The interdisciplinarity of the PPE Degree
PPE is an interdisciplinary degree by nature: the three subjects were chosen to be taught in conjunction precisely because they complement each other perfectly. They combine to give the students a well-equipped toolkit for their future endeavours. I believe this preparation to be one of the strongest suits of a PPE degree: having extensive knowledge on three of the main disciplines that impact our daily lives means having the confidence to choose your future path amongst a wide variety of options.
Personally, I find interdisciplinarity a key characteristic of my chosen degree course: it teaches it in your lectures and seminars while also requiring you to bring interdisciplinary leaning into your assignments. So where are the tangible traces of this mix of disciplines? Well an example could be my second year ‘Economics 2’ module assignment: it asked us to produce a report on the state of the UK energy sector. Obviously the main assessment tool had to be economics, but an acknowledgement of the political implications of policies in place or newly proposed was encouraged. It shows just how interconnected economics and politics are, and how much more meaningful your evaluation can be when bringing both into your analysis.
Modules are another important way to experience the interdisciplinarity of the course: political philosophy, political economy, development are just a few examples of why you won’t be able to escape the intertwinement of various subjects. In your second year there is also a dedicated module open only to PPE students that explores precisely the intersection of philosophy, economics and politics in real life applications! You’ll find that seminars are the best place to use the different subjects as a method of analysis. For example, in my ‘Politics of International Development’ we’ve touched upon the philosophical branches of ethics quite a bit: talking about effective altruism and consequentialism in contemporary discourse surrounding foreign aid. Even in your economics seminars, who tend to be the most technical out of the three you’ll be asked to evaluate the structure of the European single market and the unique ways in which the European Central Bank operates. These issues are inextricable from politics and history.
The integrative nature of a PPE degree continues even if you decide not to pursue the tripartite pathway (for information on the different pathways available for PPE students please see my blog on the matter). Firstly because you’ll still be able to take optional modules in the subject you might chose to drop, and secondly because as mentioned before, all three subjects already relate so closely with each other. The PPE degree did not bring politics, philosophy and economics together, the subjects are so fundamentally linked together that creating a specific degree was the only logical conclusion.
Interdisciplinarity is a positive characteristic in an university degree for one main reason: we use this skill every day. We live in a world that thrives off connections: whether in communications, in our nervous system or in our studies joining two distinct points is a big part of our lives. PPE has helped me realise this, and has prepared me to confidently take on any path I will chose to embark, knowing I have enough tools of analysis to take on anything from banking, to academia to public policy.