Hertford Shield

PPE at Hertford College

Peter begins an after dinner talk at the Philosophical Society
Combining the delights of Tocqueville's 'Democracy in America' and sunshine in the front quad

Taking Teaching Seriously

We take our teaching very seriously, and in recent years several Hertford College PPE tutors have received awards for excellence in Teaching. Though all of our tutors are highly committed to their research as well (e.g. with numerous academic publications to their name etc.), in Hertford PPE you will not find that this implies any neglect of your teaching needs. Tutors in all of the PPE subjects are also keen to foster enthusiasm beyond the curriculum, and have been active in setting up and supporting the Philosophical, Politics and Economics societies described below.

High Standards without Undue Pressure

Hertford College is academically one of the best performing colleges in the University (one of only seven which have spent a majority of the last dozen years in the top 10 of the Norrington Table of colleges – the others are Balliol, Christ Church, Magdalen, Merton, New, and St Johns). In PPE Prelims, over the last six years we have averaged two Distinctions in Prelims per year (including six high Distinctions – 10 marks or more over the threshold). In Finals, every Hertford PPEist has got either First or Upper Second Class Honours for as long as any of us has been teaching here (so we don't know when the last 2:2 was), and in 2009 one of our students won the Gibbs Prize for the best Philosophy performance in PPE across the University. But nevertheless we pride ourselves on a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, in teaching as in other things, without undue pressure or any expectation that your life should totally revolve around academic work.

The Fun of Discussion and Debate

Hertford College has an active Philosophical Society, an Economics Society, a and a new Politics Society recently set up by Radek on arrival at the College. These societies include both undergraduates and graduates studying the relevant subject, and extend to all PPEists (even if they've given up that subject after the first year). Each society usually has a dinner once a term, with lots of good food and drink, followed by talks (often by guest speakers) and discussion that can go on well into the night. All great fun, and virtually everyone who can do so usually wants to attend, but at the same time with real academic content and engaged debate (even after the wine has been flowing for some hours!). Oxford is a wonderful place to be if you find serious thinking fun: you have ample opportunity here to enjoy it, with plenty of like-minded people.

Pushing the Boundaries

In 2010 one of our finalists, Liz Neate, organised a "Philosophy retreat" for PPEists and others taking Philosophy. For just £110 each (inclusive of transport, food, and even a meal out on the last night!), we spent four days walking, talking, playing tennis, badminton and board games, debating and generally having philosophical fun in some holiday cottages in the Cotswolds, just before the start of Trinity Term. Everyone enjoyed it so much that we did the same again in 2011, and it's not become a Hertford tradition! It shows the sort of thing that can be achieved if you apply your initiative in a small and friendly community like ours.