What it's like to study Politics, Philosophy and Economics
by Aaron Price
I’m Aaron, a second-year undergraduate student studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at Lancaster University. I’ll be discussing how the PPE course at Lancaster is unique in comparison to other PPE courses offered by other universities, some of my modules and how I relate to my subject even when I’m not studying.
One of the main reasons why I applied for the PPE course at Lancaster is because there is lots of flexibility and choice in deciding which modules I would like to take. I can devote my time to studying concepts and ideas that I’m interested in rather than being restricted to areas that I may not be as interested in. It’s a real privilege to be able to study my passions at a university among the best in the UK.
My course is administered by the Philosophy, Politics and Religion department. My course is unique as the breadth of my course spans over another department: the Management School (which runs my modules in Economics). This means the work that I do dips into two departments rather than one, though
My first year
In my first year, I had three compulsory modules: Politics in the Modern World, Introduction to Philosophy and Principles of Economics. These modules helped me to develop preliminary and foundational knowledge about the key concepts in these three disciplines. Although I had already taken A-levels in Economics and Politics, I believe all three modules have improved and extended my knowledge and understanding of the three disciplines. The analytical and study skills that I developed in my first year have really helped me in approaching some of my essays and exams in my second year.
I thoroughly enjoyed all three of my subjects in my first year, so I carried them all on into second year. However, Lancaster University’s unique degree structure means that you have the option to change your degree to a single or joint honours degree in Philosophy, Politics or Economics.
My second year
After the completion of my first year, I had a lot of choice in terms of deciding which modules I’d like to take in my second year. PPE students must pick eight modules, though there is a vast choice available. This year, I chose a good range of modules that I believe complement each other:
- Microeconomic Analysis
- Macroeconomic Analysis
- Applied Economics
- Moral Philosophy
- Philosophical Questions in the Study of Politics and Economics
- Public Policy
- Understanding Key Economic Concepts: Economics for the Real World I
- Exploring Key Economic Issues: Economics for the Real World II
PPE students study four modules in the Michaelmas Term, four modules in the Lent Term, and then there is time to revise all eight modules in the Summer Term in preparation for the exams at the end of the academic year. This is the same pattern for third year too.
Lectures, seminars and coursework
In the Michaelmas and Lent Terms, I have been tasked with coursework for my modules in Philosophy and Politics, and I have had some assessments for my Economics modules. Both coursework and assessments directly relate to lecture and seminar content, so it’s important that I fully understand the content in order to maximise my chances of doing well academically.
Currently, lectures are recorded online and are created by experts in their given area. When lectures are in-person, there can be roughly two-hundred students in a lecture hall. Seminars are small, classroom-based sessions and usually have around a dozen students per seminar. Seminars provide an opportunity for reflection and debate, with the aim of crystalizing our understanding of concepts and ideas. Seminars can either be run by those who teach in lectures, or sometimes are run by PhD students in the department.
Whenever I am lacking some understanding regarding the content of my lectures and seminars, my tutors and lecturers are always prepared to help me. I really appreciate that I can rely on the academic staff at Lancaster University to help me with the challenges that can come with university work. My lecturers and seminar tutors make my module content engaging and interesting, and this definitely makes my studying experience a fulfilling one.
Additional reading and activities
However, my degree is not simply confined to studying and understanding the contents of the course. My degree has made me have more of an enquiring mind about current affairs and the world around us, and I like to extend my understanding through reading books, watching political programmes and engaging in debate. I am currently a member of the Lancaster Debating Society, which has undoubtedly helped me in sharpening my analytical skills - which are certainly applicable to many elements of my degree. Also, I am currently reading Tim Harford’s Fifty Things That Made The Modern Economy - the understanding I currently have of economics makes reading economics books even more satisfying and immersive.
Ultimately, studying PPE at Lancaster is a fantastic opportunity to develop your analytical skills at a prestigious university.
Aaron is a second year undergraduate at Lancaster University and is studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics.
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