Malala just got into Oxford University — and she’s studying the course that propelled some of the world’s most powerful politicians

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Malala Yousafzai addresses an event at the United Nations HQ in April 2017.
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Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai won a place at Oxford University – and her choice of course shows she’s following in the footsteps of some of the world’s most powerful politicians.

She announced that her place had been confirmed on Twitter on Thursday morning, A-level results day in the UK.

Yousafzai, 20, will study Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE), one of Oxford’s most competitive courses, and a common thread between many of the most powerful figures in British and world politics.

Former Prime Minister David Cameron studied PPE, as did his opposite number in the Labour party, Ed Miliband, and more than 20 former cabinet ministers.

Three Australian and three Pakistani prime ministers studied the course, as well as Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a US Supreme Court justice, philosopher Isiah Berlin and the current director general of the BBC, Tony Hall.

According to the latest admissions stats, PPE is Oxford’s most popular course, and only one in seven applicants (14%) get in.

Yousafzai beat more than 1,500 other applicants when she won a conditional offer earlier this year, which is now official after she met her offer requirements of three A grades, which is the standard offer for PPE.

Oxford PPE graph

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A graph showing the number of applications (orange) and the number of offers made (blue) for different Oxford courses.
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University of Oxford

She has studied in the UK since moving from Pakistan, where she was famously shot in the head by Taliban terrorists who targeted her because of her online activism in favour of education for girls.

She was treated in Birmingham, where she remained, and stayed for her GCSEs (she got 6 A*s and 4 As) and then A levels. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, the award’s youngest ever laureate.

PPE is a multi-disciplinary course – students take modules in the three separate branches at once.

The first year of the course is a general grounding in all three, then students have the option to drop one branch for the remaining two years of their studies.Alan Rusbridger

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Alan Rusbridger is the principal of Mala’s new Oxford college.
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Options for study in the course cover a wide range, from ancient philosophers like Aristotle to contemporary US politics and modern-day banking.

Like all Oxford students, Yousafzai will be taught in small groups sessions known as tutorials, which typically feature three students discussing their subject with one academic. Some are taught one-to-one.

Her offer is from Lady Margaret Hall, one of the 38 separate colleges that make up the University of Oxford. Its current principal is Alan Rusbridger, former editor of the Guardian. Oxford’s academic year begins in October.