PPE Research Seminar

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Johanna Thoma


This course is compulsory on the BSc in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. This course is not available as an outside option nor to General Course students.

Course content

In this course, PPE students are placed in reading groups to discuss recent books by scholars working at the intersection of Philosophy, Politics and Economics. Philosophy faculty guide their selection of books and subsequent reading and research on the book. Each group organizes a research seminar on their book or a related topic open to the wider LSE PPE community.


2 hours of lectures, 1 hour and 30 minutes of seminars and 15 hours of classes in the MT. 3 hours of seminars, 15 hours of classes and 2 hours of workshops in the LT. 1 hour and 30 minutes of seminars and 2 hours of workshops in the ST.

No meetings take place in reading week (Week 6).

*Note: Students will only be expected to attend 7.5 hours of classes either in MT or in LT, depending on which reading group they are assigned to. Students are also only expected to attend one Workshop, in the term following their classes.

This year, some or all of this teaching may be delivered virtually.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 piece of coursework in the term in which they attend classes.

Each student will be asked to write a 250 word abstract of the book review they would like to write. Students will be placed in small groups (about three per reading group) to write their book reviews on the basis of these abstracts.

Indicative reading

Examples of recent books appropriate for PPE reading groups:

  • Anna Alexandrova, Philosophy for the Science of Well-Being (2017)
  • Elizabeth Anderson, Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don't Talk about It) (2017)
  • Kwame Anthony Appiah, The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity (2018)
  • Anthony Atkinson, Measuring Poverty Around the World (2019)
  • David Colander and Craig Freedman, Where Economics Went Wrong: Chicago’s Abandonment of Classical Liberalism (2018)
  • Cecile Fabre, Economic Statecraft: Human Rights, Sanctions, and Conditionality (2018)
  • Robert Goodin and Kai Spiekermann, An Epistemic Theory of Democracy (2018)
  • David Graeber, Bullshit Jobs (2018)
  • Kate Manne, Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny (2017)
  • Cailin O’Connor, The Origins of Unfairness (2019)
  • Eric Posner and Glen Weyl, Radical Markets: Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society (2018)
  • Robert Sugden, The Community of Advantage (2018)
  • Paul Tucker, Unelected Power: The Quest for Legitimacy in Central Banking and the Regulatory State (2018)
  • Philippe Van Parijs and Yannick Vanderborght, Basic Income: A Radical Proposal for a Free Society and a Sane Economy (2017)

The students will also get the chance to make their own proposals of books to read, which we will vet.


Class participation (30%), group exercise (20%), group essay (40%) and other (10%).

The overall grade the students will receive will be one of four: fail, pass, merit and distinction.

Participation (of which attendance is a crucial part) counts for 30% of the grade. 20% is for doing one’s fair share in helping to organize one of the research seminars, assessed by a short written reflection on one’s contribution. Students will be asked to produce a 3,000 word book review in small groups, which counts for 40% of the grade. A first draft will be peer reviewed and discussed at a feedback workshop. The student contribution to peer review will count for the final 10% of the grade (note that the book review is not peer assessed, that is, other students’ feedback will not directly affect a group’s grade for the book review).

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method

Total students 2019/20: Unavailable

Average class size 2019/20: Unavailable

Capped 2019/20: No

Value: Non-credit bearing

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills