Politics, Philosophy and Economics BSc

2024-25 entry
Sheffield Methods Institute

Studying politics, philosophy and economics will help you understand the ideas and theories which shape our world.

Key details

Explore this course:

    Course description

    2 Students working at laptops

    Study politics, philosophy and economics at Sheffield and you’ll discover the theories that shape human societies – and why these three subjects are inextricably linked.

    You'll learn how to understand things from multiple perspectives and think creatively about problem solving. Applying the knowledge and techniques to real-world events, you’ll develop the skills to analyse the impact of government policy decisions in areas like education, finance and the net zero transition.

    The BSc has a particular emphasis on economics running through the course. Around this you will mould the degree to match your interests, combine modules as diverse as metaphysics, Chinese politics and environmental economics. In fact, this is a degree defined by variety and choice: with options to spend a year abroad, or complete year-long or summer work placements.

    And thanks to our partnerships with Civil Service departments based right here in Sheffield and many other employers, you’ll have the opportunity to gain valuable employment experience – working for governments and other employers focused on economic policy.

    This valuable, real-world employment experience will feed into your studies and your final dissertation, meaning you’ll graduate with both the specialist skills and broad background knowledge you need to be a highly employable candidate.

    You can also choose to study BA Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Sheffield.

    If you want to know more about politics, philosophy and economics and the Sheffield Methods Institute, follow @shefmethods on Instagram.

    Why study this course?

    • Tailor your learning experience - access to a wide variety of optional modules across all three disciplines.
    • Core teaching team - the Sheffield Methods Institute teaching team draws your understanding of all three subjects together.
    • Get hands on experience - summer and year-long work placement opportunities give you a chance to see how politics, philosophy and economics can shape a career.
    • Academic experts and guest speakers - our team and our network will bring current research into the classroom, and bring your learning to life.
    Find out what its like to study our exciting Politics, Philosophy & Economics course from current students Rikzar and Daniel.

    Modules

    A selection of modules are available each year - some examples are below. There may be changes before you start your course. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.

    Modules are subject to availability and specific combinations may be limited due to capacity and timetabling. Should this arise, we will provide you with support and guidance to find alternatives. 

    Title: Politics, Philosophy and Economics BSc
    UCAS code: L2V5
    Years: 2023
    First year

    Core modules:

    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:

    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 introduce 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
    The World's Wicked Problems

    This module will introduce students to key international relations concepts and discussions. Students will be able to understand, analyse and reflect on some of  the most pressing issues in the international arena including: 

    migration

    climate change

    poverty and global inequalities

    sexual violence 

    armed conflict 

    This introductory module will equip students with the tools to continue engaging with more in-depth theoretical and empirical international relations discussions as they progress through their studies.

    20 credits
    Gender and the World

    This module aims to interrogate the role of gender and sex in shaping world politics. To do this, it asks how notions of masculinity and femininity shape our institutions, how gender might influence the political problems we prioritise and whose voices are taken seriously in developing responses to these problems. 

    Students will answer these questions through the study of the politicisation of sex, the relationship between gender and violence, how current practices of gender are shaped by colonialism and a range of other timely topics that shape the world today. 

    The module will allow students to develop an understanding of different approaches to gender, be introduced to key concepts from feminism and queer theory, learn to apply these ideas practically to a set of case studies and debate what the future of gender is in world politics. 

    20 credits
    Political Violence

    This module will provide students with an introduction to political violence and begins by engaging with debates over the conceptualisation of violence, and when violence should be understood as “political”.  It will then introduce students to debates over the causes and consequences of violence through an examination of specific topics, which may include:

    histories of violence

    terrorism

    interstate war

    settler-colonial violence

    structural violence

    slow violence

    gender based violence

    war ecologies

    the politics of violence prevention

    violent resistance

    attempts to regulate violence.  



    We will explore these themes by asking how violence is refracted through race, gender, ethnicity, and other forms of social difference. Students will have the opportunity to explore these topics through specific examples and develop the necessary skills to apply them in practice. 

    The module will allow students to develop an understanding of the key theories, concepts, issues and themes in the study of political violence by:

    understanding the debates on the conceptualisation of “violence” and what makes violence “political”

    developing skills in critical analysis, writing, and presentation

    developing the ability to apply theories and issues to specific cases of political violence

    20 credits
    Race and Racism in World Politics

    Through historical and contemporary case studies, students will study how our world today has been shaped by historical events, many of which continue to inform current relations. We will discover how discourses around race, ethnicity, gender and class construct realities today, determining who rules and who is ruled, who lives and who dies. 

    The module will give students a theoretical toolkit, including approaches from the majority world, enabling them to appreciate power and the political significance of silences in accounts of the global and political.

    We will learn about the historical production of the idea of race; how it configured the world in particular ways; how race mandated the colonial project. However, the module will also go beyond race to think about colonialism and the identities that operate in conjunction with race including class, ethnicity, and gender, and how they can determine what type of life people can live or whether they can live at all. For example, they determine whether a child has the right to security, or has to risk losing life in the Mediterranean escaping violence at home. 

    Students will also learn about resistance and efforts to construct a different and more just world. Through rich historical and contemporary case studies, students will learn how to connect theories to understand current affairs, drawing on thinkers from various backgrounds to counter some of the dominant narratives within international relations.

    20 credits

    Optional philosophy modules - one or two from (20 credits):

    Philosophy of Religion

    This course will pose and try to answer philosophical questions about religion. These include questions about the nature of religion. For instance does being religious necessarily involve believing in the existence of a God or Gods? And is religious faith compatible with adherence to the scientific method? Other questions that the course will cover include questions about the theistic notion of God. Does the idea of an all-powerful being make sense? Is an all-knowing God compatible with human freedom? And is an all-powerful, all-knowing and perfectly good creator of the universe compatible with the existence of evil? Further questions concern God and morality. Is it true that if there is no God, then there is no right and wrong? The course will examine philosophical arguments for the existence of God, and question whether these arguments are sound.

    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 reasoning

    10 credits
    History of Ethics

    How should we live? What is the right thing to do? This module offers a critical introduction to the history of western ethical thought, examining some of the key ideas of Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, Wollstonecraft, Douglass, Bentham, Mill, Taylor Mill, Nietzsche, Rawls and Gilligan. It provides a textual introduction to some of the main types of ethical theory: the ethics of flourishing and virtue; rights-based approaches; utilitarianism; contractualism. We explore the close interconnections between ethics and other branches of philosophy (e.g. metaphysics, epistemology, aesthetics), as well as the connections between ethics and other disciplines (e.g. psychology; anthropology).

    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
    Death

    This module is mainly about death itself . What is death? What happens to us when we die? Could there be an afterlife? Would it be a good thing if there were? What is it about death that we dislike so much, or that makes it bad? Is it rational, or even possible to fear death? What is the right attitude towards our own death? Do we have moral duties towards the dead? The course will clarify these questions and attempt to answer them. Readings will be taken from both historical and contemporary sources.

    10 credits
    Writing Philosophy

    Philosophical writing is a skill that you, the student, must hone early on in order to succeed in your degree. It is also a transferable skill that will serve you in your post-academic career. Philosophical writing combines the general virtues of clarity, organisation, focus and style found in other academic writing with particular philosophical virtues, namely, the ability to expose the implicit assumptions of analysed texts and to make explicit the logical structure of one's own and other people's arguments. A precondition of philosophical writing is a unique form of textual analysis that pays particular attention to its argumentative structure. In this module you will learn and practice philosophical writing. You will learn how to read in preparation for philosophical writing, learn how to plan an essay, learn how to rework your drafts and learn how to use feedback constructively. You will write five drafts and five essays and will have one on on tutorial on each essay you write. The lectures in the course will be split between lectures of the art of writing and lectures on philosophical topics in the domain of fact and value. Essay topics will be based on the topical lectures and their associated readings

    20 credits
    Mind and World

    This module aims to introduce a range of topics from epistemology, metaphysics, and the philosophy of mind. The module aims to outline some philosophical problems and topics from these areas, and in doing so show how these areas connect and thereby show how philosophical thinking can be unified and interconnected across these subjects.

    20 credits
    Philosophy of Sex

    Sex is one of the most basic human motivators, of fundamental importance in many people's lives, and a topic of enormous moral, religious, and political contention. No surprise, then, that it turns out to be of great philosophical interest. We will discuss moral issues related to sex' asking when we might be right to judge a particular sex act to be morally problematic; and what political significance (if any) sex has. We will also discuss metaphysical issues, such as the surprisingly difficult questions of what exactly sex is and what a sexual orientation is. Throughout our study, we will draw both on philosophical sources and on up-to-date contemporary information.

    10 credits
    Philosophy of Science

    Science plays an important role in modern society. We trust science on a day to day basis as we navigate our worlds. What is about science that makes it so trustworthy? Why is science a good guide for understanding the world? The aim of this half-module is to introduce some of the philosophical issues that arise in science and through reflecting on science. Most of the questions considered concern the epistemology of scientific knowledge and methodology: what are scientific theories, what counts as evidence for these theories, what is the relationship between observation and theory, is there a scientific method, what distinguishes science from other ways of understanding the world, and how does the social structure of science help or hinder science in studying the world. This module aims to introduce these questions as philosophical issues in their own right and within in the context of the history of the philosophy of science.

    10 credits
    Ethics and Society

    This module aims to introduce a range of topics from certain overlapping areas of philosophical research relating to normative and practical matters: in particular, dealing with ethical theory, applied ethics, moral theory, moral psychology, and politics. The module aims to outline some major philosophical problems and topics from these areas, while also showing how the underlying concerns of the areas are connected to broad underlying philosophical concerns.

    20 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
    Economic History of Britain and the Modern World

    This module surveys the economic history of Britain since the mid-eighteenth century (in the first semester) and of the global economy (in the second semester) in order to better understand the forces which determine why some people and countries are rich, and have the capacity for sustained economic growth, whereas others are poor. In particular, we wish to understand the role of government and institutions in driving or retarding economic development, and to provide ideas from the comparative experience of different countries about what policies have been successful in enabling poor people and countries to escape from poverty.

    20 credits

    Plus one from:

    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 techniques. 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, geometry

    20 credits
    Mathematical Methods for Economics 2

    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 techniques. 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, geometry

    20 credits

    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.

    Learning and assessment

    Learning

    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.

    We invest to create the right environment for you. That means outstanding facilities, study spaces and support, including 24/7 online access to our online library service.

    Study spaces and computers are available to offer you choice and flexibility for your study. Our five library sites give you access to over 1.3 million books and periodicals. You can access your library account and our rich digital collections from anywhere on or off campus. Other library services include study skills training to improve your grades, and tailored advice from experts in your subject.

    Learning support facilities and library opening hours

    Assessment

    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.

    Programme specification

    This tells you the aims and learning outcomes of this course and how these will be achieved and assessed.

    Find programme specification for this course

    Entry requirements

    With Access Sheffield, you could qualify for additional consideration or an alternative offer - find out if you're eligible.

    Standard offer

    The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
    AAA

    International Baccalaureate
    36
    BTEC Extended Diploma
    D*DD in a relevant subject
    BTEC Diploma
    DD in a relevant subject + A at A Level
    Scottish Highers
    AAAAA
    Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels
    A + AA
    Access to HE Diploma
    Award of Access to HE Diploma in Social Sciences, with 45 credits at Level 3, including 39 at Distinction and 6 at Merit
    Other requirements
    • GCSE Maths grade 6/B

    Access Sheffield offer

    The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
    AAB

    International Baccalaureate
    34
    BTEC Extended Diploma
    DDD in a relevant subject
    BTEC Diploma
    DD in a relevant subject + A at A Level
    Scottish Highers
    AAAAB
    Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels
    B + AA
    Access to HE Diploma
    Award of Access to HE Diploma in Social Sciences, with 45 credits at Level 3, including 36 at Distinction and 9 at Merit
    Other requirements
    • GCSE Maths grade 6/B

    English language requirements

    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

    If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.

    Graduate careers

    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

    Five reasons to study at the Sheffield Methods Institute

    1. Be part of smaller seminar groups - giving you the chance to ask in-depth questions, discuss topics and solve problems with fellow students.
    2. We'll get you career ready - we'll develop your employability with industry-relevant skills and you'll have the opportunity to take a placement in industry.
    3. Choose your own study pathway - you'll have the chance to tailor your learning experience and follow your own interests.
    4. We're here for you - we know you all as individual students and have a dedicated support team.
    5. You'll be taught by experts - our academic staff are active in a variety of fields and use their cutting-edge research to bring classes and workshops to life.

    Annual student conference

    Our conferences brings together students from all our undergraduate courses to hear from and network with industry professionals, share knowledge, present research findings and explore new topics from across the social sciences forum.

    SMI Student Conference

    We timetable teaching across the whole of our campus, the details of which can be found on our campus map.

    Sheffield Methods Institute

    Why choose Sheffield?

    The University of Sheffield

      Number one in the Russell Group
    National Student Survey 2023 (based on aggregate responses)

      92 per cent of our research is rated as world-leading or internationally excellent
    Research Excellence Framework 2021

      Top 50 in the most international universities rankings
    Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023

      Number one Students' Union in the UK
    Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023, 2022, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017

      Number one for teaching quality, Students' Union and clubs/societies
    StudentCrowd 2023 University Awards

      A top 20 university targeted by employers
    The Graduate Market in 2023, High Fliers report

    Student profiles

    Portrait photograph of student ambassador Narnie Furlong

    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.

    Georgiana Furlong
    Sheffield Methods Institute student

    Fees and funding

    Fees

    Additional costs

    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.

    Examples of what’s included and excluded

    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.

    Placements and study abroad

    Placements

    You may have the opportunity to add an optional placement year as part of your course, converting the three year course to a four-year Degree with Placement Year. 

    A placement year will help you to:

    • gain an insight into possible careers
    • develop a range of transferable skills
    • build a professional network
    • get a feel for what you do and don’t like doing
    • add valuable work experience to your CV
    • gain experience of applying for jobs and interview practice
    • apply elements of academic learning in the workplace

    There are also opportunities for placements taken over the summer.

    Study abroad

    Spending time abroad during your degree is a great way to explore different cultures, gain a new perspective and experience a life-changing opportunity that you will never forget. 

    You can apply to extend this course with a year abroad, usually between the second and third year. We have over 250 University partners worldwide. Popular destinations include Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong. 

    Find out more on the Global Opportunities website.

    Visit

    University open days

    We host five open days each year, usually in June, July, September, October and November. You can talk to staff and students, tour the campus and see inside the accommodation.

    Open days: book your place

    Subject tasters

    If you’re considering your post-16 options, our interactive subject tasters are for you. There are a wide range of subjects to choose from and you can attend sessions online or on campus.

    Upcoming taster sessions

    Offer holder days

    If you've received an offer to study with us, we'll invite you to one of our offer holder days, which take place between February and April. These open 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

    Our weekly guided tours show you what Sheffield has to offer - both on campus and beyond. You can extend your visit with tours of our city, accommodation or sport facilities.

    Campus tour: book your place

    Apply

    Make sure you've done everything you need to do before you apply.

    How to apply When you're ready to apply, see the UCAS website:
    www.ucas.com

    Not ready to apply yet? You can also register your interest in this course.

    The awarding body for this course is the University of Sheffield.

    Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.

    Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

    Our student protection plan

    Terms and Conditions upon Acceptance of an Offer

    2024-2025

    Make sure you've done everything you need to do before you apply.

    How to apply When you're ready to apply, see the UCAS website:
    www.ucas.com

    Not ready to apply yet? You can also register your interest in this course.

    Studying politics, philosophy and economics will help you understand the ideas and theories which shape our world.