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Philosophy, Politics and Economics (a)

Michael Jacobs

Hi, I’m Michael! I chose the PPE Masters in Groningen as it was the only course I could find that both neatly combined the three disciplines whilst also giving students a lot of room to study these disciplines separately through the wide range of electives.

Michael Jacobs
Michael Jacobs

The course has a clear and motivating vocational focus that ties the three subjects together: equitable and efficient policy. In other words, the obligatory modules provide a framework for thinking both about the philosophical justifications for and the economic feasibility of, varying policy measures. This keeps the course coherent and empirically-grounded.

At the same time the electives give great scope for choosing the kind of perspectives from which to approach policy. You can style yourself as a more financially-informed or practically-oriented policy-maker through modules such as those on monetary policy or urban planning. Or alternatively, you can begin in more esoteric realms by looking at say the political philosophy of Foucault and Adorno. But lots of students also try a combination of all of these, the result being that many take modules from faculties spanning those of Arts, Economics and Sociology as well as Philosophy. This can make for a varied workload. One week you could be trying to assess whether Plato proves that justice and self-interest always coincide, the next you might be trying to solve the problem of unaffordable housing in a specific place.

Wide pool of expertise

Having previously studied history at bachelor’s level, I graduated with that assumption humanities students sometimes fall prey to: that courses which make you more employable cannot be intellectually stimulating. History graduate friends smiled nervously at me when I told them I was off to study something with Economics in the title. But this attitude has proven unfounded. The parts of the course I thought I’d struggle with – mainly the quantitative aspects – were overcome partly through my motivation as someone interested in giving my political views academic grounding, but crucially thanks to the small class sizes and the mixture of academic backgrounds of those on the course which usually ensures there is someone at hand who understands whatever you’re having trouble with. This wide pool of expertise is also an advantage in class discussions and group work.


The course aside, Groningen itself is – at least in terms of societies, clubs, cafés, and music venues – really well tailored to students. Being small, its easy to get to know, with an almost entirely pedestrianised city centre with a cheerful and trusting vibe that makes it homely. The same goes for the Philosophy faculty, whose small size and informal atmosphere gives it a community feel.


If you’d like to know more about studying PPE at RUG, feel free to contact me here:

Last modified:18 February 2019 6.42 p.m.