Oxford Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE): Tips and Questions for Interview

5 min read

So, you have received an invitation to the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics interview at Oxford. But how do you go about preparing for it and what should you expect? We have you covered! Having spoken to top-performing candidates, they share their unique insights and top interview tips in this article.

PPL at Oxford
Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Oxford may seem daunting at first, but this article contains key bits of advice to help guide you!

What is the Oxford Philosophy, Politics and Economics interview structure?

Candidates typically have 2-3 interviews each lasting about half an hour over the space of a few days. Some candidates can be pooled for a second round of interviews at a different college – meaning up to 5 interviews in total!

For Philosophy, Politics and Economics, first interviews will take place early in December.

Tutors then make a decision based on the performance of the applications, and the university sends offers to candidates in mid January.

Oxford PPE interview
Oxford Philosophy, Politics, and Economics interviews may be held virtually

Example Past Questions from Oxford Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Interviews

General questions:

  • Why do you want to study Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Oxford?
  • Questions on why I talked about X in personal statement 
  • What is it about Philosophy, Politics, and Economics that most excites you?
  • What skills would make you suited to be a successful student at Oxford?
  • Why this college?
  • What have you learnt in school that is relevant to Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Oxford?
  • Why Oxford University?
  • What can you contribute to college life?
  • Discussion on my EPQ topic (if done)
  • What did you do in your gap year?
  • Discussion of my future plans for study and career
  • Summarise a book mentioned in my personal statement and my opinion of it

Oxford Philosophy, Politics, and Economics interview questions:


  • Why do we need governments?
  • Differentiate between power and authority.
  • Distinguish between a society, a state and an economy.
  • Why do you think that Communism was unsuccessful in the Russian countryside?
  • What would you say to someone who claims that women already have equal opportunities?
  • What would you do tomorrow if you were president of the former Soviet Union?
  • How does a democracy work?
  • What constitutes the ideologies of the extreme right?
  • Does the extreme right pose a threat to other less extreme parties?


  • Given photos: what do they have in common?
  • Which questions in Philosophy interest you most?
  • What do you think about the ethical implications of [a certain philosopher]’s theories?
  • Tackled a logic problem.
  • Given two concepts: what are the differences between the two, and how is this important
  • for morality?
  • A thought experiment about knowledge.
  • Given a set of statements, do they logically entail one another?
  • Why do you believe what your teachers tell you?
  • What is freedom?
  • If you were to form a government of philosophers, what selection process would you use?
  • How do we know if 1 + 1 = 2, if the concept of numbers was in fact ‘invented’ by humans?
  • Is it a matter of fact or knowledge that time travels in only one direction?
  • Differentiate between power and authority.
  • Can animals think?
  • Is it possible for a society to exist in which everyone lies all the time
  • How do you know I’m not a zombie?


  • Income per head: Why is income per head in the United States between 50 and 100
  • times larger than in countries such as Burundi and Malawi? (Essentially: why are some
  • countries rich and some countries poor?)
  • Bankers’ pay: Are bankers paid too much for what they do? Should the government be
  • making efforts to limit how much money they get?
  • New country: A new country is formed in Europe, and along with it a new currency is
  • introduced. How would the international market value the worth of this currency?
  • Monopoly: What is the optimal way to win at the board game Monopoly? Could you do
  • something similar in real life?
  • Would it be right for a government to intervene in the market?
  • How to measure GDP? Does it paint an accurate picture to judge the economic growth of countries?
  • If there were three brand new, expensive, laptops in front of you, and you were given free choice, which one would you pick? Does this have any relevance to economics?
  • Can you place a monetary value on this object? (They will show you a random object,
  • such as a pen).
  • I live in a small community, and I want to sell a piece of art. Would I earn more through
  • raffle tickets or sealed bids?
Oxbridge Interview Tips Questions Tutoring
Oxbridge Interview Tutoring
1-1 Oxbridge Tutoring, Personalised to your Subject

What happens on the day of my Oxford Philosophy, Politics, and Economics interview?

If you’re interviewing online, you’ll need to find the link for the Teams meeting in your emails – it’ll be sent to you in advance. You’ll join the meeting and might be greeted by some current students at the University, who will answer questions and calm your nerves. Some colleges skip this part and you’ll go straight into the interview with two tutors.

I was sent an email with my initial interview schedule around 6 days in advance. Later in the process, they may inform you of additional interviews.

I interviewed in 2019, so I sat my interviews in person. They were moved to an online format in light of Covid-19. In the past, online interviewees were sent links to a Microsoft Teams meeting for each of their interviews. They were let into these meetings at the time specified on their schedule. Since I was applying for PPE, I had 3 interviews total – 2 on the second day and 1 on the final day.

What do you have to bring to your Oxford Philosophy, Politics, and Economics interview?

There’s no dress code required, so you should wear whatever you feel most comfortable in. Some interviews just involved talking through a question, whereas some were more of a split between working through a logic-style question on paper, and talking through an abstract question. I would always suggest bringing a bottle of water – helps keep you hydrated and gives you an extra few seconds to think before answering a hard question!

What are the Oxford Philosophy, Politics, and Economics interviewers like?

My interview experience was very positive!

You have to remember that the interviewers are not trying to trip you up, they want you to succeed and do your best. They know how nerve-wracking it can be, so will try to ease you in by having some small talk at the start, and if you get really stuck with a question, they’ll offer you a helping hand.

It felt less like a formal interview, and more like a conversion between 2-3 people that had a genuine passion and interest for their subject, discussing some interesting questions.

Oxford PPL teaching
Students reading Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Oxford will typically have 2 tutorials a week with 0-3 other students and a tutor
Free Oxbridge Interview Scenarios

    Top Tips for the “Why Oxford” interview question

    Make sure to mention the tutorial system and the college system.

    Both of these are unique and central to Oxford life. Think about why you would be excited about tutorials and how this unique style of learning might benefit you. 

    Next, think about whether the college system appeals to you, and how you can contribute to college life. Coming to Oxford is not just about academics – they want well-rounded individuals who can contribute and get involved in everything that Oxford has to bring.

    Top Tips for the Politics, Philosophy and Economics Interviews

    1. Do mock-interviews as much as possible. This could be with friends, teachers, parents – just get someone to put you on the spot and make you give a detailed answer. Whilst it is helpful thinking how you would answer questions on your own, being made to answer unseen questions under pressure is a whole different experience, and practising as much beforehand definitely helps.

    2. Keep up to date with current affairs in the news or newspapers. Whilst you may not actually need to mention anything you have read, if it’s relevant when answering a question, bringing in real-life examples can really boost your answer and show you are passionate about the subject. Importantly though, do not try to force these examples in for the sake of doing it – the interviewer will be able to tell and may be deemed as irrelevant to the question.

    3. Know your personal statement inside-out. Whilst I was not asked about anything I put on my PS, the last thing you want to do is for them to mention a book you have read or an economic concept you mentioned, for you to not be able to talk about it in detail – would be a major red-flag to the interviewer.

    4. Nail the questions beforehand that you can prepare for. It is almost guaranteed that at some point in the interview you will be asked questions such as “Tell me about yourself”, “Why Oxford?”, “Why this college?”, “Why Politics?”. These are all questions you can prepare for and practice giving a well-thought out, structured answer. Prepare for these beforehand – will mean you will give a better answer than if you are thinking on the spot!

    Bonus Tip:

    5. Listen to real debates and speeches. This helped for numerous reasons: it helped calm the nerves and distracted me beforehand. It also gave me motivation and helped me focus and get in a good frame of mind. Finally, and most importantly, in debates/speeches, the speaker must give a well-thought out answer, showing good use of body language, expression and tone of voice. This helped me prepare for my interview – I found a few videos that resonated with me and adopted some of their methods of articulation which helped me give a more structured, clear answer.

    Still need more support with preparing for your Oxford Politics Interview? Check out our Oxford PPE Interview Tutoring for more information on our one-to-one tutoring service, to help secure your place at the University of Oxford!

    Still got a question? Leave a comment
    Post as “Anonymous”
    Just Start Typing...