PPE in Practice IV: Connected World

  • Period 6.
  • Mandatory course.


The third PPE in Practice course, PiP III: Connected World, is a problems-based course that focuses on the economic and political implications of technological developments in ICT. Three themes are examined in particular: the possibilities and challenges created by the use of big data, social media and political campaigning, economic stability and financial markets. Students will investigate a case study related to the first theme of big data that examines the impact information about personal healthcare and genetic information has on insurance markets and on the way we understand the relationship between health and personal responsibility. Case studies in social media and political campaigns will encourage students to contemplate the shape and scope of democracy in the 21st century. Does greater access to political campaigning lead to a society that is more democratic, or does it create greater opportunity for political manipulation and the entrenchment of existing powers? The case study for the final theme of PiP III will address changes in the relationship between value and price that high frequency stock trading has brought about. Here students will also consider whether this kind of trading – enabled by new networking technology – has a negative impact on economic stability.

Similar to the other PiP courses, PiP III will combine lectures and seminars over a period of three weeks. Each week one question will be addressed. The lectures will provide students with a strong background in the moral theory, the political theory and the economic theory necessary to identify and understand the key issues pertinent to each question. PiP III tackles more complex questions than earlier PiP courses, pushing students to use even more of the skills they have learned in past PPE courses. PiP III seminars are structured around small group discussions. Lecturers will provide question prompts for the seminars and students will be encourage to bring their own questions and solution proposals to the seminars. The emphasis of the problem-based seminars is on argument formation. Students will learn to produce strong arguments for policy positions, and to identify flaws in weak arguments. The seminars are also intended to give students an environment in which they can develop ideas for the course essay.


After completing the course, students will have gained:

An understanding of

  • The variety of political, philosophical and economic perspectives on the concept of connectedness resulting from technological changes
  • The central problems generated by the 21st century connected world
  • The way interdisciplinary approaches can help solve these problems
  • The working relationship between academic theorists and practical policy makers

The skills to:

  • Identify an argument’s structure, and to criticize and strengthen its weak points
  • Present their original research in verbal and written forms
  • Use peer input to modify and improve their arguments

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