Does globalisation undermine social solidarity? Does populism threaten our democracies? How do we encourage corporate social responsibility? And how can we rise to the challenge of climate change?
Our world today faces complex challenges that cannot be tackled by one discipline alone. We need an approach that cuts across boundaries. Our selective one-year Master’s programme in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) offers this interdisciplinary approach. The programme aims at ambitious students with a wide range of interests – students who want to explore the philosophical dimensions of political and economic issues and develop and apply their critical thinking tools. If you are interested to work at the interface between politics, economics and philosophy, this is your master's programme.
What will you learn? The programme will equip you with the central theoretical and methodological tools from PPE that allow you to understand and critically examine complex problems ranging from global poverty to the financial crisis. You will learn to analyse the political and economic complexities of organizational structures. You will see what is at stake in theories of democracy, collective decision‐making, rational choice, social inequality and economic growth. And you will learn how to apply theoretical insights to concrete policy problems both locally and globally.
A framework for thinking both about the philosophical justifications for and the economic feasibility of, varying policy measures
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.
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.
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.
PPE gives you the opportunity to define your own blueprint in policy-making more than any other programme
Hi there, I'm Michiel. Currently I follow the Master's Philosophy, Politics & Economics in Groningen and I'd like to introduce you to the programme. I obtained a BA in Philosophy with a minor in Political Sciences, and I chose PPE because I didn't want to choose between either an empirical political science master or a philosophical/theoretical master's in philosophy or political theory.
PPE is designed with the aim of integrating the three
disciplines. During the programme you work with policy related
issues in which the three disciplines intersect. ‘Fake
news,’ for example, is familiar as a political problem. You
will learn that tackling ‘fake news’ also considers how
it is ‘sold’: how do marketeers create more demand for
sloppy or intentionally false facts? Thereby, what normative
implications are involved when categorizing ‘true’
versus ‘false’ information in political
What makes studying PPE unique is that its application is broad, while its approach is narrow. The course catalogue has a broad selection of courses, but it is compiled so that you can navigate through PPE related fields that might fit with your desired direction.
Fitting courses into the PPE framework
For laying out my path, I selected courses from Spatial Sciences and Sociology, with the idea of engaging into urban and social planning. An overview: Theories of Social Networks, Spatial Economics, Evolutionary Game Theory, City Matters, Modernity as Dominance. It might seem like I could’ve equally studied economic or urban geography, but fitting these courses into the PPE framework I distinguish myself in many ways. Instead of learning approaches to justice and autonomy by name I am trained in maneuvering through the current debates about these concepts within the theoretical literature.
After the financial crisis
Also, you learn to engage in policy-related issues through strict normative considerations. By this you can make the difference between designing a “preferable” policy and a policy that is necessarily required in society. Nowadays, this is especially relevant. Considering the finance branch, for example, people who can make this difference are especially demanded for. After the 2008 financial crisis bankers are namely more than ever facing the challenge of regaining people’s trust in the responsibility they have towards the health of society’s financial system.
So, studying PPE is challenging. The opportunities for orienting are wide, and sometimes this idea might appear stressful when you are about to be graduating. In exchange, however, the programme gives you the opportunity to define your own blueprint in policy-making more than any other programme. Thereby, the staff members are supportive and provide good guidance, and the faculty building feels like a second home (including kitchen and living-room!).