Programmes

BSc Philosophy, Politics and Economics

  • Undergraduate
  • Department of Philosophy, Logic & Scientific Method
  • UCAS code L0V0
  • Starting 2018

The BSc Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) four year programme offers rigorous training in all three disciplines, as well as innovative interdisciplinary teaching and study. Unlike most other PPE programmes, this programme gives equal weight to all three subjects and has specially designed interdisciplinary courses.

Philosophy addresses challenging foundational questions in many fields, including ethics, political philosophy, and scientific methodology. It also involves training in rigorous argumentation, including formal logic and essay writing. The study of politics involves analyses of the ways in which individuals and groups define and interpret political issues and shape government decisions. It encompasses a broad spectrum of activities relating to public affairs, from elections and bureaucracies to war and terrorism. Economics tackles a broad range of problems, from barriers to economic development to international financial crises.

As an example of the issues you will address on the degree, consider the following questions:

  1. What are the moral advantages and disadvantages of markets?
  2. Is income per capita a good measure of economic and social progress? If not, what should replace it?
  3. Which limits, if any, should there be on migration?
  4. What are the advantages of democratic institutions over non-democratic ones?
  5. Do social sciences have limitations that natural sciences do not have? If so, what do these limits imply for policy-making?

Each of these questions names an issue of central importance in contemporary public debates. Each of them can also be answered satisfactorily only by drawing on knowledge from philosophy, political science and economics. We have put together a programme that delivers not just an excellent education in each subject but also encourages students to develop the integrative thinking skills required to tackle many social and economic issues.

Unlike other PPE degrees, our students will take all three subjects for at least the first three years of the degree. This commitment to the continued, in-depth study of all three disciplines and to multifaceted problem-solving sets our four year BSc programme apart. 

LSE is regularly placed near the top of national and international league tables in the three subjects that comprise the PPE degree. Moreover, our PPE students will not study the subjects in isolation: as a specialist social science institution, academics and students at LSE are used to collaborating across departments and students will be taught to develop interdisciplinary thinking. 

We understand that choosing a four year degree represents a significant financial and personal commitment. We believe that to truly earn the title of a degree in philosophy, politics and economics, students must be given a thorough grounding in all three subjects; this cannot be done in three years. We are proud to say that students graduating with a degree in philosophy, politics and economics from LSE will be prepared for further study or employment in each of the three subject areas and will be uniquely capable of drawing on all three disciplines in their future work.

Programme details

Key facts

 BSc Philosophy, Politics and Economics
Academic year (2018/19) 27 September 2018 - 14 June 2019
Application deadline 15 January 2018
Duration Four years full-time
Applications 2016 814
First year students 2016 42
Availability Open from September 2017
Tuition fee UK/EU fee: £9,250 for the first year 
Overseas fee: £19,152 for the first year
Programme requirement A level Mathematics at grade A* or International Baccalaureate Diploma with a minimum of 7 in Higher level Mathematics (or equivalent)
Usual standard offer A level: grades A* A A, with A* in Mathematics
International Baccalaureate: Diploma with 38 points including 7 6 6 at Higher level, with 7 in Mathematics
English language requirements Proof of your English language proficiency may be required
Location  Houghton Street, London

For more information about tuition fees, usual standard offers and entry requirements, see the fees and funding and assessing your application sections below.

Programme structure and courses

This four year degree programme involves studying courses to the value of 16 units, plus LSE100. It gives equal weighting to all three subjects and has specially designed interdisciplinary courses.

First year

There are four compulsory courses in the first year. You will study The Big Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy and either take Quantitative Methods (Mathematics) jointly with Quantitative Methods (Statistics), or take Mathematical Methods. You will take Introduction to Political Theory and will take either Economics A or Economics B, depending on your economics background. Economics B is only for students with A level Economics or equivalent. You will also take LSE100 in the Lent term.

(* denotes a half unit course)

The Big Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy
Provides an introduction to analytical philosophy by using classic and contemporary texts to study a selection of philosophical problems. 

Introduction to Political Theory
Combines classical theory with modern ways of explaining and understanding international relations.

Either 
Quantitative Methods (Mathematics)*
Provides the basic mathematical knowledge and develops the elementary statistical tools necessary for further study in economics.
And
Quantitative Methods (Statistics)*
Develops the elementary statistical tools necessary for further study in management and economics with an emphasis on the applicability of these methods
Or
Mathematical Methods
An introductory level course for those who wish to use mathematics extensively in social science.

Either
Economics A
Provides a foundation in economics, primarily to those without significant background in the subject.
Or
Economics B
An introductory course in microeconomics and macroeconomics.

LSE100
Beginning in the Lent term of the first year and running through the Michaelmas term of the second year, LSE100 is compulsory for all LSE undergraduate students, and introduces you to the fundamental elements of thinking like a social scientist.

Second year

There are four compulsory courses in the second year. You will study Formal Methods of Philosophical Argumentation and Introduction to Political Science. If you studied Quantitative Methods (Maths) and Quantitative Methods (Statistics) in your first year, then you will take Introduction to Econometrics. If you studied Mathematical Methods in your first year, then you will take Elementary Statistical Theory. In addition, you will be expected to select either Microeconomic Principles I or Microeconomic Principles II. In the Lent term you start your own tailor-made interdisciplinary course: Philosophy, Politics and Economics: Interdisciplinary Research Seminar. You will also take LSE100 in the Michaelmas term.

Formal Methods of Philosophical Argumentation 
Combines the logic with probability theory and makes these formal methods relevant to argumentation analysis and the study of scientific reasoning. 

Introduction to Political Science
Offers an introduction to politics in a globalised world, with a focus on how political science tries to understand and explain cross-country and cross-time differences

Either 
Microeconomic Principles I
Studies the economic behaviour of individuals and firms 
Or 
Microeconomic Principles II
Studies the same topics employing more formal methods 

Either 
Introduction to Econometrics
Aims to present the theory and practice of empirical research in economics 
Or
Elementary Statistical Theory
Provides a precise treatment of introductory probability theory, statistical ideas, methods and techniques.

Philosophy, Politics and Economics: Interdisciplinary Research Seminar*
Engages you with leading academics and practitioners working in PPE and will train you in presentations and public speaking. 

LSE100
Beginning in the Lent term of the first year and running through the Michaelmas term of the second year, LSE100 is compulsory for all LSE undergraduate students, and introduces you to the fundamental elements of thinking like a social scientist.

Third year 

In the third year, you will take one government option, one philosophy option and Macroeconomic Principles. If you studied Quantitative Methods (Maths) and Quantitative Methods (Statistics) in your first year, then you will take either a government, philosophy or economics option. If you studied Mathematical Methods in your first year, then you will take either an Introduction to Econometrics or Principles of Econometrics. Philosophy, Politics and Economics: Interdisciplinary Research Seminar will continue for the Michaelmas and Lent terms. 

Macroeconomic Principles
Examines economic growth, consumption, investment, unemployment, inflation, monetary and fiscal policy, financial markets and international macroeconomics.  

One approved government option 

One approved philosophy option 

Either 
Introduction to Econometrics
Aims to present the theory and practice of empirical research in economics
Or 
Principles of Econometrics
Offers an intermediate-level introduction to the theory and practice of econometrics
Or
One approved government or philosophy or economics option

Philosophy, Politics and Economics: Interdisciplinary Research Seminar
Engages you with leading academics and practitioners working in PPE and will train you in presentations and public speaking.

Fourth year 

In your fourth year, you will study the compulsory course Politics, Philosophy and Economics: Applications. You will also choose optional courses to the value of two units from a range of options within government, philosophy or economics, or from outside the Department. For your final course, you will complete the Philosophy, Politics and Economics: Capstone and Research Project. 

Politics, Philosophy and Economics: Applications
Focuses on contemporary public policy topics and explores their political, economic and philosophical dimensions. 

Philosophy, Politics and Economics: Capstone and Research Project
Involves group work on an applied public policy project for a client organisation or you will write a Dissertation. 

Courses to the value of two units from a range of options

You can find the most up-to-date list of optional courses in the Programme Regulations  section of the current School Calendar.

You must note however that while care has been taken to ensure that this information is up-to-date and correct, a change of circumstances since publication may cause the School to change, suspend or withdraw a course or programme of study, or change the fees that apply to it. The School will always notify the affected parties as early as practicably possible and propose any viable and relevant alternative options. Note that that the School will neither be liable for information that after publication becomes inaccurate or irrelevant, nor for changing, suspending or withdrawing a course or programme of study due to events outside of its control, which includes but is not limited to a lack of demand for a course or programme of study, industrial action, fire, flood or other environmental or physical damage to premises.

You must also note that places are limited on some courses and/or subject to specific entry requirements. The School cannot therefore guarantee you a place. Please note that changes to programmes and courses can sometimes occur after you have accepted your offer of a place. These changes are normally made in light of developments in the discipline or path-breaking research, or on the basis of student feedback. Changes can take the form of altered course content, teaching formats or assessment modes. Any such changes are intended to enhance the student learning experience. You should visit the School’s Calendar, or contact the relevant academic department, for information on the availability and/or content of courses and programmes of study. Certain substantive changes will be listed on the updated undergraduate course and programme information page.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching

You will have at least a one-hour lecture and a one-hour related class for each course each week, as well as LSE100 teaching. Hours vary according to courses and you can view indicative details in the Calendar within the Teaching section of each course guide. We are committed to giving undergraduates a good deal of face-to-face time with faculty. All teachers have weekly office hours in which you can further discuss material from the lectures and classes. 

You are also expected to complete independent study outside of class time. This varies depending on the programme, but requires you to manage the majority of your study time yourself, by engaging in activities such as reading, note-taking, thinking and research.

LSE is internationally recognised for its teaching and research and therefore employs a rich variety of teaching staff with a range of experience and status. Courses may be taught by individual members of faculty, such as lecturers, senior lecturers, readers, associate professors and professors. Many departments now also employ guest teachers and visiting members of staff, LSE teaching fellows and graduate teaching assistants who are usually doctoral research students. You can view indicative details for the teacher responsible for each course in the relevant course guide.

Your attendance at classes and performance will be carefully monitored, and you will have a personal academic adviser to provide assistance and guidance. There are many opportunities to extend your learning outside the classroom and complement your academic studies at LSE. LSE LIFE is the School’s centre for academic, personal and professional development. Some of the services on offer include: guidance and hands-on practice of the key skills you will need to do well at LSE: effective reading, academic writing and critical thinking; workshops related to how to adapt to new or difficult situations, including development of skills for leadership, study/work/life balance and preparing for the world of work; and advice and practice on working in study groups and on cross-cultural communication and teamwork.

LSE is committed to enabling all students to achieve their full potential and the School’s Disability and Wellbeing Service provides a free, confidential service to all LSE students and is a first point of contact for all disabled students.

Your timetable

The lecture and seminar timetable is published in mid-August and the full academic timetable (lectures/seminars and undergraduate classes) is published by mid-September and is accessible via the LSE Timetables webpages.

Undergraduate student personal timetables are published in LSE for You (LFY). For personal timetables to appear, students must be registered at LSE, have successfully signed up for courses in LFY and ensured that their course selection does not contain unauthorised clashes.

Every effort is made to minimise changes after publication, once personal timetables have been published any changes are notified via email.

The standard teaching day runs from 09:00-18:00; Monday to Friday. Teaching for undergraduate students will not usually be scheduled after 12:00 on Wednesdays to allow for sports, volunteering and other extra-curricular events. 

Assessment

All taught courses are required to include formative coursework which is unassessed. It is designed to help prepare you for summative assessment which counts towards the course mark and to the degree award. LSE uses a range of formative assessment, such as essays, problem sets, case studies, reports, quizzes, mock exams and many others.

There is some variation in the forms of summative assessment for different courses, but in general, you will have an examination for each course in June of the year in which you have taken it, as well as an essay due at the beginning of May. For each course, you will have to complete several essays and/or exercises as part of your class work. An indication of the formative coursework and summative assessment for each course can be found in the relevant course guide.

Feedback on coursework is an essential part of the teaching and learning experience at the School. Class teachers must mark formative coursework and return it with feedback to you normally within two weeks of submission (when the work is submitted on time). You will also receive feedback on any summative coursework you are required to submit as part of the assessment for individual courses (except on the final version of submitted dissertations). You will normally receive this feedback before the examination period. 

Find out more about LSE’s teaching and assessment methods

Preliminary reading

Philosophy

You can read about recent research and events involving Faculty members on the  LSE Philosophy Blog.

Listed below are texts that serve as good introductions to the various areas of philosophy. 

Classics

R Descartes Meditations (any edition)

D Hume An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding and An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (any editions)

J S Mill On Liberty (any edition)

Plato The Republic, translated and edited by Robin Waterfield (Oxford Paperbacks)

K Popper Conjectures and Refutations: the growth of scientific knowledge (Routledge, 2003)

A Smith The Theory of Moral Sentiments (any edition)

General philosophy and philosophical tools

T Nagel What Does It All Mean? (Oxford University Press, 1987)

R M Sainsbury Paradoxes (Cambridge University Press, 2009)

B Skyrms Choice and Chance: an introduction to inductive logic (Wadsworth, 2000)

Moral philosophy

T Nagel Mortal Questions (Canto, 1991)

B Williams Morality: an introduction to ethics (Canto, 1993)

J Wolff An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 2006)

A Voorhoeve Conversations on Ethics (Oxford University Press, 2011)

Philosophy of science

A Chalmers What is this thing called Science? (Oxford University Press, 2006) 

S Okasha Philosophy of Science: a very short introduction (Oxford Paperbacks, 2002)

Preliminary listening

- The lecture 'Science and Pseudoscience' by the late LSE philosopher Imre Lakatos
- An interview 'Is Inequality Bad' on Philosophy Bites with Alex Voorhoeve 
- The lecture 'Free Will in a Deterministic Universe?' by Christian List
- An interview on 'Scientific Method' on BBC’s 'In Our Time' with speakers John Worrall, Michela Massimi and Simon Schaffer
- An interview on 'Game Theory' with Melvyn Bragg on BBC’s 'In Our Time' with speakers Richard Bradley, Ian Stewart and Andrew Colman
- An interview on 'Catholicism and HIV'  on Philosophy Bites with Luc Bovens
- An interview, 'Understanding Decisions' on Philosophy Bites with Richard Bradley
- An interview, 'Trolleys, killing and the doctrine of double effect', on OpenLearn 'Ethics Bites' with Mike Otsuka  

Economics

For those wishing to gain further insight into what economists study, we suggest looking at one or more of the following popular books or others like them:

A V Banerjee and E Duflo Poor Economics: barefoot hedge-fund managers, DIY doctors and the surprising truth about life on less than $1 a day (Penguin, 2012)

T Harford The Undercover Economist (Abacus, 2007) and The Logic of Life (Little Brown, 2009)

P Krugman End This Depression Now! (W W Norton, 2012)

S D Levitt and S J Dubner Freakonomics (Penguin, 2007)

S D Levitt and S J Dubner Superfreakonomics (Penguin, 2010) 

Politics

The general character of politics:

J Colomer The Science of Politics: an introduction (Oxford University Press, 2011)

R Goodin The Oxford Handbook of Political Science (Oxford University Press, 2009)

Katznelson and H Milner (eds.) Political Science: state of the discipline (New York: Wiley, 2002)

Political thought

Many classic texts of political thought are readily available in a variety of editions:

Machiavelli The Prince

J S Mill Considerations on Representative Government

M Wollstonecraft A Vindication of the Rights of Women

Political analysis and political institution

W R Clark, M Golder and S Nadenichek Golder Principles of Comparative Politics (CQ Press, 2009)

P Dunleavy and J Dryzek Theories of the Democratic State (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)

R Morton Analyzing Elections (Norton, 2006)

E Ostrom, Governing the Commons: the evolution of institutions for collective action (Cambridge University Press, 1990/2015)

Careers

The skills you will develop by studying philosophy, politics and economics are attractive to a range of employers. Our graduates have found work in a variety of industries including; politics and government, education and teaching, banking and finance, NGOs, charities and international development, as well as journalism, media and publishing, advertising marketing and PR, and accounting and auditing. 

Further information on graduate destinations for this programme 

Support for your career

Many leading organisations give careers presentations at the School during the year, and LSE Careers has a wide range of resources available to assist students in their job search. Find out more about the support available to students through LSE Careers.

Assessing your application

We welcome applications from all suitably qualified prospective students and want to recruit students with the very best academic merit, potential and motivation, irrespective of their background. The programme guidance below should be read alongside our general entrance requirements information.

We carefully consider each application on an individual basis, taking into account all the information presented on the UCAS application form, including your:

- academic achievement (including predicted and achieved grades)
- subject combinations
- personal statement
- teacher’s reference
- educational circumstances

You may also have to provide evidence of your English proficiency, although you do not need to provide this at the time of your application to LSE. See our English language requirements.

What we are looking for in an application for BSc Philosophy, Politics and Economics

Academic achievement

Successful applicants for this programme are usually predicted to achieve or have already achieved a minimum of A* A A in their A levels, with an A* in Mathematics (or 38 and above International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB) points, with 7 6 6 in Higher level subjects, including 7 in Mathematics).

In addition, the selectors are looking for applicants who have achieved a strong set of GCSE grades including a significant number at A and A*, and GCSE (or equivalent) English Language and Mathematics no lower than B. We also consider your overall GCSE subject profile, and your AS grades, if available. 

Competition for places at the School is high. This means that even if you are predicted or if you achieve the grades that meet our usual standard offer, this will not guarantee you an offer of admission. Usual standard offers are intended only as a guide, and in some cases applicants will be asked for grades which differ from this. 

We express our standard offers and where applicable, programme requirement, in terms of A levels and the IB, but we consider applications from students with a range of qualifications including BTECs, Foundation Courses and Access to HE Diplomas as well as a wide range of international qualifications.  

Information about accepted international qualifications
Information about other accepted UK qualifications

Subject combinations

We consider the combination of subjects you have taken, as well as the individual scores. We believe a broad mix of traditional academic subjects to be the best preparation for studying at LSE and expect applicants to have at least two full A levels or equivalent in these subjects.

It is essential that you have studied, or are studying, Mathematics to A level (or equivalent). This is to ensure you are able to complete the core economics courses at LSE. An additional qualification in Further Mathematics (at any level) is not required but is an indication of mathematical ability and a helpful preparation for the programme. 

Beyond the mathematics requirements, there is no ideal subject combination. However, selectors like to see that you possess both analytical and writing abilities.

Students offering Mathematics, Further Mathematics and one other subject will be considered, however we have a very strong preference for the third subject to be in the arts or humanities and will look for evidence of your understanding of and commitment to the study of social sciences in your personal statement. 

Other subjects commonly studied at A level include Economics; English; Government and Politics; History; Languages; Philosophy; Sociology and Religious Studies. There is no requirement for students to have formally studied Philosophy, Politics or Economics before. Subjects where the content is deemed to overlap, such as Economics and Business Studies, or English and Media Studies, should not be taken together. Critical Thinking A level will not be included in our standard offer, but success in this subject can be an indicator of your aptitude for following lines of reasoning and argument.

Personal characteristics, skills and attributes

For this programme, we are looking for students who demonstrate the following characteristics, skills and attributes: 

- equal interest in philosophy, politics and economics and in areas of overlap
- awareness of and interest in exploring philosophical issues
- quantitative aptitude and the ability to follow complex lines of mathematical reasoning
- awareness of and interest in current political issues
- ability to think logically and independently
- ability to read extensively and to evaluate and challenge conventional views
- ability to follow complex lines of reasoning
- intellectual curiosity and imagination
- motivation and capacity for hard work

Personal statement

In addition to demonstrating the above personal characteristics, skills and attributes, your statement should be original, interesting and well-written and should outline your enthusiasm and motivation for the programme.

You should explain whether there are any aspects of particular interest to you, how this relates to your current academic studies and what additional reading or relevant experiences you have had which have led you to apply. We are interested to hear your own thoughts or ideas on the topics you have encountered through your exploration of the subject at school or through other activities. Some suggestions for preliminary reading can be found above in the preliminary reading section, but there is no set list of activities we look for; instead we look for students who have made the most of the opportunities available to them to deepen their knowledge and understanding of their intended programme of study.

You can also mention extra-curricular activities such as sport, the arts or volunteering or any work experience you have undertaken. However, the main focus of an undergraduate degree at LSE is the in-depth academic study of a subject and we expect the majority of your personal statement to be spent discussing your academic interests.

Please also see our general guidance about writing personal statements. 

Fees and funding

Every undergraduate student is charged a fee for each year of their programme.

The fee covers registration and examination fees payable to the School, lectures, classes and individual supervision, lectures given at other colleges under intercollegiate arrangements and, under current arrangements, membership of the Students' Union. It does not cover living costs or travel or fieldwork.

Tuition fees

The 2018 tuition fees are:

UK/EU* students: £9,250 for the first year 
Overseas students £19,152 for the first year

UK/EU undergraduate fees may rise in line with inflation in subsequent years and the overseas fee usually rises by between 2.5 per cent and 4 per cent each year.

*The UK Government confirmed in April 2017 that the fee level for EU undergraduate new entrants in 2018/19 will be the same as Home UK for the duration of their undergraduate degree programme. Further information can be found on the gov.uk website.

The amount of tuition fees you will need to pay, and any financial support you are eligible for, will depend on whether you are classified as a home (UK/EU) or overseas student, otherwise known as your fee status. LSE assesses your fee status based on guidelines provided by the Department of Education.

Further information about fee status classification
Further information about tuition fees

Scholarships, bursaries and loans

The School recognises that the cost of living in London may be higher than in your home town or country. LSE provides generous financial support, in the form of bursaries and scholarships to UK, EU and overseas students. 

In addition, Government support, in the form of loans, is available to UK and some EU students.

Find out more about tuition fee loans.

Key Information Set

From September 2012, every undergraduate programme of more than one year's duration will have a Key Information Set (KIS). The KIS allows you to compare 17 pieces of information about individual programmes at different higher education institutions.

Please note that programmes offered by different institutions with similar names can vary quite significantly. We recommend researching the programmes you are interested in and taking into account the programme structure, teaching and assessment methods, and support services available.

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