What is PPE at Manchester like?

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MZWPout
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Was hoping to find any current students who can give their take on the course in Manchester.

Since it's a relatively new course from the UoM, I'd love to know more about how the course is structured. Can you specialise in two of the three disciplines, how are the lectures and tutorials, contact hours etc. And how much of the interdisciplinary aspect between the branches is taught?

Most importantly, how much actual in-class discussion goes on among students instead of just being drip fed information from the lecturers?
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Mister Darcy
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(Original post by MZWPout)
Was hoping to find any current students who can give their take on the course in Manchester.

Since it's a relatively new course from the UoM, I'd love to know more about how the course is structured. Can you specialise in two of the three disciplines, how are the lectures and tutorials, contact hours etc. And how much of the interdisciplinary aspect between the branches is taught?

Most importantly, how much actual in-class discussion goes on among students instead of just being drip fed information from the lecturers?
This is probably a bit late but hopefully this info comes in useful in some way.

So basically at UoM the first two years you divide your credits evenly (120 per year so 40 per discipline), so whereas some universities offering PPE let you drop one after the first year, you will have to do all three evenly whether you like it or not. That being said, all three departments are big enough that there's lots of variation. In your third year, you choose a dissertation (which vary in size between 20 and 40 credits) and you can specialise. I did 30 credits in econ, 10 credits in a free choice, and 60 credits in politics (including a 20 credit diss) plus the 20 credit 'Topics in PPE' module/ I'll talk now briefly about how I found each discipline to be. It's important to note that at UoM, PPE is essentially separate modules from separate disciplines, with a module in third year that actually links them together in the 'Topics in PPE' module. In other words, don't expect mid-philosophy lecture for your professor to link the ship of theseus to microeconomic theory or something like that. All modules are 2/3 lecture and 1/3 tutorial, with 3 hours contact time in total, barring the diss for obvious reasons.

So in Econ, your first year modules are basically decided on your mathematical ability. If you did A-Level Maths, you would do Advanced Maths and Stats, and Microeconomic and Macroeconomic Analysis. If you didn't do A-Level Maths, like me, you do Micro and Macro introductory modules, and introductory (basically GCSE higher/AS/A2 mixture) maths and stats. I hated Maths at school, I scraped a B at GCSE, and only did humanities A-Levels but still got 82 in the maths module and 79 in the stats, both are well taught. In general at UoM, Econ modules utilise maths a great deal, and there is (as far as I remember) no heterodox modules. All modules are taught in the neoclassical tradition, with some modules critically reflecting on this from within the neoclassical mindset, rather than from a heterodox one. There's a real mix of exams and essays and it's worth looking at individual module pages on the uni website to get a feel.

For Politics, there's a couple of compulsory modules or a set of modules that you must choose from in years 1 and 2, in year 3 you can choose any module you like (obvs subject to how you structure your final year). At UoM, most Politics classes are done in a critical way. It's not like you learn the mechanics of a system of government and are tested on how it functions. The primary focus is critical reflection. Generally speaking there's a lot of variety, I did politics of security, nationalism, and I did political theory for my diss. Most modules are assessed by a combination of coursework and exams but some are solely coursework.

Philosophy I dropped after second year. In first year you do a compulsory 'Critical Thinking' module which is basically introductory logic (it used to be called something like that, don't know why they changed the name tbf) and in second year you get a variation. I would suggest generally avoiding the truly hardcore mindbending stuff unless that's your thing: lots of reading and complicated things to deal with are not ideal on a course as demanding as PPE. I got the vibe that philosophy was the least popular branch of the degree, not to say it's bad (I enjoyed it) but most people I spoke to on PPE specialised in Econ in their final year. Understandable considering starting salaries etc but still.

In terms of in-class discussion, it depends on the tutor. Some tutorials I didn't ever make notes because the class was dominated by discussion in smaller groups, but some tutors deliver their class like a slightly narrowed down lecture. Most of the lecturers and tutors were sound and happy to help whenever they were needed, of course there's the odd one or two who I didn't honestly like (as there would be anywhere) but there was no one I thought as incompetent. Lectures don't really have discussions, UoM is a big uni and lectures (at least at the start of term) are significant in number. Occasionally you get final year lectures in smaller groups where it's a bit informal but generally the lecture is you getting talked at, though it is usually interesting.

Overall I can't say I know much, or anything, about how the uni is dealing with Covid, and it might render some of my advice void so best to check. Nevertheless, I had a great time doing PPE at Manchester, it's a demanding course and to succeed to you have to work hard but in my cohort I think around 35% got firsts so it's very much doable. Hope all goes well!
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