BA (Hons) Politics, Philosophy & Economics

Building on our longstanding expertise in the social sciences, we've launched this new degree for 2014 entry that will challenge you intellectually and equip you for a career in the social, economic and political arenas of an evolving world.

Course length
3 years full-time.
Entry requirements
A-level: AAB/ABB
IB: 34 points
Access: Pass with 45 Level 3 credits including a number of distinctions/merits in subject specific modules
or equivalent; see find out more about our general entrance requirements.
Fees and funding
Please see undergraduate tuition fees.
Contact the departments
Contact the Programme Convenor, Admissions Tutor.
Visit us
Find out about how you can visit Goldsmiths at one of our open days or come on a campus tour.

Why study BA Politics, Philosophy & Economics at Goldsmiths?

  • We've expertise in many of the social sciences – PoliticsSociology and Anthropology in particular - and have taught philosophy in many programmes. We've now made substantial investments in new teaching and research staff with expertise in economics and political economy in order to construct this exciting programme.
  • The combination of these three subjects has long been popular at Oxford and versions of the degree are now available in a number of other research-intensive institutions. The PPE degree is traditionally an appropriate education for entering professions, including banking, the media and government. The Goldsmiths version of PPE is rather different. We're interested in educating the new generations of creative minds and entrepreneurs interested in doing things differently.
  • Building on our strengths not just in the social sciences but also in computing, the arts and the humanities, this degree seeks to reinterpret and redefine the content and the meaning of the canon usually associated with such programmes.
  • We're interested in investigating the major political, social, cultural and policy challenges of the twenty-first century, including the role of the state in the economy, the ethics and economics of redistribution, the politics of a multi-polar and globalised world, and the challenges of an economic system where traditional models and understandings of ‘economics’ appear to have failed us.
  • This isn't just a course about the UK, USA and Europe. The problems and issues we confront involve detailed engagements with our world-class scholarship on non-Western regions including China, Japan, India, Africa and the Global South.
  • Internationally and nationally we're recognised and prized for our interdisciplinary academic practice and research as well as a commitment to encouraging unorthodox scholarly enquiry.
  • You'll be taught by some of Europe’s top political scientists, political economists, sociologists, anthropologists, and cultural theorists. Our staff are responsible for actively shaping their disciplines – they're pioneers in their fields, and write the books that are on student reading lists. They've a global outlook and their research and teaching has a global reach. Staff contributing to the programme hail from over 20 different countries and our student body is similarly diverse.
  • The programme challenges received wisdom and encourages you to question subjects from many different perspectives. You'll also be exposed to a lively events programme that attracts renowned speakers, meaning you'll have the opportunity to hear the latest anthropological, political, economic and sociological arguments, theories and ideas.

What you study

The degree is composed of a combination of core courses and options.

In the first year, you follow four core courses, drawing together a training in political economy, economics, philosophy, political theory, international relations, and a broad multi-disciplinary overview of the social sciences: ‘Goldsmiths 101’.

In the second year, you continue studying political economy, learning to understand but also to question neo-classical economics. You also build upon your knowledge of core traditions of political thought and philosophy, including the chance to study aspects of continental philosophy. You're also encouraged to identify additional modules drawn from across Goldsmiths to complement the other components of your second year curriculum.

In the third year, you're required to write a substantial dissertation, and complete your degree by choosing from a large range of modules in your areas of interest representing the PPE fields as well as interdisciplinary options.

See more information about what courses you'll study on the PPE degree

Equivalent qualifications

Scottish qualifications: ABBBB/ABBBC (Higher), AAC/ABC (Advanced Higher)
European Baccalaureate: 80%
Irish Leaving Certificate: A1 A1 A1 B2

Modules & structure

Year 1

In the first year you take four core modules.

1 The Economic Imagination: Introduction to Political Economy (30 credits)

2 Introduction to Philosophy (30 credits)

3 World Politics (30 credits)

4 Goldsmiths 101: Contemporary Perspectives on Culture, Political Economy and Society (30 Credits)

Year 2

You take two core modules:

1. Approaches to Political Economy (15 credits) + Modelling the Economy (15 credits)

2. Philosophy: Either Modern Political Theory (30 credits) or Reason and Critique (30 credits)

3. Any 30 credits in Politics selected from:

  • Contemporary International Relations Theories (15 credits)
  • An/Other IR: Views from the South (15 credits)
  • The Politics of Vision (15 credits)
  • European Politics (15 credits)
  • Europe since 1945 (15 credits)
  • Britain and Europe (15 credits)
  • Chinese Politics (15 credits)
  • Africa in the Global Political Economy (15 credits)
  • African Political Thought and Practice (15 credits)
  • The Making of Modern Japan (15 credits)
  • An(Other) Japan: Politics, Ideology, Culture (15 credits)
  • Themes and Issues in British Politics (30 credits)

4. Any 30 credits from the following interdisciplinary modules

  • Politics, Economics and Social Change (30 credits)
  • Philosophy and Methodology of the Social Sciences (15 credits)
  • Culture Society and the Individual (15 credits)
  • Media Economy and Society (15 credits)
  • Migration, Globalisation and Citizenship (15 credits)
  • Nationalism, Fundamentalism, Cosmopolitanism (15 credits)
  • Social Change and Political Action (15 credits)
  • Sexuality (15 credits)
  • Leisure, Culture and Society (15 credits)
  • Life a User’s Manual (15 credits)
  • Cities of Modernity: Urban space in the Twentieth Century (15 credits)
  • Postmodernities (15 credits)
  • Visualizing Difference (15 credits)

Year 3

In the final year you select 90 credits of modules from three groupings; no more than 60 credits may be chosen from any one group.

In addition you'll complete a 10,000 word dissertation (30 credits.).

The modules below are illustrative and the actual options will vary year on year. Options are selected in close collaboration with the course leader in order to avoid duplication of coverage and to ensure a reasonable disciplinary and substantive spread of materials.

Not all options will be available in any given year but the following is an indicative list.

Economics related options

  • Anthropology of Development (15 credits)
  • Global development and underdevelopment (15 credits)
  • Political Economy of the Mass Media (15 credits)
  • EU and Immigration: Contours, Politics and Economics of New Policy Domain (15 credits)
  • Political Economy of the European Union (30 credits)
  • New Radical Economy (30 credits)
  • + New options to be developed by new Economics staff

Politics and Philosophy related options

  • Anarchism (15 credits)
  • An(other) China (15 credits)
  • Art War Terror (15 credits)
  • Beyond all Reason (15 credits)
  • Britain in the EU (15 credits)
  • Cultural politics and globalisation (15 credits)
  • Citizenship and human rights (15 credits)
  • Discourse, Power and Politics (15 credits)
  • Law, identity and ethics (15 credits)
  • Nationalist Conflict and International Intervention Party Systems and Electoral Systems (15 credits)
  • Philosophy, Politics and Alterity (15 credits)
  • Politics and Welfare (15 credits)
  • Politics of the African City (15 credits)
  • Public Policy Analysis (15 credits)
  • Rhetoric and Politics (15 credits)
  • Technology and Political Mobilisation (15 credits)

Interdisciplinary options

  • After New Media Anthropology of Rights (15 credits)
  • Anthropology of Violence (15 credits)
  • Digital Cities (15 credits)
  • Gender Theory in Practice (15 credits)
  • Health, Medicine and Social Power (15 credits)
  • Ideology and the Secular (15 credits)
  • Images in Conflict Knowledge, science and nature (15 credits)
  • Media Audiences and Media Geographies Media Ethnicity and Nation Privacy and Surveillance (15 credits)
  • Race, racism and social theory (15 credits)
  • Social Movements and Subcultures Structure of Contemporary Political Communications Urban Anthropology (15 credits)
  • Vision, truth and knowledge (15 credits)
  • Visual explorations of the social world (15 credits)

Read full module descriptions for Politics options

Learning and teaching

On this degree you'll attend lectures and seminars where you'll hear about ideas and concepts related to specific topics, and where you'll be encouraged to discuss and debate the issues raised. This will enhance your academic knowledge of the subject, and will improve your communication skills.

But this is just a small proportion of what we expect you to do on the degree. For each hour of taught learning in lectures and seminars, we expect you to complete another 5-6 hours of independent study. This typically involves carrying out required and additional reading, preparing topics for discussion, or producing essays or project work.

This emphasis on independent learning is very important at Goldsmiths. We don't just want you to accept what we tell you without question. We want you to be inspired to read more, to develop your own ideas, and to find the evidence that will back them up. Independent study requires excellent motivation and time management skills. These skills will stay with you for life, and are the kind of transferable skills that are highly sought after by employers. 

Learning and teaching on this degree will take place through:

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Independent learning
  • Presentations
  • Assessments

Find out more about these learning and teaching approaches.

Skills and careers


This programme will develop you intellectually, and will enhance your transferable and communication skills – learning to plan your workload, to research solutions, and to express your ideas coherently.


Our graduates go on to a wide variety of careers. Some go on to postgraduate study or further training in law, accountancy, social work, business administration, or to specialise in one area of their academic studies, whilst others go directly into employment.

Recent graduates have found employment in administration and management; in various departments of central and local government; in finance, in the media; in research and computing; in voluntary agencies; in health, education and housing management; the probation service; in company management, and as lecturers and teachers.

About the departments

PPE at Goldsmiths is currently taught by staff from the Departments of Politics, Sociology and Anthropology. Economics staff are distributed across all of these Departments.

About the Department of Politics

Video: Click to play
About Politics
At Goldsmiths politics goes beyond voting systems, parliaments and the conventional arenas of power.

And it looks beyond the West. We focus on conflict, cultures and crossing boundaries so we’re exploring clashes of ideas in the world that’s emerging, drawing on a range of disciplines and examining everything from anarchism to anime. We study a politics for the 21st Century, in which anarchism may be as important as liberalism and in which Asia and Africa will be as economically and geopolitically important as Europe and North America.

As a department we’re interested in what happens at the edges of cultures, societies or systems – but we’re also covering the core ground. So as a student here you’ll graduate with an excellent all-round Politics degree but you’ll also be able to take advantage of our specialist strengths in international relations, political theory, and art and politics.

Whether you want to study the gravitas of graffiti, the politics inside your own family, or social media and the Arab Spring, you’ll be able to debate your ideas within an award-winning department – scoring 22 out of 24 in the latest UK government teaching quality assessment – with the freedom to pursue the areas that interest you most.

Why choose Politics at Goldsmiths?

We’re unconventional. We see politics as an expansive discipline and use it as a lens to view the world. So you may be working on group projects, writing a blog, or submitting a Manga comic instead of an essay, but you’ll be at the sharp edge of the subject – our students’ coursework was described as ‘absolutely excellent’ in the 2010–11 external examiner assessment.

We’re challenging. Because we work beyond the boundaries of conventional politics, you graduate with a University of London degree that’s as rigorous as it is broad. And, we have a whole range of options to support and inspire you while you’re here, from personal tutor sessions and embedded work placements to Goldsmiths seminars and guest lectures.

We’re curious. It’s why we have specialists teaching the politics of China, India, Japan, and Africa. But it’s also why we want to know what you think. Come with an agenda of your own and test out your debating skills within small, diverse teaching groups led by an expert team of ‘passionate and enthusiastic’ staff (National Student Survey 2011).

At Goldsmiths you can:

• Choose from seven undergraduate degrees described as ‘theoretically rich and methodologically rigorous’ (2010–11 external assessment)

• Explore the character of the world, cross subject boundaries and develop the kind of critical thinking you can take into any career

• Learn Mandarin and study in China as part of our recently launched BA International Studies & Chinese

• Be part of a small friendly department where 92% of students say “the staff are good at explaining things” (National Student Survey 2011)

• Take advantage of an optional work placement in your third year [if you are enrolled in the BA IS degree]to apply your learning in a professional setting

• Study courses you can’t elsewhere from Anarchism to the Politics of Rhetoric

• Talk to your own personal tutor throughout your degree giving you guidance and feedback on your work

• Learn from academics who are experts in their field and published authors in their own right

• Go on to work within a range of areas – many of our graduates now work within NGOs and central government or use their skills within journalism and the media


Find out more about the specialisms of staff in the Department of Politics.

About the Department of Sociology


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Discover different sides of life

Sociology studies the relationship between social structures and social actions. We study how people make their own histories but never under circumstances of their own choosing. Sociology at Goldsmiths is active, contemporary and inventive. We are as interested in the ‘global’ issues of poverty and injustice as we are in the ‘micro’ issues of identity and presentation of self. Sociology is a craft, a vocation and to study and engage with the subject can be transformative; once you have acquired a sociological imagination the world will never be the same for you again.

As a department we are interested in pushing the discipline forward. We are proud to be the joint top university for sociology in the UK (Research Assessment Exercise 2008) and we are known for pioneering ‘Live Sociology’ - focusing on contemporary issues, using innovative methods and celebrating the sociological imagination. It is an approach driven by our international research and it means that as a student here, you can delve into a whole host of topics; many you will be familiar with from previous study – class and stratification, race, gender, power - but much of which will be new – the digital, the body, culture and cities.

We want you to graduate with a sociology degree that has weight in the real world so we make sure you learn how to apply sociology’s core methods to particular areas of life now. Our courses are hands-on – giving you the opportunity to research and record an environment, create and analyse your own data, and draw your own conclusions. And you can apply the skills of sociological study to many careers – our graduates go on to work in a whole range of settings from research institutes to major record labels. 

Why choose Sociology at Goldsmiths?

We’re welcoming. Come and let us know what you think and learn through a combination of lectures, small group seminars, practical workshops and field trips, and from an approachable team of expert staff, many of whom have won awards for their teaching.

We are experimental. As a student here you can test out your ideas and get involved in the latest developments within the field. Because all of our staff teach their own specialisms, you find out about the latest research first.

We are active. This means you won’t be synthesising existing information but you will be generating data of your own, conducting your own primary research, and experiencing what it means to be a sociologist now.

At Goldsmiths you can:

• Choose from five undergraduate degrees covering areas from media and sociology to the social and political sciences

• Be part of an internationally recognised department whose research was rated ‘world class’ in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise

• Access unrivalled University of London research libraries, and gain a reader’s ticket to The British Library

• Engage with a programme that draws on a range of interdisciplinary subjects and looks at a whole range of areas from the technologies of medicine, to media, advertising and branding, and bodies.

• Be part of an international learning environment where everyone offers their own unique point of view

• Debate with academics who are experts in their field, published authors and media commentators in their own right

• Set up your own work placement to apply your skills in practice

• Access a range of research partners from UNICEF to Amnesty International, and from Intel to the BBC


The Department has 28 full-time academic staff, including nine Professors and nine professional staff, as well as part-time and research staff. We also have a number of visiting tutors.

We publish widely in the form of books, contributions to journals, and press articles. This means that you'll be taught by staff who are actually shaping the discipline.

Find out more about staff in the Department of Sociology. 


In addition to extensive computing facilities, the Department co-ordinates a programme of talks featuring visiting lecturers from other universities. These talks cover specific areas of interest, and supplement events held by academics within the Department.

About the Department of Anthropology

What is normal?

It’s what anthropology is all about.


Video: Click to play
Anthropology is a critical science that studies what it means to be human in different parts of the world. And at Goldsmiths it’s fast and it’s contemporary. We focus on how anthropology can help us understand society and our place within it, by applying anthropology as a local and global lens to explore everything from myth and ritual to new technologies.

As a department we’re interested in pushing the discipline forward – we’re known for pioneering new fields including visual anthropology and the anthropology of modernity – so as a student here you’ll get the chance to specialise in unique areas and look at subjects you can’t study elsewhere.

We want you to graduate with an anthropology degree that has weight in the real world so we make sure you learn anthropology’s core methods and theories together with specialist subject areas relevant to contemporary public life. It’s why our research, cited as ‘internationally excellent’ in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, is policy-oriented and addresses everyday issues in areas as diverse as urban planning, development, emotions and aesthetics, and new social movements.

Why study Anthropology at Goldsmiths?

  • The Department of Anthropology is exciting and multi-disciplinary, with specialists in a huge variety of areas of research
  • We're one of the most consistently innovative departments in Britain, and have been at the forefront of new fields in the discipline, including visual anthropology, the anthropology of development and rights, and the anthropology of media
  • We look at the subject from a contemporary perspective, which means that what you learn in the classroom will be relevant in a variety of public domains, in Britain and elsewhere
  • We currently have 16 permanent members of teaching staff and three administrative staff, as well as a large group of visiting tutors, and research fellows working on a range of exciting projects
  • We have approximately 250 undergraduate students, plus 80 Masters and 40 research postgraduate students
  • We also have close links with other departments and research centres at Goldsmiths, including the Centre for Cultural Studies, the Centre for Urban and Community Research, the Centre for the Study of the Balkans, Sociology, Psychology, HistoryMedia and Communications, and Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies
  • As a University of London student, you'll have the opportunity to attend seminars and courses throughout the University’s colleges and institutions, and can make use of the excellent library facilities at Senate House and fellow colleges

We have wide-ranging research links with other institutions, and our areas of specialisation include:

  • the environment
  • peasantries
  • post-socialism
  • kinship
  • gender
  • animals
  • medicine health and the body
  • anthropology of science and biotechnology
  • visual anthropology
  • development and rights
  • representation
  • material and popular culture
  • cultural politics
  • neo-colonialisms
  • postcolonialisms
  • history

Staff research interests cover many geographical regions including Latin America, North America, Africa, the Pacific, Asia, and Europe, including Britain.

Find out more about Goldsmiths

Content last modified: 30 Jan 2014

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