My first lecture for PPE in Durham was a Politics lecture which seemed to be taught at a hundred miles a minute and it felt like I was being chucked straight in at the deep end. However, weirdly, I seemed to be floating and it felt like uni life could be okay. A real baptism of fire, but when time went on, everything seemed to be manageable, and I could really lean into my subject and the things I liked more about it and investigate deeper into various topics. That politics module was a core module called ‘Ideas and Ideologies’ and it was my first real insight into the extra work that you’re encouraged to look into; engaging with the parts that interest you and producing work on it, whether it was researching deeper into anarchist societies or discovering about the community of Rojava in Syria. I was given freedom to explore knowledge and apply that to my interests.
My first philosophy lecture was a shock because it came after my first politics lecture and it wasn’t taught as fast! I was braced for all lectures to be like that but rather I was exposed to a new style of teaching for a new subject, based in a new department. And that is one of the joys of PPE, you get to fully immerse yourself in various different facets of university life and then get equipped with the abilities to handle them all and manage them accordingly – being able to switch seamlessly from what one department expects to another but also being able to transfer skills over.
Economics began with the lecturers ensuring everyone was on the same playing field in terms of the maths and knowledge elements. Whether your a-levels were in Maths and Further Maths or if you were doing PPE having not done Maths at that level, they ensured that no essential knowledge was just presumed. This meant that if there was a topic you had done, you got a nice easing in whereas if there was a topic you hadn’t done, you got to start on the same level as everyone.
But studying PPE at Durham isn’t focussed on my first impressions of each subject, rather the development through the years is what really defines it. Fundamentally, PPE is an interdisciplinary subject with overlapping modules even if you don’t expect it. I will always remember in my second year when five out of my six modules would somehow entail Game Theory coming up in various forms and iterations and more specifically Hotelling’s Law making an appearance in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics modules with the premise being the same but the applications different spanning from voting patterns to locations to sell ice creams on a beach. That is how PPE fascinates you, it allows you to see the connections between the world and what we study and apply them accordingly. It doesn’t hand you the answers on a plate but rather it gives you the skills to make the links between all of the facets of information you’re given.
Studying PPE at Durham is thus characterised by being hugely rewarding and allowing you to progress onto whatever you want by giving you the tools to bring so many points of information together and apply them. The workload is manageable in terms of core reading and preparation however what will really captivate you is the amount of time you spend on exploring things further, finding new and more information on a topic and digging further into it and finding the overlaps that could have helped a situation from your other two disciplines. Ultimately, I thought PPE at Durham would be something like me reading about Tunisian politics and government at 10pm on a Friday night- and ultimately in my final year it turned out to be simply because of the interest I had developed in that part of the module before! So what is PPE at Durham like? It is all about having the skills to pursue the things that interest you most and that kind of freedom and overlapping content is what makes this such a great course here.
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