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Student Research

Undergraduate Research

Research underpins teaching and learning at Warwick. PPE students are introduced to research methods and skills from Year 1 and continue to develop their skills throughout their degree, with the option to take either a Final Year Dissertation in a single discipline, or an interdisciplinary PPE project.

Find out more about research in the PPE departments:

Explore the Student Research Hub

Research in the Curriculum

PPE Modules

Active Academic Research

Research is embedded in the PPE curriculum. Students are taught by experts within their field, and academics at the cutting edge of research. Optional module offerings are formed by the research expertise of staff and so include the latest developments in the fields.

Case Study: The Economics Curriculum

The core first year Economics modules are designed to provide students with “the requisite quantitative background for a thorough and rigorous study of economic analysis, econometric methods and applied economics subjects.” Students are trained in many of the techniques required to analyse data that they use for the rest of their studies.

Assessments as Research Projects

Each assessment is an opportunity to research an area of interest, developing students' academic knowledge and enriching their research skillset. Effective feedback helps to improve writing technique and support students to develop problem-solving techniques.

Read about Laura's experience of studying PPE.

Dissertations and Research Modules

Final Year PPE students may elect to take either a reseach project within a single discipline, or a PPE Dissertation, spanning at least two of the disciplines.

The PPE Dissertation offers a structured opportunity for independent learning on a topic of interdisciplinary relevance, and aims to encourage students to bridge the PPE disciplines. It is a particularly useful choice for students thinking of going on to graduate work, but it is also relevant for career destinations requiring skills in gathering and synthesising material.

Previous Dissertation titles include:

  • Understanding the Roles of Social Enterprises
  • The Asian Legacy of the Obama Administration: What was the impact of the "Pivot" on US-China Relations?
  • Are Autonomous Weapon Systems mala in se?
  • Should we ban the killing of animals for food?
Read about Matt's Research in Applied Economics Project.

Extra-Curricular Opportunities

ICUR

Led and sponsored by the University of Warwick and Monash University, the International Conference of Undergraduate Research (ICUR) is an annual, two-day academic conference. Using video-conferencing technology, ICUR provides undergraduate researchers with a unique opportunity to present and discuss their own research – in any discipline in real-time, without having to leave their home university.

ICUR challenges undergraduate students to rethink their work in an international context. As a forum, it requires presenters to consider the perspective of students from different backgrounds, and to anticipate what may be shared across cultures and local contexts. This challenge translates to research questions as well, encouraging students to examine global and regional trends in their research field, and how these might conflict with local concerns and specificities.

Read about Elena's experience with ICUR.

BCUR

The British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR) promotes undergraduate research in all disciplines. The Conference meets annually every spring in a different British university. Undergraduates of all levels are invited to submit papers, posters, workshops and performances to the conference. Abstracts are peer-reviewed and those accepted will be invited to attend the conference.

BCUR was founded in 2010 and held its first conference in 2011 at the University of Central Lancashire. The conference doubled in size for the second conference, held in 2012 here at Warwick, and has continued growing since.

URSS

The Undergraduate Research Support Scheme (URSS) enables undergraduate students to carry out a funded summer research project either in the UK or abroad. Students also benefit from the URSS Experience training scheme, a programme of skills development opportunities to support them in completing their project.

The culmination of all of the student’s hard work over the summer is the URSS Celebration and Research Showcase, where students' posters are exhibited and students present their research findings.

Read about Stefania's experience with URSS.

Student Experiences

Laura Streanga

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I am a second-year PPE student, pursuing a pathway in Philosophy & Politics. Since starting my degree, I have gradually discovered that my main interests lie in exploring the normative outlooks of these disciplines: trying to articulate which courses of actions we should embrace as social agents, which reasons we should attend to and which circumstances should bear relevance in guiding our decisions.

The wide range of module choices across departments provided me with an avenue to research my favourite topics and to develop my own views of them.

Feeling motivated by my lecturers to search for original answers rather than merely navigate through the maze of academic literature naturally sparked my enthusiasm for independent research. I am grateful for the support received from the academic staff at Warwick and eager to probe this path further by involving myself in future research opportunities. What I find most fulfilling about doing undergraduate research in Philosophy and Politics is the intellectual challenge of facing questions concerning what is fundamental to us as human beings: the quest for a socially and ethically good life."

Matt Butler

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When I started university, the freedom to choose from a huge range of modules was really exciting. There were so many options. Hearing about the opportunity to conduct a research project later in my degree, I knew early on that was something I wanted to strive for. I wanted to seize every opportunity to increase the depth of my understanding. I just didn’t know which area to focus on.

While on a year abroad at Monash University in Melbourne, I took modules in Environmental Ethics and The Economics of Climate Change. The problem of whether we should use discount rates to value the future kept cropping up throughout these modules.

When I returned to Warwick, I combined my desire to do research with my interest in discount rates, opting to complete a Research in Applied Economics Project (RAE). Unlike most RAEs, this involved designing a survey and collecting data from fellow undergraduates about their time preferences. From their responses, I can calculate an implicit discount rate. The main focus of my research is to see what factors determine how rational (in the narrow economics sense) these discount rates are. My analysis so far indicates that Warwick undergrads are very irrational or that there is yet another flaw in conventional economic theory!"

Elena López Serrano

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In my second year doing PPE at Warwick I found my true passion. The area I wanted to constantly learn more from, the questions I wanted to know the answers for and the issues I wanted to see solved in the world. After doing Politics of International Development I decided that I wanted to be in the Development field, whether in research or practice. I decided to do a project during my second year summer break, as part of the Undergraduate Research Support Scheme (URSS). The URSS grant allowed me to carry out research, while being financially supported.

URSS was the perfect opportunity to learn more about the area I was interested in and a specific topic within it- Trade Labour Standards in International Trade Agreements. I worked closely with an academic with a lot of research experience in the field and got to see their work and what is expected from a higher level of research. I carried out primary research -my first time at university. After partaking in URSS I presented my research at an undergraduate research conference (ICUR) and in the PPE Research Workshop. I am now also in the process of writing up my research into a paper to be submitted to the journal Reinvention."

Stefania Cerruti

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In the summer of my second year I took part in the Undergraduate Research Support Scheme. I conducted research in the Economics Department in the field of Migration Economics, where I studied the expectations of asylum seekers in Italy. It was a great opportunity to put into practice what I had studied in my Economics modules and to develop a project that mattered to me.

The URSS is a competitive scheme that allows undergraduate students at Warwick to receive a grant to fund their summer research project. Students have to organise their own projects, find a supervisor, agree on a topic with them, and obtain authorisation from the department they intend to work in. The project can be conducted either in the UK or abroad, as I did.

Doing research within the URSS was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I spent two months collecting and analysing my own data, and then wrote a paper and presented my work at the International Conference of Undergraduate Research."