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Oxford PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics) Students and Applicants

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Reply 300
I don't understand my letter :s-smilie:
Reply 301
I don't understand my letter :s-smilie:

Why, what does it say?
Reply 302
Rejected by my college where I had the interview but still under conisderation by others...yet I only had one interview :confused:
Reply 303
I got in (though we didn't meet) - thanks for your amazing guide!
Reply 304
Rejected by my college where I had the interview but still under conisderation by others...yet I only had one interview :confused:

You can still be pooled to a different college without being interviewed there. Basically, it means wait, because there's another letter going to come your way soon, which may or may not be an offer from another college.
Reply 305
Just got in. Found a letter on the doormat. I got my offer from Christ Church College! Back of the net!
(psst: don't call it "Christ Church College")
Reply 307
Just got in. Found a letter on the doormat. I got my offer from Christ Church College! Back of the net!

Excellent - see you next year hopefully!
Reply 308
I got in at St Johns although I was too excited to hear what the grade requirements were!
Reply 309
Fantastic, so long as I shift myself and do some work for the old A2s, I shall see you in 10 months!
I got the offer from Balliol last Tuesday.

Thank you for your wonderful guide, Tom.

Whether interviews at Balliol were personal-statement based or not seemed to depend which of the three teams interviewed you [each team, this year anyway, comprising two people, either a politics tutor and an economics tutor, or a philosophy tutor and a politics tutor]. Mine was; many of the other applicants reported that theirs was not.

The only change to the guide I could possibly recommend would be a list of the interviewing procedures of all the colleges, but that could take a while, and would be subject to change.

It was interesting being at Oxford for four days for only an hour and forty-five minutes of actual application-related work. I'm glad it was organised like that, though, it was a great experience.
Reply 311
Hey Tom, I know that the Economics course hasn't changed *that* much this year, but a note about the change in format - with the alternating 'maths' and 'economics' weeks in both tutorials and lectures (I have no idea how different it is though to what it was like before)
This is what the The new Introductory Economics course, 2006-7 says:

In the first term, microeconomics and maths topics are alternated. These are taught in the lecture course by the same person, so that students can be encouraged to make connections, applying maths to economics. It is not the case that all of the mathematics is introduced before the economics to which it is applied: this is neither necessary (Varian manages with little formal maths) nor desirable (learning a lot of maths at the beginning of the course would be tedious if students could not see how it can be applied). Instead the topics are arranged so that connections can be made between successive weeks: sometimes mathematical techniques encountered in the previous weeks can be used naturally in discussing economic topics; at other points the mathematics teaching formalises economics concepts encountered the week before. In addition for those without AS level maths there is an additional set of lectures called Elementary Mathematical Methods taking place in MT and HT (see link below). Those with A level Maths may find the lectures in the first term, called Introduction to Mathematical Methods, helpful. [/Quote]
Reply 312
Just got in. Found a letter on the doormat. I got my offer from Christ Church College! Back of the net!

Yeah...As mentioned above, just Christ Church! My brother was giving me a lecture on how he gets really annoyed at people calling it Christ Church College, or spelling it Christchurch or worse of all, Christchurch College...
Reply 313
Woo! I've just been given a new tool with which to irritate members of Christ Church College. My arsenal grows and grows. Soon no one will be able to stand before me in the field of inter-college banter! RAR!!
Reply 314
Ok so I recently got an offer from New college, after being rejected by Trinity last year. Having done two sets of interviews for PPE I think I have a somewhat unique view of the whole process, and so thought I'd make a few observations...please be aware these are just my opinions - colleges will differ greatly and I'm sure even the same college will change year to year...

firstly, and i think most importantly, i was asked next to nothing on current affairs. this is most probably a coincidence, but considering what i was expecting, it was very different - no political debates about the state of affairs in the middle east or economic discussions on the euro...

secondly, very little, if any, knowledge from school came into it - there was no economic theory i was asked about, and the philosophy interviews both times weren't about philosophy as such but were just discussions on two pieces i.e. the one i had at new college we spoke about a sci-fi novel (see below for questions i remember). The political interviews were based much on general knowledge and stuff I would expect any applicant to be interested it - none of it was that specialist and my point is that reading loads of philosophy/economic/political books really wouldn't have helped me during either set of interviews

thirdly - not one mention was made of my written work in the 5 interviews i had in total, and the same with the stuff in my personal statement. in fact the only 'personal' questions i was asked were 'why do you want to study this' (a point on this - i really would prepare an answer...for Trinity i didn't and stumbled, at New i had a rough idea of what i would say) and one interviewer asked me about what i am doing in my gap year but only because he hadnt realised i was actually on a gap year and it came up because of the ashes that i was from australia and therefore he asked 'so are you at school in britian' and i said 'yes i was, but on a gap year'...from this i really get the impression that they dont really look much at your application, and that the interview (and test) is far and away the most important thing

four - the interview questions weren't very difficult...see below for a list of what i remember

five - above all, and i think this applies to any interview, is sound interested and enthusiastic. imo the questions they ask shouldnt be that difficult, but just sound genuinely interested in what you discuss

six - i found the test easier second time round but they are basically the same every year...don't worry about writing loads (i did the first time, not the second), make sure you spend 20 minutes on each...imo the easiest bit is the 3rd question (the mathsy bit) so i would suggest you do that first...the second bit (definitions) took me a bit less than 20, which left me about 30 minutes in total to do the first question which was the most demanding (for me anyway)

seven - there will probably be very little separating you from other candidates, so try to leave a good impression on the interviewers and make sure you realise that you aren't that great...with the first set of interviews i didnt really see the importance of the interviews and assumed my stellar grades would get me in...i wouldnt be surprised if a lot of people go into their interviews with similar premonitions

finally, i would encourage people to reapply if they want it - i am going to add a 'reapplication' bit to the interviews wiki but if you are a reapplicant my only advice would be a.) make sure your application is stronger than last year b.) make sure you are stronger as a person and c.) do something worthwhile with your gap year i.e. work in a bank, with a politician etc.

if anyone has completely different views, or concurs with what I have to say (particularly on the first three points) please do say. also if anyone wants to see my personal statement just pm me

Reply 315
questions i was asked -
Trinity - Politics - why i want to study politics, define democracy, talked about pros and cons, how a party might try and get voters without changing policy
Philosophy - see that, and also spoke about a guy who had a perfect clock for ages then it stopped, would he be right to assume that is the time when he looked at it again
Economics - asked me why i wanted to continue with economics, then what interested me (globalisation) so we spoke about that for about 10 minutes

New - Politics - spoke briefly about a passage, then about democracy, why there wasnt a global government, if it's ok for politicians to lie, what a politician is, and the impact of 9/11
Philosophy - extract from a book where this guy could teleport to mars by destroying him, then forming an exact copy - was he the same person etc.?then a 'new' technique meant he didnt go to mars, an exact copy did and he could see/talk to that copy - was it the same person, could he ever die etc. quite fun, but nothing about philosophical theory (well it might be but not directly linked to descartes or kant or whatever)
economics - he was the only one who asked anything personal like why i want to do economics and what im doing in gap year, then just 3 fairly simple logic puzzles (if they seem REALLY easy think again you're probably missing something as i did which he prompted me on) - if you get puzzles just take your time
anyone care to add their questions?
Reply 316
If anyones interested these were the Pembroke questions....


Why Politics?
What do you think of egalitarianism?
Are there any flaws with it?
The above question led into a discussion about incentives>> Meritocracy.
Could there potentially be conflicts between the two ideologies?


Can a cat think?
I argued "Yes"....he argued against my arguments by saying that cats just respond to their is that thinking!?!?
Can computers think?
I argued "No"...he argued that surely if cats respond to their surroundings and that's classed as "thinking" then computers carrying out specific tasks at the request of humans should also be classed as "thinking"...and so on...
Are knowledge and belief the same?
Can there be false belief?


Only one (long) question for econ...

What happens to wages in a country when it opens up to international trade?
Reply 317
the fact your questions are a lot harder than the ones i got asked to me highlights the 'luck' element of the interviews...rejectees shouldn't feel too downcast if they really want to go to oxford and can do something worthwhile in their gap year
Questions at St Catherine's:

Economics: I was given an article about exchange rates and Britain's trade deficit - summarize and explain it, think of possible reasons say how the described facts would show in different elasticity curves (I messed that up - AS economics was a long, long time ago). The second part was a curve discussion, explain basic differentiation and its geometrical meaning (the most difficult bir was that I had to do it all in my head)

Politics: Why I want to do PPE; Define democracy; Then she told me about a theory that says that democracies don't go to war against each other, give reasons for that (couldn't think of any), pros and cons of democracy, what about countries where the leader has a religious legitimacy that everybody acknowledges - would you still argue the case of democracy?

Philosophy: There are always people in society who have strange beliefs (i.e. racism, "I am the best") - how should we judge that? A girl has a very painful disease that doesn't allow her to enjoy life. Her parents had known about that before she was born and decided to have her anyway. As a teenager she sues her parents saying that it would have been better if she had never been born. As the judge, what would you do?

Questions at LMH (interview with all four tutors):

Define politics; How can we examine politics? Then a bunch of questions that build up on and questioned what I said. What could different kinds of legitimcacy be (apart from the will of the majority)
Then I was given a sheet with the definition of valid arguments and a list of arguments for which I had to say if they are valid. For one of them they believed that the argument was valid but not true and asked how that could be. I agrued it was valid and true. We spent the rest of the time discussing that
Reply 319
Continuing the trend, Wadham's questions:

Politics (2 tutors)
Tutor 1: What do these parts of the UN charter mean, do they conflict, why do they conflict, what's wrong with the Security council and how would you reorganise it?
Tutor 2: On two desert islands, people use carrots as currency. One island has an equal distribution of carrots, and on the other, Alice has 3, Bob has 2 and Clare has 1. Is this fair? What factors affect fairness &c &c.

In my second interview (Philosophy and Economics), I was asked the million-dollar question: "Why PPE?" The tutors then belittled part of my response ("... and I love studying Maths-y subjects and humanities, and I want to carry on" "So, you're coming to us because you can't choose, then?"), which I then defended. ("No, I'm coming to you because I want the best of both worlds.") I was also asked about what books I'd read around my subject.

What would you like to talk about (Existence preceeds essence). Define that. What about this? Or this? Now look at these logic questions. If all As are Bs and all Bs are Cs, are all As Cs? Continuations of these.

When it comes to health, there are high risk people and low risk people. If they get ill next year it costs £10,000. How much should their health insurance be if they don't know what risk? What about if they do? How can health insurers attract low risk customers if they know they're low risk?

Nothing in my submitted essays was discussed, although admittedly, they were about Far From the Madding Crowd and Witchcraft in Early Modern England and therefore totally irrelevant. I never had any evidence that anybody had read my Personal Statement, either (although I'm sure they had! They just didn't ask me about it); I did, however, get asked about what I'd read seeing as I wasn't studying any of the subjects at A-level.

The only other notable thing about my interview was something of a "good cop, bad cop" strategy between the two- The politics tutors were incredibly friendly and welcoming, whereas the other interview was distinctly cold. This could be luck, or a deliberate strategy- I should think different people perform better under different conditions, so if they give two different situations they may get a better impression of your overall ability. But this is all just idle speculation.

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