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    • Thread Starter

    Hello all! I have a simple question; Can I do P.P.E at Oxford?

    Also, I'm new to student room and haven't quite figured out how it works, so i don't know how to edit the title, as i forgot to include an "a" in my title. Please look past this.

    Please read what I’ve written below and reply. I would be particularly grateful if you fall into one of these categories and reply to this;
    1. A student at Oxford studying P.P.E
    2. A student studying P.P.E at another university
    3. A student studying a similar course to P.P.E at a university with similar acceptance rates as Oxford’s P.P.E
    4. An A Level/IB student considering applying for P.P.E (particularly at Oxford) for 2019 entry

    It would be very helpful if the response was from a student at Oxford studying P.P.E, because they would be second to admission tutors on giving advice, and I'm pretty sceptical that an Oxford admissions tutor would reply to this.

    Again, I would especially appreciate advice from the above, but if you have any advice, please say so regardless of your course or university , even if it criticism (constructive preferred)

    Let’s start with some basics;
    I’m in first year ( year 12) of college studying the following A levels;
    1. Philosophy (AQA 2017 Spec)
    2. Politics (Edexcel 2017 Spec)
    3. Economics (Edexcel 2015 Spec)

    Predicted Grades: A*AA/ AAA

    My GCSE results; (Total 10 GCSE’s)
    1 A*
    6 A’s
    3 B’s
    1 C

    I achieved the English Baccalaureate at GCSE, studying the three main subjects (English’s, Maths and Sciences) with a language and a humanities subject ( French and History) and ICT, Business and RS in addition to this.

    I want to point out my secondary school was not great and my results were within the top 10th percentile. I’ve seen past Oxford PPE course statistics and most applicants have a ridiculous amount of A*’s (they seem ridiculous to me,probably average for most people), but I’ve read Oxford judge applicants grades with their school/area average. (Let’s hope this is the case)

    Now this is why I’m asking for advice. I got a C (5) for maths at GCSE, and yes I want to study Economics at university level.
    I got A*-B for everything apart from maths, and not because I can’t do maths, because I didn’t prepare.
    Realising that I have little to no chance of doing P.P.E at any university with no A level Maths and only a C (5) for GCSE, I’ve decided to retake it as a private candidate. I’ve been working hard and am confident I can get a minimum of 7 (A)
    One of my concerns is that even if I do get this 7, will Oxford look down on my application because I didn’t achieve this the first time, showing that if I need to do a GCSE level maths course twice just to score high, how will I will deal with university level economics?

    OR will they look favourably at my application as I show determination and commitment to improving?

    Before you make a conclusion, I would like to point a few things out. As you’ve read, I’m doing A Level Economics, and I’m doing very well at it and do not find the maths overly difficult, yes sometimes it is a bit challenging but going over it a few times is sufficient, and I understand year 2 economics gets more mathematical, but looking through my textbook, there’s nothing mathematical that would be impossible for me to learn, yes difficult, but not impossible.

    Any P.P.E students who are currently studying without A Level Maths? I’ve seen the admission statistics for PPE at Oxford for the past few years and more than 90/95% of students do have A level maths.
    But even in general, do you think I am suitable?

    This maths lemma is one of the two main factors you should consider before answering my main question.

    Extra-Curricular Activities:
    Before I go on to talk about this, I am fully aware Economics, Politics and Philosophy aren’t vocational courses, therefore I don’t need extensive work experience for it, but even so I do need to show I have interest in the subjects outside of my curriculum.

    Also, I know grades are most important to Oxford and they’d rather accept me if I got 3 A*’s then if I got B’s but had a lot of work experience, so I try to limit my extracurricular activities to those directly related to my courses which will be good talking points in my personal statement.

    Extracurricular Activities I have done in the past or am continuing to do:
    1. Attended Model United Nations (MUN) where my resolution was debated at the General Assembly
    2. Vice President of the Debating Team at my college. Main success has been increasing participation within the college
    3. Volunteering at charity shops in the local community; Volunteered at BHF and Cancer Research, and discussed political issues with the managers.

    Extracurricular Activities I am aiming to do in the future before I apply to university:
    1. Attend Summer School- ( I’ve applied to various which include a P.P.E, Law and History focus)
    2. Work experience – Get a week or two of work experience at a think tank, bank, law firm, etc.
    3. Submit essays in essay competitions
    4. Join a pressure group and campaign for an issue ( My politics teacher recommended me this, and thinking about it, I have a lot of things I would like to campaign for)
    5. Become politically involved in my local constituency ( My local MP offers shadowing opportunities, I could also represent my pressure group to my MP)

    As I am writing this, I am in the process of starting an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), my essay will focus on nationalisation and its effects on economic growth in developed nations like Britain and the U.S.A. My hope is that this topic will mean I can cover both politics and economics and maybe even some aspect of philosophy.

    If you reading this now are a PPE student, what extracurricular activity did you do and mention in your personal statement?

    Also, I am committed to doing as much as I can in the summer holidays, so if you think there’s other things I can add to my ‘to do’ list, then please say so, and if you think my aims are not relevant or suitable for PPE, then please also say so, I appreciate constructive criticism.

    To conclude, I am likely to achieve A*AA/ AAA for my A Levels, so I will ensure this remains stable whilst redoing GCSE Maths and doing extracurricular activities. If I do get predicted AAA and get an A or A* ( 7 or 8) for GCSE Maths and do all of the extracurricular activities listed above, will be I accepted for PPE at Oxford without A Level Maths?
    I've read, and PPE students can clarify whether this is true/false , that the first year is a general introduction to all three subjects, and seeing as I will have studied all three for A level, I could spend this time learning A Level Maths content, again this is all theoretical.

    Anyway, thank you in advance if you are going to reply to this, and even if not, thank you for reading.

    In the nicest way possible, I would say that Oxford PPE is probably not for you. Oxford reccomend that all applicants to PPE should study maths to at least AS level or equivalent- this is because the economics component of the degree involves differentiation. If you don't have maths to AS, you could feasibly still apply but you would practically need A* (9) at GCSE Mathematics.

    Furthermore, Oxford also recommend a traditional essay subject such as History or English Literature. Your choice of A-levels might put your potential application at a disadvantage.

    You could still apply, but definitely do look at other courses!

    For some context, I have an offer to read PPE at Oxford next year. I got 13A*s and 2As in my GCSEs and I did FSMQ Additional Mathematics alongside them. I am currently predicted A*A*A* in Maths, Economics and History A-Levels.
    • Thread Starter

    Thank for your reply, and congratulations for your offer.
    I understand my GCSE’s aren’t the best (especially maths) and even I did get accepted for PPE, I would probably struggle with the maths content of economics.
    On the issue of my subject choices, I was going to study English Literature or History in addition with my subjects or even do both along with Economics and Politics, but I was particularly interested in philosophy, and the history spec followed at my college didn't appeal to me and I thought it best to focus on three a levels instead of four.
    I understand my subject choices may be an issue with Oxford as they do mention that Maths and History are useful backgrounds, but some similar courses at other unis don’t have any specific subject requirements.

    I plan on applying for PPE, even though it is unlikely I will be accepted but hey what’s to lose? I’m also looking at courses such as History, Politics and Economics at UCL (which doesn't have a A Level Maths requirement, only GCSE Maths), Economic History at LSE (again no A Level Maths), and Philosophy, Politics and Law at King's College (no maths requirements). I think the problem for me comes with economics because most universities want A Level Maths, I'm really enjoying studying economics right now, but maybe it may not be best suited for me at university level.

    Again congratulations on your offer.
    To help others like me, I would really appreciate if you mention the content of your personal statement, and things you have done outside of your A Levels, because you clearly got it right!
    Also, what other uni's did you apply to and did you get offers from there too?

    • Community Assistant

    Community Assistant
    As above, the major issue is the lack of Maths - 95% of successful applicants to Oxford PPE last year (or I think actually the year before but anyway) had AS or A-level Maths based on their published statistics. Combined with less than an A* at GCSE Maths I can't see them realistically considering it. You may want to consider HSPS at Cambridge instead? They do explore economic approaches through different, less quantitative lenses (such as anthropological and political).

    In general, economics at university tends to be considerably more quantitative than at A-level - calculus is used pretty fluently to express economic relations more or less anywhere, and at the "top" courses (LSE, Oxbridge, Warwick) they will very happily bring in linear algebra and even some elementary real analysis. If you struggle with Maths, it's probably not such a great idea as a result. That said, just because you didn't excel in GCSE Maths doesn't mean you can't cope with or even do well in A-level Maths and similar. I found the A-level standard material considerably more engaging than GCSE as it's easier to appreciate the potential use in many applications (and even try it yourself to explore some of these).

    The HPE course at UCL may suit you more though - I believe the economics teaching is organised by SEEAS with the rest of the course, so they will probably account for a more varied mathematical background. Economic History is a reasonable consideration, although you do take the same first year Economics course as a "straight" Economics student at LSE. You might want to consider KCLs Political Economy course, which seems related to your interests and again, appears less quantitative at a glance overall and more focusing on the conceptual aspects.

    So for me, my personal statement was very academically based- so I talked about democracy, Plato's 'Philosopher King's' and my own experiences of democracy, I then talked about 'compatibilism' and determinism and finally my interest in behavioural economics.

    I mainly did super-curricular stuff because I found it interesting, Oxford are much more concerned about academics than anything else, but I did work experience with my local council before becoming a Young Mayor. I then joined the UK Youth Parliament and I also did competitive debating for some time, MUN's, BP. I also hosted a local question time, had breakfast with a cabinet member and ran in a few elections to committee's etc.
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