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Start Dates
Degree type

BA

Course length

3 years full-time

Location

Durham City

UCAS code

V500

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Typical offers

Typical offers
A Level AAA
BTEC DDD
International Baccalaureate 37

Course details

The study of philosophy confronts profound and important questions that arise in all areas of human life – questions such as ‘What does a flourishing human life look like?’ When you choose a philosophy degree, you are embarking on a course which will equip you with the skills needed to think carefully and deeply about what matters in a good life, and how individual happiness is related to friendships, relationships, family, society, the political system and culture.

We offer a distinctive, research-led Philosophy curriculum, incorporating considerable levels of variety and choice. Whatever you choose, you will be taught by internationally renowned experts in the field.

At Durham, you will follow one of the widest-ranging philosophy degrees in the country. Rather than studying one particular school, your degree will equip you with wide-ranging expertise in Anglo-American analytical philosophy and continental philosophy. Each of these has its own distinctive set of issues and approaches to resolving them. We have special expertise in the philosophy of science, and social science, and the history of science and medicine. You can also apply to add a placement year or a year abroad to your degree, 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 modules, introducing the fundamental philosophical subject areas.

In your second year, you will further develop the critical skills required for independent learning, and modules also become more specifically focused.

In your third year, you will design and carry out your own dissertation which is the cornerstone of the degree.

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).

Philosophical Traditions introduces a range of philosophical approaches which provides grounding for the key explanatory and interpretative skills expected at later stages of the degree. The module also introduces the practice of researching and writing philosophy by examining ways in which philosophers shape knowledge in particular areas.

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.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Science, Medicine and Society
  • Being Human: An Introduction to Post-Kantian Philosophy.

Year 2

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Philosophy of Mind
  • Language, Logic and Reality
  • Early Modern Philosophy
  • Moral Theory
  • History, Science and Medicine
  • Fundamentals of Logic
  • Political and Social Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Philosophy of Science
  • 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 Dissertation on a topic of your choice in which you research a topic in depth and present your findings and conclusions.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Revolutions in Modern Philosophy: Kant and other Trailblazers
  • Aesthetics
  • Twentieth-Century European Philosophy
  • Applied Ethics
  • Biomedical Ethics: Past and Present
  • History and Philosophy of Psychiatry
  • Ethics in Business Practice
  • Philosophical Issues in Contemporary Science
  • Issues in Contemporary Ethics
  • Metaphysics
  • Formal and Philosophical Logic.

Additional pathways

Students on BA Philosophy 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.

Placement

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

Learning

The degree will be delivered by internationally renowned philosophers using a combination of methods including lectures, seminars, tutorials and self-directed learning, such as research, reading and writing.

Philosophical development is principally a matter of acquiring a range of reasoning skills, rather than familiarising yourself with a body of knowledge. Lectures involve plenty of opportunities for questions and extended discussion, and tutorials consist mostly of structured, critical dialogue in the context of a friendly, supportive environment.

Assessment

Assessment varies by module, but may typically include essays, examinations and some will involve a combination of the two. In your final year, you will submit a dissertation, which allows you to explore in depth a topic of your choice.

Entry requirements

A level offer – AAA.

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma – DDD.

IB Diploma score – 37 with 666 in higher level subjects.

In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take an International Foundation Year pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre.

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

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £9,250 per year
EU students £25,500 per year
Island students £9,250 per year
International students £25,500 per year

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

Philosophy

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 2019:

  • 80% are in paid employment or further study 15 months after graduation across all our programmes

Of those in employment:

  • 69% are in high skilled employment
  • With an average salary of £30,000.

(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 www.graduateoutcomes.ac.uk)

Department information

Philosophy

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.

Rankings

  • World Top 50 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023
  • Top 10 in The Guardian University Guide and The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023
  • 8th in The Complete University Guide 2024.

Staff

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).

Facilities

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.

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Use the UCAS code below when applying:

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V500

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