PPE Degree: Toolkit for Tomorrow’s Leaders

The interdisciplinary Bachelor of Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE), offered by the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences at UNSW Sydney, provides graduates with a powerful combination of intellectual tools to understand and act in the world. 

Students at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney can now pursue the same degree that has produced some of the most distinguished political and thought leaders from around the world, including a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.  At UNSW, the PPE course draws together the perspectives of three crucial academic disciplines to address contemporary national and global issues, such as justice, inequality and climate change.

PPE has been offered at many leading institutions around the world, and PPE graduates have carved out successful careers in areas such as law, public policy, public service, business, finance, education and journalism. UNSW is the only university in Sydney, and one of only a handful in Australia, to offer studies in PPE.

First established at Oxford University in 1920, PPE programs are now offered at a number of leading universities. Renowned PPE alumni include former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, former Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, author Vikram Seth and media personality Vikram Chandra. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai is a current PPE student at Oxford.

Alongside carefully selected courses from the disciplines of Politics and International Relations, Philosophy and Economics, PPE includes courses designed to enable students to explore the synergies and tensions between them, and to assess their relevance to meeting humanity’s most difficult challenges.

Professor Marc Williams, Associate Dean (International) for the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences said the new program addresses the changing nature of work and the proliferation of complex problems in the contemporary world.

“The UNSW PPE degree offers rigorous training in politics, philosophy and economics,” Professor Williams said. “The program is taught by leading experts from UNSW Arts & Social Sciences and the UNSW Business School. It equips students not only with disciplinary knowledge in politics, philosophy and economics, but through specially designed integrative courses it will provide students with the knowledge and skills to understand contemporary social and economic issues.”

The interdisciplinary nature of the curriculum attracted second-year student Emily Ramsay to the program. The coursework incorporates content from the three areas that constitute the major and includes courses such as Mind, Ethics and Freedom, Contemporary Issues in Government and Global Politics, Microeconomics and Manias, and Panics and Crashes: Global Political Economy in an Era of Crisis.

“PPE enables you to explore a lot of options; it is a very versatile program. It gives you a deeper understanding of the main disciplines and gives you more context that you can apply to real-world events,” said Ms Ramsay. “For example, when we talk about climate change, we bring in philosophy and look at the ethics around fixing the issue. You might miss that context in other programs.”

“The course prepares you for the real world,” said Ramsay. “If you want to change the world, you have to understand what is happening around you. PPE challenges you to think about other perspectives and other ways of thinking. The three disciplines form everything that is going on around us in world events and world issues.”

(Applications will be accepted through February 2020; more information on: https://www.arts.unsw.edu.au/future-students/undergraduate/degrees/politics-philosophy-and-economics/)