Policy, Politics and Economics with Year Abroad BA

The PPE programme will give you opportunities to examine and evaluate a wide range of social, political and economic questions. At the broadest, these issues might include considering the role of financial markets and the distribution of wealth; investigating the different forms and function of government, or questioning what such concepts as society and citizen might mean in the 21st century.

If you want to take advantage of a unique opportunity to be supported with a work placement opportunity as part of your final year, this course includes the opportunity to undertake a 'Professional Development' module as part of your optional module choices. Find out more in our UG Social Policy course brochure (PDF).

Download our course brochure (PDF - 1.93MB)

Please be reassured that the vote to leave the European Union does not mean there will be any immediate material change to the UK university sector’s participation in EU programmes such as Erasmus and study abroad programmes. Visit our EU Referendum information page for more information.

The Policy, Politics and Economics degree offers you the opportunity to critically engage with and consider a range of contemporary real-world issues. Unlike traditional single honours degrees, the PPE programme enables you to encounter a variety of concepts, approaches and methods from the three disciplines of social policy, politics and economics. This offers  students the opportunity to build a bespoke degree, drawing on the excellent research and teaching skills of three Schools within the College of Social Sciences.

Year 1

Students undertake compulsory introductory modules in all three of the social science disciplines: social policy, politics and economics. In doing so, students establish a good social sciences foundation upon which subsequent year modules build. Example modules include 'Introduction to Social Policy, 'Foundations of Politics' and 'Principles of Economics'.

Year 2

A compulsory module, 'Global Issues, Global Responses' is at the core of the second year of studies. This interdisciplinary module enables students to consider a range of important global issues and the responses to them at the international, regional and local levels. Indicative examples of such issues include risk and terror, ethics in policy and practice, climate change and technology amongst others. Alongside this, students are required to take one module from each of social policy, politics and economics. Students can also begin to tailor their learning to their developing interests, choosing from more than fifteen optional modules, including 'Comparative European Government', 'Business Law', 'Crime, Victims and Society', 'New Migration and Superdiversity' and 'International Politics of East Asia'.

Year 3

In your third year, you will spend a year abroad at a university in the EU or elsewhere in the world. There are a wide range of countries and universities from which you can choose. As well as a range of European universities, you may also choose from a range of current partners worldwide. These include countries in which a variety of different languages are spoken, including universities at which courses are taught in English. After completing your year abroad, students will return to Birmingham to complete the final year of their studies.

Year 4

There are two key aspects to the third year of study: one is the dissertation, the opportunity to create a bespoke learning programme. For the dissertation, students will undertake a 10,000 word research-based project on a contemporary theme which includes elements of the three main disciplines of the programme. Students choose from a substantial range of optional modules whilst meeting the requirements to undertake at least one module from each discipline. The choice includes modules such as 'Employment and Business Development and Policy in the EU', 'International Ethics', 'Gender in World Politics', 'Knowledge, Innovation and Global Business', and 'Politics and The Media'. This flexibility enables the student to gain a broad education at the same time as developing in-depth knowledge in a specific discipline.

If you want to take advantage of a unique opportunity to be supported with a work placement opportunity as part of your final year, this course includes the opportunity to undertake a 'Professional Development' module as part of your optional module choices.

Students undertake their dissertation and then choose from a substantial range of optional modules, whilst meeting the requirements to undertake at least one module from each discipline. The dissertation will offer the student an opportunity to undertake a 10,000 word research-based project on a contemporary theme which includes elements of the three main disciplines of the programme. This will encourage the student to have both a broad education and in-depth knowledge in a specific discipline.

Additional information

An undergraduate subject degree brochure is available by contacting Email: ugsocialpolicy@contacts.bham.ac.uk.

Why study this course

The research-led teaching on our flexible degree courses ensures an inspirational and enquiry-based learning environment in the lecture theatre, seminar room and on placement. You will graduate as a highly employable, independent global citizen with a broad range of transferable skills.

You will study in one of the most attractive and heritage-rich campuses in the country, only a few minutes from the centre of Birmingham, the only UK city featured in the Rough Guide top 10 cities in the world to visit.

Your year abroad

A year abroad is undoubtedly one of the best opportunities that is available to you during your undergraduate career, and is something you will remember throughout your university and professional life. The benefits of spending a year abroad are many and will enhance your career prospects by developing relevant, marketable skills, such as problem-solving, communication, analytical and study skills, as well as perseverance, determination, and self-motivation.

Find out more about the benefits of studying abroad


Modules in the first year

The compulsory modules in the first year are designed to provide students with a grounding in all three disciplines of Social Policy, Politics and Economics.

  • Introduction to Social Policy
  • Understanding Politics
  • Social Research Principles of Economics
  • Introduction to Mathematics for Economics OR Advanced Mathematics for Economics (for students with A level Mathematics grade A or A*)

Optional modules

Select one of the following:

  • Introduction to International Relations Theory
  • Introduction to Political Economy
  • Social Science, Social Problems and Social Policy
  • Introduction to the European Union: History, Politics and Institutions
  • Widening Horizons: an opportunity to take an introductory module from other disciplines across the University

Modules in second year

Core modules

  • Global Issues: Perspectives from Policy, Politics and Economics
  • Social Research II
  • Analysing Political Worlds
  • Macroeconomics A or Microeconomics A*

Optional modules

Select up to 40 credits from the options available:

Social Policy

  • Policy Analysis
  • Managing Health and Social Care
  • Housing and Communities
  • Comparative Social Policy
  • Third Sector and Social Enterprise
  • Poverty, Class and Inequality
  • Terror, Threat and Security 


  • Macroeconomics A (if not already taken as compulsory subject)
  • Microeconomics A (if not already taken as compulsory subject)
  • Development Economics
  • Environmental Economics
  • China and the World Economy
  • Contemporary Issues in the UK Economy 


  • British Politics
  • Comparative European Politics
  • International Political Economy
  • Institutions, Politics and Policies of the European Union
  • Modern Political Thought
  • Politics and Policy
  • International Politics of East Asia
  • International Security
  • Islam and Politics in Europe
  • Comparative Foreign Policy

Year 3 - Year Abroad

Your third year will be spent abroad at a university in the EU or elsewhere in the world. After completing your year abroad, you will return for your fourth and final year to the same BA degree programme. There are a wide range of countries and universities from which you can choose. As well as a range of European universities, you may also choose from a range of current institutional partners worldwide. These include countries in which a variety of languages are spoken, including universities at which courses are taught in English.

Modules in final year

  • Dissertation (students can specialise their dissertation in any of the three areas of study)

Optional modules

Select 20 credits from each discipline as optional modules and a further 20 credits at your discretion:

Social Policy

  • Doing or Not Doing God? Religion, Policy and Politics
  • Migration and Super-Diversity
  • Harmful Societies: Crime, Social Harm and Social Justice 
  • Prospects for British Social Policy
  • From Beveridge to May
  • Political Sociology
  • Technology and Society


  • International and European Monetary Issues
  • History of Economic Thought
  • Economics of Financial Markets
  • Health Economics
  • Monetary Policy
  • Open Economy Macroeconomics
  • Behavioural and Experimental Economics
  • International Trade Theory
  • International Trade Policy
  • Economics of the European Union 


  • Contemporary International Political Economy
  • Gender in World Politics
  • The Diplomacy of the Arab-Israeli Conflict
  • Varieties of Capitalism and Welfare State Models
  • Law, Politics and the International System
  • Intelligence Services and US Foreign Policy
  • New Media, Social Media, and International Politics
  • Contemporary Political Theory
  • Power in Britain
  • Contemporary US Foreign and Security Policy
  • Topics in British Politics

Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. Unless indicated otherwise, the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2019. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.

Fees and funding

For UK students beginning their studies in September 2019, the University of Birmingham will charge the maximum approved tuition fee per year. The fees for your first year of study will therefore be £9,250. Visit our tuition fees page for more information.

Learn more about fees and funding.

Home/EU students

Undergraduate Home/EU student fees 2019-20
Fee Band Full-time
Undergraduate £9,250

Overseas students

Overseas students entering in 2019-20
Fee Band (Undergraduate) Full-time
Band 1 (Classroom) £17,040


At Birmingham we ensure that fears about finance do not constrain prospective students from considering university and that excellence is rewarded.

The University offers a range of additional financial support for students studying at Birmingham in the form of bursaries, grants and scholarships.

Learn more about our scholarships and awards .


Learn more about our scholarships and awards

We encourage applications through the University’s
Access to Birmingham (A2B) Scheme

Entry requirements

Typical offer:
Required subjects and grades:
GCSE Maths Grade B
General Studies:

Additional information:

BTEC Extended Diploma, Diploma and Subsidiary Diploma are all accepted but subjects are considered on a case by case basis - contact us for further guidance.

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements

International students:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 6,6,5 at Higher Level to include English with a minimum of 32 points overall. 

Standard English language requirements apply

Learn more about international entry requirements

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in one of our foundation pathways, which offer specially structured programmes for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on Birmingham International Academy web pages.

How to apply

Apply through UCAS at www.ucas.com Learn more about applying


The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is a UK organisation responsible for managing applications to university and college.

UK, EU and international students applying for most undergraduate degree courses in the UK will need to apply through UCAS.

You submit an application via the UCAS website with a list of up to five courses. All choices are confidential during the application process so universities and colleges considering an application cannot see your other choices. Applications must be completed by mid-January of the year that you wish to start university.

You can monitor the progress of your application using the UCAS Apply system

Key Information Set (KIS)

Key Information Sets (KIS) are comparable sets of information about full- or part-time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students.

All KIS information has been published on the Unistats website and can also be accessed via the small advert, or ‘widget’, below. On the Unistats website you are able to compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses.

The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) formed part of HEFCE’s work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. They give you access to reliable and comparable information in order to help you make informed decisions about what and where to study.

The KIS contains information which prospective students have identified as useful, such as student satisfaction, graduate outcomes, learning and teaching activities, assessment methods, tuition fees and student finance, accommodation and professional accreditation.

As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. From the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner. We want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself.

Learning settings

Your learning will take place in a range of different settings, from scheduled teaching in lectures and small group tutorials, to self-study and peer group learning (for example preparing and delivering presentations with your classmates).

Personal tutors

You will be assigned your own personal tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies. They will provide academic support and advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.

Welfare tutors

We have dedicated welfare tutors who provide professional support, advice and guidance to students across a range of issues. They can meet with you to discuss extensions, disabilities, reasonable adjustments, extenuating circumstances, or talk through any problems you might be experiencing, and help you access wider support on campus and beyond.

During your first year, it is important that you have a smooth transition into University. You will be able to talk to your tutors about this and discuss if there are particular areas where you need support.

Our Academic Skills Centre also offers you support with your learning. The centre is a place where you can develop your mathematical, academic writing and general academic skills. It is the centre's aim to help you to become a more effective and independent learner through the use of a range of high-quality and appropriate learning support services. These range from drop-in sessions to workshops on a range of topics including note taking, reading, writing and presentation skills.

Contact hours

Depending on the modules you select, each week you will have between 12 and 15 hours of lectures and classes, with lecturers on hand to answer additional questions outside of this timeframe.

Assessment methods

Studying at a degree-level is likely to be very different from your previous experience of learning and teaching. You will be expected to think, discuss and engage critically with the subject and find things out for yourself. We will enable you to make this transition to a new style of learning, and the way that you are assessed during your studies will help you develop the new essential skills you need to make a success of your time at Birmingham.

You'll be assessed in a variety of ways, and these may be different with each module that you take. You will be assessed through coursework which may take the form of essays, group and individual presentations, laboratory-based work (depending on your chosen degree) and formal exams.

During your first year you will undergo a formal 'transition' review to see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support. This is in addition to the personal tutor who is based in your school or department and can help with any academic issues you encounter.

At the beginning of each module, you'll be given information on how and when you'll be assessed for that particular programme of study. You'll receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so that you can learn from and build on what you have done. You'll be given feedback on any exams that you take; if you should fail an exam we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is made available to enable you to learn for the future.

Careers Network

Preparation for your career should be one of the first things you think about as you start university.Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal.

If you want to take advantage of a unique opportunity to be supported with a work placement opportunity as part of your final year, this course includes the opportunity to undertake a 'Professional Development' module as part of your optional module choices.

Our unique careers guidance service is tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team (in each of the five academic colleges) who can give you expert advice. Our team source exclusive work experience opportunities to help you stand out amongst the competition, with mentoring, global internships and placements available to you. Once you have a career in your sights, one-to-one support with CV's and job applications will help give you the edge. In addition, our employer-endorsed, award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.

Your Birmingham degree

Your Birmingham degree is evidence of your ability to succeed in a demanding academic environment. Employers target Birmingham students for their drive, diversity, communication and problem-solving skills, their team-working abilities and cultural awareness, and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends.If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

The Policy, Politics and Economics BA will enhance your employability through the development of critical and analytical thinking, enquiry-based blended learning, oral and written presentation skills, as well as time management and group/team working skills.

For more information visit our Careers section