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Philosophy, Politics and Economics - PPE

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Why study PPE?

Students in the Otago PPE programme study human behaviour and social phenomena.

The programme combines:

  • The analytical reasoning of philosophers
  • The social insight of scholars of politics

  • The methodological rigour of economists

Students begin with a grounding course in each of the three core disciplines. Study progresses to small and intellectually intense interdisciplinary seminars and to advanced independent research.

The aim of the programme is to give a broader exposure to the range of analytical approaches in these three disciplines than would be gained within any one of the individual majors.

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PPE at Otago

The PPE programme was founded in 1999 as the first and only such course of study in New Zealand, and one of only a few in Australasia. From the beginning PPE has attracted high-achieving students curious about the world and interested in employing their talents in public service.

Students begin in first year with introductory papers in economics, politics and philosophy, but quickly progress to advanced work in small interdisciplinary seminars. Usually in the second year or the first term of third year, students may participate in student exchange.

The humanities internship practicum, in which students go out into the community to provide research services, is available for second and third year students. Third year students may pursue supervised independent research on a topic of their choosing by taking the PHPE 301 paper.

See detailed information about Philosophy, Politics and Economics papers.

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Background required

No special background is required to begin a PPE major.

However, a student who has achieved mainly Excellences and Merits in each of the three subjects Economics, English and Mathematics with Calculus or Mathematics with Statistics at NCEA Level 3 may apply to the Department of Economics to enter the second required paper (ECON 112) without completing the first (BSNS 104).

Career Opportunities

Graduates with a PPE degree go on to apply their analytical skills in many different fields: recent graduates are working as diplomats, journalists, lawyers, project managers, academics, business executives, entrepreneurs, accountants, and policy analysts.

There are PPE graduates in entertainment, in tourism and in information technology; those in government work at the Supreme Court and at the Ministries for the Environment, Social Development, and Inland Revenue, among others.

You can find people with Otago PPE degrees in government, industry, academia, and civil society in New Zealand, North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

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Student Exchange

We encourage PPE majors to participate in student exchange, and many do so. There are twelve universities that offer PPE programmes available for exchange with students from Otago, as well as dozens more without formal PPE programmes that offer appropriate course work. You can participate in student exchange while moving forward with your degree and paying domestic fees.