Politics, Philosophy and Economics BA
Sheffield Methods Institute
You are viewing this course for 2021-22 entry.
Studying politics, philosophy and economics will help you understand the ideas and theories which shape our world. You'll learn how and why these subjects are intrinsically linked, and how they've developed alongside each other.
You'll also develop analytical skills to help you evaluate the impact of government policies of programmes.
You'll learn how to understand things from multiple perspectives and think creatively about problem solving. Our teaching is informed by real-world events that are happening now, so you'll be using the knowledge and techniques you've learned to tackle current issues.
For example, you could examine the impact of government policies aimed at addressing climate change, healthcare, education, and financial crisis. Our strong links with employers mean you'll be equipped with the analytical skills that they look for when you graduate.
You'll have the flexibility to specialise in your area of interest. For instance, you could choose to explore modules in international relations, economic history, the philosophy of religion, or macroeconomics.
We have a partnership with the Civil Service and we support students in gaining employment experience during their degree. We encourage you to spend a year working for governments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other third sector employers focused on public policy.
You'll also have the option to spend a year studying abroad in order to develop your skills and understanding of Politics, Philosophy and Economics in a global setting.
You can specialise in quantitative economics and convert to a BSc Politics, Philosophy and Economics.
In the final year, you'll complete a PPE dissertation supported by a dissertation tutor.
If you want to specialise in economics then you can choose the BSc exit route. For this you'd need to take an extra economics module in your first year and then take more core economics modules in your second and third years compared to the BA route.
UCAS code: L200
- Principles in Politics, Philosophy & Economics (PPE)
This module is designed to provide students on the PPE course with an understanding of how politics, philosophy, and economics are interrelated, as well as articulate the reasons why PPE is such an exciting interdisciplinary field of study. It will cover key theories and approaches in politics, philosophy, and economics that provide the foundation for the study of PPE as an interdisciplinary degree.20 credits
- Economy, Society and Public Policy (ESPP)
ESPP is for students who are interested in the big policy problems facing societies today ¿ inequality within and between countries, environmental sustainability, the future of work, health and wellbeing, wealth creation and financial instability and so on. This module has been created specifically for social science students who are NOT economists, but who want to understand how the economy works, and how it can be made to work better. The module will give you an understanding of the ways in which we can interpret the evidence on the social and economic issues of today, and formulate appropriate public policy interventions. We emphasise issues of power, social norms, fairness, institutions, etc, and illustrate throughout with real-world data.20 credits
Optional politics modules - one from:
- Introduction to Comparative Politics
This module examines the utility of the comparative approach to politics in an era of the proclaimed 'end of history' and 'global convergence'. It examines executives in a number of political systems. It focuses on 'constitutional engineering' by examining the effect that electoral and party systems have on the structure of executive authority and the types of executive commonly used in political systems. These are presidential, prime ministerial and mixed systems. It considers what is meant by 'strong' and 'weak' executives. The cases examined are: US presidency, Brazilian presidency, UK prime minister, German Federal Chancellor, Russian presidency and the French presidential system.20 credits
- Introduction to International Relations
This module will introduce students to the discipline of International Relations (IR) and therefore the study of global politics. IR is a complex, multi-level and multi-actor field whose terrain spans global to individual issues. To provide a comprehensive introduction to IR, the module will focus on two questions: 1) What is the subject matter of IR? And 2) What is the unit of analysis? Structuring the module as such will introduce students to key debates in IR and provide a broad overview of the subject matter (from global governance to individual activism) and different actors (from the UN to terrorists).20 credits
- British Politics
This module will introduce students to key concepts and debates in British politics through an examination of post-1976 British political history. Each lecture will take as its starting-point one day in recent British history and will describe what happened on that day and what happened as a result of that day. Each of the seminars will then follow that discussion: paying particular attention to concepts and ideas within the study of politics which can help us make sense of those events.20 credits
- Introduction to Global Political Economy
This module provides an introduction to global political economy (GPE). It covers key mainstream and critical theories and considers critically what GPE is. Following this, the main focus will be on sketching the outlines of the global economy (past and present) by considering particular commodities. This provides a novel way to introducing the student to the major processes of global trade, finance and production. It also considers the political economy of race, class and gender as core theoretical themes that interweave the empirical examination of the global political economy, from roughly 1500 through to the 21st century.20 credits
- Introduction to Western Political Thought
This module provides an introduction to key themes and thinkers in Western political thought. It explores the different meanings of the nature of politics and the political in this tradition. One key theme will be the relation between human nature and politics. This will be explored through a series of deep conflicts between reason and desire, the state and individual, and the public and private. These conflicts are examined through the different visions of politics of a selection of ancient and early modern thinkers. The module will also engage with critiques of the canon of Western political thought itself, in particular from a postcolonial perspective.20 credits
Optional philosophy modules - one from:
- Self and Society
The aim of this module is to introduce students to philosophical problems in social science about the nature of the individual person, and the relation between individuals and society. We shall be discussing how the identity of an individual is constituted, and whether this identity is determined socially or otherwise. We shall also be discussing what a genuinely liberal state might be like, and whether we can argue for the desirability of such a state from the nature and needs of the individual.20 credits
- Philosophy of Religion
There are two large questions typically considered by philosophers of religion. First, is there any good reason to believe that God exists? Second, are there reasons to think that the concept of God makes no sense? In this course we consider both questions. For the first question we look at two standard arguments for the existence of God: the Argument from Design and the First Cause Argument. As regards the second question, we consider the Problem of Evil: whether the existence of God, as generally conceived, is consistent with the existence of evil.10 credits
- Reason and Argument
Arguments are everywhere - in our newspapers, on our television screens and radios, in books and academic papers, on blogs and other websites. We argue with our friends, families, teachers and taxi drivers. These arguments are often important ¿ they help us to decide what to do, what to believe, whom to vote for, what car to buy, what career path to follow, or where we should attend university (and what we should study). The ability to recognise, evaluate and produce arguments is therefore immeasurably valuable in every aspect of life.This course will teach you how to recognise an argument, how to understand it, how to evaluate and criticise it, and how to produce your own. Students in this module will learn how to extract an argument from a complex text, how to uncover hidden assumptions, and how to recognise and critique bad reasoning10 credits
- History of Ethics
This unit offers a critical introduction to the history of ethical thought in the West, examining some of the key ideas of e.g. Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, Bentham, Mill, Nietzsche, Rawls and Gilligan. It thus provides a textual introduction to some of the main types of ethical theory; the ethics of flourishing and virtue; deontology; utilitarianism; contractualism. The close interconnections between ethics and other branches of philosophy (e.g. metaphysics, epistemology, aesthetics) will be highlighted, as will the connections between ethics and other disciplines (e.g. psychology, anthropology). Our main text will be Singer, P. (ed), 1994, Ethics, Oxford University Press.10 credits
- Knowledge, Justification and Doubt
In our age of post-truth politics and fake news, this course aims to introduce students to philosophy by investigating some basic problems in epistemology (i.e. the philosophical study of knowledge). We will address questions such as: what knowledge is and why it is important; what truth is; what kinds of things can be known and how; if and how perceptual experience gives us knowledge of an ¿external¿ world; whether all knowledge has to be grounded in experience; whether knowledge is socially constructed (and if so whether that is necessarily problematic); what role justice plays in our epistemic practices.10 credits
- History of Philosophical Ideas
The history of philosophy is made up of a series of debates between competing philosophical traditions and schools: for example, idealists argue with realists, rationalists with empiricists. And at different times, distinctive philosophical movements have dominated the discussion, such as pragmatism, existentialism, phenomenology, analytic philosophy, and critical theory. This module will introduce you to some of these central movements and traditions in the history of philosophy from Plato onwards, and the key philosophical concepts and issues that they have brought in to western thought.10 credits
Optional economics modules - one from:
- Classical and Contemporary Thinkers in Economics
This module introduces students to a range of classical and contemporary economists, including the founders of the discipline and some Nobel Prize winners, past and present. For each economist, a senior member of the department will give a short biography, outline their contributions to the discipline of economics and the development of the subject, and explain how they have influenced their own thinking and research that is undertaken in economics today. Examples of the contribution of these economists to a range of economic issues will be used to illustrate the continuing relevance and application of their ideas.20 credits
- Mathematical Methods for Economics 1
The aims of this module are: 1. To give an insight into the importance of mathematical methods in economic analysis. 2. To introduce a range of mathematical techiques. 3. To give an understanding of how and when to apply the techniques. The module will include revision of basic concepts, algebra, equations, exponential and logarithmic functions, differential calculus, optimisation, geometry20 credits
- Mathematical Methods for Economics 2
The aims of the module are: 1. To provide an insight into the importance of mathematical methods in economics; 2. To introduce and apply a range of mathematical techniques to economic problems. Topics covered in the course include revision of algebra, functions, differential calculus, optimisation, an introduction to dynamic analysis, and an introduction to matrix algebra.20 credits
Plus one other first year module on this page.
- Policy Analysis and Programme Evaluation
This module will teach students about the methods of policy analysis and programme evaluation, including (but not limited to) randomised-control trials (RCTs) and methods of causal inference. Students will also learn how to read and critique published research, as well as carry out these techniques using software.20 credits
- Case Studies in Politics, Philosophy & Economics (PPE)
This module will present students with in-depth, real-world case studies of policies implemented to tackle problems in PPE such as climate change, healthcare, inequality, and crime. Students will analyse how organisations developed and implemented specific policies, and (with hindsight) evaluate their efficacy. Guest speakers may be invited to present selected examples of policy analysis and/or programme evaluation from their respective organisations.20 credits
Optional politics modules - one from:
- The Left: Past, Present & Future
This module considers the past, present, and future of 'The Left'. From its origins in the French Revolution, this movement has struggled to balance equality, liberty and solidarity. Implementing these values has given rise to many different stands of leftist thought, leading to debates between radicals and proponents of meliorism. This module gives students the historical, theoretical and empirical tools to understand 'The Left' as a continuing project. Core topics include: defining 'The Left', its origins and theoretical development, its relation to political economy, as well as the current state of the left in the UK and around the world.20 credits
- The Politics and Government of the European Union
This module will provide students with a working knowledge of European integration, and of the main institutions of the European Union, including the Council of Ministers, the Commission and the Parliament. The module consists of a series of lectures on the history and institutions of the European Union, and seminars to discuss issues raised in the lectures.20 credits
- The Political Economy of Global Capitalism
This module will begin by providing students with an account of the major theoretical traditions which seek to interpret and explain the global political economy. These are liberalism and interdependence theory; mercantilism, nationalism and hegemonic stability theory; and marxism, dependency and world systems theory. It then explores different aspects of the contemporary global political economy - finance, development, trade and production - and ends by reviewing the intellectual debate about the meaning of globalisation.20 credits
- International Relations Theory
This module provides an introduction to international relations theory. The module examines the beginnings of the Discipline and demonstrates how these origines have continued to shape contemporary international relations theory. The module then outlines hte key areas of theoretical debate, including Realism, Liberalism, Marxism, Postmodernism, Constructivism, Neorealism, Feminism and Critical Theory20 credits
- Political Theory in Practice
This module explores key debates in political theory, and the implications of those debates for current political practice. It first examines debates surrounding justice, and what these mean for welfare and taxation policies. It then analyses disputes over the meaning of well-being, and their implications for policies surrounding disability and health. It introduces students to different ideas of toleration, and how these influence laws on free speech. It also explores controversies over multiculturalism, and in particular its impact upon women. Finally, it examines care ethics and its implications for how we value the environment.20 credits
This module explores development, through a focus on the key debates about, approaches to, and strategies for engendering it that have prevailed in different parts of the world at different points in history. It emphasises how development is not just about what happens in poor countries: it has always been historically, ideologically and spatially rooted. It moves forward chronologically and geographically, starting with classical debates about British industrialisation, before examining contending visions of development in the post-war era; the diverse experiences of Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean; and the contemporary rise of China. It ends by returning to Britain and its growth crisis; itself a manifestation of a peculiar development problem.20 credits
- Human Rights, Power and Politics
The module introduces students to the big debates about human rights. It explores the achievements of the human rights agenda, as well as its failures. The module interrogates a number of important questions about the relationship between human rights and politics. How do human rights work in domestic and international politics? What are effective strategies for realising rights? What role do non-state actors play in the realisation of human rights? Finally, by focusing on the methodological and ethical challenges of researching and measuring human rights, the module makes space for equipping students for their own future research projects.20 credits
- Oppression and Resistance
This module considers oppression and resistance from a variety of perspectives. Although the Enlightenment sought to liberate individuals from social/political domination, it failed to address many forms of oppression at home and was bound to European projects of colonialism. Addressing these forms of violence has been the major project of post-Enlightenment thought and global social movements. This module gives students the historical, theoretical and empirical tools to understand modern oppression and resistance. It explores: the legacy of the Enlightenment, feminism, sexuality, racism, post-colonial and decolonial thought, intersectionality, and social movement case studies such as Black Lives Matter and #MeToo.20 credits
- Autocracies and Democracies
This module looks at autocracies and democracies and investigates several aspects of regime transitions. It highlights the complexities associated with defining and measuring regimes. It examines numerous theories and modes of transition to democracy. It analyses the difficulties and challenges of building democracies and asks when (or if) democratisation is complete. It looks at various institutional arrangements and their effects on different regime types. It analyses the persistence and performance of authoritarian regimes. It discusses threats to democracies and reversals to authoritarianism. The module uses extensively examples from around the world to analyse transitions and question various theories.20 credits
Optional philosophy modules - one from:
- Theory of Knowledge
The aim of the course is to provide an introduction to philosophical issues surrounding the knowledge. We will be concerned with the nature and extent of knowledge. How must a believer be related to the world in order to know that something is the case? Can knowledge be analysed in terms of more basic notions? Must our beliefs be structured in a certain way if they are to be knowledge? In considering these questions we will look at various sceptical arguments that suggest that the extent of knowledge is much less than we suppose. And we will look at the our various faculties of knowledge: perception, memory, introspection, and testimony.20 credits
Feminists have famously claimed that the personal is political, and argued against traditional understandings of the public/private distinction. This module will be devoted to examining a wide variety of areas not tradtionally considered to be of political relevance, which feminists have argued are in fact crucial to politics. We will discuss such issues as family structure, feminie appearance, sexual behaviour, science, culture and language20 credits
The philosopher and mathematician A N Whitehead once characterised western thought as a series of footnotes to Plato. The thought of Plato and his teacher Socrates, who both lived in Greece around 400 years before the start of the Christian era, set the agenda for much subsequent philosophy and did much to define out ideas of what philosophy is. This course will introduce students to the study of the philosophy of Plato through a close and critical study of a small number of his dialogues in English tradition.20 credits
- The Rationalists
This course will introduce students to some of the great rationalist philosophers of the 17th and 18th centuries, such as Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, and Kant. Readings will be mainly from primary sources. Discussion will focus on philosophical problems more than on historical context.20 credits
- Ethics: Theoretical and Practical
This course examines various moral problems and considers how they may be addressed by various normative ethical theories of moral obligation and justice, notably consequentialism and its main rivals. These theories are critically evaluated according to how well they enable us to understand our ethical lives.20 credits
- Political Philosophy
A survey of some of the most important thinkers and issues in political theory. Historical figures discussed will include Plato, Marx, Mill and Rawls. Contemporary theories will include liberalism, utilitarianism, and libertarianism. We will ask: What gives the state it's legitimacy? Is there a single best form of government for all societies? Does justice require that we redistribute resources from rich to poor? How much right does the state have to control our speech and conduct? Should we single out certain groups like women and minorities for special rights?20 credits
- Philosophy of Science
It is virtually impossible to overstate the importance that science has in our everyday life. Here is a brief list of things that would not exist without modern science: computers, phones, internet, cars, airplanes, pharmaceutical drugs, electric guitars. Imagine your life without these things. It looks very different doesn't it? Science, however, is not important only in virtue of its practical applications. in fact, many would agree that the the primary value of science is that of being the best available source of knowledge about the world. Indeed, it seems fair to say that we made more discoveries after the 17th century scientific revolution [e.g. the laws of planetary motion, the principles underlying biological evolution, the laws governing quantum phenomena, the structure of DNA, the cellular architecture of the brain] than in all the previous millenia. This raises important philosophical questions.First, what is science? What are the criteria that demarcate science from non-science? For example, what is the difference between science and religion? Second, how does science work? What are the methods and eplanatory strategies that make it so successful? Is there such a thing as the scientific method, and what counts as a scientific explanation? Third, is science objective? That is, is science a form of rational and unbiased inquiry, or does it reflect ethical, political, and social factors? Finally, is science the fundamental source of knowledge about the world? Does science tell us how things really are? These are some of the questions that we will tackle in this course.20 credits
Optional economics modules - one from:
Or one of these, if the relevant modules were also taken in year one:
- Dissertation in Politics, Philosophy & Economics
Students will prepare, organise, conduct, and report original research using policy analysis or programme evaluation on a topic of their choosing. Students will either be expected to collect original material to investigate the topic, or to perform secondary analysis on information drawn from existing sources. The finished product is presented in the style and length of a long journal article (and similar to that of a UK government Command Paper in many ways). It represents the culmination of learning and skills development within the interdisciplinary PPE course and demonstrates a student’s ability to select a suitable topic, find and evaluate the relevant and available evidence, and recommend a course of action.40 credits
Plus four modules from at least two groups.
Optional politics modules:
Political Ecology: Power, Nature, & Society
- The Political Economy of Africa
The module investigates the inter-relations between state power and economic change in Africa. The conceptual focus of the module is how Africa has acted and reacted within a global political economy. The underlying interest of the module is in the way Africans¿ well-being is affected by state action and international order. Accordingly, the module covers topics such as trade, conflict, and poverty. Conceptually, the module explores the nature of capitalist expansion in Africa, both in terms of changes within countries and in terms of connections to the global political economy.20 credits
- Civilisation, Empire and Hegemony
With American power seemingly all powerful today, this unit provides a rethink of the origins of great power politics/economics. Mainstrem Eurocentric theories in International Relations view great power politics/economics as having universal materialist properties. And they view America and Britain as hegemons that provide global public goods for the benefit of all. This module problematises this view by revealing the differing moral foundations and 'standards of civilisation' that inform the various directions that great power can take. It examines Britain and China in the pre-1900 era, contemporary America, Japan, and the potential role of China in the coming decades.20 credits
- Terrorism, Violence and the State
This module aims to provide students with an understanding of the nature and legitimacy of forms of protest against the modern state. In particular the module focuses on issues of contemporary terrorism. However, in order to understand the nature and motivations of terrorism it is necessary to understand the nature of the modern state and other, non-violent forms of protest such as civil disobedience20 credits
- War, Peace and Justice
This module provides a practical and theoretical overview of contemporary war, peace and justice. It explores key conversations, issues and conceptual responses relating to: the challenges and ethics of researching war; the construction of ethics and notions of justice in war and peace; the politics of technology in contemporary warfare; the politics of peace, resistance and pacifism; the politics of war, memory and commemoration; embodied and emotional registers of war; and the politics of death and grievability. Students will explore the practice, experience, representation and cultural imaginary of war in the 21st century and consider implications for peace and justice.20 credits
- Marx and Contemporary Marxism
This module will familiarise students with Marx's corpus and enable them to evaluate key historical processes-such as the development of capitalism and modernity, the birth of the nation-state and the international system-through a Marxist lens. The first part of the module surveys the development of Marx's thought against the background of the socio-economic and political transformations of the nineteenth century. The second part focuses on thematic issues, reviewing how Marx engaged with the questions of strategy, mobilisation, gender, culture, imperialism, and colonialism. This puts Marx and Marxism into dialogue with other critical approaches, including feminism, postcolonialism, and poststructuralism.20 credits
- The Making of the Modern Middle East
This module offers an interdisciplinary examination of the socio-economic and political dynamics of the modern Middle East by exploring the region's major historical developments from a non-Eurocentric perspective, and investigating how the region has been represented and analysed in the social sciences. Students will have the opportunity to reassess the imperial and colonial legacies by retracing the trajectories of state formation and economic development in the past two centuries. The overall aim is to equip students with the knowledge and skills to `de-exceptionalise' the Middle East and enable them to study it as any other region in the international system.20 credits
- Anti-Politics and Democratic Crisis
Across the world, politicians face growing challenges to their authority. The public distrust them more than ever. Insurgent populist parties challenge traditional politics. Private security firms deliver public services. The public, especially young people, experience politics in very different ways (e.g. through social media). This module interrogates these issues through the idea of anti-politics. Built through an innovative course design to mirror the progression of a research project, students will debate theories suggesting liberal democracies are in `crisis', select methodological frameworks, and use them to explain case studies of anti-politics in diverse cases, from to the state to the supermarket.20 credits
- Legitimate and Illegitimate Violence
This module examines under what circumstances political violence is deemed legitimate or illegitimate. We will not treat this as a question to be answered by normative political theory, but rather as an empirical question of power and politics. The key organizing questions for the module will thus be: when is violence treated as legitimate in the world? who gets to determine this? and how and when do the boundaries between legitimate and illegitimate violence change? Specific cases may include the distinction between civilians and combatants, the use of violence in war vs. peace-time, terrorism, torture, domestic/family violence, and police brutality.20 credits
Drugs are big business and politically salient, yet their production, trade, distribution and regulation are understudied in politics. Narcotics are rooted in complex webs of public, private and criminal power, with diverse consequences for growth, development, security and health. This module explores this evolving panorama: it traces the political evolution of therapeutic/psychotropic substances from the opium wars to prohibition, before analysing the `War on Drugs', the attendant creation of mafia violence, and the emergence of `narco-states'. Later classes address contemporary experiments in legalisation and decriminalisation, the development of licit recreational narcotics industries, and the implications for the global prohibitionist architecture.20 credits
- Justice in World Politics
This module interrogates normative issues in world politics. We will first discuss the theoretical perspectives of cosmopolitanism, nationalism and statism, before applying these perspectives to contemporary global issues. Questions to be addressed may include: how ought we to respond to global poverty and inequality? Do we need a global democracy? What does a just global trade regime look like? Who bears responsibility for climate change mitigation? Can states' territorial claims be justified? Should there be a right to global freedom of movement? And what kinds of political institutions do we need in order to realise a globally just order?20 credits
- Contemporary U.S. Foreign Policy
This module explores the foreign policy of the United States: the world's only superpower, possessing global interests and a military capacity to protect them far surpassing that of any potential rival. The module will explore contemporary issues such as climate change, human rights, terrorism, and weapons of mass destruction. Together, we will analyse the role of the media, the president, congress, public opinion, social movements and lobby groups, and the current and historic role of race, gender, and colonialism, in shaping U.S. foreign policy.20 credits
- Contemporary Chinese Politics
This module is a comprehensive introduction to contemporary politics in the People's Republic of China, focussing on the country's domestic politics. It examines China's recent political history focussing on the politics of the Maoist era. We then move to the post-1978 reform and opening-up period, through various topics including the Chinese Communist Party, political economy, policymaking, rural governance, political reform, state-society relations, and major challenges facing the country such as environmental degradation, corruption, and ethnic unrest. It encourages students to think critically about how politics works in China, and to evaluate where China is heading politically in the short, medium, and long-term.20 credits
- Politics and Power in the Global Food System
Politics and power are at the heart of how food is produced, distributed, consumed, governed and regulated, both globally and locally. Globally, one billion people are hungry whilst one billion people are overweight or obese. This unit investigates this and other inequities by exploring a range of approaches to understanding the global food system, how it has changed over time, and the importance of relations of gender, race, class, state and capital. It uses food as a lens to ask bigger questions about the nature of global capitalism and how this intersects with relations between humans and the environment.20 credits
- The Political Economy of Social Policy
This module examines the political economy of social policy. It explores different ideas about the relationship between the state and citizens and will consider different views about the roles of state, market and civil society in meeting citizens’ needs. The analysis will be deepened by detailed consideration of two specific areas of social policy. The overall aim is to equip students with the knowledge and skills to critically analyse different social policy regimes, measures and approaches. While it will focus largely on examples from the UK, social policy in other societal contexts will be considered.20 credits
- The Politics of Security
This module explores the changing character of security studies and global (in)security, examining the proliferation of discourses and practices of security, threat, and risk in contemporary society. It introduces a range of advanced theoretical debates about security, exploring key concepts (including discourse, practice, identity, emancipation, securitization, and risk) and how they might help us to make sense of security politics by looking at a range of cases (such as terrorism, energy security, religion, technology and development). It asks you to think critically about the function of security, and the ethical and analytical assumptions that shape how security is theorised/practiced.20 credits
- Hunger in the Global North
This module will explore the phenomenon of hunger in the Global North. Interrogating the political economy of hunger, the module will look at the role played by economies of poverty, welfare, charity and food. At a time of welfare retrenchment, proliferation of voluntary food aid and the persistent failure of the world food economy to address hunger, it is more important than ever to take a fresh look at the drivers of contemporary hunger and explore evidence-based solutions. This module will enable students to do so, drawing on country case studies across North America and Europe.20 credits
- Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict
This module will address when, why, and how widespread sexual violence occurs in armed conflicts. The module will (1) examine how academics and international actors understand and research what sexual violence is and why it occurs in certain conflicts; (2) assess the international efforts to prosecute and prevent sexual violence in armed conflict; and (3) undertake in-depth case study analysis to assess the various long-term consequences of sexual violence in armed conflict for individuals, communities, and processes of reconciliation. Resultantly the module will assess what can be done to address this security issue and its numerous violent consequences.20 credits
- Corporations in Global Politics: Possibilities, Tensions, and Ambiguities
Corporations are ubiquitous, affecting everything from mundane individual consumption choices, to the investment decisions of both weak and powerful states. Importantly, their authority extends beyond the economic sphere and into political, as they shape and execute policies and activities for some of the world's most pressing problems. This module explores the multifaceted political roles of corporations, and challenges students to critically reflect on their implications. Drawing upon international relations, political economy, and global governance literatures, it analyses the corporation theoretically, but also empirically drawing upon diverse case studies ranging from environmental sustainability and development, to war-making and peacekeeping.20 credits
- The Psychology of Politicians
The Psychology of Politicians explores the intersection between psychology and political science with a focus on those individuals that actually stand for and win elected office. This is a topic that fuels public and media debate and has grown in significance since the emergence of populist leaders all over the world. And yet despite its potentially far-reaching implications for the future of democracy the psychology of politicians remains an under-researched topic of analysis. What drives politicians? What motivates them? Are they all really self-serving and self-interested? Is hubris syndrome the most dangerous political malady in the world?20 credits
- Britain and the European Union
The course seeks to make sense of: Britain's relations with the EU; the problems within UK politics associated with the European issue; and the Europeanisation of British politics/policy. The course will cover the pre-history of membership and accession. It will set out the analytical toolkit for understanding the UK's impact on the EU and then explore Britain's European diplomacy. It will also explore the EU's impact on the UK, using the Europeanisation literature to understand the impacts on British governance, its political forces and public policy within the EU. A short comparative section will put Britain in context.20 credits
- Party Politics: Competition, Strategies & Campaigns
This module provides an in-depth analysis of party politics. It offers a detailed exposition of the multiple issues related with parties, looking at the interactions both within and outside parties. The module covers key aspects of party politics such as the different types of parties, their organization, party membership, types of party systems, political competition and issue positioning, campaign strategies, formation of new parties, the effects of cleavages, coalition formation, party financing and the number of parties.20 credits
- Liberalism and its Critics
The aim of this module us to assess the state of contemporary liberal politics and political theory, and to address the question of whether liberalism is in retreat in the West. The course will provide students with an in-depth examination of key themes within liberal political theory (e.g. distributive justice, freedom, multiculturalism, neutrality, public reason) as a way of exposing them to the numerous variations within the liberal tradition. It will also examine and assess critics of liberalism (e.g. communitarian, republican, realist) as well as discuss several of the key contemporary challenges to liberal politics (e.g. the rise of populism, post-truth politics, identity politics, post-humanism, nationalism).20 credits
- Parliamentary Studies
This module focuses on how parliaments and legislatures operate and is founded on the basis of theoretically-informed but policy-relevant teaching. It therefore attempts to provide students with a sense of why cultures, traditions and informal relationships matter as much (if not more) than formal procedures. Although the House of Commons and the House of Lords provide the main institutional focus for this module students will be encouraged to adopt a comparative approach whenever possible and to situate their analysis within an appreciation of the changing role of parliament within evolving frameworks of multi-level governance.20 credits
- Peacekeeping, State-building and International Intervention
This module looks at the way international intervention has changed in recent years. It draws on a number of different areas - humanitarian intervention, peacekeeping, development and state-building. It draws these areas together by exploring what they have in common and how there has been a shift in the way that international intervention deals with these issues. In particular, the international community has moved from direct involvement towards a form of governance that operates from a distance by encouraging local ownership, capacity building and resilience.20 credits
- Pandemics and Panics: Health, Security and Global Politics
In today's globalized world, infectious diseases and other health issues have increasingly come to be seen as security threats - a shift that has challenged traditional notions of what 'Security Studies' is all about. This module seeks to provide an understanding of the contemporary politics of health and security, identifying the health issues which have been seen as security threats and the major policy responses to them. The module locates health and disease within the key approaches to Security Studies (including state-centric and human security approaches), and requires students to critically engage with the politics and ethics of securitizing health.20 credits
- Practical Politics: How to Make Policy and Influence People
This course will provide a practical, hands on account of how policy is formulated, implemented and why it sometimes doesn't work. Focussing on environmental politics, the course draws on the experiences of policy experts including civil servants, lobbyists and politicians. It will include a trip to London and an assessment that mirrors tasks routinely undertaken by those within or seeking to influence government.20 credits
- The Ethics of Political Leadership
This module investigates the ethics of political leadership via an engagement with the western tradition of political thought and contemporary analytical political theory. Its overall objective is to enable students to analyse and evaluate normative arguments on the significance and function of political leaders in contemporary politics. The module examines competing theories of leadership in their historical and intellectual contexts and a number of issues of contemporary ethical significance, including the problem of 'dirty hands', the nature of political integrity, and the ethics of political compromise. The approach is theoretical and philosophical and examples of political leaders will be used to highlight strengths and weaknesses of competing theories of leadership, and to emphasise their ideological assumptions and implications.20 credits
- Animals, Ethics and Politics
This unit explores the debates surrounding what we owe to animals politically. It introduces students to the main debates in animal ethics, and asks how they affect our political practices, norms, institutions and policies. Particular attention is focused on the tensions between animal welfare and other political values and goods, with students exploring such controversial policy debates as animal experimentation, animal agriculture, conservation and the use of animals for entertainment. The overall aim of the unit is to investigate the implications of taking animals seriously for current political practice.20 credits
- Sex, Race and Death: Feminist Perspectives on War, Violence and (In)Security
This unit produces a critical take on war, violence and security from feminist perspectives. Particular attention is focused on feminist theories that foreground the interconnectedness or 'intersectionality' of different power relations, including postcolonial, transnational and queer approaches. How are different forms and sites of violence connected? How do technologies of gender, sex and race shape understandings of certain forms of political violence as lawful, legitimate and necessary? What are the gendered legacies of (ongoing) histories of colonialism and imperialism? What are the (feminist) ethics of researching and possibly reproducing violence and suffering? Among the themes we will explore are the erotics of conquest and slavery; military masculinities; sexual violence in conflict; private military and security companies; torture and surveillance; women as agents of violence; Orientalism and the War on Terror; human rights and international law; imperial feminisms and just war theory; occupation and resistance.20 credits
- German Politics: Domestic Contestation and Global Impact
This unit explores the politics of Germany, Europe's leading state and the world's third largest exporting nation. It encompasses history, domestic politics, policy-making, political economy and foreign policy. The module introduces students to the way Germany's tumultuous history has impacted on politics today. It explores the character of contemporary party politics before turning to how they play out in relation to the policy process and Germany's distinctive political economy. Finally, Germany's international role is explored; is reunified Germany Europe's new hegemon? The aim is to give a comprehensive understanding of contemporary German politics and policy.20 credits
- Political Theory in An Age of Total War
This module presents an overview of the major figures and themes in twentieth century continental political theory, ranging temporally from Max Weber to Jacques Derrida. In reflecting on the dynamics of modernity and rationalization, contemporary European political thought responds to the atrocities of Europe's age of total war. Much of this work is an attempt to come to grips with reason and unreason in the capitalist, industrialized, mass democracies of Europe in light of the legacies of two world wars and the rise of totalitarianism. Key themes include: the legacy of the Enlightenment, the role of technology in modern life, the bureaucratization of politics, the possibility of human freedom, collective memory and forgiveness and the role of philosophy in the aftermath of mass genocide. We will approach this material both historically and hermeutically in order to assess the strengths and weaknesses of these responses to these problems.20 credits
- Framing Politics? Economic Ideas as Political Weapons
Throughout the history of capitalism political battlelines and agendas have been set by economic ideas and forms of knowledge being used as political weapons to frame what can be said, done and thought by whom. In this module students will learn how political actors have used economic ideas across time to construct institutions and policies, empower and advantage certain social groupings over others, create shared understandings and expectations amongst citizens, and project (implicit) conceptions of justice. Students will come to an appreciation of how economic thought has shaped politics past and present, and how and why ideas change over time.20 credits
Optional philosophy modules (Feminism cannot be taken if you completed it in your second year):
This module introduces students to central issues in feminist philosophy. A key theme running through the module will be the way that issues not traditionally considered to be political turn out to be political when we consider them through a feminist lens. This module will involve much more engagement with applied contemporary issues than most philosophy modules, and students on it will learn how to write essays integrating more theoretical with contemporary factual content.20 credits
Aristotle (384-322BC) was the most prolific philosopher of the ancient world and one of the most important of any age making hugely important contributions to logic, metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of biology, ethics, aesthetics and political philosophy. This module will introduce students to the study of Aristotle through one or more of his many writings. The aim of the module is to encourage students to read important yet difficult Aristotelian texts, to engage critically with the ideas and arguments contained therein and to provide some appreciation of Aristotle's place in the ancient philosophical world and his contribution to contemporary debate.20 credits
- Global Justice
This module takes up issues of justice across borders. We will begin by considering the implications of several prominent conceptions of the international order (such as realism, cosmopolitanism and nationalism) for the ideal of global justice. We will then consider several topics which highlight the many ways in which both conceptualizing and realizing justice at the global level can be problematic. These will include: the tension between universal human rights and local cultural beliefs and practices, the nature and scope of global distributive justice, the (im)permissibility of humanitarian intervention, the role of global social movements and non-governmental organizations in working for justice and the proper protection and use of our shared natural environment.20 credits
- Philosophy of Law
Law is a pervasive feature of modern societies and exerts claim over more or less all areas of our lives. But waht is law? Is it simply a method of social control? Doea law have authority on the basis of which its claims over us are justified? Is there a duty to obey the law? Are there principled limits to the reach of law into e.g. our private lives? How does law relate to individual rights? This course will look at these fundamental questions about the nature and justification of law. It will also look at particular areas of law, such as constitutional, tort or criminal law, and will look at critiques of law.20 credits
- The Political Philosophy of Climate Change
Why is climate change a problem of global justice and how could the international community address this problem fairly? In this course we will look at various questions of justice that climate change raises and examine how political philosophers have attempted to answer them. Topics to be considered may include: historical responsibility for climate change, duties regarding future generations, the problem of allocating the burdens of addressing climate change, natural resource justice, the rights of indigenous peoples, moral issues concerning territorial loss or displacement, and the politics of geoengineering the planet.20 credits
- Moral Theory and Moral Psychology
This course examines the relationship of moral theory and moral psychology. We discuss the relationship of science and ethics, examine the nature of self-interest, altruism, sympathy, the will, and moral intuitions, explore psychological arguments for and against familiar moral theories including utilitarianism, virtue ethics, deontology and relativism, and confront the proposal that understanding the origins of moral thought ¿debunks¿ the authority of ethics. In doing so, we will engage with readings from historical philosophers, including Hobbes, Butler, Hume, Smith, Kant, Mill, Nietzsche and Moore, as well as contemporary authors in philosophy and empirical psychology.20 credits
- For the Love of Knowledge: Topics in Analytic and Social Epistemology
We know things as individuals, but we also know things collectively. And what we know individually can depend on our relation to other knowers and collective knowledge. These relations are not merely epistemic, they are also practical and ethical. Knowledge can, for instance, be based on trust, while a failure to recognize someone as a knower can be a matter of injustice. Knowledge thereby has a social character and an ethical dimension. This course will introduce a broad range of topics in epistemology that explore this social and ethical turn.20 credits
- The Rationalists
The module will introduce students to some of the great rationalists philosophers of the 17th and 18th centuries, such as Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, and Kant. Readings will largely be from primary sources. Discussion will focus on philosophical problems more than on historical context.20 credits
- Sources of Normativity
The module will present some fundamental debates in meta-ethics concerning the foundations of norms, obligations and reasons. We will read parts of Korsgaard's book 'The Sources of Normativity' and more recent literature grappling with the question Korsgaard has raised. We will try to understand what it means to ground a norm, whether norms must be grounded, what could possibly ground them and whether the grounding process has a terminus point.20 credits
Optional economics modules:
Economic Analysis of Inequality and Poverty
Economics of Gender & Race
If Intermediate Microeconomics or Intermediate Macroeconomics were completed in your second year then you can also choose from:
Economics of Innovation
The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption. We are no longer offering unrestricted module choice. If your course included unrestricted modules, your department will provide a list of modules from their own and other subject areas that you can choose from.
Learning and assessment
As a student on the Politics, Philosophy and Economics degree programme at the Sheffield Methods Institute you will be taught through a variety of methods including lectures, seminars to help you learn how to understand things from multiple perspectives and think creatively about problem-solving.
Our teaching is informed by real-world events that are happening now, you'll have the option to choose optional modules throughout your degree to enable you to use the knowledge and techniques you’ve learned to tackle current issues.
You will benefit from the expertise and experience of our academics in the departments of Politics, Philosophy and Economics.
You’ll also study specialist PPE modules with our expert academics in the Sheffield Methods Institute who will teach you the methods and techniques to analyse and interrogate policy, skills that will set you apart from other graduates.
You'll be assessed through a number of methods including essays, exams, group presentations and a final year dissertation.
Every student is assigned a personal tutor within the SMI who is there to support you throughout your studies.
This tells you the aims and learning outcomes of this course and how these will be achieved and assessed.
With Access Sheffield, you could qualify for additional consideration or an alternative offer - find out if you're eligible
The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
International Baccalaureate | 36 34
BTEC | D*DD in a relevant subject D*DD in a relevant subject
Scottish Highers | AAAAA AAAAB
Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels | A + AA B + AA
Access to HE Diploma | 60 credits overall in a social sciences subject with Distinctions in 39 Level 3 credits and Merits in 6 Level 3 credits 60 credits overall in a social sciences subject with Distinctions in 36 Level 3 credits and Merits in 9 Level 3 credits
Mature students - explore other routes for mature students
You must demonstrate that your English is good enough for you to successfully complete your course. For this course we require: GCSE English Language at grade 4/C; IELTS grade of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component; or an alternative acceptable English language qualification
GCSE Maths grade 6 or B
If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.
Sheffield Methods Institute
The international jobs market is going to need a different kind of social science graduate. We're leading the way with two innovative degrees.
Today, social science graduates are expected to have more than one area of expertise. Our degrees are taught by experts from across the social sciences faculty so you're not limited to just one subject. We also have a strong focus on research skills that will set you apart from other graduates.
We're committed to providing individual support to help you succeed - while you're a student with us and after you graduate. Work experience and practical skills are a big part of our degrees. They're built into our courses so you'll have opportunities to go on work placements, for short periods or for a whole year, and you'll learn methods used by the world's leading social sciences researchers.
Our courses draw on research and teaching expertise from across Sheffield's highly-rated Faculty of Social Sciences. Our academics are highly respected leaders within their fields and are working at the cutting edge of their disciplines. Their world-class research addresses the major challenges facing society and it drives and enhances our teaching.
As part of one of the most diverse social science centres in the country, the Sheffield Methods Institute sits within the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Sheffield situated in the ICOSS building, near the centre of our campus.
We timetable teaching across the whole of our campus, the details of which can be found on our campus map. Teaching may take place in ICOSS, but may also be timetabled to take place within other departments or central teaching space.
At the SMI we bring together the brightest talents in the fields of quantitative and qualitative research methods. Our students have access to our specially-developed data laboratories and learn from our expert staff.
Why choose Sheffield?
The University of Sheffield
A Top 100 university 2021
QS World University Rankings
Top 10% of all UK universities
Research Excellence Framework 2014
No 1 Students' Union in the UK
Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2019, 2018, 2017
Sheffield Methods Institute
Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020
Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020
I really enjoy the small size of the department because I’ve been able to form great friendships with my peers and good relationships with the lecturers, meaning that I don’t just feel like a number or a statistic.
Sheffield Methods Institute student
This degree prepares you for work in government, NGOs and other third sector employers, and organisations focused on understanding, interpreting and advocating in the public policy arena. We'll teach you the principles and skills to start your career and make an impact in the workplace.
Sheffield Methods Institute
Our courses have been specifically designed to meet the growing demand for social science researchers with data analysis skills. You might choose to apply your skills in the public or private sector, for a charity or an NGO.
Previous students from the SMI have gone into analyst roles in local government and the private sector. Some have gone onto research positions and others have started their own business.
Our placements give you valuable work experience and help prepare you for life after you graduate. To hear more about our placements from our students and employers, see the link below.
Work experience and practical skills are a big part of our degrees. There are opportunities to go on work placements, for short periods or for a whole year, and you'll learn methods used by the world's leading social sciences researchers.
Our graduates have gone into analyst roles in local government and the private sector, or further research. Others have launched their own businesses.
Fees and funding
The annual fee for your course includes a number of items in addition to your tuition. If an item or activity is classed as a compulsory element for your course, it will normally be included in your tuition fee. There are also other costs which you may need to consider.
Funding your study
Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for a bursary, scholarship or loan to help fund your study and enhance your learning experience.
Use our Student Funding Calculator to work out what you’re eligible for.
University open days
There are four open days every year, usually in June, July, September and October. You can talk to staff and students, tour the campus and see inside the accommodation.
At various times in the year we run online taster sessions to help Year 12 students experience what it is like to study at the University of Sheffield.
If you've received an offer to study with us, we'll invite you to one of our applicant days, which take place between November and April. These applicant days have a strong department focus and give you the chance to really explore student life here, even if you've visited us before.
Campus tours run regularly throughout the year, at 1pm every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Apply for this course
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