MA in PPE: Philosophy and Public Affairs

Philosophical issues are deeply relevant in many areas of public life and often arise in public discussion. They include issues about ethics, economics and the law, as well as politics.

This course covers topics in ethics, political philosophy and social choice, and provides an understanding of economics and research training in philosophy. It allows students to study a range of options at the intersection of philosophy and public affairs.

Course content

‌What you'll study

You will take the core 20 credit interdisciplinary module 'The PPE of Social Choice', which covers topics such as decision making, rights and justice relating to social choice (broadly interpreted) at an advanced level. This module is jointly taught by members of staff from all three of York's internationally excellent PPE departments.  

The 10 credit 'PEP Graduate Skills Workshop' will prepare you for undertaking research, covering areas such as writing research proposals and specific interdisciplinary skills.  

You will take two of four 20 credit Philosophy/Political Philosophy modules: 'Topics in Theoretical Philosophy' or 'Analytical Political Philosophy', and 'Topics in Practical Philosophy' or 'The Challenges of Pluralism: Contemporary and Comparative Perspectives' or 'Topics in the History of Political Thought'.

You will also take one of two 10 credit Economics modules: either 'Applied Microeconomics I', which covers central topics in microeconomics including consumer theory, decision theory, welfare and market equlibrium and efficiency; or 'Economic Analysis for PPE',  which provides a non-technical introduction to Economics.

You will take a further 40 credits of taught modules of your choice, from a wide range of options offered by the Economics, Philosophy and Politics departments. An overview of the types of modules on offer is available on the postgraduate modules page

You will also write a 12,000 word dissertation, which is worth 60 credits.

A detailed course structure, which shows the spread of work across the year, can be downloaded below:

Download the MA in PPE: Philosophy and Public Affairs course structure (MS Word  , 37kb)


How you'll be taught

Teaching is delivered in two main ways: seminars and lectures. The main focus of your coursework will be your seminar group, normally containing 10-16 students. In seminars you will produce and discuss your own work, under the guidance of a module tutor. Seminars are normally accompanied by lectures, attended by all of the students taking the module. 

The School prides itself on the friendliness of its staff and on the support that it provides for its students. Lecturers, seminar tutors and your supervisor will all help you to get the most out of the programme and, in particular, to understand the importance of interdisciplinary study.

Most modules will use the University's virtual learning environment 'Yorkshare', which may be used to access module resources or for more interactive work.

The modular system is based on a notional 40-hour week for each student. The amount of 'contact' time (lectures and seminars) varies depending on the modules you choose. The remaining time will be spent reading, preparing for seminars and essays, analysing ideas and data, making interdisciplinary connections and, of course, thinking.


How you'll be assessed

There are three assessment periods during the academic year: week 1 of the Spring term, week 1 of the Summer term and weeks 5-8 of the Summer term. Assessments occur throughout your year of study, usually in the term immediately after the module has been taken. The majority of assessments are either unseen examination papers or essays, which varies depending on which department is running the module. Most Economics modules for example are assessed by exams, but most Philosophy and Politics modules by essays.

You will spend the summer and summer vacation terms working on your dissertation, which will be handed at the end of the summer vacation (mid September).

Reasonable adjustments in assessments will be made for students with disabilities, for example extra time in exams or use of a computer. The School works with the Disability Services team to ensure all students have the support they require.


Careers and employability

The interdisciplinary nature of the School of PEP postgraduate courses means you develop a wide range of transferable skills. Employers value these degrees precisely because they make you think across boundaries and engage critically with a range of different material.

The MA in PPE: Philosophy and Public Affairs equips you for a range of careers in research and public life.

The careers branch of the Club of PEP, YorkWorks, aims to provide a platform for students to meet with experts and industry insiders to learn about the world of work and find out more about a career path that interests them, for example by organising careers conferences with graduate employers. For further information visit the YorkWorks webpages.

Find out more about how we can help make you more employable 


How to apply

The MA is open to those with a good first degree (i.e. an upper second or equivalent) in any subject.  Students with no prior knowledge of economics at undergraduate level are usually required to attend the Economics Summer Session.

For students whose first language is not English, please refer to the English Language requirements as detailed at:

Applications should be made through the University's Postgraduate Admissions team.  The full application procedure is available on their website: