"Choosing a degree subject is not an easy process, especially if your interests are wide and varied. PPE is ideal for those who want to hold on to as many of those interests as possible. Each subject offers something different, but at the same time the three branches support one another, so the degree retains its focus.
While each of the three parts of the degree offers its own benefits, the one in which I have personally flourished the most is Philosophy. I didn’t expect that when I first arrived: I chose the degree largely because it allowed me to study Economics without having to drop my other interests. I soon came to realize, however, that the subjects you study at university are very different from the subjects you study at school, even when they have the same name. After my first year, my eyes had been well and truly opened to what Philosophy had to offer, and that became my focus.
The great thing about PPE is that it gives you that option. If you are a person with broad social interests, you can come to Oxford and study three of the most essential approaches to the study of human interaction. Once you have become involved with all three, you can decide which you are most suited to, and focus on your specific areas of interest. Most people will continue with two of the three after their first year, although there is the option to pursue all three branches. The most important thing I learned in my first year here was that you can’t know what a subject will be like before you’ve studied it. With PPE, you can sample three separate subjects before making an informed choice which of the three you want to focus on.
You shouldn’t choose PPE just because you liked Economics, Politics or Philosophy at school; you shouldn’t choose it just because you like dealing with abstract ideas, or on the other hand, because you like dealing with concrete, real-life situations. The course can cater for a variety of tastes in that regard. The crucial requirement is that you want to learn more about the way the world works. You must have a desire to better understand human interaction and the structures and institutions that make our life the way it is.
In short, you have to want to know:
- How do we live, and why?
- Is it really the best way to live?
- If not, how should we go about changing it?
In terms of career prospects, PPE is one of the best courses you can choose. I’m off to become a strategy consultant for governments of developing nations (I get to save the world and get rich at the same time!), and my friends are doing all sorts of different things, from politics to banking, social work, academia, journalism…anything, really. If you want to make money, you can make money – and lots of it. If you want to make a social impact, you can do that too. And if you’re really lucky, like I was, you’ll find a job that lets you do both.
Choosing a career can be even harder than choosing a degree course. Whichever route you wish to pursue, PPE will stand you in good stead to fulfill your true potential and realize your ambitions. More importantly, however, it will leave you better informed to make that choice in the first place. After three years of PPE, you will have a much better impression of what you want to do with your life, and you will be able to channel that curiosity and desire to succeed at something into a concrete path for you to pursue."