BA Politics, Philosophy and Economics / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Issues in PPE

Course unit fact file
Unit code SOCS10121
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


The course unit will be organised around a theme that is relevant to each of the three PPE disciplines. Possible themes include climate change, welfare, family, healthcare, education, justice, liberty, etc. Students will participate in lectures, tutorials, and group work to better understand and critically engage with questions of interdisciplinary interest. 


The course unit aims to…

  • … introduce students to the ways in which politics, philosophy, and economics can productively interact with particular focus on a topic* that is of interdisciplinary interest within politics, philosophy, and economics;
  • … develop students' powers of critical inquiry, analysis, and evaluation, and improve their ability to reason both independently and as part of a group;
  • … foster a community of learners, encouraging peer to peer learning and supporting and valuing students as partners and as members of our broader academic community.

Learning outcomes

  • … demonstrate understanding of the ways in which politics, philosophy, and economics overlap and interrelate;
  • … analyse and evaluate competing positions within a specific area* of interdisciplinary debate;
  • … present and defend their opinions through reasoned argument and by appeal to relevant evidence;
  • … communicate ideas and arguments to others in a clear and convincing way, both orally and in writing.


This course will explore a range of political, philosophical, and economic issues concerning climate change. Students will explore who is responsible for causing and mitigating climate change, how climate change may challenge existing political systems, and the role of the market in creating and responding to climate change. There will be lectures and tutorials on the following topics:

  1. Philosophy: Individual and Collective Responsibility
  2. Philosophy: Obligations to Future Generations
  3. Politics: Environmentalism and Political Protest
  4. Politics: International Coordination and Climate Change
  5. Economics: Markets and the Environment
  6. Economics: Incentives for Conservation

Teaching and learning methods

This unit will be taught through lectures, tutorials, and group supervision meetings. Relevant learning material will be distributed through Blackboard.


Lectures will have involve interactive discussion with students, and will enhance the students’ general understanding of a particular sub-topic. There will be two lectures for each discipline.


Tutorials will be discussion-based, and will require students to prepare by reading relevant texts and answering questions about them. The tutorial preparation and discussion will improve the students’ capacity to reason and argue. There will be one tutorial per discipline.


Group supervision meetings will involve the supervisor meeting groups of around six students. They will focus on the form and content of the students summative assessments. There will be four supervision meetings – two devoted to the group presentation, two devoted to the debate assessment.

Assessment methods

Assessment task 

Length required

Weighting within unit (if relevant)



Group Presentation. Students will be put into groups of around six, and will be given an interdisciplinary question to research. They must submit a 20 minute recorded presentation in which they demonstrate knowledge of their topic, and a reasoned argument for a specified answer to the question. 


Written Report 1. Students will be required to individually submit a 500 word summary and evaluation of their contribution to the group work, and the strengths and weaknesses of the work produced by the group.


Debate. Students will be required to participate in a specific debate format, involving rules and criteria for moderators. This will test the students skills in reasoned argument and oral communication. The precise details of how this will be implemented are currently being researched using funding from the SoSS Social Responsibility in the Curriculum scheme, but the general idea is as follows: (1) Students are put into groups of around six, and each group have a ‘rival’ group with whom they will be debating – each pair of groups will be told which side of a particular debate they must defend. (2) Each group will collectively present a case for their specified position – they will record this and upload it to the Video Portal. (3) They will then have a set period of time to collectively present a rebuttal to the claims made by the ‘rival’ group – again, they will record this and upload it to the Video Portal. (4) They will then have a set period of time to collectively present a proposed compromise position.


Written Report 2. Students will be required to individually submit a 500 word summary and evaluation of their contribution to the group work, and the strengths and weaknesses of the work produced by the group



15-20 mins





500 words





10-15 mins for first recording, 8-10 mins for second recording.   5 minutes for third recording.







500 words


























Feedback methods

The group supervisor can offer feedback prior to the submission of the presentation recording and the debate recordings.

Students will be expected to give each other feedback during the process.

Written feedback (plus marks) will given by the course convener on both the presentation and the debate recordings.

Recommended reading

Particular readings will depend on the precise theme of the course, but whatever the theme students will benefit from reading the following general texts:

Gaus, G. and Thrasher, J. 2008. Politics, Philosophy, and Economics: An Introduction. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Anomaly, J., Brennan, G., Munger, M.C., and Sayre-McCord, G. 2015. Philosophy, Politics, and Economics: An Anthology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

General readings relating to the specific topic of the course may be added to the course overview – if the topic were climate change, the following could be added:

Gardiner, S., Caney, S., Jamieson, D. and Shue, H. 2010. Climate Ethics: Essential Readings. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Broome, J. 2012. Climate Matters: Ethics in a Warming World. W.W. Norton and Co.

Doyle, T. and McEachern, J. 1998. Environment and Politics. London: Routledge.

O’Neill, K. 2017. The Environment and International Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hanley, N., Shogren, J., and White, B. 2013. Introduction to Environmental Economics. 2nd edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Perman, R., Ma, Y., Common, M., Maddison, D., and McGilvray, J. 2011. Natural Resource and Environmental Economics. 4th edition. London: Addison Wesley.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 12
Supervised time in studio/wksp 1
Tutorials 6
Independent study hours
Independent study 176

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Stephen Ingram Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Only available to students on the PPE degree programme.

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