PPE (Philosophy, Political Science, and Economics)


Stream Overview

Have you wondered what philosophical theories back our political and economic systems? How do we apply philosophy to our daily lives? How do politics and economics affect one another? If you are interested in learning more about philosophy, political science, or economics, join us in the PPE (Philosophy, Political Science, and Economics) stream! This stream will introduce you to the features of academic writing at the university level, as well as apply those techniques to the PPE fields. The PPE stream is a multi-faceted and interdisciplinary programme that considers various questions through an array of perspectives, including:

  • How does an economic decision, like raising minimum wage, influence social and political issues?
  • What are the strengths and drawbacks of having a capitalist economic system in a democratic society?
  • How much influence should Government have in the everyday lives of citizens? Are there risks associated with too much or too little influence?
  • How do scholars produce new knowledge? How do first-year students participate in knowledge-making activities?
  • How to ask and answer questions about ethics, morality, and the meaning of life?

If any of these questions interest you, consider joining the PPE stream!

PPE is organized around ideas that are fundamental to understanding the social world. Critical thinking and a multi-disciplinary approach are emphasized when considering issues like government policy, economic organization, social ills, relativism and universal values, and transnational and social justice. Students will develop theoretical and practical skills associated with scholarly research and discussion in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Loosely modeled on a successful undergraduate program at the University of Oxford, this stream engages students via four disciplinary perspectives: Philosophy, Political Science, Economics, and English. Though the focus is aimed primarily at the Canadian context, courses in this stream will also consider global scenarios, and students are encouraged to apply broadly the knowledge they gain in PPE.

This stream may be of particular interest to students who plan on majoring in Philosophy, Political Science, Economics, Commerce, and International Relations.


All course descriptions and information are subject to change.

In your first term, you will enroll in Arts Studies, Economics, and Political Science. In your Arts Studies class, you will study how politics, economics, and philosophy intersect, as well as learn about the features of academic writing in a scholarly setting. Your introduction to politics class will set the foundation for your understanding of politics in future political science and other related courses. The study of microeconomics will also introduce you to the economic theories behind the fundamental relationship of demand and supply in our economy.

Arts Studies (ASTU) 101 Seminar

(3 credits/1 term) – First Year CAP Seminar: Focuses on academic reading, writing, and research. This course provides an interdisciplinary foundation for academic writing and related research communicative practices within an interactive learning environment.

Students will choose one out of five different sections (P01/P02/P03/P04/P05), based on their scheduling needs and academic interests.

P01: Mon, Wed, Fri 10:00-11:00
P02: Tues & Thurs 14:00-15:30
P03: Tues & Thurs 15:30-17:00
P04: Mon, Wed, Fri 11:00-12:00
P05: Mon, Wed, Fri 13:00-14:00

  • ASTU 101 Section P01 -  Crisis and the Everyday in Academic Research and Writing
    Dr. Evan Mauro

In this CAP stream, we investigate how our ways of thinking about politics, economics, and philosophy overlap, and how they differ. Our section of ASTU 101 will focus on the concept of crisis, a term that is increasingly used in each of these disciplines to describe our contemporary condition. We will investigate what happens when an event or situation is termed a crisis today. How are crises defined, and what cultural and political work do these definitions do? If “crisis” once meant an extraordinary situation, it has more recently become part of the fabric of everyday life:  subprime crisis, Eurozone crisis, environmental crisis, jobs crisis, and so on. We will investigate who defines these different crises, who benefits from those definitions, and what it might mean that our sense of crisis has been normalized to the point that we now understand our everyday state of affairs as a prolonged crisis, unfolding slowly.

  • ASTU 101 Section P02 - Surveillance Society
    Dr. Kathryn Grafton

In this course, we study academic research and writing by focusing on a key issue, surveillance. Surveillance by the state, corporations, and peers are recurring concerns of contemporary artists, activists, journalists, and citizens. For example, the novel and TV series The Handmaid’s Tale interrogates the surveillance of women’s bodies by the state. Activists and journalists expose police surveillance of participants in social movements such as Black Lives Matter and Idle No More. And the novel and film The Circle and the TV series Black Mirror satirize how our daily surveillance of one another through social media drives the political and economic power of media corporations. Surveillance has also attracted the attention of scholars in many disciplines including those in our PPE CAP stream: Economics, English, Philosophy, and Political Science. Together, we ask, what are the social, economic, and political effects of surveillance? How does surveillance construct and reinforce social norms? How do people resist surveillance to work towards social justice?

Our course work introduces you to the academic community and how its practices of scholarly reading, research, and writing produce knowledge. Together, we analyze and practice various styles of academic discourse (e.g., the literature review, research proposal, and research paper). Our course readings include academic articles about surveillance that address concepts such as the public and private spheres, ethics, rights (to safety, to privacy, to information), the colonial gaze, and social equality. We will also study various research sites that reinforce or resist surveillance such as social media networks, films, TV episodes, and news reports. Our analyses of these scholarly articles and primary texts prepare you to join the scholarly conversation with your own academic writing about surveillance.

  • ASTU 101 Section P03 - Reimagining Communities
    Dr. Adèle Barclay

In this course, we interrogate the concept of community in order to study academic research and writing and compare the disciplines of politics, economics and philosophy. The parameters and meanings of community inform our individual and collective identities and how we engage with the world. In this section of ASTU 101, we will investigate how we define and imagine community on micro and macro scales. How do we build local, national, and international communities? What does it mean to belong to and be other from a group? What is at stake philosophically, economically, and politically when we reimagine our relationships to each other? We will look at how identity politics, nationalism, globalization, grassroots organization, social and mainstream media contribute to our dynamic understandings of community.

  • ASTU 101 Section P04, P05 - Environmental Sustainability
    Dr. Sarah Crover

In this course we will explore scholarly writing through the lens of environmental sustainability. What do scholars in different fields mean when they use this term? What are the ethical and practical dilemmas sociology and economics, for example, outline when discussing business “sustainability” models in a world where sustainability has become the new buzz-word to attract consumers? How well do new government initiatives speak to traditional indigenous environmental practices? Are sustainable practices and large urban centres incompatible, and if so, how do authors frame that incompatibility? Drawing upon scholarly writing from a diverse range of disciplines, we will examine these and other questions, while familiarizing ourselves with the range of stylistic devices and research foci scholars employ across the disciplines. By the end of the course students will learn to effectively apply these styles and strategies in their own research writing.

Economics (ECON) 101 - Principles of Microeconomics

(3 credits/1 term)
Dr. Clive Chapple

Principles of Microeconomics: Elements of theory and of Canadian policy and institutions concerning the economics of markets and market behaviour, prices and costs, exchange and trade, competition and monopoly, distribution of income.

Individuals, firms, and societies have only limited resources. For example, individuals have only so much time, firms have only so many workers, and societies have only so much land. Microeconomics is the study of how decision makers---individuals, firms, and societies---do use and should use their limited resources.

More specifically, this course examines how market prices help allocate society’s scarce resources and what determines those prices; how consumers and firms make decisions and interact in markets; how firms decide what types and quantities of goods services to produce; how various government policies affect market outcomes and social welfare; and how economists view some of the problems caused by pollution, public goods, and common property resources. This course also tries to answer many important questions like: Is a market system a good way of organizing economic activity and allocating society’s scarce resources? What is the best way for the government to raise the tax revenue? Does increasing the minimum wage make sense? Should municipal governments use rent controls to keep housing affordable? How does international trade affect the well-being of Canadians and their trading partners?

This introductory course will also introduce you to “the economic way of thinking”, a general framework that will not only help you better understand the world around you but will also help you make better decisions in both your personal life and your professional career.

Political Science (POLI) 100 - Introduction to Politics

(3 credits/ 1 term)
Dr. Christopher Erickson

Political issues and case studies, drawn from Canadian and international contexts, will be used to introduce students to central debates and concepts of politics and political analysis.

In your second term, you will enroll in Philosophy, Economics, and Political Science. An introduction to philosophy will develop your critical thinking and logical reasoning, as well as establish the most well-known philosophies behind issues such as morality, ethics, and justice. Moving from microeconomics to macroeconomics, you will study economic frameworks that we use to make sense of economics at a larger societal or national level. You will also learn to apply the concepts learnt in the first term to the context of Canadian politics.

Philosophy (PHIL) 102 - Introduction to Philosophy

(3 credits/1 term)
Dr. Kelin Emmett

Introduction to Philosophy: In this course we will engage with some of the most fundamental questions of the human condition: What is the purpose of life? Is life ultimately meaningless? Do human beings have genuine free choice or is all our behaviour simply determined by physical laws? Is morality merely subjective or are there universal moral laws? What principle or principles could provide us with the standard of right and wrong? What makes for a just society? In this course we will read and discuss influential philosophical texts addressing these topics, all the while subjecting our own beliefs and those of others to the standards of reason.

This course will provide an introduction to normative philosophical thinking in ethics and social-political philosophy. We will learn the skills and methods for philosophical argumentation by reading and writing on a number of philosophical topics related to CAP themes, including relativism and the possibility of universal values, torture and terrorism, censorship, sexual morality, and the challenge of global poverty and transnational justice.

Economics (ECON) 102 - Principles of Macroeconomics

(3 credits/1 term)
Cheryl Fu

Principles of Macroeconomics: Elements of theory and of Canadian policy and institutions concerning the economics of growth and business cycles, national income accounting, interest and exchange rates, money and banking, the balance of trade.

Macroeconomics deals with important questions like: Why are some countries rich while others are poor? What is economic growth and why do different countries grow at different rates? Why is the government so concerned about controlling inflation? What determines the unemployment rate and how is it measured? Why do economies experience cycles of booms and busts rather than a steady increase in the level of economic activity? What are monetary and fiscal policies and how does the government use these policies to influence economic activity?

This course will give you some basic frameworks for thinking about questions like these and many more. It will also help develop your skills of economic analysis and critical thinking. By the end of the course, you’ll have gained some insight into how an economy functions and into some of the policy issues that are the subject of serious debate.

Political Science (POLI) 101

(3 credits/1 term)
Dr. Allan Craigie

The Canadian state presents a unique opportunity to explore politics within one of the world’s oldest constitutional democracies.  Canadian politics is not simply about winning elections.  Politics in Canada deals with the basic nature of what Canada is, who we are, and the type of society we want to live in.  The Government of Canada engages students in the exploration of government structures and political cleavages in Canada.  The State, Nationalism and Regionalism, Foreign Affairs, Elections and Political Parties are some of the topics covered.  Students will come away with a strong understanding of the Canadian context, as well as broader political themes, to prepare them for more advanced study within political science.


Please note that you will only register in one ASTU 101 seminar, and one POLI 100 and ECON 101 discussion section. This timetable is subject to change.

Please note that you will only register in one POLI 101 and ECON 102 discussion section. This timetable is subject to change.

Sample Projects

POLI 101

Article Review: Students are given a choice of topics on which to write a short paper. They are asked to choose one article that they will use for the short paper and write a separate article review on it. This assignment is designed to aid the student in choosing appropriate materials for research papers, understand the key arguments from the material, and succinctly communicating that argument.

ASTU 101

Literature Review: Students choose a research topic (based on the focus of their section of ASTU 101), and then write a scholarly literature review. Students learn to identify major abstractions (or concepts), find appropriate secondary sources using the library databases, place academics in discussion with one another, and take a position within this conversation.