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Average number of places available each year at Exeter College: 7 (in PPE).

The Course

In their first year, students take one paper which is a broad introduction to the theory and practice of politics. In doing this, students study the practice of politics across the world, focusing on issues such as the nature of democratic regimes, party systems, social movements, and what determines how strong a state is. In addition, students take a course in Political Theory, which covers issues such as freedom of speech, the nature of freedom itself, and the justifications for state coercion. Students also complete a course in Political Analysis. See the PPE website for more details.

After the first year, there are no compulsory papers, but students have to study two out of Comparative Government; British Politics and Government; Theory of Politics; International Politics since 1900; Political Sociology. (Many students choose to study more than two of those papers, but the decision is entirely their own.)

There is then a wide set of options, including: Political Theory papers, either ancient or modern; Marxism; recent political developments in Britain or the USA or Japan or China; problems of government in the ex-Communist countries; and politics of developing countries. There are three options in International Relations, and three in Sociology.

Teaching in Politics is mainly conducted in tutorials in which two students discuss the previous week’s essays with the tutor. Later in the course, usually in the third year, there are also classes and seminars involving larger numbers, in which students and tutors both present work for discussion.

Very few PPE students have studied Politics before they enter the College, but almost all read the subject for all three years.


After university, the most common careers pursued are finance, the media, law, and research degrees. In several years an Exeter student each year has been awarded a major scholarship to study in the USA, and several more have successfully pursued doctoral degrees in Oxford and elsewhere in the UK.

Teaching and Research Staff