Philosophy, Politics and Economics

The Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) major is designed to give students a more integrative understanding of the world by teaching them how to investigate the connections between economic, political, social, philosophical, and ethical phenomena. It aims to foster a multi-disciplinary, empirically informed, and philosophically reflective approach to these phenomena. The PPE major will provide students with a wider set of qualitative and empirical tools of analysis, and conceptual forms of knowledge, than would be gained by specializing in just one of the three disciplines of philosophy, politics, and economics. It is designed for those students who want to explore the interconnections between such things as ethical and normative issues, institutional arrangements, international relations, production, trade or market mechanisms, religious institutions and customs, and legal orders.

The integration of the three disciplines will be achieved during the capstone seminar, where PPE majors will develop a project that combines the skills they have learned in the three disciplines to approach a specific set of problems. Students in PPE will thus be required to integrate different perspectives and tools of analysis to explore a variety of interdisciplinary projects in their capstone project: e.g., How do our economic, political, and legal orders interact to affect the distribution or redistribution of material resources, political rights and duties, or forms of recognition and honor? Are mechanisms of decision- making in our political and economic institutions complementary or conflictual, and how are these differences grounded in various philosophical, religious, or ethical traditions? What different forms do justice, equality, responsibility, and liberty take in various economic, political, and legal institutions?

The PPE major teaches students how to think creatively across boundaries and to address a range of different subject areas in a critical fashion. It is also designed to combine social scientific forms of knowledge and modes of analysis with more philosophical and normative methods of inquiry. For these reasons, the PPE major prepares students for a wide range of different careers: law, public policy, government, non-governmental organizations, business, social work, journalism, stockbroking, market analysis, accounting, finance, and academia.



To complete this major students are required to take eight courses (as specified below), and to complete a two-course equivalent capstone project (ten courses in total).

The advanced level courses of the major require foundational knowledge in the areas of philosophy, politics and economics. With respect to philosophy and politics, the common curriculum courses (Philosophy and Political Thought, Comparative Social Institutions, Modern Social Thought and Quantitative Reasoning) largely furnish students with that foundational knowledge. This is not the case for economics, and there are introductory courses that are required to prepare students for the upper-year economics content of the major. Students pursuing certain advanced-level courses in politics will also be required to complete specific courses. Required courses should be completed prior to Year Three.

Students who have not taken A-level Economics need to take the introductory course, Principles of Economics. All students are then required to take Introductory Mathematics for Economists, Intermediate Microeconomics, and Intermediate Macroeconomics.

Students who plan to take advanced courses in comparative politics should take Introduction to Comparative Politics in their second year.

Students who plan to take courses in international relations, should take Introduction to International Relations in their second year.

After the completion of all required courses students will be able to complete their major by pursuing courses and a capstone with an emphasis in one of the following cross-disciplinary areas:

  • Politics & Philosophy
  • Philosophy & Economics
  • Politics & Economics

The PPE Major is an interdisciplinary but flexible major, which is designed to give students the breadth, but also the depth required to complete their capstone project. All course selection should be done in consultation with the Head of Study and/or faculty Advisor.



Introductory Course (only taken if no A-Level or equivalent economics)

Principles of Economics
This course is designed to serve as an introduction to Economics for prospective majors without A-Level Economics as well as for non-majors interested in Economics. There are no prerequisites for taking this course.

Required Courses


Introductory Mathematics for Economists
This is a half course, which introduces students to the mathematics required for Economics courses.

Intermediate Microeconomics
There are two prerequisites for taking this course: (1) A-level Economics or Principles of Economics and (2) The half-course Introductory Mathematics for Economists (which can be taken in parallel with this course).

Intermediate Macroeconomics
There are two prerequisites for taking this course: (1) A-level Economics or Principles of Economics and (2) The half-course Introductory Mathematics for Economists.

Politics (only taken if student is taking relevant advanced level politics courses)

Introduction to Comparative Politics
This course introduces students to the basic questions and themes involved in the study of comparative politics.

Introduction to International Politics
This course introduces students to the basic questions and themes involved in the study of international politics.

There are no required introductory courses in philosophy as part of the major because the common curriculum courses of PPT and MST offer adequate introduction.

Optional Courses

In consultation with the Head of Study, students should choose their remaining courses from two of the three categories: philosophy, politics, and economics:

Philosophy: See the philosophy major for a description of courses.

Politics: Examples of optional courses in politics include:


  • Political Theory Ancient Political Theory
  • Medieval Political Theory
  • Modern Political Theory
  • Contemporary Political Theory
  • Topics in Political Theory
  • Comparative Political Theory Liberal/Democratic Political Theory
  • Non-Liberal/Non-Democratic Political Theory


  • Political Science
  • Topics in Comparative Government: Developed
  • Topics in Comparative Government: Developing
  • Topics in International Relations
  • International Law
  • Political Economy
  • Area Studies: The Politics of Southeast Asia, Chinese Politics,
  • The European Union, Politics of Eurasia,
  • Data Analysis for the Social Sciences

Economics: See the Economics major for a description of courses.



The final-year capstone seminar offers the PPE major the ability to apply the interdisciplinary set of skills they have acquired to a more focused set of issues or problems in order to produce a substantial piece of research that lies at the interstices of philosophy, politics, and economics. The seminar will provide students with the abilities necessary to negotiate and critique relevant secondary literature, to take a stance on an issue and defend it against possible counter-positions, and to incorporate a number of different qualitative and quantitative methods into their particular research design. These goals will be achieved through a variety of different kinds of research presentations in the capstone seminar. Second, in the latter part of the course, students will be able present their research, internship or public policy proposal to members of the seminar, who will offer their feedback. The goal of this seminar is not only to learn how to negotiate all of the relevant secondary literature, but also to learn how to persuasively present one’s research in both written and oral form.

PPE majors have two distinct options for a capstone project:

A Year-long Research Essay
Students who are interested in academic research may choose to write a year-long research essay. The aim of the essay is for students to produce a work of scholarship based on original research that is similar in kind to the work produced for scholarly journals.

An internship Project/Practical Policy Proposal
Students who are interested in a more policy-oriented approach to their research may choose to do an internship with a local or international, governmental or non-governmental, organization. Alternately they may choose to devise and implement a practical policy proposal for such an organization. Students who choose the internship option will be required to construct a detailed description of the project that they will take part in, and will be required to participate in the implementation of this project over the course of the year.



There is no minor in PPE. Students in this major may take a minor in Economics or Philosophy. Any courses taken as part of the major in PPE cannot be counted towards the minor in Economics or Philosophy.