year versions.

We offer many opportunities for you to spend a term or a full year studying in another country and have exchange partners in the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Latin America, the Middle East, Hong Kong and Japan. Alternatively, on a placement year you gain relevant work experience within an external business, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry.

A Placement-Linked Project module is also available as an alternative to the dissertation module in your third year. You attend shorter placements (a minimum of 150 hours in total), and use your learning on placement to inform a research project.

Postgraduate opportunities

Within our Department of Government, we offer taught Masters courses, as well as research supervision for PhD and MPhil. Our taught courses are designed to provide you with an advanced understanding of contemporary theory, research and methods, plus a knowledge of either the politics of a geographical area or an aspect of the discipline. This comprehensive range of MA, MSc and MRes courses cover an array of research fields, approaches and methodologies. You undertake rigorous training in analytical skills: qualitative and quantitative, theoretical and empirical, and global, local and comparative.

We have steadily consolidated our reputation as the best politics department in the UK and in Europe, with an outstanding record of teaching, research and publication. We offer research supervision in the following fields: government; ideology and discourse analysis; international relations; political behaviour; and politics

Entry requirements for 2016


  • A-levels: ABB - BBB
  • GCSE Mathematics: C
  • GCSE English: C
  • IB: 32 - 30 points, including Standard Level Mathematics grade 4 (we consider IB certificates at the Higher level on a case-by-case basis)
  • Achievement of the Access to HE Diploma with a minimum of 45 level three credits at merit (or above).
  • Entry requirements for students studying BTEC qualifications are dependent on units studied. Advice can be provided on an individual basis. The standard required is generally at Distinction level.
English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall with minimum 5.5 in each component (or equivalent). Different requirements apply for second year entry.

We accept a wide range of other qualifications from applicants studying in the UK, EU and other countries. For further details about the qualifications that we accept, please e-mail us with information about the high school qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

We welcome applications from mature students, students interested in direct entry to the second year and students wishing to defer entry.

Open Days

Come to one of our Open Days at our Colchester or Southend campuses and see for yourself what makes Essex an outstanding place to study. Our Open Days are your chance to attend general and subject-specific talks, tour our campus and accommodation, chat to current students about their experiences, and find out more about what Essex has to offer.

Campus Tours

If you can't make one of our Open Days then don’t worry, we offer regular Campus Tours at our Colchester and Southend campuses. Please let us know which campus you want to visit using the email addresses below and we’ll organise a tour with a current student for you.

Please try to give four working days' notice and if you or any of your guests have any specific individual needs. Please include details in your email and we can arrange to tailor your visit accordingly.

Colchester Campus

We offer campus tours from Monday to Friday at 12.30pm. Please email letting us know when you would like to come.

Watch our Colchester Campus tour on Vimeo.

See our videos on our University of Essex Vimeo channel.

Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.

Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.

The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are ‘L’ and ‘S’ respectively.