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LV25 Philosophy and Politics BA Undergraduate 2012


UCAS code LV25
Degree BA
Mode of study Full Time
Duration 3 years
Location Durham City
Typical offers A Level
International Baccalaureate (IB)
Related qualifications

Department(s) Website
Telephone +44 (0)191 334 6550

Course Content


At Durham, you will have the opportunity to study Philosophy as a Single Honours degree, or with another subject: English, Psychology, Politics or Theology. Philosophy can also be combined in a Joint Honours degree within the Natural Sciences programme or as part of a Combined Honours degree.

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

In their first year, all Single and Joint Honours students take the core modules of Ethics and Values, Knowledge and Reality, and Reading Philosophy. The first two of these concern the two broad divisions of Philosophy, into Metaphysics and Theory of Knowledge on the one hand, and Moral Philosophy on the other. Reading Philosophy is a text-based course which examines in depth classic works by writers such as Plato, Hume and Sartre. Single Honours students take in addition a module in logic, and one or two other modules in history and philosophy of science and medicine.

We have special expertise in the history and philosophy of science and medicine and you can take introductory courses in either (or both) of these subjects in your first year. The study of the history of science involves looking at the development of science as the way of explaining events in the natural world, and considering it critically as a belief system in relation to other belief systems and dogmas. The study of the philosophy of science raises philosophical questions about scientific method and about the various metaphysical assumptions upon which scientific theories depend.

In the second and third years, students have a choice of a wide range of topics including: Moral Theory, Philosophy of Mind, Aesthetics, History of Philosophy, Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Religion, Political Philosophy, Metaphysics, Twentieth Century European Philosophy, Indian Philosophy, Science and Religion in the Nineteenth Century, Applied Ethics, History and Philosophy of Science and Biomedical Ethics. You will also have the opportunity to study a subject in depth, by writing a substantial dissertation of your choice.

Teaching and assessment details

You will benefit from a range of teaching and learning techniques, involving lectures that outline the basic ideas and topics for seminar discussions and private study. We place a special emphasis on participation in tutorials and seminars - Philosophy is a subject that demands active engagement and discussion to assess ideas and to keep the subject fresh. You will also learn through personal study, essay writing, and researching and writing a dissertation on a subject of particular interest to you.

In the first year assessment is based on a combination of essays and formal examinations. In subsequent years assessment is mostly exam-based, though some courses also use continuous assessment.

Study Abroad

Department of Philosophy

We participate in exchange schemes through which you may spend a year of your studies abroad, either with universities in Europe - through the SOCRATES/ERASMUS programme - or with the University of California.

School of Government & International Affairs

If you take Politics (Year Abroad) you will spend your third year at one of our partner universities, taking modules in politics and related subjects. Our current partners are IEP in Aix-en-Provence, Science PO in Paris, Amsterdam, Konstanz, LUISS in Rome, Salamanca, Jagiellonian in Krakow and Uppsala. Students can also apply for a one year study placement in one of the following institutions: the University of California and Boston College in the USA, British Columbia in Canada, the University of Hong Kong, and the National University of Singapore. In some cases courses are offered in English, while in others teaching is in the local language. We have an ERASMUS/Year Abroad Coordinator who will help you prepare for your year abroad, and who will maintain contact with you while you are away.

Admissions Process

Subjects required, level and grade

In addition to satisfying the University's general entry requirements and the programme specific entry requirements above, 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. 

An interview may form part of the entry requirements for mature students with non-standard qualifications.

English Language requirements

IELTS 6.5 (no component under 6.0); TOEFL iBT 92 (no component under 23); Cambridge Proficiency (CPE) Grade C; or Cambridge Advanced (CAE) Grade A

Requirements and Admissions

Information relevant to your country

Fees and Funding

Fees have not been set for this academic year.

Scholarships and funding

Career Opportunities

Department of Philosophy

Durham Philosophy graduates possess skills in critical thinking, logical analysis and the clear communication of complex information that make them much sought after in many professional walks of life.  Our research-led teaching ensures that they are not only well informed about the latest developments in Philosophy, but also competent researchers in their own right, able to think for themselves and tackle problems imaginatively.  Philosophy at Durham is not an 'ivory tower' subject and students are taught to relate theory to practice and see the relevance of their studies to everyday life.  Our broad programme covers all major areas of Philosophy and includes modules in moral philosophy (e.g.  Applied Ethics and Biomedical Ethics), Political Philosophy, Science & Religion, History & Philosophy of Psychiatry and Theory, Literature and Society which explicitly apply philosophical techniques to real-world problems. 

All students in their final year write a long dissertation that provides an excellent opportunity for them to put the final edge on their analytical, research and presentational skills.  Some Durham Philosophy graduates proceed to higher-degree study and an academic career; others enter a wide range of professions including the law and civil service, management, public relations, teaching, marketing, retail and financial services.  In the 2012 Complete University Guide, Durham Philosophy graduates rank joint-second in the UK for 'graduate prospects'.

I had always seen myself in some kind of charity work so while travelling after graduation, my brother and I set up our own volunteer organisation called Development Through Action (DTA). Durham helped give me the confidence to do something unique and worthwhile.
Jonathan Thompson, BA (Hons) Philosophy

Of those students that left in 2012:

- 32.6% are in full time paid employment

Of those in employment:

- 68% are in graduate level employment
- Median salary £22,500

Of those in further study:

- 100% are in graduate level study

A significant number of students progress onto higher level study following their degree in Philosophy. Many remain within their academic field of interest and pursue a Masters, notably at Durham but also at other prestigious institutions including the London School of Economics and Cambridge. Others take a different route and pursue professional postgraduate programmes in law, finance and teaching to name but a few.

Employability development opportunities

The Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre works closely with the Philosophy Department. The link Careers Adviser delivers presentations to each year group on topics relevant to that stage of their academic career. These cover career decision making, successful applications and interviews, and advice for those considering further study. Q & A sessions are also available in which students can ask the adviser anything about their future career plans or ideas.

Durham University Philosophy graduates enter a wide range of career areas including publishing, retail, marketing, business and finance. Our graduates find employment with leading employers in both the public and private sectors such as British Telecom, The Royal Society of Medicine, Goldman Sachs, Government Olympic Committee, KPMG, The Royal Navy and PwC. Specific roles our graduates have progressed into include marketing graduate, trainee accountant, international financial analyst, account manager and press publishing administrator.

School of Government & International Affairs

Choosing Durham for my undergraduate education is without doubt one of the best decisions I have ever made. Not only does it excel academically as an institution, it also provides its students with an incredibly varied range of opportunities for personal development.
Kristina Hagen, BA(Hons) Politics and Sociology

Of those students that left in 2012:

- 40.8% are in full time paid employment

Of those in employment:

- 81% are in graduate level employment
- Median salary £23,000

Of those in further study:

- 100% are in graduate level study

A significant number of students progress onto higher level study following their degree. Some remain within their academic field of interest and pursue a taught or research Masters at Durham, London School of Economics, University College London, York, Sheffield and Oxford.  Some progress on to PhD study with recent successes at Durham and Cambridge. Others take a different route and pursue professional postgraduate programmes in law, IT, advertising and marketing, finance and teaching.

Employment and developement opportunities

The Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre works closely with the School of Government and International Affairs. The link Careers Adviser delivers presentations to each year group on topics relevant to that stage of their academic career. These cover career decision making, successful applications and interviews, and advice for those considering further study. The department also hosts a range of guest speakers from external organisations to expand our students' knowledge of their different career options.

Durham University School of Government and International Affairs graduates enter a wide range of career areas including business and finance, local and national government, armed forces, marketing and PR, media, recruitment and teaching, Our graduates are recruited by leading employers such as the House of Commons, Accenture, British Airways, Ernst and Young, British Telecom, Goldman Sachs, PwC, Royal Navy, House of Fraser, Aldi, Channel 4, HSBC, Teach First, Durham University, Black Rock and the Audit Commission. Specific roles our graduates have progressed into include business manager, press and publicity assistant, accountant, political assistant, retail manager, international financial analyst, Naval Officer, marketing executive, stockbroker, tax adviser and political researcher.

Open days and visits

Pre-application open day

Pre-application open days are the very best way to discover all you need to know about Durham University. With representatives from all relevant academic and support service departments and opportunities to explore college options they will provide a full experience of Durham University for any prospective undergraduates.

Pre-application open days in Durham City will take place on:

  • Monday 25 June 2012
  • Saturday 30 June 2012
  • Saturday 22 September 2012

Further details, and information on how to book.  

Campus tours

Overseas Visit Schedule

Department Information

Department of Philosophy


This most ancient yet compelling intellectual discipline is fundamental to our understanding of what it is to be human.

Philosophy studies profound and important questions that arise in all areas of human life. At Durham, we offer a distinctive, research-led Philosophy curriculum, incorporating plenty of variety and choice. Whatever you choose, you will be taught by internationally renowned experts in the field. We are one of the UK's top philosophy departments, as illustrated by the Complete University Guide 2011, which ranks us 4th. The exceptionally high quality education you receive here will equip you with critical abilities that can be put to use in all sorts of ways and which are prized by many employers.

Philosophers ask questions about assumptions that most people, including thinkers in other disciplines, take for granted. These questions include: what is the nature of external reality and how can we know about it? Do we have free will and does it make sense to hold people responsible for their actions? Does the idea of a creative God, or an interventionist God, make sense? What is truth? How is it related to meaning? Is there an objective morality, or are moral questions entirely subjective? What is the value of art? Can scientific theories ever be definitively confirmed? Are numbers genuine objects or is maths just a game?

Philosophical questions such as these are fascinating but troubling. In engaging in the philosophical task of trying to answer them, you become part of a tradition that goes back beyond Plato and Aristotle, to Heraclitus and the earliest thinkers - to mention only the European tradition.

The study of philosophy at Durham doesn't follow one particular school. The Department is unique in the UK in having expertise in Anglo-American analytical philosophy, Continental philosophy, and Indian philosophy. Each of these has its own distinctive set of issues and approaches to resolving them. We also have special expertise in the history of science and medicine. So at Durham you will follow one of the widest-ranging philosophy programmes in the country.

RAE results


Durham is one of the larger Philosophy Departments in the UK, with 17 permanent members of staff. We are known as a very friendly department where you will have a lot of contact with full-time academic staff. We have an excellent department library that complements the University and college libraries. There is an active Philosophical Society and a weekly research seminar which students are welcome to attend.


School of Government & International Affairs


From soapboxes to statecraft, you'll learn how and why nations are run the way they are.

At the School of Government & International Affairs, rated 9th in the Complete University Guide 2011, our aim is to help you to develop a thorough knowledge of the structure and functions of the modern state, the history of ideas about the nature and purpose of politics and the development of particular regions and their political systems. You will study political thought, government, international relations and another subject such as geography, economics, history, psychology, sociology, philosophy, or law, subject to availability.

RAE results


The School of Government & International Affairs is a concentration of research expertise in political processes and institutions, political thought, and international and area studies. Teaching takes place both in the Department's own rooms and in conveniently located lecture rooms. The University Library has an excellent collection in politics as well as specialised research collections such as the European Documentation Centre. Colleges provide additional library resources as well as computing facilities.


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