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Welcome to the Department of Philosophy

The Department of Philosophy submitted twenty-seven members of staff, comprising 24.9 Full-Time Equivalent (FTE), to the REF Philosophy UoA. The submission included three Early Career Researchers. 


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7th in the UK for Research Power REF 2021
REF 2021 77% of our research graded world-leading or internationally excellent
Athena Swan Gender Charter Bronze Award
Top 20 in the UK for the quality of our research REF 2021

Transforming the policy landscape

Leading philosopher of science Professor Nancy Cartwright is influencing change to improve the prediction and evaluation of policy effectiveness through her pioneering research on evidence and causal inference.

Cartwright’s research is focused on the context into which the policy is set and how that context impacts upon people and upon what can be accomplished by an intervention.
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Philosophy overview

About Us

We believe that philosophy has an indispensable role to play in tackling the challenges of the age and contributing to the public good. We aim to be at the forefront of the discipline, its reform, and its application. 

Highlighted Projects 

Knowledge for Use [K4U]

Led by Professor Nancy Cartwright, ‘Knowledge for Use [K4U]: Making the Most of Social Science to Build Better Policies’ was an interdisciplinary and multi-institutional project weaving together impact and engagement activities across four key policy areas: International Development, Medicine, Education and Child Protection. 

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Women in the History of Philosophy

Dr Clare Mac Cumhaill’s British Academy funded project on the ‘Wartime Quartet’ explores the philosophical works of Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Mary Midgley and Iris Murdoch to bring them to the attention of the wider public.

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Durham Emergence Project 

Led by Professor Robin Hendry, the Durham Emergence Project was an interdisciplinary project addressing strong emergence across philosophy of mind, philosophy of science and condensed matter physics. 

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Learn more about our Research Publications in the Department of Philosophy

Philosophy REF Impact Case Studies

Philosophy submitted three impact case studies demonstrating a range of impact. 

View some of our Highlights

Evaluating Effectiveness

Durham University research aims to improve public policy by taking a systematic, evidence-based approach to decision-making
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Improving Decision-Making Procedures in the UK Ministry of Defence and other Government Departments

Our research has shaped a decision tool called the 'Evidence Framework Approach' (EFA), now used by the Ministry of Defence
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The Aesthetics of Imperfection: Changing Improvisational Practice in the Arts

Our research has changed the creative practices of an influential body of reflective musicians and artists innovating in avant-garde disciplines



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Research Groups

We have 4 “research clusters”; groupings that provide structure and unity to our research and a focus for research events, collaboration and grant applications. The clusters are History of Philosophy, Science, Medicine and Society, Mind, Metaphysics and Language, & Ethics, Aesthetics and Politics.

More about our Research Groups

Like to Know More?

Members of the Department have been active either in leading or contributing to: 

Centres and institutes encourage collaborative, interdisciplinary research that facilitates successful external funding applications. 

Centre for Humanities Engaging Science and Society

At CHESS the humanities engage the sciences and society to promote knowledge for use.
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Centre for the Ethics of Cultural Heritage

The Centre for the Ethics of Cultural Heritage focuses upon ethical debates surrounding cultural heritage, in particular relations with indigenous peoples.
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Explore the vast collection of books published by the academic staff in the Department of Philosophy, showcasing cutting-edge research in their particular fields.