PPE (Politics, Philosophy & Economics)

Students study one major, one minor and one elective course for each 2 week period they are with us. Students can take classes from one single subject area, or choose any combination from across the different areas we offer. Details are given below for the various classics courses we offer.

1) PPE (Major & Minor)
2) Economics - Economic Curiosities (Minor)
3) Philosophy - What makes a Good Life (Minor)

Major & Minor: PPE

Prerequisites: An interest in studying PPE at university.

Broad Aims:
 To provide an introduction to “Philosophy, Politics and Economics” (PPE), following the model of the University of Oxford University’s PPE course. Give students an understanding of what studying these three subjects in combination would be like at a top UK university. Complete a project that brings elements of all three subjects together.

Detailed Objectives: The aim of the philosophy course is to give students the opportunity to think about the wider questions and particularly look at two of the key philosophical texts needed at undergraduate level – The Social Contract and Utilitarianism. Students also get a chance to hone their logic skills by doing some basic first year undergraduate propositional logic. The aim of the Politics part of the course is to start by looking at what democracy is all about and then taking time to look at how two different democracies run differently. The British and American political systems will be compared to see how the same principle can be applied very differently. The purpose of the Economics strand of the course is to introduce students to elements of both micro and macro Economics needed to understand how and why governments intervene in an economy.

Summary of Syllabus:

  • Introduction to basic logic
  • Introduction to The Social Contract by Rousseau
  • An Introduction to Utilitarianism (Mill and others)
  • What is Democracy?
  • The British Political System – A Parliament with a Prime Minister
  • The American Political System – A President and Congress
  • Microeconomics – free markets vs market failure. How and why do markets work and importantly why they might fail? And when they do fail what the government can do about
  • Macroeconomics – An introduction to how governments operate – fiscal, monetary and supply-side policies.
  • Project

No. of hours tuition: 24 hours (Students choosing this course will study it as both their Major and Minor option)

Interviews with students who studied our Politics, Philosophy or Economics courses: Thomas (Italy/Greece)Gerardo (Mexico) Cristina (USA)Agung (Indonesia), Gabriella (Nigeria)Robin (South Korea)

Minor: Economic Curiosities

Prerequisites: None. The material delivered will be non-technical and no prior knowledge of Economics or Economic History will be assumed. All that is required is a curious mind!

Broad Aims: To introduce some of the most important concepts, models and theories involved in Economics in an accessible and engaging way.

Detailed Objectives: Using accessible and enjoyable popular Economics texts as a starting point, this course aims to provide participants with an insight into how Economics can be used to shed light on many areas of life, including some that might be surprising.
Students will be encouraged to read and think critically and reflectively – skills that are essential to the study of Economics and many other academic disciplines.

Topics such as opportunity cost, comparative advantage, the role of incentives and moral hazard will provide a valuable grounding for anyone studying or planning to study Economics, as well as providing useful tools for thinking about everyday issues for the non-economist.

Summary of Syllabus: Topics will be taken from the following books/papers:

  • The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford
  • Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
  • Nudge by Richard H Thaler, Cass R Sunstein
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  • The Armchair Economist by Steven E. Landsburg
  • Superfreakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
  • The Biggest Auction Ever by Ken Binmore and Paul Klemperer
  • Do Economists Recognize an Opportunity Cost When They See One? by Paul Ferraro and Laura Taylor
  • Animal Spirits  by George A. Akerlof and Robert J. Shiller

Examples of questions considered are: How can your name affect how well you do in life?; Who really makes money from fair trade coffee?; How do you get twenty-two and a half billion pounds from selling air?; Are people hard-wired for altruism or selfishness?; Why do we assume a good-looking person will be more competent?

No. of hours tuition: 8 hours

Interviews with students who took this course: Cristina (USA)Gerardo (Mexico)

 Minor: What is a Good Life?

Prerequisites: None

Broad Aims: This course considers nine great thinkers' ideas on what constitutes human happiness and how best to go about attaining it. Considering their arguments will familiarize the student with the central themes of Western philosophy, and develop the ability to assess and construct arguments.  

Detailed Objectives: Students are encouraged to develop problem-solving skills and in particular, familiarity with functions and their properties. 

Summary of Syllabus: 

  • Use philosophical terminology correctly
  • Refer to notable philosophers and their ideas
  • Identify several schools of thought on the meaning of life
  • Summary of Syllabus: Over the two weeks the class will examine extracts from these nine works:
  • Plato The Republic
  • Aristotle The Nicomachaen Ethics
  • Jean-Jaques Rousseau The Social Contract
  • Hobbes Of Man
  • Schopenhauer On the Suffering of the World
  • Nietzsche Thus Spake Zarathustra
  • Marx The German Ideology
  • Freud Civilization and its Discontents
  • Sartre Being and Nothingness 

No. of hours tuition: 8 hours

Interviews with students who took this course: Gabriella (Nigeria), Robin (South Korea)