PPE at Hertford College
Virtually all the assessment at Oxford is by central University examinations, which for PPE are at the end of the first year ("Prelims") and the third year ("Finals"). Unlike at most universities, the other work that you do – the many essays (possibly as many as 30 or 40 a year), and College "mock" examinations called "collections" (usually testing the previous term's work) – are purely for practice, learning and feedback, playing no part in final assessment. This makes the examinations quite pressured, but very beneficially affects the role of your tutor, whose only aim is to help you improve, rather than also having to sit in judgement over you. Together with the college system, this makes teaching and learning far more of a cooperative activity than is usual elsewhere.
One of the ancient oddities about Oxford is that you have to dress in "subfusc" for examinations (the picture below shows rather dishevelled examples!). This can seem strange at first, but you soon get used to "dressing the part" and it can help to put you in the right mood for examinations. It's also great when the exams have finished, because everyone around can tell you've been doing them and join in the fun (as you see!).
Will I Cope?
Anyone who gets into Oxford in PPE is capable of achieving at least a 2:1. It involves hard work, but you are given a lot of help and support, so if you are diligent, you are almost certain to finish with a good degree. Most are content with a 2:1, preferring to spend more time on some of the other good things that Oxford has to offer. We recognise this, and don't expect you all to be budding academics, but we hope that some of you will be!