Hertford Shield

PPE at Hertford College

The Interviews

At Hertford, we give two interviews, each of 20-25 minutes. One is in Philosophy and Politics combined, and the other in Economics. Before either interview, you might be given some written material to read (probably in the Library) – if so, try to concentrate on it calmly, and to digest it carefully, without being panicked if it seems confusing. Bear in mind that it's probably designed to be confusing, so if you find it puzzling that's a good sign!

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 are likely to 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 as clearly and logically as you can to the developing conversation.

     The Economics interview will include some Mathematics problems (which shouldn't require any knowledge beyond what you've done at school, but will require careful thinking). There will also 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).