The degree of Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) is a springboard to a career in politics, finance or the media. The three complementary subjects have deep historical connections yet have developed as independent disciplines with distinctive methods. PPE students will leave the programme with an understanding not just of modern societies and their political institutions, but how rigorous critical evaluation can bring about significant social and political change.

This programme is studied on campus.

PPE is a joint honours degree for students who have broad horizons and are interested in social and political studies and the humanities. The varied yet supporting nature of the three parts (containing courses from mathematical statistics to Aristotelian ethics) make it an interesting and dynamic programme. The variety provides students with three foundations from which to move forward. And, due to the intellectual connections that can be drawn between the disciplines, the knowledge and skills gained from each lends support to the others.

PPE students have a broad knowledge base:

  • An understanding of modern societies and their political institutions.
  • An understanding of the choices that political systems must make.
  • An understanding of how consumers, businesses and government make decisions and how these decisions collectively determine the allocation of resources.
  • An understanding of how rigorous critical evaluation can bring about significant social and political change.

And an impressive skills set:

  • Numeracy and data analysis skills
  • Reasoning and critical thinking skills
  • The ability to evaluate the concepts and values employed in political analysis
  • The ability to develop and express their views clearly
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Key Programme Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
48 months
Study Mode
Full Time
Start Month

What You'll Study

Year 1

Year 1

Students will be required to take the courses below, plus 15 credit points from a level 2 Philosophy option.

Compulsory Courses

Politics & International Relations 1: Democracy and Governance (PI1018) - 15 Credit Points

Politics and International Relations impacts on all parts of our lives, with more specifically it being the study of ideas, events, institutions and choice. Studying these provides us with both knowledge of the world and also how it operates and functions. It also changes our perception of our surroundings and makes us aware of an ever changing global context. This course will introduce students to concepts and ideas that form the basis for the study of these disciplines while simultaneously also helping us understand our own place within a global context.

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The Economics of Business and Society (EC1006) - 15 Credit Points

This course is an introductory course in microeconomics where we study the decision making of individual actors (consumers, employees, firms, governments, etc.) in an economy. Actors must make decisions about behaviours because they face scarce resources, but often they find that trading with other actors in markets can increase the wellbeing of all parties. This course models and examines the nature of these interactions, highlighting when they work well and when they fail to increase wellbeing and what might be the solution to these failures.

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Controversial Questions (PH1027) - 15 Credit Points

Watch this course video! We examine questions such as: Is eating animals immoral? Is being a good or bad person a matter of luck? If so, are we justified in punishing bad people? Should anyone be able to set limits on what you can do with your own body, even if it's ‘for your own good’? Should everyone be allowed to state their mind, even if their views are harmful or offensive? Is censorship ever justifiable? Do you have a moral obligation to help those worse-off? Are you unknowingly biased against underprivileged groups? Download Course Guide

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Experience, Knowledge and Reality (PH1023) - 15 Credit Points

How “real” is reality? How does the mind relate to the world? This course introduces two approaches to answering these questions: rationalism and empiricism. By Rene Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy, we learn about Descartes’ rationalist approach to knowledge, reality, mind-body dualism, and God’s necessary existence. Through David Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding see how Hume grounds knowledge in experience. We read Hume on impressions and ideas, induction, causality, miracles and critically compare and examine Descartes’ and Hume’s arguments by drawing on readers and critics. Download Course Guide

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The Global Economy (EC1506) - 15 Credit Points

This course is an introductory course in macroeconomics where we study the behaviour of the economy as a whole. Whereas microeconomics focuses on individual markets, macroeconomics addresses the “big issues” such as unemployment, inflation, economic growth, and financial crises. Macroeconomics is a lively subject, full of discussion and debate, as economists and policymakers take different views on macroeconomic issues, their causes and appropriate policy responses. Issues such as: Is the economy growing? What causes unemployment and how can we reduce it? How can we avoid recessions? When is inflation a problem? Are banks lending too much?

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How Should One Live? (PH1522) - 15 Credit Points

Why do the morally right thing when you have much more to gain by doing evil and know you could get away with it? Should you save five lives even if this requires you to kill someone in exchange for them? Would you lie on the witness stand to protect your guilty mother from life in prison? We will read and discuss responses to these questions that have been presented in both historical and contemporary texts, including those by Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Kant, John Stuart Mill, Bernard Williams, Judith Thomson, Shelly Kagan, and T.M. Scanlon.

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Year 2

Year 2

Compulsory Courses

Ideas and Ideologies in Politics and International Relations (PI2009) - 30 Credit Points

Ideas and ideologies are core to teaching, learning and research in Politics and International Relations. Theoretical developments are at the forefront of academic debates within the discipline, demonstrated by the appearance of a number of new approaches as more traditional theories have struggled to account for an ever changing world. This course will introduce students to these with profound questions and struggles over identity, belonging, justice and rights underpinning these theoretical debates.

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Intermediate Microeconomics (EC2003) - 30 Credit Points

This course builds on and is a natural extension of EC 1006. By examining in a more rigorous way concepts introduced in EC 1006 students will develop further their analytical skills and they will obtain a better understanding of consumers and producers behaviour, market structure as well as the effectiveness of economic policy. The course is designed to appeal to all students interested in economics. This includes students who may wish not to enter into any further studies of economics, as well as students who may wish to continue studying economics at the honours level.

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Global Politics: Equality and Inequality (PI2508) - 30 Credit Points

Equality and inequality are at the forefront of many debates within contemporary Politics and International Relations. This course will examine the historical context, theoretical underpinnings, and also key concepts which continue to uphold equality and inequality on a global scale.

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Intermediate Macroeconomics (EC2503) - 30 Credit Points

This course focuses on macroeconomic policy in a global economy. The first part builds an open-economy Keynesian model to investigate what determines the effectiveness of fiscal and monetary policies, and how exchange rate regimes and capital mobility impact on policy effectiveness. The second part investigates what determines the level of macroeconomic activity and its growth over time. The final part looks at what determines inflation and unemployment. This intermediate level course uses live lectures to develop your analytical skills evaluating economic policy in a rigorous and technical way to equip you with the skills needed for honours level study.

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Year 3

Year 3

Compulsory Courses

60 credit points from level 3 courses in Philosophy and 30 credit points from level 3 courses in Economics, plus 30 credit point from level 3 courses in Politics.

Year 4

Year 4

Compulsory Courses

30 credit points from level 4 courses in each of Economics, Philosophy and Politics plus a dissertation in either Economics or Philosophy.

Course Availability

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

How You'll Study

Learning Methods

  • Individual Projects
  • Lectures
  • Research

Assessment Methods

Students are assessed by any combination of three assessment methods:

  • coursework such as essays and reports completed throughout the course;
  • practical assessments of the skills and competencies they learn on the course; and
  • written examinations at the end of each course.

The exact mix of these methods differs between subject areas, years of study and individual courses.

Honours projects are typically assessed on the basis of a written dissertation.

Why Study Philosophy, Politics and Economics?

Why Philosophy

  • Ranked top in Scotland for teaching and course content in the last National Student Survey.
  • Famous philosophers who worked at the University include Thomas Reid, founder of the 18th century Scottish School of Common Sense Philosophy, and Alexander Bain, who helped lay the foundations for modern scientific psychology.
  • The Aberdeen Philosophy in Education Group (APEG), which is unique in Scotland, trains students to discuss philosophical questions with local primary and secondary school pupils.
  • Café Philosophique brings philosophers and the local community together, using popular films and novels to explore philosophical puzzles in an informal atmosphere.
  • The Centre for the History and Philosophy of Science, Technology and Medicine acts as the focus for research, teaching and engagement in the history, philosophy, ethics, literature and museology of science, technology and medicine.
  • The spectacular, award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library offers superb collections, including early printed works of natural philosophy and medicine, the archives of Thomas Reid, and records of the Aberdeen Philosophical Society.
  • We offer a packed programme of public events, lectures and debates, including the annual May Festival, which attracts high profile scientists, scholars, authors, actors and broadcasters discussing and debating the big issues of today.
  • The skills you learn in Philosophy—for example, to think and write clearly, to explain complex ideas, to challenge orthodoxy—lend themselves to many careers.
  • Studying Philosophy will change how you think about things and how you approach life’s challenges.
  • Philosophy is interesting! Students from all disciplines often report that studying Philosophy was the most rewarding experience of their studies.

Entry Requirements


The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.

General Entry Requirements

2020 Entry

SQA Highers

Standard: AABB

Applicants who have achieved AABB (or better), are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/ Advanced Highers may be required.

Minimum: BBB

Applicants who have achieved BBB (or are on course to achieve this by the end of S5) are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will normally be required.

Adjusted: BB

Applicants who have achieved BB, and who meet one of the widening participation criteria are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will be required.

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.


Standard: BBB

Minimum: BBC

Adjusted: CCC

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

International Baccalaureate

32 points, including 5, 5, 5 at HL.

Irish Leaving Certificate

5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3 OR AAABB, obtained in a single sitting. (B must be at B2 or above)

National 5/ S Grade/ GCSE (or equivalent) Maths is required in addition to the requirements above. 

The information displayed in this section shows a shortened summary of our entry requirements. For more information, or for full entry requirements for Arts and Social Sciences degrees, see our detailed entry requirements section.

English Language Requirements

To study for an Undergraduate degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

IELTS Academic:

OVERALL - 6.0 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 5.5; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0


OVERALL - 78 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 18; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 54 with: Listening - 51; Reading - 51; Speaking - 51; Writing - 54

Cambridge English Advanced & Proficiency:

OVERALL - 169 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 162; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Fees and Funding

You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.

Fee Waiver

Most RUK students (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) on a four year honours degree will be eligible for a full-fees waiver in their final year. Scholarships and other sources of funding are also available.

Fee information
Fee category Cost
Home / EU £1,820
All Students
RUK £9,250
Students Admitted in 2019/20
International Students £15,300
Students Admitted in 2019/20

Additional Fees

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.


There are many opportunities at the University of Aberdeen to develop your knowledge, gain experience and build a competitive set of skills to enhance your employability. This is essential for your future career success. The Careers Service can help you to plan your career and support your choices throughout your time with us, from first to final year – and beyond.

Our Experts

Other Experts
Dr Paula Sweeney
Professor David McCausland
Dr Mervyn Bain

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.


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Get in Touch

Contact Details

Student Recruitment & Admissions Service
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
AB24 3FX