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BA Philosophy, Politics and Economics

Why we're great

  • We confront opinions with evidence to understand how the forces that shape our world really work.
  • You have access to some of the best minds in politics and the biggest names in the field.
  • We have the only Regius Professor in Political Science in the UK, an honour conferred by the Queen.

Course options2017-18

UCAS code: L0V0
Duration: 3 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Government
Fee (Home/EU): £9,250
Fee (International): £13,350
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Home and EU fee information
International fee information

UCAS code: L0V1
Duration: 4 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Government
Fee (Home/EU): £9,250
Fee (International): £13,350
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Home and EU fee information
International fee information

UCAS code: L0VA
Duration: 4 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Government
Fee (Home/EU): £9,250
Fee (International): £13,350
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Home and EU fee information
International fee information

Course enquiries

Telephone 01206 873666
Email admit@essex.ac.uk

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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?

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 ethical point of view.

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 explore topics including:

  • Globalization and international relations
  • Philosophy and political theory
  • Democratic and comparative politics
  • Political economy
  • Ethics and public policy

Our Department of Government is one of the most prestigious in Europe, with an outstanding record of teaching, research and publication. We are rated top in the UK for research (REF 2014), and have consistently been the highest-rated politics department in the country since national assessments began.

Meanwhile, our Department of Economics is Top 5 in the UK for research, with over 90% of their research rated as “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” (REF 2014), and our Department of Philosophy is ranked Top 10 in the UK for research excellence (REF 2014).

“Taking modules in two departments 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."

Rosalind Worsdale, BA Philosophy and Politics, 2012

Study abroad

Your education extends beyond the classroom. 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. This additional year abroad is at no extra cost. 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.

Training social scientists of the future

We offer you the opportunity to follow a specialised pathway that embeds quantitative methods in your degree. Successful completion of specified modules entitles you to receive the qualifier ‘(Applied Quantitative Methods)’ at the end of your degree title, for example BA Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Applied Quantitative Methods) and this will appear on your transcript. You can also receive student bursaries to go on work placements, helping you stand out when applying for jobs.

Placement year

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; fantastic work experience for your CV.

Our expert staff

Some of the biggest names in the field work at Essex, giving you unparalleled access to some of the best minds in politics. Our staff are advising the CIA on counter-terrorism, training politicians and civil servants in democratising countries, and commentating on political events in national and international media.

Our economics researchers are also at the forefront of their field have even received MBEs. Many of our academic staff also provide consultancy services to businesses in London and other major financial centres, helping us to develop research for today's society as well as informing our teaching for the future.

Within Philosophy, our open-minded and enthusiastic staff have an exceptionally broad range of research interests, so whatever questions in philosophy catch hold of your imagination, there is certain to be someone you can approach to find out more.

Specialist facilities

Take advantage of our extensive learning resources to assist you in your studies:

  • Laboratories of networked computers featuring extensive software for political analysis
  • ESSEXLab provides opportunities for experimental lab research
  • Student societies for politics, debating, and Model UN
  • A dedicated study skills advisor in your first year for one-to-one advice
  • A personal tutor and peer mentor for every student
  • We organise the Essex Summer School in Social Science Data Analysis
  • Extensive software for quantitative analysis is available in all computer labs across the university
  • Join our lively Economics Society, an active and social group where you can explore your interest in your subject with other students
  • An exciting programme of research seminars, reading groups and mini-courses that help you expand your philosophical knowledge beyond what you learn on your course
  • A comprehensive student support system which will direct you to the best source of advice and support in the case of personal or academic difficulties

Your future

All Essex, politics graduates have the distinction of a qualification from one of the world’s leading politics departments.

Politics students are in demand from a host of employers, in politics, the civil service fast stream, management, journalism, police, armed forces, commerce, business, finance, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), teaching and graduate research.

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, and our recent graduates have gone on to work for a wide range of high-profile companies including:

  • The World Bank
  • NATO
  • Houses of Parliament Research Unit
  • United Nations Development Program
  • ICM research
  • IMG Media

We also work with the university’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

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Example structure

Studying at Essex is about discovering yourself, so your course combines compulsory and optional modules to make sure you gain key knowledge in the discipline, while having as much freedom as possible to explore your own interests. Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.

For many of our courses you’ll have a wide range of optional modules to choose from – those listed in this example structure are just a selection of those available. The opportunity to take optional modules will depend on the number of core modules within any year of the course. In many instances, the flexibility to take optional modules increases as you progress through the course.

Our Programme Specification gives more detail about the structure available to our current first-year students, including details of all optional modules.

Year 1

Begin your study of philosophy with an exploration of scepticism and matters of life and death. Do we truly know anything? Might, for all we know, our brains be under the control of evil scientists? Is torture ever justified? How demanding is morality and how much of our lives should it cover?

How do consumers make decisions? Or firms conduct different market strategies? What impact does government policy have on inflation? Or unemployment? Develop your knowledge of economics in relation to a range of contemporary issues. Learn how to apply both micro and macroeconomic principles to the analysis of such problems.

Develop the employability, citizenship, and life skills to successfully compete in the graduate job market after graduation. You complete a portfolio of employability skills and develop a critical understanding of the world of work.

What is “Politics”? How have people conceived of political analysis, the state, laws, wars and political parties, across cultures and over time? Gain an understanding of essential concepts in the study of politics and explore the economic, social and intellectual trends that have made democracy possible.

An often misused concept, “democracy” takes radically different forms in different democratic countries. You gain a real understanding of what is meant by “democracy” and investigate under what conditions and in what countries liberal democracy is most likely to occur.

What are the main sources of economic data? And how is data used in economics? Study the methods of quantitative economics, looking at how economic data is described and analysed. Learn to read, understand and manipulate data from both a theoretical and empirical perspective.

Year 2

Want to know more about the IMF or the Federal Reserve? Interested in the European Central Bank and the European Stability Mechanism? Examine these international financial institutions to evaluate their existence, policies and effects on the international monetary system. Understand the institutional framework within which international financial relations are organised.

What economic issues do computing firms face today? What about the pharmaceutical industry? Or telecommunication organisations? How does new technological knowledge allow these firms to keep a competitive edge? Using real-life case studies, learn how economics model-building methodology helps with the challenges of managing new technology in the modern world.

Why do people participate in politics? How do you change what a government is doing? You consider how types of participation have changed over time, what has been effective, and what has not been effective, with a focus on Britain in comparison to several other countries.

Investigate the role that our ideas and interests play in shaping policy. Compare traditional views of the policymaking process with an evaluation of ideational accounts by focussing on case studies which illustrate these ideas.

This module introduces students to key debates in modern social and political thought. We focus on seminal texts by authors such as Hobbes, Spinoza, and Rousseau, whose contributions have radically transformed our understanding of social and political life. We explore the roots of modern notions like the state and society, and scrutinise the nature of freedom, power and democracy. Finally, we consider whether these authors’ accounts of social misdevelopments can still guide critiques of contemporary society.

Since the Enlightenment, religious belief in the Western World has been under new pressures to justify itself in terms compatible with the worldview of modern science. You explore the work of philosophers who have sought to show that we can and need to make a place for religion in modern cultural and social life, through the work of Hegel, Rosenzweig, Habermas, and Levinas.

How should we approach relationships between different countries? Explore different theoretical lenses through which the world can be viewed, including realist, liberalist, and post-positivist theories of the behaviour of international political actions.

How should a society distribute resources and opportunities between individuals and groups? The principles of social justice we hold affect how we answer this question. You study different philosophical approaches to these principles and explore their implications for the current issue of climate justice.

Develop the employability, citizenship, and life skills to successfully compete in the graduate job market after graduation. You complete a portfolio of employability skills and develop a critical understanding of the world of work.

Final year

What explains the lack of government performance in dictatorships? Why do nondemocratic rulers govern with democratic institutions such as legislators and political parties? One of the biggest challenges to democracy in the contemporary world is authoritarianism. You explore the factors that drive politics and the conditions under which democratic transitions are more likely to occur.

Discover the philosophical questions that are raised by everyday medical practice and recent developments in medical science. You consider topics including suicide, euthanasia, abortion, cloning, reproductive medicine, resource allocation, medical research, confidentiality, patient autonomy, and biopolitics.

Devote yourself to a close study of Nietzsche`s 1887 On the Genealogy of Morality. You explore Nietzsche’s early reflections on the parallels between modern and ancient Athenian decadence, and also address many of the most significant themes in Nietzsche`s later work, including the opposition between master and slave moralities, ressentiment, and nihilism.

How do foreign exchange markets determine trade? Understand the economic role that international currency markets play. Study models to interpret exchange rate movements and how this links to key macroeconomic variables. Analyse real-life policies that respond to events in the international monetary system.

Why does the government play such an important role in the health care sector? How does the patients’ lack of information affect medical prices? Can we use economics modules to understand the rationale for risky behaviours, such as smoking? These are some of the questions you will try to answer during this module, building on your insights of microeconomic theory, and covering a broad range of concepts, theories, and topics related to the economics of healthcare.

Explore how economic and political incentives interact to create and prevent opportunities that shape behaviour. You use rigorous logic and evidence to understand issues in classical political economy and to address contemporary policy questions in both domestic and international politics.

Examine how people reason about voting and politics, and why people vote the way that they do. You consider the effects of institutions such as the electoral system or the number of political parties on voting behaviour, using case studies from elections in Britain and other advanced democracies.

Develop the employability, citizenship, and life skills to successfully compete in the graduate job market after graduation. You complete a portfolio of employability skills and develop a critical understanding of the world of work.

Placement

On a placement year you gain relevant work experience within an external business or organisation, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.

Year abroad

On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.

Teaching

  • Teaching is arranged to allow a lot of freedom in how you organise your learning experience
  • Lab sessions allow you to improve your technical research skills
  • Optional support classes in economics
  • We believe that discussion is the lifeblood of philosophy, and we try to keep our classes as small as we can for this purpose
  • Opportunities to gain work experience on placements and internships

Assessment

  • Assessed through a combination of written coursework, presentations, class participation, and end-of-year examinations
  • If you undertake a placement, you will prepare an assessed report on this experience
  • In your second- and third-years of philosophy modules, you may write an optional essay if you wish, in order to improve your coursework mark
  • Complete your final year project in consultation with a personal supervisor

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Qualifications

UK entry requirements

A-levels: BBB
GCSE: Mathematics C

IB: 30 points, including Standard Level Mathematics grade 4, if not taken at Higher Level. We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programmes at both Higher and Standard Level. Please note that Maths in the IB is not required if you have already achieved GCSE Maths at grade C or above.

Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.

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.

International and EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Email admit@essex.ac.uk for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the high school qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

IELTS entry requirements

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall. (Different requirements apply for second year entry.)

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.

Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels required. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications.

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Visit us

Open days

Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. In 2017 we have three undergraduate Open Days (in June, September and October). These events enable you to discover what our Colchester Campus has to offer. You have the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

Check out our Visit Us pages to find out more information about booking onto one of our events. And if the dates aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing tours@essex.ac.uk and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.

Exhibitions

Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.

Applying

Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: www.ucas.com. 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.

Visit days and interviews

Resident in the UK? If your application is successful, we will invite you to attend one of our visit days. These run from January to April and give you the chance to explore the campus, meet our students and really get a feel for life as an Essex student.

Some of our courses also hold interviews and if you’re invited to one, this will take place during your visit day. Don’t panic, they’re nothing to worry about and it’s a great way for us to find out more about you and for you to find out more about the course. Some of our interviews are one-to-one with an academic, others are group activities, but we’ll send you all the information you need beforehand.

If you’re outside the UK and are planning a trip, feel free to email visit@essex.ac.uk so we can help you plan a visit to the University.

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The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its course finder is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep prospective students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

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