The start of the 2014-2015 academic year at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) saw the first cohort of students start the Bachelor's programme in Politics, Psychology, Law and Economics (PPLE). About 100 talented students were selected from over 400 applicants. The new programme conjoins the disciplines of political science, psychology, law and economics, and is unique in the Netherlands.
How does bad news influence the psychological state of important players in an economy – and by extension, the economy itself? Should governments be allowed to violate the privacy of individuals in the interests of national security? What is the most effective way to improve labour conditions in the Asian clothing industry? The approach taken to major social issues demands critical and solution-oriented analysis from a variety of perspectives. PPLE fully integrates political science, psychology, law and economics in order to solve these kinds of problems.
'Students are given a general foundation, after which they choose a specialisation. This allows them to develop both a broad perspective and specialist knowledge', says Professor Edgar du Perron, dean of the UvA’s Faculty of Law and one of the initiators of the programme. 'The business community, the government and civil society organisations need people with a broad education: professionals with in-depth knowledge on a wide range of topics.'
Du Perron: 'PPLE is new and unique in the Netherlands. Various Anglo-Saxon universities already have comparable programmes, and many political leaders have completed programmes of this type. For example, British Prime Minister David Cameron studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at Oxford.' A distinctive international aspect of the PPLE programme is that it includes a law component.
The degree programme is international in character and is taught in English. Nearly 50% of the students are foreign nationals. Teaching and learning activities are small-scale and intensive: the students have their own spot on the Roeterseiland campus and take intensive classes in small working groups or other formats under the supervision of their tutors. PPLE also includes a 'talent development programme', which enables students to take workshops and courses with influential members of the business community and government.
The programme is an initiative of three UvA faculties: the Faculty of Economics and Business, the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, and the Faculty of Law (lead organisation).