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What A-levels would be best for Oxford PPE?

I am 15 years old and trying to narrow down my choices for A-levels. I am passionate about philosophy and politics and want to make sure I take A-levels that would allow me to have the best shot at getting into Oxford to study PPE (I do know this course is extremely competitive and even excellent grades do not ensure a successful application).

I definitely want to take philosophy, I would take politics as well but my sixth-form does not have politics as an option.

Currently these are the GCSE's which I am taking, along with predicted grades and any help would be much appreciated!

Maths - 8
Further Maths - Pass (I think this course is only pass/fail)
Mandarin - 7/8
Geography - 9
Art - 8
Religion and philosophy - 8
Biology - 9
Chemistry - 9
Physics - 8
English Literature - 8
English Language - 8

My school does also have the option to do IB but many people say this is a much harder course and makes university applications more difficult, so i'm unsure as to whether that would be a good choice.
Reply 1
Perhaps you can do economics, philosophy and whatever one/two subjects you want to do. As an advice, I'd say it's better that you don't limit all three or four A-level subjects to one course (I wished I'd done that earlier myself) because no matter how determined you are, you wouldn't know whether you'd end up being interested at another course.

Maybe doing one science is a good choice? ...As a suggestion :smile:
Reply 2
This is what is said on the course page:

"You may apply for PPE having done any combination of subjects at school; it is not necessary to have studied Politics, Philosophy or Economics. History and Mathematics are useful backgrounds, but are not essential. We expect you to have taken and passed any practical component in your chosen science subjects.
Although a background in Mathematics is not formally required for admission, PPE applicants should have sufficient interest in, and aptitude for, mathematics to cope with the mathematical elements of the course. Mathematics is a particular advantage for the Economics component of the course, as well as for the first year logic course in philosophy, and for understanding theories and data in politics.
Many successful applicants have studied Maths to at least AS-level, or another equivalent. You may like to consider taking Maths to AS-level, or an equivalent qualification such as IB Standard Level, even if you do not pursue it further. It is useful to have learnt the basics of differentiation before starting your university course in PPE."

Well done on your predicted grades, by the way!
Moved to University of Oxford
(edited 5 years ago)
Reply 3
Original post by wifd149
Perhaps you can do economics, philosophy and whatever one/two subjects you want to do. As an advice, I'd say it's better that you don't limit all three or four A-level subjects to one course (I wished I'd done that earlier myself) because no matter how determined you are, you wouldn't know whether you'd end up being interested at another course.

Maybe doing one science is a good choice? ...As a suggestion :smile:


Thanks a lot, this is very helpful!:smile:
Reply 4
maths, politics/philosphy and history would be a good combo i think
Original post by Katey Matey
I am 15 years old and trying to narrow down my choices for A-levels. I am passionate about philosophy and politics and want to make sure I take A-levels that would allow me to have the best shot at getting into Oxford to study PPE (I do know this course is extremely competitive and even excellent grades do not ensure a successful application).

I definitely want to take philosophy, I would take politics as well but my sixth-form does not have politics as an option.

Currently these are the GCSE's which I am taking, along with predicted grades and any help would be much appreciated!

Maths - 8
Further Maths - Pass (I think this course is only pass/fail)
Mandarin - 7/8
Geography - 9
Art - 8
Religion and philosophy - 8
Biology - 9
Chemistry - 9
Physics - 8
English Literature - 8
English Language - 8

My school does also have the option to do IB but many people say this is a much harder course and makes university applications more difficult, so i'm unsure as to whether that would be a good choice.



Maths, an essay subject you like studying (eg History), and one other would be our suggestion based on your listing.

We would suggest discussing IB with your school and assessing how well it is resourced and what the study group would be like - it is a demanding course but having a good set of students who work rise to the challenge together seems to help.

Bear in mind that the IB offer for PPE has two components: minimum of 38 points and 7,7,7 at HL whereas the A-level offer is AAA.
Reply 6
Original post by BrasenoseAdm
Maths, an essay subject you like studying (eg History), and one other would be our suggestion based on your listing.

We would suggest discussing IB with your school and assessing how well it is resourced and what the study group would be like - it is a demanding course but having a good set of students who work rise to the challenge together seems to help.

Bear in mind that the IB offer for PPE has two components: minimum of 38 points and 7,7,7 at HL whereas the A-level offer is AAA.

It says on Website under PPE requirements: IB 39, with 7, 6, 6 at HL. Has it changed?
No, our mistake: the correct offer is 39 points & 7,6,6 at HL. Sorry about that & thanks for the correction.
(edited 5 years ago)
Reply 8
Original post by BrasenoseAdm
No, our mistake: the correct offer is 38 points & 7,6,6 at HL. Sorry about that & thanks for the correction.


Sorry to quibble, but prospectus says 39 not 38 :smile:
Original post by HMDN12
Sorry to quibble, but prospectus says 39 not 38 :smile:


Yes, indeed: 39 core points is correct!
Original post by BrasenoseAdm
Maths, an essay subject you like studying (eg History), and one other would be our suggestion based on your listing.

We would suggest discussing IB with your school and assessing how well it is resourced and what the study group would be like - it is a demanding course but having a good set of students who work rise to the challenge together seems to help.

Bear in mind that the IB offer for PPE has two components: minimum of 38 points and 7,7,7 at HL whereas the A-level offer is AAA.


Thank you so much for taking the time to write a reply. This is very helpful and I will definitely discuss this with my school.
Reply 11
Original post by Katey Matey
Thank you so much for taking the time to write a reply. This is very helpful and I will definitely discuss this with my school.


Note the correction :wink:

Original post by BrasenoseAdm
No, our mistake: the correct offer is 39 points & 7,6,6 at HL. Sorry about that & thanks for the correction.
My ex boyfriend applied for PPE (didn’t get in) and didn’t do maths and they asked him at interview why he hadn’t taken maths - so I would suggest taking maths in addition to your others - perhaps one solid essay subject-> maybe RS (which if you do OCR has a good amount of philosophy and so will be interesting to you as the course is 1/3 ethics (which is basically a branch of philosophy for the most part), 1/3 philosophy and 1/3 theology and then another A level in a subject you like - maybe economics?
(edited 5 years ago)
Maths, Economics and one of History/Politics/Philosophy
Original post by Doonesbury
Note the correction :wink:


Thanks - we are not at our best late at night or early on Sunday morning!
Original post by Katey Matey
I am 15 years old and trying to narrow down my choices for A-levels. I am passionate about philosophy and politics and want to make sure I take A-levels that would allow me to have the best shot at getting into Oxford to study PPE (I do know this course is extremely competitive and even excellent grades do not ensure a successful application).

I would advise you very strongly to keep your options as open as you can. People's ideas about what they want to do can change dramatically after GCSE, for all sorts of reasons. Therefore, pick the subjects you really enjoy and are good at, not just because they are directly relevant to an application for PPE.
Reply 16
I'm off to read PPE at Brasenose in October and I took a varied subject combination!
I took maths, chemistry and economics with politics to AS level (couldnt continue due to timetable issues and I don't think its worth taking 4 anyway!)
going into yr12 I was unsure if I wanted to go into PPE/law or a science degree, hence my subjects left lots of options open
defiantly take maths - you will find the TSA much easier for oxford, its required for UCL if you want to specialise in pol & econ and highly recommended by most other universities for PPE
also take an essay subject - I took politics and econ however if you're not sure it may be best to take history as its also a facilitating subject. Note that for Durham you must take an essay subject (of which they do not count economics, which lead to me being rejected!)
to keep even more options open a science subject is also good, however most science subjects are useless on their own and so are best taken in combination - especially with maths! Chemistry is the most requested science subject for university courses, so if you enjoy it (and you're predicted a 9 so must be good at it!) then I would say that its the best one to take.
To have the most 'options' I would take maths, chemistry and history, however the only thing to watch with history is that you'll actually enjoy the periods of history you have to study for two years!
Try coming up with a few subject combinations, then go through a uni prospectus highlighting all the different courses you could theoretically apply to with that combination, I found this really helpful for me
Original post by i_fa17
I'm off to read PPE at Brasenose in October and I took a varied subject combination!
I took maths, chemistry and economics with politics to AS level (couldnt continue due to timetable issues and I don't think its worth taking 4 anyway!)
going into yr12 I was unsure if I wanted to go into PPE/law or a science degree, hence my subjects left lots of options open
defiantly take maths - you will find the TSA much easier for oxford, its required for UCL if you want to specialise in pol & econ and highly recommended by most other universities for PPE
also take an essay subject - I took politics and econ however if you're not sure it may be best to take history as its also a facilitating subject. Note that for Durham you must take an essay subject (of which they do not count economics, which lead to me being rejected!)
to keep even more options open a science subject is also good, however most science subjects are useless on their own and so are best taken in combination - especially with maths! Chemistry is the most requested science subject for university courses, so if you enjoy it (and you're predicted a 9 so must be good at it!) then I would say that its the best one to take.
To have the most 'options' I would take maths, chemistry and history, however the only thing to watch with history is that you'll actually enjoy the periods of history you have to study for two years!
Try coming up with a few subject combinations, then go through a uni prospectus highlighting all the different courses you could theoretically apply to with that combination, I found this really helpful for me


Thank you so much, and congratulations on your place at Brasenose! I was wondering if you thought that Philosophy would be a good essay subject to take? Thanks again for all your help!
Hi I wonder how you got on with your degree?! Did you love it? Any pointers for a curious parent? Best wishes
Original post by Katey Matey
I am 15 years old and trying to narrow down my choices for A-levels. I am passionate about philosophy and politics and want to make sure I take A-levels that would allow me to have the best shot at getting into Oxford to study PPE (I do know this course is extremely competitive and even excellent grades do not ensure a successful application).

I definitely want to take philosophy, I would take politics as well but my sixth-form does not have politics as an option.

Currently these are the GCSE's which I am taking, along with predicted grades and any help would be much appreciated!

Maths - 8
Further Maths - Pass (I think this course is only pass/fail)
Mandarin - 7/8
Geography - 9
Art - 8
Religion and philosophy - 8
Biology - 9
Chemistry - 9
Physics - 8
English Literature - 8
English Language - 8

My school does also have the option to do IB but many people say this is a much harder course and makes university applications more difficult, so i'm unsure as to whether that would be a good choice.

Maths, Further Maths, Economics and either History or Geography would be wise. Which would also allow you to apply to Cambridge University and London: LSE, UCL, KCL, SOAS, QMUL, RHUL, City, Goldsmiths and Birbeck in London. :smile:

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