Sophie – Philosophy, Politics and Economics

What do you like best about your course?

It provides the opportunity to study a really broad range of topics, and we’re taught by brilliant tutors. Oxford is where the PPE course began and I think it offers the best way for me to study all the things I want to – more so than any other university I looked at when applying. I’ve become much more confident in discussing my opinions through having tutorials twice a week in which you’re defending your arguments or explaining your reasoning. It’s such a step up from school to know that your tutors are leading academics – but you still have an hour each week in which they’re focusing on you and your thoughts on a topic or how you approached a problem, listening and giving you feedback.

How is your subject taught at Oxford?

Typically I have two tutorials each week, and around seven hours of lectures. The tutorials are by far the most important aspect of studying here, while lectures are a helpful addition. I have an essay or problem sheet set for both tutorials, and therefore most of my time is spent reading to prepare for them. In first year everyone studies two of the three subjects per term; for example my first term here was spent studying Philosophy and Economics. Going into second year you can drop one of the three, or carry on with all of them. Most people tend to drop one, but it really depends on how broad/focused you want your degree to be.

What advice would you give potential applicants interested in studying your subject?

Think about what interests you about PPE and try and research/read around it – there’s no point in reading loads of books that don’t interest you in the slightest just because you think you should. Don’t be intimidated if you’ve never studied one (or all) of the subjects before – I hadn’t studied Politics or Economics but found I enjoyed and could get on with the first year work just as well as those who had. The tutors don’t expect you to have a great deal of former knowledge and one of the best things about studying at Oxford is the opportunity to try entirely new things. Keep an open mind about the subject and Oxford in general; you don’t have to be a certain type of person to do PPE, you just need to show that you’re capable of, and would enjoy, studying here.

Why did you choose Teddy Hall?

I hadn’t heard of Teddy Hall until I came to Oxford for an Open Day and happened to wander in. I’d been quite intimidated by Oxford but everyone here seemed really welcoming and I thought the Front Quad was beautiful (there was also a giant teddy bear by the entrance…). It just immediately seemed like more of a place I could imagine myself living and studying, so I thought I’d try applying here.

What is life like as a student here?

Teddy Hall definitely hasn’t disappointed so far – it’s a really lovely place to be a student. The work can be intense at Oxford but being somewhere I feel comfortable, with friends I know I’m going to keep for life, really helps me to get on with that side of things, while also having a great time outside of studying. My subject tutors are incredibly interesting, intelligent people, and very supportive – they allow me to get what I want out of my degree.

What sort of extra-curricular activities are you involved in at Oxford?

I ran for the JCR committee in my first year and became Teddy Hall’s female Welfare Officer, so that’s one of the biggest extra-curricular things I’m involved in. I get to organise really fun events and activities, while also being a source of support around college – in Hilary term I took part in the Peer Support training programme as part of this. I go to a few political societies, am a Student Ambassador for Teddy Hall (helping with outreach, which includes giving tours of the College to prospective students), and I’m a member of the Oxford Union. I regularly go to various debates or talks there (in an attempt to make the most of the investment…), especially as they’re often either relevant to my course or simply very interesting. Now in my second year I’m still regularly trying out new things: there is time to do more than just study here!

Where next?

Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)

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