Bachelor of Arts Degree in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics
The King’s College program in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE)
weaves together the academic disciplines that examine the nature of human
beings and human communities. Politics deals for example with the question,
“How should we govern ourselves?” Philosophy asks questions such as, “What
is the nature of human beings?”, “What is the nature of the good?”and “How
can we become good?” And economics asks for example, “How can the community
prosper within the constraints of the material world?”
Oxford University created the first PPE degree in 1920. Since then, more
than two dozen colleges and universities have adopted the idea and developed
their own versions of it. The King’s College PPE program takes its
inspiration from this tradition, but has its own distinct content. PPE at
The King’s College has three particular distinctions.
First, it is built on the College’s Common Core. Second, many PPE courses
at King’s have a strong theological component, and the curriculum as a whole
is informed by the great truths of Christianity. Our curriculum is based on
the idea that Christianity gives powerful insights into the key questions
that political theorists, philosophers, and economists pursue. Third,
students in the PPE program prepare for public debate and advocacy. The
curriculum acknowledges the importance of persuasive writing and speaking.
The aim is to prepare graduates who are not just knowledgeable about the
world, but ready to act in the world.
The common core component of the PPE program introduces students to the
fundamental principles of the three disciplines, plus theology. Upper level
courses in the PPE major focus on contemporary issues and more advanced
topics. The program, however, is completely integrated. Basic questions
raised during freshman year are raised again in courses throughout the
students’ program in order to gain a greater knowledge of the implications
of how we answer these questions.
In the discipline of politics, PPE students begin their study of politics
by examining foundational questions raised by Plato’s Republic and various
works of literature such as Lord of the Flies and Brave New World. They then
continue by exploring the American experiment through the writings of great
statesmen such as John Adams and Abraham Lincoln. While students explore the
American experiment they also study the political and philosophical context
of this experiment—the Enlightenment. This will lead to an analysis of
different theories and justifications for human rights, and the goals and
merits of liberal democracies. All of this prepares students for a
historically and philosophically grounded study of the constitutional
history of the United States from its founding up to and including the
expansion of civil rights.
In the discipline of philosophy, PPE students study the metaphysics,
epistemology, and ethics of the major philosophers in a historical sequence
which begins with Plato and Aristotle in the Ancient Philosophy course,
continues with Augustine and the Scholastics in the Medieval Philosophy
course, and culminates with thinkers such as Descartes and Kant in the
Modern Philosophy course. Through the study of these authors students become
acquainted with how philosophers struggle to understand the nature of human
beings, the nature of the world around them, and the nature of goodness.
Understanding these questions helps us develop a systematic treatment of
ethics, including the nature of values, considerations of human freedom, and
the sources of moral goodness and moral evil.
In the discipline of economics, PPE students study two broad themes: how
market participants make choices on the basis of expected costs and benefits
and how markets coordinate these choices through fluctuating prices.
Students learn how markets efficiently coordinate information through the
price system and learn how government sets the rules for markets, in some
cases promoting prosperity and in other cases hindering beneficial market
interactions of both buyer and seller. In Microeconomics, students learn
about specialization and trade, supply and demand, consumer and producer
surplus, and competitive and uncompetitive market structures. In
Macroeconomics, students study the causes and consequences of recessions,
financial crises, unemployment, and inflation as well as prosperity and
long-run growth. In Economic Thought and Practice, students will study how
the major economic ideas that have influenced economic systems, policies,
and popular understanding are put into practice. In elective courses,
students can study the history of economic thought, the economics of
government decision-making, globalization, and economic development.
For detailed program map, please consult the