PPE Research Seminar

This information is for the 2022/23 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 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.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 presentation and 1 exercise in the MT and LT.

Each student will lead the reading group discussion once, in the term in which their reading group takes place.

In addition, 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 to write their book reviews on the basis of these abstracts.

Indicative reading

Examples of recent books appropriate for PPE reading groups:

  • 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)
  • Robert Goodin and Kai Spiekermann, An Epistemic Theory of Democracy (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%) in the MT and LT.
Group exercise (20%) in the MT, LT and ST.
Group essay (40%) and other (10%) in the LT and ST.

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).

Key facts

Department: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method

Total students 2021/22: 52

Average class size 2021/22: 21

Capped 2021/22: No

Value: Non-credit bearing

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

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