PPE at Hertford College

The Interviews

At Hertford, we give three interviews of 20 minutes each (so if you're really nervous in the first one, say, this isn't so bad). We also ask you do a preliminary exercise on the Sunday afternoon, which is not marked, but gives us guidance on what to ask you. It also provides a good way of getting you into the interview mood, and checking that you can handle the relevant mathematics (e.g. simple differentiation and probability) outside the context of a nervous interview.

How to Prepare

To prepare for the Philosophy interview, exercise your mind by addressing (and trying to solve) philosophical and logical problems as much as possible. For Politics and Economics, you should be reading around the subjects, both to exercise your mind and to keep abreast of current affairs (e.g. through The Economist and broadsheet newspapers). Suitable reading lists for all three subjects are provided on our Handouts and Reading page.

What to Expect

In the Philosophy interview, you can expect to be faced with at least one logical puzzle, which is most unlikely to be anything you've come across before. Whatever you say in response will be challenged (the puzzle probably won't have a clear 'right' answer), so don't be put off, but just do your best to see through the problems that are thrown at you, and respond logically, arguing your case as clearly and forcefully as you can (but by all means change your mind if need be – there are no prizes for inflexible obstinacy).

     In Politics, you may be asked to think about some tricky political problem, perhaps one in which values conflict (e.g. 'Suppose that a conservative religious party is voted into power on the platform that women shouldn't have a vote, and women are accordingly disenfranchised: is that a victory for democracy, or a defeat?'). Again there is no 'right' answer: the challenge is to think through a very difficult problem, and respond clearly and logically to the developing conversation. You might also be asked to interpret political data, or to think through the consequences of various constitutional scenarios.

     The Economics interview may include some Mathematics problems (which shouldn't require any knowledge beyond what you've done at school, but will require careful thinking). There is also likely to be discussion of problems that involve Economics-style thinking (costs and benefits of different types of behaviour or choices etc.), though again it shouldn't require any knowledge of Economics beyond what you have studied at school (i.e. we take into account your school background).

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