Below are some of the books that I believe are a good preparation for studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford. Some also appear on the reading list given to freshers prior to starting. I hope to update this relatively regularly with books that I recommend.
- The “A Very Short Introduction ..” series – These are good for an overview of the subjects that doesn’t go into unnecessary detail. I read the Philosophy one prior to interview as I’d never formally studied the subject before. Examples that could be interesting include: Ethics, British Politics, Sociology, Microeconomics…
- 50 Economic Ideas You Really Need to Know – Edmund Conway – This book was one of the first economics books that I read that gave me a good broad understanding of the topic. It condenses entire economics topics into 3/4 pages giving you a good overview of lots of economics, whereas some books may spend 300/400 pages discussing a rather niche area of economics.
- Mill on Utilitarianism – Roger Crisp – This is a book off the philosophy reading list that I was given. John Stuart Mill and Utilitarianism as a whole make up a significant part of the first year philosophy course and therefore a good understanding will stand you in good stead.
- Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries – Arend Lijphart – This book is a good introduction to the types of reading and knowledge needed for the Political Practice, and Political Analysis sections of politics prelims. It gives you a good idea of some of the big questions covered in comparative politics.
- The Logic Manual – Volker Halbach – Logic was one of the strangest, and most new parts of prelims. The entire logic course is based off of this book with the first four chapters being compulsory for all PPE freshers. Having a read through, and looking at the logic manual website could be a good way of preparing for this.
- The Oxford Companion to Philosophy – Ted Honderich – This isn’t necessarily a book to read cover to cover but I’ve found it incredibly useful for my Philosophy and Political Theory essays. Virtually any idea or word within Philosophy is explained concisely with further reading regularly given. It can be a good way of finding additional reading beyond the reading list given by the department.