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Degree type


Course length

3 years full-time


Durham City

UCAS code


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Typical offers

Typical offers
A Level AAA
International Baccalaureate 37

Course details

Studying BA Philosophy and Politics will allow you to develop critical capacities and gain insight into how political theories, organisations and communities work. You will learn skills from both subjects that employers value, including how to analyse evidence, assess experts’ arguments, work collaboratively to solve difficult problems, and write with clarity and precision.

Rather than learning a body of work, the philosophical element of your degree will equip you with the reasoning skills needed to formulate, present, defend and criticise philosophical and political positions.

The political element is structured around three main streams: Political Thought, Political Institutions and International Relations. As well as developing your research skills, you have the opportunity to study the politics and international relations of specific regions. You will undertake theoretical examinations that help to understand how to make sense of a complex and interconnected world. You can also apply to add a placement year or a year abroad to the course, increasing the course from three years to four.

Philosophy is a new subject for many students, so in your first year you will follow a range of introductory courses, introducing the fundamental philosophical subject areas.

In your second year, you will further increase your knowledge by taking two core modules, Moral Theory and Political Philosophy, and you also have a wide selection of optional modules to choose from across both disciplines.

The third year includes a dissertation that allows a deep, independently driven, exploration of a topic of your choice.

Course structure

Year 1

Core modules:

Ethics and Values provides a structured introduction to moral philosophy, including applied ethics, by exploring key moral concepts and showing how they influence moral practices and theories.

Knowledge and Reality introduces philosophical problems in epistemology (the study of knowledge), and metaphysics (the study of reality and ourselves).

Reading Philosophy allows you to acquire an understanding of the issues of interpretation and comprehension in reading primary authors, through a detailed study of four thematically related texts.

Political Theory lays the basis for a systematic understanding of the role that key political ideals, values and theories play in shaping modern political thought: justifying and critiquing political institutions and public policy, and influencing political behaviour and change. You will be introduced to the contested nature and boundaries of political theories and ideas, offering initial insight into the significance of this contestation for wider human activity.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • International Security, Interdependence and Organisation
  • Global Regions in International Relations
  • Introduction to International Relations
  • Introduction to Comparative Politics
  • Being Human: An Introduction to Post-Kantian Philosophy.

Year 2 

Core modules:

Moral Theory develops an understanding of important moral theories past and present and is also intended to provide a background to applied ethics.

Political Philosophy examines how philosophical perspectives can aid understanding of social and political issues, and how social and political issues can have relevance to philosophical theories.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Philosophy of Mind 
  • Language, Logic and Reality 
  • Fundamentals of Logic
  • Early Modern Philosophy 
  • Philosophy of Religion 
  • Philosophy of Science 
  • History, Science and Medicine
  • The Philosophy of Economics and Politics: Theory, Methods and Values.

Year 3 (Year 4 if undertaking a placement year or year abroad) 

Core module:

The final year includes a philosophy or politics-focused Dissertation in which you research a topic in depth and present your findings and conclusions.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Issues in Contemporary Ethics
  • Metaphysics
  • Twentieth Century European Philosophy
  • Applied Ethics
  • The Ethics of Violence in International Relations
  • Culture and Conflict in American Politics
  • The New Germany
  • Nations and Nationalism.

Additional pathways

Students on BA Philosophy and Politics can apply to be transferred onto either the ‘with Year Abroad’ or ‘with Placement’ pathway during the second year.  Places on these pathways are in high demand and if you are chosen your studies will extend from three years to four.


You may be able to take a work placement. Find out more.


You will learn through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials, informal but scheduled one-on-one support, and self-directed learning, such as research, reading and writing.

Seminars and tutorials are much smaller groups than lectures, with tutorials often involving no more than eight students working with a professor or lecturer; seminars and workshops can be larger but are still small enough to allow one-on-one interaction with tutors; some of these also allow hands-on experience of the kind of work professional political scientists perform.

This emphasis on small-group teaching reflects a conscious choice to enhance the quality of the learning experience rather than the quantity of formal sessions. In fact, the degree is designed to feature fewer formal sessions and more independent research as you move from your first to your final year.


Assessment varies by module but may include essays, end-of-year examinations or a combination of the two.

Our curriculum places a strong emphasis on self-directed learning, such as research, reading and writing.

In your final year, you will conduct your own independent research and submit a dissertation, which allows you to explore in-depth a topic of your choice. Your dissertation will make up one-third of your final-year marks.

Entry requirements

A level offer – AAA including at least one social science or humanities subject.

Contextual offer – ABB including at least one social science or humanities subject.

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma – DDD plus A levels as above.

IB Diploma score – 37 with 666 in higher level subjects. There are also higher level subject requirements.  

  • We also consider other level 3 qualifications, including T-levels.
  • We consider each application holistically. Whilst academic achievement is important, it is not the only factor that we consider when assessing applications and applicants who have achieved, or are predicted to achieve, close to our typical offer, but who have not met it exactly, will be welcome to apply if they have a strong application in other key elements, for example can demonstrate merit and potential through their personal statement or their reference. 
  • We welcome applications from those with other qualifications equivalent to our standard entry requirements and from mature students with non-standard qualifications or who may have had a break in their study.
  • An interview may form part of the entry requirements for mature students with non-standard qualifications.
  • We are pleased to consider applications for deferred entry.

Science A levels

Applicants taking Science A levels that include a practical component will be required to take and pass this as a condition of entry. This applies only to applicants sitting A levels with an English examination board.

Alternative qualifications

International students who do not meet direct entry requirements for this degree might have the option to complete an International Foundation Year.

English language requirements

Country specific information

Fees and funding

The tuition fees for 2025/26 academic year have not yet been finalised, they will be displayed here once approved.

The tuition fees shown for home students are for one complete academic year of full time study and are set according to the academic year of entry. Fees for subsequent years of your course may rise in line with an inflationary uplift as determined by the government.

The tuition fees shown for overseas and EU students are for one complete academic year of full time study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities

Government & International Affairs, School of

Our courses are informed by both academic researchers and our links with industry. This specialist expertise develops the knowledge and skills that our students need to succeed in a competitive job market.

We offer a series of employment-related events which include talks from visiting speakers who explore the range of careers open to politics and international relations students, and offer advice about applying for jobs. We also host a regular Civil Service Fast Stream event in which Durham alumni give first-hand advice about how to excel in the recruitment process.

Graduates are equipped with an academic and practical skill set that will take them into a wide range of fields including local and national government, newspaper and broadcast journalism, the charity sector, business and finance, publishing, law, manufacturing, teaching and academia, and the armed forces. They have gone on to achieve great success in the political arena and beyond, with roles including Chief Operating Officer for the GB Equality and Human Rights Commission, Head of Defence Inquests and Disclosure in the Ministry of Defence and Political Officer in the British Embassy Mogadishu.

Of those students who graduated in 2020-21:

  • 94% are in paid employment or further study 15 months after graduation across all our programmes

Of those in employment:

  • 78% are in high skilled employment
  • With an average salary of £29,500.

(Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey. The survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing 15 months after graduation. Further information about the Graduate Outcomes survey can be found here


Philosophical training  will equip you with a range of theoretical and transferable skills, including critical thinking, problem solving, communication, project management, presenting and researching, that will be of value to employers across a range of industries. 

Our graduates work in a vast range of employment sectors worldwide, including law, the Civil Service and politics, management, public relations, teaching, journalism, media and publishing, marketing, retail and business, IT and financial services. Examples of recent employers include Penguin, Random House Publishing, Save the Children, Amnesty International and The Guardian.

Of those students who graduated in 2020-21:

  • 84% are in paid employment or further study 15 months after graduation across all our programmes

Of those in employment:

  • 80% are in high skilled employment
  • With an average salary of £27,000.

(Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey. The survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing 15 months after graduation. Further information about the Graduate Outcomes survey can be found here

Department information

Government & International Affairs, School of

Our courses address some of the biggest global political issues from multiple perspectives. We aim to develop the knowledge and understanding that will help you impact the world in a positive way.

Based in the School of Government and International Affairs, we offer a range of courses that are flexible and interdisciplinary in nature. Alongside the study of political theory, comparative politics, and international relations you can choose from a wide selection of modules in areas that align with your interests. You can also apply to add a work placement or year abroad to your studies, adding an extra dimension to the learning experience.

As a research-intensive discipline we employ a range of techniques that integrate new and innovative research into the curriculum and introduce a variety of research-oriented skills and projects. You will be taught by academics with a genuine passion for their subject, whose areas of expertise include government, political theory, political economy and international relations.

Regional expertise covers areas such as Europe, East Asia, the Middle East and the wider Muslim world, Africa and America. As well as incorporating our own research into the undergraduate syllabus we also welcome visiting professors to work with students at all levels.

Our students graduate as self-aware, reflective and ambitious global citizens, equipped with the critical skills to succeed in the workplace, both inside and outside of the political arena.


  • World Top 100 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023
  • Top 10 in The Complete University Guide 2024


For a current list of staff, please see the School of Government and International Affairs pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • Over 80% of SGIA research outputs were rated ‘Internationally Excellent’ or ‘World Leading’ (REF 2021).


Set in its own grounds 1.5 miles from Durham’s historic city centre, the modern Al-Qasimi Building, by our students loving referred to as "The Ski Lodge", is home to the School of Government and International Affairs. Providing a social centre to our students as well as an exceptional environment for learning, it is also a base for a number of research institutes including the Global Policy Institute, the Institute of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and the Durham Global Security Institute, which host a number of academic events throughout the year open to all students.


Gain a deeper understanding of this complex world and change your outlook on life with this ancient and fascinating intellectual discipline. Philosophy at Durham covers many of the profound and important questions that arise in all areas of human life.

Philosophy is an ancient and diverse discipline that is fundamental to our understanding of what it is to be human. Amongst the most prestigious departments in the UK, at Durham we pride ourselves on our excellence in teaching and research and we are committed to the pursuit of philosophical knowledge and understanding. Our distinctive, research-led approach to learning means that our undergraduate courses are constantly shaped in line with research and to reflect contemporary study in the area.

We offer a range of single and joint honours degrees with flexible pathways to suit your interests and career aspirations. As well as covering more traditional areas of philosophy, such as ethics and values, philosophical traditions and moral theory, our curriculum also highlights the relevance of philosophy to current issues in the world. This includes modules relating to the ethics of science and medicine. You can further develop your skills and experience with the opportunity to spend a year studying overseas or on a work placement.

During your time with us you will learn as much about how to think about difficult questions, as you will learn about the answers that can be given to them. You will develop the ability to detect a bad argument, whether in politics, in the media, or with the people in your day-to-day life, and an ability to produce better arguments of your own. Whatever you end up doing with your career, philosophy will forever change your outlook on the world.

For more information see our department pages.


  • World Top 50 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023
  • Top 10 in The Guardian University Guide 2024
  • Top 10 in The Complete University Guide 2024.


For a current list of staff, please see the Philosophy Department pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • Top 20 in the UK for the quality of our research (REF 21).


The Department of Philosophy is located at Old Elvet in the picturesque city of Durham. We occupy a listed building in this ancient part of the city, near the medieval Elvet Bridge, and within easy walking distance of the Students’ Union, the colleges and Durham’s historic centre with its Castle and Cathedral.

Undergraduate students are invited to attend the Department’s extensive programme of research-related activities, including weekly lectures and seminars, many of which are given by renowned UK and overseas philosophers. Recent visitors have included Amie Thomasson, Noam Chomsky and Peter Singer.


Find out more:

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