Students sitting on couches discussing book

What is a good person? How can we be good citizens? What do we need for just communities? In a world facing political and economic complexities that are both perennial and new, we need students formed by the rigorous study of philosophy, politics, and economics. Students who are shaped by Augustinian values, engaged with issues of justice and the common good, oriented towards local, national, and international issues. Those that are ready to lead our broader society to become what we are not yet.


Villanova's PPE Program

In our Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) program, students enroll in a distinctive series of classes centered on core questions meant to shape students as leaders. The center of this education is three courses. The first two fulfill their Augustine Culture Requirement with a semester on the Good and a semester on PPE itself. The third class, On Justice, fulfills their Ethics requirement. As with the Villanova Mission Statement, these courses “seek to foster a concern for the common good and enthusiasm for the challenge of responsible and productive citizenship in order to build a just and peaceful world.”

Beyond their on-campus experience, we offer students the opportunity to study abroad in a way that is integrated into their PPE studies. During their sophomore year, students have the option to study abroad for one semester at Cambridge University, taking a course of studies appropriate for their area of focus within the PPE disciplines.

PPE aims to shape students for their lives as ethically engaged citizens while preparing them for careers in areas such as: law, political advocacy, the non-profit sector, fields related to economics, and other careers that advance the common good.

Students who are interested can pursue further studies in PPE to have an Honors Minor in PPE.


Required Course Sequence

What is a good person? This course is an interdisciplinary investigation of the transcendental “good.” The course explores the question of the good of humans aiming to shed light on what the good life is. The course centers around questions about love, the origin of the good, the reality of the good, the meaning of a good death, and the possibility of a good beyond this life. “The Good” course is first in the learning cohort sequence, since it addresses foundational questions of Philosophy. Readings include Plato’s Symposium, Augustine’s Confessions, and Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood.

What makes a good citizen in their political and economic lives? This course forms the center of our PPE studies as it is directed towards political and economic questions. The curriculum centers on the consideration of what makes a community and what makes for good economic and political citizenship. Where ACS Ancients focuses on philosophical theories, this course focuses on political and economic theory and features texts by John Locke, Adam Smith, Karl Max, Willa Cather, Thomas Hobbes, Benedict XVI, and others.

What makes for a good community? This course, forming the capstone of our PPE studies, centers on the ethical question of what makes for a good community. To answer this question, we examine justice as essential to the good community and consider what justice is, how we can determine what is just, and whether we need more than justice to have a good community. The course centers on an examination of virtue ethics and liberal political theory featuring thinkers such as Thomas Aquinas, John Rawls, Augustine, Virginia Held, Martin Luther King Jr, and others. The course concludes with a discussion of the ethics of reparations examining whether they are just or unjust.

This course fulfills an Ethics requirement in the Core.


Courses for Study Abroad

*These classes below are intended as suggestions and do not fully represent courses students must complete at Villanova or options available for study abroad.

Courses to take at Villanova in the first and second years

  • Ethics 2050
  • Natural Sciences courses
  • Philosophy 1000
  • Theology 1000
  • Theology upper level
  • Core History
  • Sophomore Literature and Writing Seminar
  • Ethics 2050
  • Natural Science Core requirement
  • Philosophy 1000
  • Theology 1000
  • Theology upper level
  • VSB 2010, 2020 (as appropriate)
  • VSB 2006, 2008

Course to keep available for study abroad

  • Social Science Core course
  • Electives in major
  • Fine Arts Core requirement
  • Humanities Core course
  • Social Science Core course
  • Electives in major
  • Economics 3108
  • History course
  • Theology course


PPE Study Abroad

If studying in Cambridge, students should plan to arrive in Cambridge by January 12 for a January 13 semester start date. The program in Cambridge ends on April 4, and students must vacate housing by April 5. Because of the truncated nature of the semester, there will be no mid-term break.

Cambridge is indeed on a trimester system, but the Cambridge-based organization with whom we are partnering is on a semester system, so students will take a block of five classes, similar to Villanova's schedule.

We have arranged for apartments in Cambridge to be reserved for our students. The apartments are located across the campus green from the main campus. These apartments are self-catered flats, a common arrangement for students in the UK.

Students will pay their regular Villanova tuition costs, but and will pay a separate housing cost of approximately $3,500. Students will also be responsible for airfare and food costs. Students will not be billed for Villanova room and board; nor will they be billed for the on-campus medical center.

As with most other Villanova study abroad experiences, students are responsible for their own travel to and from the study abroad site. Villanova has a number of travel agents who are happy to assist you in booking flights. Students will have the opportunity to attend a travel advice meeting on campus in the fall semester. Those studying in London should fly to London Heathrow Airport. Those studying in Cambridge will also fly to London Heathrow and then travel to Cambridge via train.

A representative from Villanova will be visiting the students over Villanova's spring break, but, as with most other study abroad experiences, students will have to communicate with Villanova staff and faculty electronically.

All students studying in Cambridge will select from a variety of Honors course options. Prior coursework offered has included such topics as: Money and Banking, The Theory of Finance, Political Economy of the EU, Modern British Fiction, and A Comparative Political Economy of the BRICS. Students work with the Honors Program, Office of Education Abroad and their primary academic advisor regarding coursework selection.

These classes are conducted in what is called the "Oxbridge" model; a small number of students and one tutor meet on a regular basis for a more intimate, individualized learning experience.

Classes will appear on a student's transcript as a transfer (T) credit and will not affect the student's GPA. Students must earn at least a C for the credit to be transferred. Students work with their advisers and a staff member from the Office of International Study to determine if study abroad courses will count for required courses at Villanova.

Students should also meet with Dr. Moreland to discuss which courses will count for Honors credit.

Yes, as with all other students studying abroad, they will need to move all of their belongings out of their Villanova dorm room at Villanova's semester break.

Villanova will not be coordinating any official travel or excursions for students, but students studying abroad routinely do further travel through their own arrangements. Both Cambridge and the London School of Economics have clubs and organizations that organize excursions.

Budget airlines, buses and trains are all very accessible to students for weekend travel, as well as travel at the end of the semester. Students may want to consider booking their return flight for a later date in order to allow for a period of travel.

Villanova University
Garey Hall 106
800 Lancaster Ave.
Villanova, PA 19085

Meet Our Team