Does globalization 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 analyze 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.
Talent grants and tuition waivers
Find all information about our PPE talent grants and tuition waivers
Admitted prospective students from outside the EU/EEA can apply for the Holland Scholarship.
You'll learn to develop a critical outlook on complex economic and political questions, viewed through the lens of philosophical analysis.
Before coming here, I attained a Bachelor's in Philosophy and Economics and decided to continue my studies at the intersection of these two fields. After searching for a Master's that integrates the core issues of philosophy, politics and economics into one curriculum, I was quickly drawn to the PPE Master's at the University of Groningen. In the following, I will briefly outline my impressions of the PPE programme.
Atmosphere and Community
The first thing you’ll notice about the programme is its familiarity: for every problem you might have, there is a person to contact, already well before the actual start of the programme. Lecturers are open-minded and very approachable to students. The faculty is a small place, and you’ll notice that you will start recognizing the faces there from an early point on. Nobody is left alone here!
Moreover, the number of people in the programme is just convenient so that it is easy to form a community quickly. The structure of the programme is tailored to make the students get to know each other and encourages exchange between the different backgrounds each of them has before starting the programme. The atmosphere in classes is open and always includes an extensive interactive part, so that there are lots of fruitful discussions.
Social Science meets Philosophy meets Policy-Making
The programme is strong at integrating the sub-fields of philosophy, politics, and economics. The core modules which are taken by all PPE students shed light on the complex normative issues surrounding the subject matter of political and economic inquiry, as well as the complications at the heart of the methodological approach of the social sciences. You won’t get an in-depth introduction into either of the three sub-fields here. But you will learn to develop a critical outlook on complex economic and political questions, viewed through the lens of rigorous philosophical analysis. The Policy Seminars, then, equip students with the toolkit necessary for evaluating – and ultimately, making – complex policy decisions.
Diverse Specialized Courses
The electives offer students of PPE a range of opportunities for getting acquainted with more specialized fields within PPE topics. The choice of courses is made from a broad catalogue containing courses that go in-depth on philosophical, political or economic issues, but also courses from fields as diverse as sociology, psychology and business. In this way, discussions inside and outside the classroom profit from the differential perspectives of all the PPE students.
The programme is well-suited for everyone who is looking for developing and exercising reflection and critical thinking about the issues that lie at the centre of contemporary societal debates. It demonstrates why, in a complex world, it is paramount to keep an eye on the “bigger picture” and normative questions about where we, as a society, want to go. At the same time, it never loses sight of the applications that actually matter in policy contexts of the real world. Overall, the programme thus conveys a truly interdisciplinary perspective that fits a broad range of previous backgrounds.
PPE was an eye-opener for me, because it made me think of policies in a very critical, systematic and multi-angled way.
Hi! I am Hedwig and currently following the PPE-programme in Groningen. Before this, I acquired my Bachelor's in Medicine together with Philosophy of a Specific Discipline. Then I followed a Master's in Science Communication. For someone with this background, PPE seems a weird, illogical (or rather interesting?) choice. Maybe it's exactly this broad disciplinary background that made me choose for PPE.
This brings me to the most appealing feature of PPE: you discuss philosophical topics with people from all kinds of backgrounds. From Pedagogics to Economics and from Philosophy to Medicine, everyone brings his own specific knowledge. This results in in-depth discussions about all PPE-topics.
Now what is a PPE-topic exactly? Literally every topic relating to Philosophy, Politics and/or Economics. Examples are: taxes for a reduction in meat consumption; or: a basic income aimed at minimizing inequality; or: knowledge distribution in democracies. And I can go on and on…
In the beginning of the programme, you have a few obligatory courses about theories and methods of PPE. In these courses, you develop basic insights into theories about justice, markets and autonomy. On top of that you learn different research methods, such as statistics and decision theory. You apply these methods to evaluate the evidential quality of policies.
After those introductory courses, you have acquired the necessary knowledge and skills to write and argue thoroughly for your own policy proposal in Policy Seminars. For instance, I wrote a proposal for introducing a plastic permit system in order to reduce the use of plastic by companies. With my group, consisting of two more students with different backgrounds, we read a lot about tradeable permits and argued from a philosophical as well as a political and economic standpoint for our policy proposal.
Besides the compulsory courses, you have a lot of freedom to choose your electives. There is a list of electives you can choose from, but thanks to the high flexibility of the faculty, you are able to choose other courses as long as they contribute to your personal development. This is very valuable to me, because I am now able to choose courses that also contribute to my Science Communication Master’s.
PPE was an eye-opener for me, because it made me think of policies in a very critical, systematic and multi-angled way. The application of philosophical arguments in a concrete policy proposal was more interesting than I could have thought of beforehand.
In the beginning, I was thinking of pursuing a career in journalism, since I am also following a Master’s in Science Communication. However, now I may be more interested in a job in a NGO or writing policies for a political party. In short, a broad array of job opportunities is open to you after completion of this programme!
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!).
I'm now working as a Policy Officer at Universities UK based in London. I am part of a team supporting the respective associations of veterinary schools, dental schools, and dental hospitals. I organize meetings and conferences for the groups, work on projects and facilitate information sharing within their networks.
Day to day, this looks like analyzing a survey for recently graduated vets on how well their degree prepared them for practice, or managing a bank account to ensure subscription fees cover upcoming costs.
To get my job it was essential to prove I could critically analyse evidence and best practice for policy making – luckily we had courses for just that within the PPE MSc! Demonstrating professional skills were just as important, writing reports as part of the course was excellent practice for what I do now. I came to this job after a six-month internship in a university consortium in Brussels (The Guild) immediately after graduation. I was enabled to take this opportunity by an Erasmus+ mobility grant, kindly arranged for me by the Philosophy faculty.
I'd like to continue a career within the university policy sector. I find the scope, impact and direction of the work makes for a motivating and rewarding environment.
After my studies PPE in Groningen, I started as a Data Science Consultant at IG&H in Utrecht. Here, I help companies to solve problems by finding answers in data, mostly in the Healthcare and the Retail sector.
During my master's I've written some essays about privacy and GDPR, something that remains very relevant in my current position. It is great to put to practice the theoretical knowledge we gather in the PPE programme!
Near the end of my Master´s degree in PPE, I successfully applied for a spot in the Government Trainee Programme (Rijkstraineeprogramma) at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.
During my Master’s in PPE, I had become very interested in policy-making, and especially so in climate-related policy. The Dutch energy transition is a prime example of an interdisciplinary problem that requires insights from both Philosophy, Political Science and Economics. What constitutes intergenerational climate justice? To what extent should our government take seriously climate-sceptic voters? And how can we use economic tools to stimulate companies and citizens to embrace sustainable measures? The latter question is very relevant within the context of the project that I currently work on.
My team and I are preparing the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO.nl) for the new period of Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy (Gemeenschappelijk Landbouwbeleid). As the official paying agency, RVO.nl is partly responsible for making sure that the new Common Agricultural Policy contributes to Dutch and European climate goals, while providing financial support for farmers.